Smart Homes - Smart Future


With another successful International Builders Show in the books, it seems like the perfect time to remind everyone the impact roles such as contractors and integrators play with introducing smart tech into current and future homes.


Energy management and control opportunity is commonly overlooked in the construction and renovation industry. Contractors and integrators need to learn new skills and move with the demands of today’s smart buildings and smart homeowners. Energy and resource management can be a powerful tool in conservation and consumption efforts – vital for homes of today and tomorrow. The components that contribute to a smart home should not be overlooked when designing new homes or future proofing existing ones. 

Everyday, smart systems are becoming more easily integrated into the home as there are many protocols and standards that are now compatible with automation systems. For example, IP-compatible devices are becoming more common. There are wireless protocols, such as ZigBee and Z-Wave, which can make integration of these systems seamless. It is always best to do a bit of research on existing devices and systems to ensure a smooth integration. If additional resources are also desired, a smart tech dealer or experienced installer often make this even easier.

I do appreciate an integrator who will show clients things they may not realize they could have. As designers, we don’t think about those things. We just think about how things look or how things function, but we don’t think about the technology that we can offer. 

- Adam Gibson, Architectural Designer

While renewable energy and control management have associated upfront costs, they do - over time, pay for themselves. They provide control over your home and belongings while simultaneously gathering data that will in turn make you a smarter homeowner – possibly even save you money on energy-related bills.

The Intent of Things (IoT) - which energy and control management roll into - is not just a collection of gadgets. It enables your home, devices and appliances to learn your habits and preferences in efforts to use resources more strategically. IoT is where the digital world meets the physical world, but the key takeaway here, is the fact that physical products are still a requirement in delivering this service.

Keys to the right device

The above paragraphs were inspired be several key contributors and influencers associated with the CEDIA Organization and CEDIA Communications. Another contributor is David Mudd, who hosts the CEDIA podcast. He as an episode title,  “IoT Security” in which he lists severals keys to selecting the right device(s). 

  1. Does the product function as it should? It has to be useful. 

  2. It has to be easy. Easy to use, easy to set up, easy to troubleshoot.

  3. Needs the “WOW” factor (Not as crucial as the first two items.

This is where that research part comes back into play. Referrals and case studies are a huge help at this stage. Jumping right in and purchasing the latest device or system more often than not, leads to a bad experience. Wether you are working with an integrator or designing a system by yourself, define your wants versus needs, establish a budget and outline your integration plan. This will help make sure you stay on track with your must have features and expenses. 

Like CEDIA’s podcast, Guardian’s vlog and podcast series, The School of Hard Drips, can help with the research and education hurdle that most contractors and owners struggle to clear. The School of Hard Drips is a smart home tech series that will cover a wide variety of topics that homeowners should be aware of, prior to investing in a system. Spoiler alert, Guardian is plugged in this series where applicable. 

Final takeaway when using an integrator and contractor to build a smart home

Adam Gibson, an architectural designer who specializes in high-end kitchen and bat projects in the U.S. Midwest, says it best: “Communication is absolutely key. I really want to understand everything that the integrator wants to do, scheduling-wise. I want to make sure that they’re not going to slow things down and that they are delivering the best results for the client.”

“I do appreciate an integrator who will show clients things they may not realize they could have. Not necessarily trying to upset them, mind you – but if they don’t realize that they could have a lighted pathway from their garage to their kitchen, to let them know that with a push of a button from your, we can provide that lighted walk.” As designers, we don’t think about those things. We just think about how things look or how things function, but we don’t think about the technology that we can offer. 

With Adam’s final statement in mind, we should all remind ourselves everyday to be better at communicating and integrating energy management and control opportunities into our projects, homes and lives. As brands, the technology and their features continue to grow in smart home tech and IoT in general, and these efforts should only become easier for contractors, integrators and homeowners to adapt and adopt what will inevitably be the future of smart homes.

This post was inspired by several key folks associated with CEDIA and CEDIA Communications. We at Guardian share similar values and beliefs in this contractor and integrator space and felt inspired to share our thoughts and opinions in addition to the subject matter experts below.