Bringing Intelligence to Energy: Today’s Smart Home

As a company on the leading edge of providing systems designed to produce and manage renewable energy, Baker Electric Home Energy has a strong interest in the using that energy intelligently. With the recent evolution of “Smart Home” devices and technologies, our customers are showing an increased level of interest and awareness and want a better understanding of what’s on the market today. Here’s what we’re telling them.

Everywhere you look someone is using the term Smart Home. We hear it while watching TV; it’s advertised online and in magazines; and maybe your neighbor stopped by just last weekend to brag about his fancy new “smart doorbell”. Today, Smart Home is being used to define specific devices, technologies, and a lifestyle that has built-in intelligence. Smart products are intended to make life easier, more comfortable and in some cases, more secure. Although rudimentary home automation has been around since 1975, suddenly it’s all the rage. So, what’s captured our attention this time around?

Seamless integration of Smart Home devices through one platform, programmed to your specifications including remote access and control from a single app on your phone or tablet — is now a reality.

Let’s take a quick look at the recent past. The term “Smart Home” has been primarily used to describe any number of product categories such as thermostats, lighting and entertainment systems. Each was marketed as the most innovative of their day but for the most part, were a bunch of standalone applications. Easy integration and control were still a thing of the future. But the future is here. Seamless integration of Smart Home devices through one platform, programmed to your specifications including remote access and control from a single app on your phone or tablet — is now a reality. And now that devices can “talk” to each other, the possibilities for your family’s ease, comfort and peace-of-mind are endless.

But before you buy those awesome automated blinds, smart doorbell with a security camera, intelligent thermostat, etc., here are some things you should know.

"Connected Home" vs "Smart Home". What's the difference?

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they’re fundamentally different. Generally, the industry is in agreement that a “Connected Home” has a variety of independent smart devices with little or no integration and several apps needed for control. A “Smart Home” however, is an intelligent, integrated eco-system of devices. Control can be managed from anywhere via your smartphone, tablet or from home using a voice assistant like the Amazon Echo. The internet and wireless technologies like Zigbee have brought this all together taking Smart Home to the next level.

For a Smart Home to really shine, integration is key and that’s made possible through a hub. The Wink Hub2 and Samsung Smart Things are examples of hub technology enabling these devices to “talk” to each other via a single platform. With these next-generation technologies, Smart Home has quickly evolved from collection individual products to an intelligent, integrated and scalable portfolio of solutions. This could be the answer to achieving a new lifestyle — one that is pre-configured and customized to enhance the way your family lives. Consider these Smart Home scenarios. Each one illustrates possible homeowner preferences and is fully automated.

#1 Your Smart Home sensors detect that you’re pulling into the driveway. Your garage door automatically opens; specialized lighting “scenes” come on in specific areas of your home; each room is automatically “smart zoned” for desired temperature and comfort. Now, take your shoes off and relax.

#2 You’re at work; the kids are at school; the house is empty, the dog is home alone and the outside temperature is going up fast. Your automatic shades lower and close throughout the home. A window has been left open and the AC adjusts to avoid energy waste. The temperature is auto-regulated in each room. You’ve just saved some significant money.

#3 Although your lawn has been scheduled for watering, it’s raining. Your smart irrigation system senses the moisture and shuts down. And because it’s connected to thousands of weather stations, it knows that it will probably rain for the next two days. Watering is automatically delayed. You’ve found a way to conserve water and preserve your landscaping.

#4 You tell your Amazon Echo you’re leaving for a week. Your doors automatically lock; your AC powers down; specific security lighting scenes are activated inside and outside the home. Now, enjoy a worry-free trip.

So how does the savvy homeowner begin? Start with energy. Produce it, manage it and use it with intelligence. A perfect way to begin is with solar + a home battery. Once you own and control your energy, the sky’s limit. Now everything from smart AC to door locks to lighting controls to EV charging and much more — is available to enhance the way you and your family lives every day. Bring it all together and you’ve created a lifestyle eco-system that just a few years ago was only a dream. It’s not quite on par with the Jetson’s – but we’re well on our way.