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Smart Technology on a Budget

August 11, 2023

Smart home technology has evolved from a “nice to have” to an essential for many homeowners, as 55% of U.S. adults own one or more smart home products, according to the Interpret Smart Home Index. Furthermore, 47% of U.S. adults intend to purchase a smart home device in early 2023, according to the Z-Wave Alliance Ecosystem Report. Smart home technology isn’t just for the luxury market anymore; it’s becoming mainstream, and it’s likely that when it comes to kitchen and bath renovations, homeowners will start asking what’s possible. While not every budget may be able to accommodate the full-spectrum install you may see at a palatial celebrity estate, there are still several solutions on the market that will scratch that technology itch and indeed make life simpler. Let’s look at three important considerations for your next project to include smart technology on a budget.

Place Emphasis on Meaningful Solutions

Technology for technology’s sake is rarely a good idea, especially for the kitchen and bath. Connected solutions will not do anything for your client or for your project if they do not get used. Similar to how you collaborate with clients during a discovery phase to determine their kitchen and bath design requirements, the same principle applies to technology and its potential applications. Gaining insight into their existing technology setup and their ideal situation can help guide the discussion.

Some of the most impactful solutions are the simplest. Sensors, for example, can be deployed to trigger a dimly lit path as you make your way to the bathroom at night – so you don’t trip over obstacles but are not so bright to fully wake you up. When it comes to the kitchen, a smart switch that can be scheduled to turn the coffee pot on at a predetermined time is a popular choice. Similarly, automated window treatments are another favorite among homeowners. Not having to worry if you remembered to shut the shades in the kitchen after you’ve gone to bed is a simple solution that feels like a luxurious experience. Automating everyday routines often pays the biggest dividends in satisfaction. These types of solutions are available from a wide array of manufacturers and at a variety of price points; the key to making things “smart” is choosing devices that can easily work together.

Plan for Add-Ons

Findings from the Z-Wave Ecosystem Report indicate that, within the U.S., 97% of control system owners and 90% of smart security system owners have included additional smart home devices after initial purchase. Once homeowners get a taste of the convenience of living with a few smart home devices, they are quick to add more. Technology installation can take many forms – some homeowners want to do it themselves, others want to hire it out, and some want a combination.

When it comes to searching for smart technology on a budget, there are two key methods to ensuring your clients are easily able to add to their system as their desire to incorporate more technology grows. The first option is to consult with a professional integrator who can spec a system that can be started now, built over time and enable new products in the future. The second option for the DIYer or “Do-it-With Me” installer is to take a step back before any purchases are made and start with some primer research on what’s possible now and reading to make a fully educated decision.

Where to Start

When working with a DIY or “Do-it-With-Me” client, navigating the intricacies of the smart home landscape can be daunting. To assist you in this process, we will provide a structured approach to effectively guide your clients.

  1. Needs Assessment. We’ve already talked about identifying the needs across the spaces for smart home devices. Work with your client to uncover key areas of focus such as efficiency, security or convenience. Prompt clients to think about their lifestyle and routine to determine what features are paramount.
  2. The Research Phase. After determining the devices that optimize the space, it’s time to start diving into specifics. Researching compatibility is an ideal place to start, as it is important to consider the communication protocol used by the devices. Different smart home devices may use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee or Z-Wave. Ensuring the selected devices can work together and unifying them with a smart home hub or controller eliminates complexity and streamlines the experience. The importance of interoperability in transforming a connected home into a genuine smart home cannot be emphasized enough. As your clients seek guidance on top products in various categories, consider referring them to the experts at GearBrain, TechHive or The Ambient, which offer comprehensive reviews on a wide range of smart home products.
  3. Purchase and Install. Next comes the fun part, purchasing and install – enough said.

Smart home technology has become more mainstream and accessible than ever before, and homeowners are increasingly interested in incorporating these solutions. That said, it’s important to focus on meaningful solutions that fit the specific desires of the homeowner and their lifestyle, rather than just installing technology for technology’s sake. It’s also crucial to plan for add-ons and future expansion of the system, whether through the help of a professional integrator or through DIY research. Ultimately, by starting with a detailed needs assessment, homeowners can make informed decisions about incorporating budget-conscious smart solutions into their kitchens and bathrooms, simplifying everyday routines and enhancing their overall living experience.

By Mitch Klein, executive director, Z-Wave Alliance,

Photo: Angelov/Adobe Stock