Keep it simple.
Every supplier has the latest and greatest solution out there now days. And new ones just keep on rolling through. For such a small country we have every man and his dog out there importing devices. Most of them are to technical and go right over the head of the contractor, and in the end, the consumer as well. They tell you that the days of needing to get out of your seat to turn devices on or off are gone. We can control the devices off an App on your smartphone, or let your voice do the work. We now have Alexa and I think she is here to stay. Forget about the exercise; let us be a couch potato!
We have the industry wide KNX platform. If you want all the bells and whistles then this could be the way to go. But how much does your customer want to pay to stay locked in their seat, and at the bank. This market has its key integrators in each region so it’s not a solution that every electrical contractor will want to offer it. And when something goes wrong, you pay a small fortune to get it fixed. So what other options are out there.
Now if you want to keep it relatively simple, then this is where the likes of Nero comes into the market. It is reasonably easy to set up and has some great functionality. The biggest cost to the system is the Nero-Gateway but once you have installed this, you can connect up to 60 devices via the Nexus mesh network. So in terms of an add-on solution this is a very cost effective way to automate your house. It is designed for the retrofit market as the modules fit neatly behind your existing light switches and sockets. But it also has its place in the new home build market as well.
Some of the key features are really useful. Like being able to schedule when certain lights turn on is great for security. Imagine being able to go away on holiday and having different lights come on at irregular times to make it look like you are at home. If you are lucky enough to have electric blinds and curtains then you can schedule these to close as the light level decreases and open again as the light level increases. This is all controlled via the Nero-Multi. This is a multi-purpose battery or USB powered sensor that can monitor temperature, light level, motion, humidity, UV and vibration. With a 5 meter range and a 120-degree field of view, the Nero-Multi is a versatile device that can be wall mounted or discretely recessed with the optional recessor. Geofencing is another great feature. Imagine heading home at night, and once you get within a pre-set distance of your house, certain lights come on. Never arrive home in the dark again.
The contractor’s main concern should not be around the price of the products but what is the after sales service and technical support like. In the end it will be the consumer who will keep you honest. And you know how hard they can be sometimes! If you are not sure about some of the automation products available out there, then talk to someone at your local Powerbase branch. Sometimes it’s about getting some products and having a play. The beauty of the internet means there are plenty of on-line forums and support desks based around many of the products we talk about in this magazine.