Richard Hopkins, lead marketing manager at Legrand UK and Ireland, outlines the opportunities for electrical professionals to become a primary source of knowledge in the smart technology market.
We are in the midst of a smart technology revolution. As consumers become aware of the possibility of smart devices and systems, there is a growing expectation for them to be implemented into our nation’s buildings. While many search online to discern what technology is available, without technical understanding it can be difficult to fully understand what the full breadth of smart products can deliver when fully integrated.
Demand for smart technology is growing. According to a recent survey of 1,000 consumers, two thirds of people have a smart device in their home, and over half of respondents were planning on purchasing more devices in the near future. Using phrases such as ‘exciting’, ‘interesting’ or ‘revolutionary’, 65% described smart technology positively, so it is clear that demand for the technology is present.
However, the survey also revealed that 68% of respondents would turn to the internet to find out more about smart technology, while only 14% would approach their electrician. While the internet is a helpful place to understand the benefits, features and aesthetics of individual devices, it can be difficult to explore how products can be integrated and connected in smart building scenes.
With smart technology growing so quickly, electrical professionals now have an opportunity to capitalise on this demand and become the source of smart tech knowledge. By understanding the intricacies of smart products and how they can interconnect within a building, electrical contractors and installers can offer bespoke advice and installations to fit exacting customer requirements. However, what can professionals in the industry do to become experts in smart technology?
Residential smart buildings
To be able to offer the most appropriate service, it is first important for electrical professionals to be aware of what technology is currently available. A number of home functions can be enhanced and automated with smart devices, working together in scenes controllable with smartphone apps or central control panels.
As we approach the winter months, consumers will be looking for innovations to intelligently heat their homes. Smart thermostats, radiator valves and outdoor weather sensors can be interconnected as part of a smart home scene, heating a home exactly when occupants require it as weather and occupant habits vary during the winter. This includes heating earlier to reach the chosen setpoint temperature at the exact time indicated in the heating schedule. As the smart system learns specific characteristics of the home and accumulated weather data, the system can optimise space heating in the home and increase overall efficiency.
Smart lighting is also available for integration in a home automation scene. Controllable through the same system, the lighting can be programmed to turn on and off remotely and with changes in daylight. In situations where occupants are rushing to work or going on holiday, there is no questioning whether they switched all their lights off. Reducing unnecessary lighting use also lowers consumption, a particularly helpful cost saving feature for an increasingly environmentally-aware and sustainable population.
To broach security concerns of residential end- users, smart camera systems can be installed easily to the interior and exterior of a property. Some smart cameras can detect different types of movement, be it a person, animal, vehicle or just harmless movement from an object. It can even use facial recognition to discern whether to send alerts to the end- user’ss’ smartphone, or trigger an inbuilt siren with certain devices. Smart lighting can also be programmed to work in tandem with such camera systems, to further deter intruders and make footage clearer for end- users.
On top of these technologies, it is also possible to integrate audio systems, door and gate entry, and even control blinds and curtains within the same house. While consumers may feel they understand each device in isolation, they may need the services of an electrical professional when it comes to interconnecting the entire system and choosing which of these devices they truly require. This is where the opportunity for electrical professionals to capitalise on can be found.
Clearly electrical professionals are likely to be seeing increased demand from their customers for smart technology installations. A concern for many installers is that this will require vast amounts of extra knowledge and training. As workloads increase and time is at a premium, electrical installers and contractors need training to fit into their busy working schedules.
Whether installing a few smart devices or creating an entire automated building, electrical installers can usually upskill quickly and easily. Various companies have designed different training courses with electrical professionals in mind, helping those installing smart building technology to define the solutions that are right for their customer’s’ requirements.
While smart devices and systems continue to become commonplace, electrical professionals can use such training to become a trusted source of smart technology knowledge. Whether working on residential or commercial developments, they can be armed with everything to offer bespoke and project-specific advice and products to clients.
In such a consumer-led market, staying ahead of smart technology growth and being proactive in growing knowledge and competence is important for all contractors and installers. Now is the time to take the opportunity to upskill and broaden working opportunities with smart tech.