With the demand for smart homes increasing, Ali Bullough, technical trainer at JTL, discusses the importance of an electrician’s understanding of the smart home market and how they can go about gaining this knowledge.
According to Smart Home Week, there are now 15 million ‘smart homes’ in Britain, with its 2019 survey revealing that 57% of homes now have some sort of device to control appliances, while one in six are using smart tech remotely.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
Smart home technology is becoming more accessible to many UK households, giving rise to the term ‘home automation’, which refers to the enabling of the remote access of devices inside a household.
As a result, it now means that we can monitor and adjust various controls remotely including lighting, temperature, domestic appliances and security needs within our home. Home automation is reliant on the internet and as such, a term has been coined to describe this interconnectivity: the Internet of Things (IoT), which provides a platform for devices to communicate and interact with each other.
Home automation began with features designed to save time and effort. This has now advanced into devices that can be controlled by artificial intelligence, such as Amazon’s Alexa, but the IoT is continually growing. Efficiency is one of the main benefits of using home automation. Devices that can be controlled with pre-sets can have more energy saving benefits as they can turn themselves off when not in use.
Assisted living solutions
The Internet of Things has also been utilised for automated assistance for people with disabilities or elderly people. For example, people with disabilities who may have sight limitations can be guided with voice control. There are also motion sensing capabilities for seizure and accident emergencies.
Additionally, living room hubs can be used as a safety measure at home. Elderly people can be monitored with the help of security cameras and smartphones can then be used to access the video footage at any given time.
Electric vehicle charging
The electric vehicle and hybrid market is growing rapidly in the UK. There are more than 136,000 pure electric vehicles on the road right now in the UK and over 330,000 plug in hybrids (PHEVs). If you include PHEVs with full EVs, they account for almost one in ten new vehicles currently registered in the UK.
There are currently over 30,000 electric charging points publicly available in the UK. This is up from previous years but is still 0.06 chargers per EV/PHEV vehicle on the road. This needs to increase rapidly to meet the demand of EVs.
There are also only just over 7,000 rapid chargers (50KW and above) in the UK, an area in dire need of expansion, as they are the only chargers that can effectively provide enough charge to continue travelling in under an hour. With high demand and lack of supply, the opportunity to install electrical vehicle charging points as part of the smart home system, certainly forms the mindsight of what future homes look like.
The future of homes is big business
The Internet of Things, digital lighting and the growing demand for home automation in general, gives way for the traditional electrician to seize these opportunities and become the go-to smart installer. Historically, the home automation market was focused on the ultra-high-end customer, but is now an affordable reality for many households. Plus, as prices continue to come down, the market will speed up.
In the UK in 2018, the combined spend on home automation, security and assisted living solutions was estimated at £800 million, with an expectant growth just shy of 30% annually until 2021. The Internet of Things and the growing demand for home automation in general, is a long-term opportunity for electricians and an area worth upskilling in.
As an electrician, being involved with home automation is the ideal opportunity to develop your business, as you can increase the value of projects and take advantage of upselling opportunities, significantly increasing your profit earning potential.
If you are looking at upskilling and becoming an expert in home automation then there are no shortcuts, so it is recommended that you identify your knowledge gaps, whether that’s in heating or security, and train accordingly. It is advisable that you opt for a flexible training course that doesn’t lock you or your customer into one manufacturer.