Selecting a smart home system in 2022 is a great way to enhance your lifestyle, create a more comfortable and convenient home, save energy and increase your family’s safety and security in your home.
That is, enhancing your lifestyle through simple, smart technology.
In this article I provide a simple framework to help average Australian homeowners choose the best smart home system for their budget, performance and desired outcome in 2022.
UPDATED January 26th 2022
With technology changing so fast I have updated this article from 2020 to include hints, hacks, tips and tricks for the current state of play in the Australian smart home market in 2022.
Find the section you need
- How Do You Choose the Right Smart Home System for your home in 2022
- How Much Does a smart home Cost in 2022?
- 3 Steps to Choose the Best Smart Home System in 2022
- Step 1: What are you going to make smart in your home?
- Step 2: What is your smart home budget?
- Step 3: Choices, Choices, Choices
- A word on DIY ‘smart home’ products
- Tips for DIY-ers
Smart home systems provide these lifestyle enhancing benefits by automating control of many electric and electronic devices in your home:
- automatically based on time and/or environmental inputs,
- from your interaction with the smart home system via a button, an app, a remote
- from your voice via Amazon Echo, Google Home and other voice assistants
This smart home automation can control a vast range of everyday devices such as indoor and outdoor lighting, table and floor lamps, extractor fans, ceiling fans, pool pumps, garage doors and windows shadings, curtains, awnings and blinds.
Further control and integration can be achieved with smart homes for audio visual systems, home cinemas, intercoms, HVAC or air-conditioning systems, irrigations systems and security systems too.
All of this technology can be integrated into your home to enhance your lifestyle and make your home a smart home, but where do you start?
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How Do You Choose the Right Smart Home System for your home in 2022?
Choosing a smart home system in 2022 should therefore be easier than ever with so much capability and so many options, right?.
Unfortunately there are now so many choices, different technologies and competing opinions, homeowners are confused and are apprehensive in case they choose the wrong solution.
That’s why this smart home selection framework below is a useful tool no matter your budget, functionality requirements and desired outcome.
PIXIE Smart Home Moments are application examples of just 10 of the ways PIXIE helps home owners experience a smart home.
Maybe you'll discover some smart ways to increase the IQ of your home with PIXIE!
How Much Does a smart home Cost in 2020?
This depends on how much smarts your installing into your home and the level of integration between all of these devices (the levels of smarts) you desire.
Asking how much does it cost to make your home a smart home is such a common question we have answered with a new 2021 article all of its own. Read it now here.
Some smart home systems allow you to get started for less than the cost of a smartphone.
These starter systems can be expanded upon easily in the future when you’re ready to do more without rewiring your home.
SAL PIXE smart home products are one Australian designed solution that meets this goal.
Whilst choosing one of the traditional big 4 smart systems (CBUS, Dynalite, Control 4, KNX) and automating an entire large home, which these systems are most commonly used in, can cost upwards of $10,000 to $100,000 or more.
This is beyond the reach of most Australian homeowners but, with the cost of technology decreasing and availability of other solution proliferating, an average 3-4 bedroom home in Australia can be transformed into a smart home for a fraction of that top end cost.
Its critical when making the decision to make a smart home that cost, price and value are considered and understood.
If your home renovation budget is $250,000 and your being asked to spend 10% of that on home automation does that make sense to you for the value it will provide your family day to day?
Likewise, if your upgrading some LED lighting and have some additional lighting circuits and power points installed for a budget of $5,000, does spending 25% of that budget make sense to you for the lifestyle enhancements you’ll receive and in increased home value?
Do you want the status of owning and living in a smart home and showing it off to your friends and family? What’s this status worth to you?
Or are you more interested in saving energy and money savings that come with that? Over 5 or 10 years how much energy will you save with your chosen smart home solution and will you get an ROI?
Everyone has a different way to evaluate this value.
There’s no absolute answer, but this framework and pricing guideline provides a starting point.
Remember your home is one of the largest assets most people will own, and you’ll spend a lot of time living in it, so be sure to evaluate any smart home buying decision with that timeframe and asset value in mind too.
3 Steps to Choose the Best Smart Home System in 2020/2021
No matter if your building a new home, extending an existing home or renovating your current family home, this checklist will help you choose the right smart home solution.
What are the Top 4 ROOMS for Smart Home Technology in 2021?
Understanding the top places to implement smart home technology in your home allows homeowners to live with a selection of smart-home technology before committing completely - if your chosen system can be easily added to later without committing to new wiring ( and expense) to achieve that.
Some older legacy systems that require re-wiring are inflexible in this approach due to the additional wiring, expenses and labour - so best to choose a system that permits you to start small and grow if this is your preferred approach.
Step 1: What are your going to make smart in your home?
First decide what you are going to automate as part of your smart home. Often this depends on the type of project you are undertaking.
If you’re building a brand new home, automating as many appliances and devices as you can afford in your budget makes sense in 2021.
If you’re undertaking something simpler, like upgrading a few rooms to LED lighting and installing some automated blinds, then installing some smart dimmers, light switches and blind controllers from PIXIE is a better place to start.
Do you really need your home to ‘know’ via GPS and geofencing when you’re within 1km of the home, turn on the AC and lights for the front porch, if it’s dark outside - in preparation of your impending arrival?
Or, are you comfortable with pressing a button on your keyring, in a mobile App to make that happen or a simple voice command to SIRI?
Its a collection of these small decisions about outcomes that can save thousands or increase costs for ‘automations' that are rarely used but sold as a good idea to bump your budget.
Here is a list of most commonly automated devices in Australian smart homes and which provide the best bang for smart home buck.
- Indoor and outdoor lighting control
- Table lamps and floor lamp control
- Electric Blinds control
- Extractor fans and ceiling fans
- Pool pumps
- Garage doors
TIP #1: Create a list of priorities for you.
Must have’s vs. nice to have’s. That way if your budget is under pressure you’ve already made those choices.
Step 2: What is your smart home budget?
High end smart home systems can cost as much as $10,000 to start; up to $80k, $90k even $100,000 or more for very large homes.
In 2021 you really need to be aware of the different types of smart home technology to better make informed decisions.
Understanding both cost and available products/systems pros and cons before purchasing is time well spent considering this technology will be installed in your home and which you will live with for many years.
We've written an article about the 3 main types of smart home systems, pros and cons and prices which is an ideal place to start.
Whatever devices you have chosen to include in your smart home from step 1 and whatever your budget from this step 2, be sure you get what you pay for by understanding what’s included in your smart home price.
These costs include:
- the smart home devices which are approved for installation in Australia - insurance companies will investigate everything if you have a fire or other event that might cause them to have to pay on a policy so be sure to use Australian approved smart home devices like PIXIE PLUS.
- the labour to install this correctly to your local codes, by a licensed tradesman.
- the labour to configure and commission these systems to operate the way homeowners desire.
When getting a smart home price from your electrician or smart home systems integrator you need to be sure your price includes each and all of these components. Ask them to provide that reassurance in writing with a simple phrase like:
“This pricing includes all products, installation materials, installation labour and system commissioning labour to deliver your smart home as per the attached Smart home operational brief for the property at: [insert property address here]”
Of course you’ll need the brief document (see below) and, if plans change, this can be updated and dated with the changes. It would be unfair to depend on that original document if you've added rooms, devices or capabilities, and expecting the budget not to change.
Seems obvious but in my experience when it comes to smart home budget, leave nothing to chance wherever possible provides the best experience and outcome for all involved.
Depending on the level of automation and your outcome, point 3 of this budget model is often the most variable.
Ask your chosen contractor for a written description of how the system will operate, what will be controlled how, when, why and by what method - and agree on that functionality up front.
Labour and commissioning costs can exceed the cost of the actual smart home equipment today, and that’s OK. Being prepared to pay for a correctly installed and operational smart home is more than just selecting products - just like eating at a restaurant is more than just buying food. If we visited restaurants just for the food, we’d never pay the prices asked.
Remember, these professionals need to spend time designing the right systems, which are compatible with each other, to meet your outcome-brief and often this design component is not represented as a separate line item on your quotation for average Australian homes.
If you’re choosing a less sophisticated or less capable DIY solution, understand your costs in equipment, time and commissioning yourself and be sure to check with your partner and children that what you think is perfect, is right for them too.
A little planning and confirmation now, solves a lot of problems later and wasted time and money later.
Step 3 : Choices, Choices, Choices
The third step is to select a smart home system that provides the most choices for your budget, now and in the future. The system that provides the most options is always the best choice, but these choices are not simply in relation to product mix or functionality.
These choices refer to a range of elements which are all linked to your budget, the functionality you desire and the final outcome you want to achieve.
This includes the ability to add additional devices in the future with the least amount of cost and hassle and integrate them easily into your smart home ecosystem.
Ask your electrician or systems integrator - “do you need to add more electrical cabling, data communications cabling and expand the size of your electrical switchboard to expand the system?”
Or can you use your home’s existing electrical cabling and install a smart device in your wall switch to achieve the desired outcome?
If extensive new electrical and or data cabling is needed to expand the system and integrate it, its going to cost a LOT more compared to using the existing cabling infrastructure.
EXPLORE THE AUSTRALIA DESIGNED SMART HOME SYSTEM FOR AUSTRALIAN HOMES - PIXIEPLUS
A word on DIY ‘smart home’ products
DIY technology that promotes smart home functionality is available everywhere, so ensuring that you can fully answer Step 1 and Step 2 yourself, when considering a DIY approach should guide you on any DIY choices.
Not all DIY equipment is created equal and not all of it is really classified as smart home, regardless of what the marketing says.
If you believe that changing a few light globes to smart lamps and plugging in an Amazon Alexa is all you need or all you can afford, then go ahead and do that, but don’t fool yourself into believing you have a smart home. What you likely have is a few WiFi enabled light globes you can control from an App.
A smart home provides combined control of interoperable systems, sometimes automatically depending on time and environmental conditions, and sometimes with user input to enhance your lifestyle - comfort, convenience, security, safety, energy savings.
A smart home provides multiple layered schedules for your installed systems, grouping of common control devices for easier control across multiple spaces in your home simultaneously, the ability to recall scenes to instantly create moods throughout your home and provides simple day to day operation that you don't even need to think about.
A smart home is a home that once you've lived with, you'll never live without it again.
If the technology installed makes things more difficult then its fails as a smart home.
Remember, sometimes it really is easier to get up and turn off the light with a wall switch than it is to find your phone, unlock it, find and open the App and press on the right function.
Also consider the DIY tips below to help you to deliver the right outcome for yourself if you;re considering a DIY apprach.
Tips for DIY-ers
If you want to compare the PROS and CONS of the different types of smart home systems available with a focus on price, read our article here about smart home starter costs in Australia.
- Be sure any products you select are Australian approved and compliant to our Standards and laws. Just because it’s being sold here (or online) does not mean it is being sold legally or can be legally installed in Australia - even if you’ve bought it from a big name department store. Look for the RCM mark on the product as a good place to start and keep in mind that compliance for these products is ‘self-declared’ in Australia - so request the Australian documentation from the manufacturer if you’re really keen to only use Australian authorised products.
- If you need to do any kind of electrical work and you’re not a licensed electrician then call one. Don’t take the risks.
- Research - do some simple Google searches for the products you are thinking of using - “issues with [insert brand here]”, “[insert brand here] keeps dropping out”, “[insert brand here] support” - you get the idea.
- How are you with I.T? If you struggle with modifying settings on your modem or don’t understand networking - reconsider your DIY approach. If you’ve done your research from Tip 3, you’ll find 2 things - a large number of consumers struggling with light bulbs that disconnect or hubs that keep dropping out; and help sections on websites that expect you’ll know the terms, terminology and processes to modify modems, routers and networks.
- What else does it work with? Are the DIY devices compatible with any devices from any other manufacturer?; If so which ones and which products? Are they easily integrated with other systems by you?
- Do these devices work if there is no WiFi or internet in your home?
- Can you still control the devices locally from a switch on the wall or, if your mobile device is flat do you have no control at all.
- What happens when you have a power outage? Do they need to be setup all over again? Do they return to an off-state, an on-state or the state they were in when power was lost? This is important for safety and energy savings.
- Where is the Mobile App designed and hosted? If it’s not Australian hosted, chances are your details and your home’s information is being stored in China, Europe or the USA. Are you OK with that personal information being held outside of Australia?
- Does it provide you all the functionality you need or is it missing something that would make it great vs ok?
So there its is a 3 step framework to act as a guide when choosing the right smart home solution for you family home and some DIY tips if you’re convinced that’s the right path for you.
- Choose what you are going to make smart in your home and make a priorities list of must haves vs nice to haves
- Create your smart home budget and work closely with your electrician or systems integrator to agree on what you’re going to have delivered and how it will function
- Select the system that provides the most choices, now and in the future, especially with respect to expanding the systems and inetgarting all devices together into a real smart home.