Retrofitting a Smart Home - How the installation works

  1. Smart Home - What is it?
  2. Funk - The foundation of the Smart Home
  3. Instructions: These areas can be retrofitted
  4. The advantages of the Smart Home
  5. The financial aspects

1. Smart Home - What is it?

Smart home is on everyone's lips, but many do not know so much about it. Fundamental questions, such as the connection of the devices, the possibilities that this technology holds, as well as the costs that the consumer incurs and that can save them in the long term, are still unknown to many people.
So what is smart home actually? At the National IT Summit in Hamburg, the market outlook for this technology was explained in more detail and with its also a wide, differentiated, definition was published.

19618 Smart Home Retrofit Info 1

19618 Smart Home Retrofit Info 1

Basically, Smart Home can be defined as a "generic term for [...] technical processes and systems in living rooms and houses, which focuses on increasing living and quality of life, security and efficient energy use based on networked and remotely controllable devices and installations as well as automatable processes stands."
(Source: Yearbook 2013/14 of AG 2 of the National IT Summit)

Especially in the private sector, this technology is becoming increasingly interesting for the consumer. For now, the costs have fallen significantly and the benefits increased vehemently. For in addition to safety and economy, it is also the wealth and the comfort that allows many to access these systems.

19618 Retrofitting Smart Home Graphic 1

19618 Retrofitting Smart Home Graphic 1

2. Radio - The basis of the Smart Home

Radio used to be radios in the past, today this technology is considerably more versatile.

Radio used to be radios in the past, today this technology is considerably more versatile.

Radio used to be radios in the past, today this technology is considerably more versatile.

The wireless transmission is currently the common form of the smart home. Certainly there are also systems that are connected via conventional cables. Today, however, the trend is towards radio. The reason is quite simple: On the one hand it saves the annoying cable salad and on the other hand, the installation is also possible later.

a. Explanation of wireless transmission technology

The radio technology refers to a variant of the signal transmission, which has long been established in the field of radio waves. For the first time in 1864, this possibility was thought through and finally applied in 1888. In principle, it is about an electromagnetic wave, a so-called carrier signal, which is changed by a message signal and this finally transmitted. What was then audible in the form of radio and later made visible in the form of television is now more versatile. Currently, this form of transmission is established in all sorts of everyday situations. One problem that quickly turned out to be a recurring consideration in terms of the smart home is the security of the data, which, if sent unencrypted, is not always guaranteed. Disturbances are also a criticism. These may affect the signal occasionally.
Wireless Internet would also be an alternative to controlling the smart home. However, the energy consumption for a Wi-Fi connection would simply be too high, so that it would only be possible with more frequent battery replacement.

b. The flexibility - the advantage of a wireless connection

The installation of the devices is less complicated than thought, provided they are connected to radio. The data transmission allows greater flexibility, can also be installed later and looks just more stylish and modern. One disadvantage, however, is the susceptibility to interference. This is less the case with cable connections. Beginners should inform themselves with an expert about the exact advantages and disadvantages of both technologies. Especially in new buildings, it is possible with the help of cables and radio to design an optimal combination that optimally exploits both advantages. In the following, however, mainly radio-based devices are presented. These can be easily retrofitted and logged on to the base station.

Tablet and smartphone will serve as remote controls in the future.

Tablet and smartphone will serve as remote controls in the future.

Tablet and smartphone will serve as remote controls in the future.

c. The house networking via radio

The house networking is so possible with some exceptions mainly via radio. The advantage has already been discussed. A professional will remedy this situation, because he can judge whether the house is suitable for such a technology, after all not all walls allow constant radio links. Therefore, it is advisable to hire an appraiser before investing money for the equipment.

3. Instructions: These areas can be retrofitted

The radio connection makes it possible to retrofit devices. This also allows smart home for real estate owners whose object is already older. Anyone who owns a property and wants to build his own house there should contact an expert who sets it up with regard to the electrical installation. Especially because of the possibility of a smart home, they have become more complex. The number of sockets, operating systems and safety systems are just three of the aspects that must be mentioned here.

19618 Smart Home retrofitting graphic 2

19618 Smart Home retrofitting graphic 2

1st step: the smart lighting control

Dimming, turning up, turning on or off the lights without a light switch allows smart lighting control. The easiest way to retrofit them is with flush-mounted light switches, which can be controlled via smartphone.

19618 Smart Home Retrofit Info 2

19618 Smart Home Retrofit Info 2

In addition to these simple switches, there is also a central circuit that turns off the light when nobody is home or on when somebody enters the house. In addition, there is a panic circuit, which enlightens the entire living space in unusual activities. Here, however, the self-installation is more complex, which is why it is recommended to consult an expert.

2nd step: the digital heating control

It is the central aspect of a smart home. Especially with regard to the potential for savings, the right heating and the feel-good atmosphere, the heating control has to be given a central place. Das-intelligente-zuhause.de shows the advantages of meaningful temperature control. Thus, such a technique benefits the environment, it uses the resources effectively and creates a feel-good climate in summer and in winter. Accordingly, there are time-controlled thermostats, which heat each room separately and can be regulated by a smartphone. This is easily possible via app. The advantage here: Not only the temperature is pleasant, but mold, which occurs frequently in the cold season, is also avoidable.

19618 Smart Home Retrofit Info 3

19618 Smart Home Retrofit Info 3

3rd step: smart alarm system - for more security

Important aspects of a home security system.

Important aspects of a home security system.

Important aspects of a home security system.

While the first two variants are easier to retrofit for laymen, it is advisable in an alarm system, at least when buying a specialist to consult. In addition to the installation, the vulnerability to external access has already been explained. However, experts can recommend those systems that are better protected. The basic products include sensors for the doors and the windows, which are connected to the smartphone as well as to a motion detector and an acoustic signal. Anyone who already has a building control can inform themselves about systems that are compatible with them.

19618 Smart Home Retrofit Info 4

19618 Smart Home Retrofit Info 4

What is also important in terms of safety are smoke alarms that sound the alarm as soon as a fire breaks out. Meanwhile, there are also heat detectors, which are particularly recommended for the kitchen, since the usual systems can often be activated even with water vapor. Heat detectors, on the other hand, sound an alarm as soon as the stove or oven has been started, and as a result, an unusual heat development is registered.

4th step: Smart Home in the bedroom

Shutter systems and lighting control as well as the climate control have already been explained and are often used in bedrooms. However, there are also so-called smart beds that complete the feel-good atmosphere. It is simply a mattress topper that can be controlled via the app for about temperature. There is also a coupling to the light and heating control.

19618 Smart Home Retrofit Info 5

19618 Smart Home Retrofit Info 5

5th step: The smart bathroom

Meanwhile, bathrooms can do more than just house the shower, sink and toilet. In the meantime these are considerably more versatile. Also with regard to the sanitary facilities, the feel-good character has returned. Favorite water temperature, medication reminder as well as independently opening doors to the shower or into the actual room are possible, provided that the necessary small change in the hand is taken. In contrast to the other variants, the retrofit is more complex.

Looks good and offers comfort - the smart bathroom

Looks good and offers comfort - the smart bathroom

Looks good and offers comfort - the smart bathroom

However, what is realistic and is particularly suitable for seniors are emergency call sets, which send a signal via radio if a person crashes. In the form of a string, this mechanism is also feasible lying on the ground. However, the cost is much higher than the other systems. Nevertheless, retrofitting is possible, if only with the help of an expert.

Step 6: Smart Metering - save energy with the help of intelligent technology

The last option presented here is a smart meter, a so-called smart meter that documents energy consumption. These are necessary for the technology of the smart grid, which ensures the communication between consumer, supplier and storage. Even when installing an independent installation is not readily possible, which is why a specialist is essential. However, the benefits are clearly visible as emissions are reduced, energy efficiency increased and the environment saved as well as costs reduced.

4. The advantages of the Smart Home

The benefits of smart homes are obvious. Through the development of technology, it is possible to control a large part of the house through networking. The living spaces can be heated and lit depending on the time of day, and in terms of safety, new standards are constantly emerging that speak for that technology.

Brand new: The Smart Bed, which stores temperature and other features and retrieves this knowledge every night.

Brand new: The Smart Bed, which stores temperature and other features and retrieves this knowledge every night.

Brand new: The Smart Bed, which stores temperature and other features and retrieves this knowledge every night.

a. Higher comfort

Heating and lighting control or even various multimedia connections and flush-mounted radios contribute to a higher level of comfort. Just little things like a blind regulation help to a relaxed start to the day. Meanwhile, there are also presence switches that turn the light on and off like a motion detector. These detect when someone is in the room and thus allow the perfect light. Thus, at a desk different lighting conditions prevail than in the living room or in the dining room.

Multimedia is an additional area that can be optimized through smart solutions. This creates a new sound and networking of the associated devices.

Regarding the heating control, there are also advantages to be mentioned, because many people have problems with the right heating and ventilation in the cold season to avoid the formation of mold. Heating the stairwell, for example, is an aspect that often runs counter to many people because it is considered a waste. However, mold develops at low temperature sooner if heating is not done regularly. This can be regulated automatically by a controller and according to the respective season.

b. More safety

19618 Smart Home retrofitting graphic 4

19618 Smart Home retrofitting graphic 4

Security is a big plus and a big disadvantage of smart home solutions. Because while new technologies are now established with regard to alarm systems, others fear that their data will be spied out and access to the devices thereby facilitated.

Trade magazines have already reported on further options with a view to safety. This article, on the other hand, addresses the security vulnerabilities. There are some products that do not meet the requirements and therefore offer a large attack surface for hackers. Above all the passwords of the consumers are to be called, which make the Mitlesen only possible. Nonetheless, prospective buyers should inquire in advance which safety regulations should be followed and how they can best be implemented. However, there are now ways to find out if those affected are actually spied on. These Wireshark systems promise to prevent or at least limit data theft.

With regard to the normal burglar, however, the smart home offers security that did not exist on this scale. Whether visual door communication, alarm systems that can be switched on and off on the way, as well as a link with other systems that also sound the alarm - there are hardly any limits in terms of alarm systems.

c. Coupling of several devices

In a smart home, most of the devices are directly connected. In this way, that technology has changed people's everyday lives significantly. As early as 2014, the IFA radio exhibition in Berlin showed which connection options are realistic and feasible. The Augsburger Allgemeine reported that last year both the refrigerator and the washing machine could be paired with the mobile smartphone. The oven can also be controlled in this way so that it is possible to switch it on and off externally.

5. The financial aspects

a. Cost of installation

19618 Smart Home retrofitting graphic 5

19618 Smart Home Retrofit Graphic 5

Basically, the costs that are incurred vary according to the quality of the equipment. So there are flush-mounted light switches already for a price of 70-80 euros. The thermostats are a bit more expensive. Here consumers have to expect a price of around 250 euros, if they want to buy a high-quality product. However, this price includes a service that provides advice on installing and adjusting the heating system. It is different with a building control. This costs considerably more, but it has many things included, such as the control of the shutters, the heating and the light. The cost of such a high-quality product amount to around 1,300 euros and installation is not possible without professional help. Basically, the small items such as the lighting, the heating and the smart bed are all in all for around 1000 euros to buy. Although no craft costs are included, most of the time it can be mounted on its own.

b. Long-term savings

The long-term savings are especially in the field of energy. Intelligent lighting and heating controls can significantly reduce consumption. It takes a while for the expenses to pay off, but in the long run, such an investment is highly recommended. Alone in this area, it is possible to save around 40 percent. An integrated house tax system, as already presented, costs a lot in the purchase, but saves considerable sums in the daily use. So the savings in single, family and senior households are in the following area:

19618 Smart Home Retrofit Graphic 6

19618 Smart Home Retrofit Graphic 6

Pixabay © yoosafabdulla (CC0 Public Domain 1.0)
Pixabay © RonPorter (CC0 Public Domain 1.0)
Pixabay © fancycrave1 (CC0 Public Domain 1.0)
Pixabay © flienatec (CC0 Public Domain 1.0)
Pixabay © yoosafabdulla (CC0 Public Domain 1.0)

Video Board: How to Install a Smart Thermostat