There are a number of questions that a client has to consider before any home automation design can be started. In no particular order, these include:
To break these down, budget is self-explanatory. As in most purchases, the more you have available, the greater the options. We recommend getting multiple quotes, and then working with your chosen supplier to fine tune the package to meet your projected requirements. Any competent company will overspecify the first fix wiring and flood the house with cat6 cabling - this is relatively inexpensive and will pay dividends in years to come
Functionality - what do you want from your system? Music on demand throughout the house, 4K ready TV distribution, Wi-Fi, CCTV, Fire/Smoke/Monoxide detectors, Heating, Lighting, Remote access, Central locking, Gate & Door control, Home Cinema, Music & Video library, Panic Alarm? How will you be using your home in 10 years time?
Aesthetics - do you want sleek touch panels in the walls, speakers hidden behind plaster or in ceilings, iPad control, a central AV cupboard holding all the equipment, colour and mood changing lighting, concealed screens, mirror TV’s. Note TV screens are getting larger so allow for what may seem ridiculously large screen sizes when deciding upon positioning.
Future-proofing, possibly the most difficult task of all when designing any installed system. Sometimes the most unlikely company can stop trading, and you can be left with an unsupported system. How will future technologies affect how we use and enjoy our homes? Without the benefit of a crystal ball all we can do is put a robust network in place that can provide the backbone for any future development. My advice is to put as much high quality and screened cat6 cable in as possible during first fix, 4 to each potential TV location, even run them to fridges, freezers, doors and roof spaces. We have put fibre optic in some houses, although it seems like years before it will become anything like a standard. Provide good quality speaker cabling to potential wall and ceiling speaker points - for example the latest dolby audio standard includes over 12 speaker locations per room! Take all these cables, carefully labelled, to a central well-ventilated AV cupboard or store and you should be good for at least 25 years.
After that, maybe all we’ll need is a lightweight virtual reality headset to provide all our entertainment and home control needs.