Can You Retrofit Smart Home Technology?
With Modern Wireless Technologies, You Can Benefit from the Latest Innovations
Much of what we call home automation today began in the 1990s. Before the age of the internet and software-driven devices, there were systems to control and program home technology such as lighting and AV systems. In those days, the technology required quite a bit of wiring.
Fast forward a couple of decades, and the internet protocols we depend on every day, as well as a variety of optimized wireless technologies - RF (radio frequency, Bluetooth, Zigbee, etc.) - are powering new communication and control capabilities in a slew of smart home devices. Add to the sauce the intelligence from inexpensive processing power and software that makes the control systems of 20 years ago blush, and you have sophisticated home automation possibilities available today that used to cost tens of thousands of dollars in equipment and custom programming.
What does this all mean? To answer the premise of the blog, yes, you can. You can add smart home features to your property without taking it down to the studs and adding low voltage wiring everywhere. We're not saying you don't need any cables or wires - there are tradeoffs to fully wireless approaches - but there's much you can do with today's wirelessly connected devices and systems.
So if you want to retrofit smart home features to your home in the San Francisco Bay area, we all know that property here is expensive and budgets are not necessarily unlimited for full-scale remodeling. The good news is that you can get sophisticated smart home technology that doesn’t require you to embark on a major rebuilding project.
Read on for some examples of what’s possible. It may be more than you think.
Lighting control is one area where you might think it would be challenging to have advanced features without extensive reconfiguration of electrical wiring. Of course, we know about smart bulb technology like Philips Hue and many others. Smart bulbs are acceptable solutions, but they are limiting in two critical ways. One is that you may be hamstrung by the type of bulb made for that specific system. So whatever styles and sizes they have, that's it. The second limitation of a smart bulb approach is the light switch - it remains dumb. If the switch that controls the lighting load is off, none of the smart features or automation will work.
Making your existing lighting system smart is the better approach. Systems from pioneering lighting control companies like Lutron have been doing this for years. In Lutron's case, several of their systems require minimal wiring. Their approach implements a wired hub (much like the wireless hubs of smart consumer devices) that adds the intelligence to your existing lighting. With wireless wall-mounted keypads and controls, you can free yourself from the tyranny of your wired light switch. And with the added intelligence, you can group and control your lights the way you want, make them respond to your voice command, a seasonal schedule, and much more. Lutron’s RadioRA2 uses the company’s proprietary ClearConnect RF technology for quick response and reliable performance that is not dependent on wi-fi, Bluetooth, or other protocols. This wireless retrofit approach also lets you use the bulbs and fixtures you already have or some new styles where you want them.
Wireless Whole Home Audio
A system like today’s Sonos product line adds new ways to distribute audio and make it all far easier to control. The key difference is wireless technology. For simpler, smaller systems, a Sonos solution can wirelessly connect a set of speakers across the entire house and easily direct content to each location. You can use Sonos wireless speakers, but if you want higher performance, the new Sonos Amp and Port products let you power your own speakers, either built-in or freestanding, as well as integrate older audio equipment into a small-scale whole-house system.
What does it all mean for you? Retrofitting whole-home audio doesn't require a major construction project. Even for built-in speakers, these solutions are more compact, intelligent, and wirelessly controlled from any room, so the amount of new or re-wiring needed is limited - but your audio listening possibilities are not.
Wireless retrofitting doesn’t stop with audio and lighting. Even motorized shades are a wireless retrofit, thanks to wireless control technology and long-lasting batteries for the electric motors. Nest and other smart thermostats also communicate and integrate wirelessly with comprehensive smart home solutions. Security is an increasingly popular retrofit option, with products like Ring doorbells and many others providing a way to see who is at your door whether you’re inside your home or on vacation far away.
For more ideas on how you can retrofit smart technology into your home, BRAVAS can help. We proudly serve the Bay Area and beyond from Atherton, Woodside, and San Francisco to Napa and Walnut Creek. Give us a call or click our chatbox below to be quickly connected to one of our specialists. We look forward to working with you!