Although the ability to install home automation in a practical way is associated with new projects, it is possible to adapt previously built buildings in a relatively simple way. In both small and large renovations projects these systems can deliver automated features that responds to the requirements and needs of its users. They can also improve the habitability and comfort of its spaces, increase their security and promote long-term energy and money savings. So, what considerations must be taken into account in order to transform an regular architecture project into an "intelligent" one?
For starters, incorporating a communication network is essential. There are wired and wireless systems in the market, which can be controlled from inside or outside of the building.
Wireless systems, like WiFi and Z-Wave (a mesh network that uses low energy radio waves), depend on the technology available at the moment, that is, if there is another signal protocol in the future, you can not fully guarantee that the new technologies are compatible with the installed devices. You must remember that buildings will be used for many years and do not change as quickly as technological advances do.
However, in general, wireless systems in home automation have good performance when signal coverage allows it, and its installation is fast and without many complications. In this sense, when dealing with renovations, especially in old buildings, it's necessary to review the material characteristics of the building –for example, a high presence of iron or very thick walls– since latencies or interferences could arise.
To avoid interruptions present with wireless you can use a wiring system commonly known as BUS cable. This establishes the connection between the different switches, thermostats, blinds and other elements.
This type of cable transfers the information of the different functions and must be in a duct independent of the 220V current, which will require intervention in the structure.
What aspects of the smart home should you tackle first? Control of lighting? Air conditioning? If we are guided by the principle of energy saving, it's advisable to start with both lighting and air conditioning, since these represent the highest return on investment. Then, you can add other systems such as control of the blinds, audio, and security.
Is this a long or expensive process?
We can, for example, start in stages, controlling only certain sectors and increase their range of action to reach the absolute of the house. This can also serve to verify the system and its advantages. It all depends on the user, their needs, and budget. The key: to think today about what I want to control tomorrow, and in this way to foresee the incorporation of pipelines that will allow the installation of additional cables in the future.