Pre-Renovation planning: Networking & Electrical wiring
Planning a smart home starts way back to pre-renovation stage. This is the golden stage any smart home consultants get most flexibility to achieve the optimal smart home solution for their clients. During this stage, 2 main agenda will be covered to ensure that the smart home works at its best - networking & electrical wiring.
Networking with minimal WiFi deadspot
Networking Solutions: First, look at the location of your Distributor box (DB). This is where most of your data points terminate. New BTO/Condo units will have a network switch, the OpenNet port and the Internet Service Provider (ISP) modem located in the DB. In short, the DB is like the networking HQ of your home. This is also where most of your router will be placed.
The issue lies here - the DB in most new BTO/Condo units are located in an isolated area of the home. This means that most homes in Singapore will have WiFi deadspots if the networking solution is not planned carefully. In this case, no matter how many smart devices your home is equipped with, the lack of connectivity will dampen the performance of the smart home.
How to solve this?
Networking itself is a module in University and it is a subject students are afraid of. With the speed at how technology is evolving, networking cannot be mastered overnight. My advice, get an expert's opinion, it only makes your life (and your partner's) a lot easier with a stable WiFi within your new home.
If you are really keen on D.I.Y, plan your networking solution such that the router is situated at the center of your home. Do note that all the other devices (connected via LAN) will have to be connected to the same router.
Next, do take note of the number of walls your router have to penetrate to reach the end of the home. Weaker routers may not be able to reach the far end of your home due interferences.
Lastly, plan your networking solution with Access Points (AP) i.e. connect your LAN cables directly. AP solutions are (for sure) more stable and reliable compared to wireless mesh solutions. Situtate the AP within your home that covers greatest traffic. This will ensure your WiFi connected devices to be within areas of WiFi network coverage.
Why the additional neutral wire?
Electrical wiring: Do I need a neutral wire for my switches? Our recommendation is always to go with a YES. Neutral wire not only stabilizes the circuit within the home, it also allows for a more efficient smart switch protcol within the home.
BTO/Condo will already have ready made switches. Note that these switches may not come with a neutral wire. You may speak to your electricians on how to pull the extra neutral wire to your switch. Alternatively, you may look into getting Non-Neutral wire switches.
Post-Renovation: am I too late to implement my Smart Home?
It is never too late to start. Just that post-reno implementation of smart home will not garner as much flexibility as pre-reno. This means that implementing a smart home post-reno may cost you even more than planning your smart home pre-reno, due to many limitations:
Networking Solution: You may be limited to mesh router options, where WiFi signal are interlinked wirelessly. Compared to the AP option, mesh routers are pricier and may result loss of network speed down the node.
Lack of Neutral wire: this means that neutral wire smart switches may be out of reach. This leaves you to only Smart Lights, universal IR or RF blasters for ceiling fans. The option of Smart Lights are often costlier and less optimal than installing smart switches.
Let's take a look at these 2 scenarios.
Post-Reno: Philips HUE smart lights are $99/downlight. Assuming you are looking to furnish your living room with 8 smart downlights. The item cost will be $792, not to forget the HUE bridge, which is $89 each, amounting the full sum to automate your living room lights to $881.
Pre-Reno: Electrical fees to pull the neutral wire (without hacking) range between $100 to $160. Let's take the fees to add the blue wire to be $120. The cost of a 2G touch panel smart switch is $99. The total amount to smarten your living room is only $220.
The smart home hub you are looking not only reduces its communication protocol to only 1x smart switch from the above 8x smart lights, optimizing your smart home system as much as possible.
Disclaimer: Of cause, HUE lights have their pros. If you are looking for lights that change colors and can dim/brighten, HUE lights are our top light choice. Lights linked to switches can only on/of or dim. Color changing is not possible with smart switches.
Just gotten your keys? Plan your smart home now!
Always budget for smart home during renovation. Prices of Smart home solutions can range drastically, depending on the features and lifestyle you are looking at. Always seek expert's advises as Smart Home Technology is constantly evolving and small, intricate details have to be considered when planning for a smart home.
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