The features of a smart home can extend far beyond virtual assistant devices. Your home can have a smart hub and integrate smart lighting, outlets, fixtures, appliances, security, and more. Achieving a truly smart and automated home requires a deep understanding of electrical systems. Your electrician will not only integrate your smart features but also ensure they’re compliant, safe, and futureproofed.

Electrical Panel

A sophisticated smart home will likely put much additional demand on your electrical system, which is essentially your home’s heartbeat. It’s necessary to ensure that it’s up to that extra stress. Many older homes have a 120-volt power panel. In 2020, the National Electrical Code (NEC) made 240-volt panels the new minimum standard. Depending on how many devices you want to add to your home, your electrician may recommend a panel upgrade.

Another consideration is your circuit breakers and the load on each one. The average power panel has 20 to 30 breakers, and the upper NEC limit is 42 for typical breaker boxes. You may need to add more breakers to facilitate your desired smart upgrades. You also need to take care not to overload any one breaker. An electrician limits each breaker to 10 devices, including lights and outlets.

Whole-House Surge Protection

Surge protection devices (SPDs) are also a consideration. There are three tiers for residential surge protection: Type 1 (T1), Type 2 (T2), and Type 3 (T3). As of 2020, the NEC requires either a T1 or T2 SPD for code compliance. Many electricians recommend installing both a T1 and T2 SPD.

A T1 SPD protects the panel and the power coming into the home off the street. It provides excellent protection against direct lightning strikes and anomalous power from the grid. A T2 SPD provides protection between the power panel and the rest of your electrical system. It provides added protection against lightning strikes and internal spikes and surges.

T3 is local surge protection. An example is a surge protector strip you plug your computer components into. You don’t generally need an electrician for those. That said, you may want to install outlets with integrated T3 protection. Those outlets can also have USB and Ethernet ports and other modern features.

Smart Hub

Another reason to hire an electrician for your smart home is to have a centralized smart hub. All your other smart devices will integrate through it. This makes your system much more robust in terms of remote access and control and, potentially, voice control. You’re also not limited to Amazon, Apple, and Google. Those are certainly options if you prefer them. There are also powerful smart hubs from brands like Aeotec, Lenovo, Samsung, etc. One of the tricky aspects is ensuring that your hub supports the correct protocols. If necessary, your electrician can help with that, as can bridges and gateways.

Speakers for Voice Control

With a smart hub, you don’t need a virtual assistant device in every room in your home. You can have them if you like. A better alternative for many homeowners is smart speakers with integrated microphones. You can opt for wired or remote devices. That allows you to control the system from anywhere in the home with voice commands. You can hear the system’s responses and also play music or podcasts.

Smart Switches and Lighting

Setting up your smart home is a great time to switch over to LEDs fully. The average home can cut its annual lighting costs by four times or more. Smart switches let you schedule lighting and have it turn off automatically and through sensor input. You may also want to consider smart LED lights. Those add features like wireless brightness and color control.

Smart Outlets

Smart plugs are an option, but smart outlets are even better for many homes. A smart outlet allows you to connect non-smart devices to your hub. They also provide you with greater control and remote capabilities. Perhaps the best feature, and one that doesn’t get enough attention, is limiting phantom drain. Many TVs and other devices in your home don’t turn off. They go into standby mode, where they continue to drain some power. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that the average American home wastes about 10% of its energy consumption this way. When you turn off the smart outlet, those appliances on standby can no longer draw that electricity.

Smart Thermostat

If you haven’t already, this is also an excellent opportunity to upgrade to a smart thermostat. Your electrician will integrate it into your hub and wire it into your HVAC system. This way, your thermostat will get power directly from the HVAC system. This eliminates the need for batteries. The energy-saving potential of a smart thermostat is tremendous. The DOE estimates that most homes can lower heating and cooling costs by 10%. You just need to lower your thermostat setting by 7-10 degrees for eight hours a day. Many households can easily claim savings over a dozen hours or more with a smart thermostat.

Smart Doorbells and Locks

The best way to install a smart doorbell is to wire it into your electrical system. This eliminates the need for rechargeable batteries and allows for a more secure installation. Your smart doorbells will be more weatherproof and less prone to tampering. Smart locks are an option as well. They’re more difficult to compromise than standard locks and give you remote access and control.

Cameras and Other Security Features

You can also have your electrician integrate a new or existing security system into your hub. An electrician can also add wired or remote cameras indoors and outdoors to your system. Cameras can provide you with real-time feeds of your property locally and remotely. You can configure them to upload video to the cloud like a smart doorbell does.

Compliance, Warranties and Customer Support

Choosing a licensed electrician for your smart home system gives you peace of mind. You know that your system is code-compliant and futureproof. If devices have warranty installation requirements, you know that your electrician adhered to those specifications. You also get customer service and care. Your electrician will show you how to use the system. If you have questions in the future, that company will be there to answer them. They’ll also be the best option for expanding your system.

Smart Home Installations in Ellisville

Potts Electric provides residential and commercial electrical services in Ellisville and Greater St. Louis Metro. Our licensed electricians install, configure, and upgrade all home automation equipment. We’re also available for electrical inspections, panel upgrades, whole-house surge protection, and installation of wiring or rewiring bad sections of your whole home.

You can also count on us for indoor and outdoor lighting, tankless and traditional tank water heaters, whole-house generators, and EV chargers. Contact us today by phone or by going to our website and submitting our online request form to schedule an in-home consultation.

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