Smart Home: An Introduction
From energy-saving smart lighting and heating systems to unique, automated coffee brewing; with smart home design, the possibilities really are endless. If you can imagine it, smart home automation can bring it to life.
Overwhelmed? Don’t be. At Chris Lewis Group, we understand the concerns that come with modern home innovation. We’re here to ensure that you’re in the know and making the most of your home’s potential.
The Ultimate Smart Home Design Guide
On this page, you’ll find our ultimate, 101 guide to everything smart home. We’ll explore the range of automated, smart-tech offerings that combine to make a fully-integrated, state-of-the-art smart home. We’ll cover the following subjects:
What is Smart Lighting?
As homeowners look to lift their home’s efficiency and character, smart lighting has fast-become one of the most in-demand home technologies in the modern living space. Light control solutions give homeowners complete control over the ambience in their homes, offering the flexibility to set automated lighting schedules and edit light intensity, shade levels, temperature and mood in every room.
These lighting control systems are designed to tie a home’s lighting together rather than a set of switches or light fittings. With precise control from a keypad, owners can adjust lighting levels and control blinds and window coverings, open motorised roof lights and vents which are grouped into “scenes” such as “cook”, “dine” etc.
For instance, one button press can turn on six dimmed circuits, each to the ideal brightness for the task at hand, whether that’s relaxing with a book, tuning into the latest blockbuster, or dining with friends and family.
Smart lighting systems feature built-in timeclock automation, allowing the user to set up schedules for their lighting to change, without lifting a finger. These schedules are commonly set in accordance to sunrise and sunset using a combination of clock and sensor. Users can also set up geofencing to naturally detect when your connected phone enters the property’s boundary and switch on entrance lights - making for a welcoming return to your home.
We’ve all been guilty of leaving a light on in our home at some point. Smart lighting can solve this problem. In a rush on the way out the house you’ll be able to push the all-off button and power-down your lighting on the go - or from anywhere with an internet connection. You can even integrate lighting with your home alarm so that when you set the system all the lights automatically switch off across the house.
As any designer will tell you, lighting makes a huge difference on home aesthetic. Smart lighting systems are designed to boost the elegance, style and class of your property, providing finely-tuned lighting scenes and presets to lift the ambience of your living space. With the touch of a button (or less), control the style, intensity and temperature of your home lights.
Smart lighting switches are designed to be a lot better on the eyes than the ugly, white PVC light switches seen in homes across the country. There’s no place for these in the modern smart home. With lighting brands like Lutron, you’ll get sleek, chrome switches that compliment your home’s style with ease. You’d be surprised at the immediate difference it makes.
From an app-based control interface, users can keep an eye on their energy usage from anywhere with an internet connection. While included LED bulbs and occupancy sensors make smart lighting an Eco-friendly choice anyway, you can still see how much energy you're using and tone down to lower your carbon footprint.
Smart Lighting Integrations & Maintenance
Whether you’re using a traditional lighting system or already have smart lighting technology installed, the constant innovation in this field means there are a wide range of upgrade options available - from added device connectivity to additional app-based control measures.
Instead of just maintaining your system, it’s always worth considering the new available options to enhance your atmospheric lighting offering even further. There are also endless possibilities to integrate with other smart technologies in your home, unlocking increased comfort and wellbeing perks. Dim the lighting in your smart home cinema at the opening and closing of a film, combine smart lighting with blinds to dictate natural light in your home, through integration, smart lighting can take your space to the next level.
- Home Cinema Integration
- CCTV Camera Integration
- Smart Blinds Integration
- Heating Integration
What Smart Lighting System Should I Choose?
There are several ways in which you can introduce smart lighting into your home. Over the past decade, manufacturers such as Phillips have developed smart bulbs and plugs that you can connect to smartphones and other devices over the internet. However, these DIY smart lights require lots of components and attachments that can be tricky to install and maintain and don’t scale from your typical smart three bedroom home.
These cheaper illumination systems may seem like a great addition to your home, but the flexibility and functionality they offer is a drop in the ocean compared to the potential of fully integrated smart lighting technology offered by Lutron.
Plus, if you do want to access the main benefits of smart lighting, there’s no need for a complete wiring overhaul of your current technology. You can revamp your existing lighting measures with a wired smart switch from the likes of Lutron or Wemo. These systems are wired into your electricity and designed to replace your existing light switches, offering the seamless convenience of smart lighting control, without the full upfront expense.
Lutron’s flagship home automation platform is HomeWorks, designed to offer a bespoke lighting solution with luxury touches and almost endless programmable features. With Homeworks there is a huge range of keypads, accessories and the most advanced shades and blinds available including features such as venetian blinds that can be raised, lowered and tilted easily as well as adjusting automatically. Learn more about the benefits of upgrading to Lutron lighting by clicking here!
Lutron offers a wide variety of system packages that are split between building size, spec, and of course, user budget. At the entry-level, there’s the Radio RA2 automation system. This gives homeowners an impressive level of control over the amount of daylight, electric light, integration and temperature through our home and integration
Caseta is a smart lighting control system that is great for single room control. Designed to work in homes of all ages, aesthetics and sizes, Caseta can be installed directly into the fabric of the building and existing wiring. Seamlessly integrating with other smart home products, it’s possibly the best entry-level smart lighting system on the market.
What are Smart Blinds?
Smart blinds and automated curtains effortlessly control natural light in your home. Using cutting-edge motorised engineering, these systems can remotely raise and lower blinds, usually based on an automated schedule, outside natural light or app-based control from anywhere in the world. Automated shading technology is known for its high-durability and slick programming, not to mention its surprising convenience. For this reason, these systems have quickly become a popular and understated element in modern homes across the globe.
Like standard window coverings, smart blinds are designed to control the amount of outdoor light entering your home, promoting positive energy in its most natural form. Users are able to automate this based on daylight, or their own preferences and settings - gone are the days of pulling a cord or twirling a wand.
Smart Blinds Key Features
While smart blinds may seem at first as an expensive luxury, the practicality and convenience these systems offer make them a valuable addition to any smart home.
Smart blinds can be intelligently programmed to automate based on GPS location, meaning you’ll be able to time usage based on the weather forecast for that day, or manually set your own automations and workflows. We’ve found that a 7:00 am blind rise makes for a far more relaxed Monday morning wake-up than a blaring Iphone alarm!
There are also physical and mental wellbeing factors to consider. Unlike traditional window coverings, smart blinds can make your bedroom as dark as possible, enriching sleep quality and taking advantage of the morning light to provide a more natural wake up.
Smart blind users can use remote control to boost their home security while on-the-go. By controlling curtain drawing remotely, homeowners can simulate their home's occupancy - putting off intruders and hiding the home from prying eyes. This feature is particularly useful for unexpected late nights in the office or with friends.
Shading technology from leading manufacturers like Lutron are known for their high-durability and slick programming, not to mention their surprising convenience. For this reason, these systems have quickly become a popular and understated element in modern smart homes across the globe.
Most smart blind offerings even include supported smart home system integration features, allowing you to control the blinds using your voice and connection to Amazon Alexa and Google Home hubs - and this is just scratching the surface in terms of integration.
Smart Blind Integration
Smart blinds offer a number of natural integration possibilities with other smart home devices like smart lights and heating controls to improve household energy efficiency.
Take Lutron systems for example, their smart blinds and smart lighting controls can seamlessly pair to recognise changes in outdoor lighting and react with the right adjustments at the right time - whether that be dimming the lights and raising the blinds or vice-versa. Not only does this kind of automation reduce your carbon footprint, it also plays a positive role in promoting wellbeing and building the aesthetic in your home.
What are Smart Sound Systems?
Smart sound means beautifully-designed, seamless, multi-room access to your music, anywhere, anytime with less than the touch of a button. Concealed into the fabric of the building, without any unsightly wires or loose cables, these systems offer an immersive overhead or in-wall audio experience, perfect for heritage or period-influenced properties.
These speakers are designed to seamlessly blend into home aesthetic, offering full, immersive audio listening without sacrificing a drop of design. Off-the-shelf surround sound systems can be unsightly, particularly in more classical or heritage buildings. A smart speaker setup can be completely invisible, installed flush into ceilings, walls or even in-plaster.
Most in-wall or in-ceiling sound systems are designed with leading streaming services in mind, easily linking to existing Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and iTunes accounts to play music straight from your library as you walk through your home.
Features of Smart Sound Systems
If audio experience is important in your home, a smart home speaker system just makes sense. With ultra-clear, first-rate audio quality and strong connectivity throughout even the most signal-dampening building materials, these sound systems create the perfect atmosphere for entertaining, working or relaxing.
Through directional audio and subtle bass enhancement, smart home sound removes the risk of upsetting the neighbours, delivering a fantastic listening experience across all your rooms - with some truly unique features:
Music, the way you want to hear it. With ingrained app-based equaliser control, users can adjust their listening preferences throughout the home on a single device. Forget tweaking a volume knob, with smart sounds you’ll get all-access customisation to your music, giving you the tools to edit bass, treble, mids at your leisure.
With first-rate audio quality and cleverly positioned speakers, smart sound users get the ultimate listening experience - from overhead, ceiling speakers to ground-level subwoofers. For home cinema users, this is particularly exciting, creating that authentic movie watching experience and taking cinematic masterpieces to new heights.
Through a connection to a Smart Assistant like Google Home or Amazon Alexa, smart speakers can play your favourite tunes with less than the touch of a button. Alternatively, users can access all of their playlists using a Bluetooth connection on a connected device like a smartphone or tablet.
Using intelligently-placed surround sound speakers, you’ll be able to perfect the atmosphere for every occasion. Surrounding the user in a mesh of audio, surround sound speakers enhance the dynamic range of the content you’re viewing, making the experience more vivid, realistic and engaging.
Take control of your music on a room-by-room basis. With app-based control, homeowners can set different ambiences for every speaker-installed room within their home. Or, for parties and gatherings, keep it consistent with the same playlist on all speakers throughout the premises.
Which Audio System Should I Choose?
Control4 audio offers a bold and seamless way to fill your entire house with music. Simply browse and select your playlists with a single swipe, or pass the touch screen around to get your family or guests on the tunes.
- Best-in-Market Streaming Quality
- Control using your mobile, tablet, panels or even voice control
- Can integrate with Alexa, Google Home etc
- Integrate with all your smart home technology
- Use automation and set the lights to "party" to start your music playlist
With 2100 patented sound innovations, Sonos is a market leader in sound technology. Each of their speakers are thoughtfully designed from the inside out with best-in-class acoustics, creating an immersive sound experience for each and every occasion,
- Superior high definition sound
- Voice control options - Alexa & Google
- Weather Resistant
- Long Lasting Battery Life
Monitor audio speakers are a standalone product in their price range. Offering exceptionally good sound from their mid/bass drivers and alloy tweeters, Monitor Audio are among Britain's most succesful floor standing speaker brands.
- Custom installed speakers - in-wall, in-ceiling, on-wall HiFi
- Bookshelf, floorstanding and soundbar options
- Weather Resistant for outdoor smart sound
- Unrivalled sound quality
Bowers & Wilkins are one of the most iconic names coming out of the British HiFi industry. With some of the highest quality speakers available on the market, the Sussex-born brand has long been synonymous with sonically impressive, design-led speakers.
- Home Cinema Options
- Surround sound packages
- Full bodied, realistic sounds
- 55+ years of design excellence
Meridian is a pioneering British speaker brand, renowned for being the official audio partner for Jaguar, Land Rover and LG products. Their surround sound systems are no different, delivering effortless, atmospheric sounds in small and larger spaces.
- Uses psychoacoustics to deliver authentic, natural sounding vocals
- Drivers are bass focused with adjustable frequency
- Surround sound packages
- Powerful Built-in amplifiers
What is Smart WiFi?
Smart WiFi is the casual term for innovative mesh networking technology, which boasts high-spec, ultrafast internet connectivity, coverage and performance. These systems are designed and installed to offer super-reliable connectivity in a home or business setting, and the fastest network speeds available on the market.
Smart WiFi systems work by decentralising the network access point - or router. Where traditional routers offer a limited signal range around their radius, Smart WiFi systems reach beyond this using multiple access points around the home, providing limitless web connectivity across every room in the property.
As your devices use the home network, the meshed technology automatically detects and connects to the nearest WiFi access point allowing users to move around their homes without connection dropping.
What are the Benefits of Smart WiFi?
With a Smart WiFi system you’ll access a whole range of benefits. With cutting-edge technology stowed under the hood, most smart routers are designed to combat the common connectivity issues that have plagued internet users since the turn of the century - from slow network speeds to buffering & lag.
Systems like the Netgear Orbi and Ruckus Wireless for example are designed to bypass signal-restricting building materials, distance, multiple users and interference with clarity and ease. These smart WiFi brands are industry leaders, using powerful access points packed with innovative patented technology to provide a highly-advanced user experience and superior network range.
- Stronger internet connectivity
- Faster network speeds
- Connect more devices on a single network
- More people connected at the same time
- Fewer interruptions, less lag, and less buffering
A Safer Way to Search
Traditional ISP routers are one of the most commonly hacked devices in our homes, mostly down to their lack of built-in security, making them extremely vulnerable to malware and other nasty viruses. In fact, over half a million routers were remotely compromised with the VPN Filter Malware back in 2018; installing spyware on connected devices, eavesdropping on personal messaging and intercepting private data.
Not to mention, most smart home technology relies on your network connection for smooth running. With this in mind, it's worth considering your router as the “front door” to your smart home; without a security-first network system, cybercriminals could tap into the other smart devices on your server, accessing everything from your smart locks to your CCTV cameras.
Thankfully, smart WiFi systems like those offered by Ruckus Wireless use technology to battle against these cybersecurity threats, including end-to-end encryption and regular firmware updates to ensure all bases are covered and maintained.
What is a Smart Garden?
Smart garden systems are intuitive irrigation technologies that give users the tools to take care of their gardens whether in the home, or whilst away. Users can boost plant irrigations with intelligent rain sensors and hidden watering devices - keeping greenery looking fresh and healthy across the seasons.
Though, smart garden technology doesn't stop at automated lawnmowers or sprinklers. Whether using the garden to relax, entertain or grow; smarter outdoor automation is a great way to take care of common landscaping chores and level-up your home’s outdoor offering, adding value to your premises and transforming any outdoor space into an exciting setting for hosting, entertaining and cultivating.
Outdoor Speaker Systems
Outdoor smart sound systems are a fantastic addition to any modern garden. Weatherproof and long-lasting, outdoor monitors go well beyond the typical bluetooth speakers, offering quality streaming as you move seamlessly between your house and your garden. The latest garden audio solutions boast pristine audio clarity with intuitive, on-demand streaming from a phone or control pad. Some systems are also fully disguisable, seamlessly blending into the aesthetic as rocks or greenery.
Outdoor Home Cinema
Outdoor home cinemas use the latest in cutting-edge, weatherproof technology to bring video streaming services into the outdoors. Whether watching live sport, revisiting film classics, or streaming Netflix, outdoor home cinema systems make it possible to do so entirely from the comfort of your own garden - reducing the effects of outdoor lighting glare and potential moisture damage from rain, dew or humidity.
Smart Outdoor Lighting & Integration
Lighting integration is another feature that can take your garden to the next level, illuminating your exterior with stylish, atmospheric lighting all year round. When professionally installed, they can combine to brighten garden pathways, create spotlights, illuminate dark spots or just perfect the vibe for evening chill-outs, long summer evenings, BBQs and social gatherings.
A professional installation can intertwine all of these elements together, adding a touch of automated intelligence to everything from automatic sprinklers to firepits and outdoor heaters. Through tailored integration, users can create a personalised experience built to their specifications, enhancing the outdoor offering all year round. Learn more about smart garden lighting in our blog Everything you need to Know About Smart Outdoor Lights.
What is Smart Heating?
Intelligent Heating & Air Conditioning completely modernises the way we think about temperature control. Despite what you may have previously heard, smart temperature means more than just a touchscreen thermostat - it’s about seamlessly controlling the home climate with full flexibility, automation and remote control.
With automated heating technology climate control is entirely personalised and responsive to the homeowners needs. Using app and geofencing control, certain temperature control systems will activate based on your location, allowing you to set the ideal temperature in time for your arrival, preventing the unnecessary heating when the property is empty and making these systems far more environmentally friendly.
You can also make customisations on a room-by-room basis, allowing you to take control of differing temperature zones in your home with confidence and ease.
Smart Heating Key Features
Smart temperature control systems are designed to counter the burden of monitoring your energy-usage, providing real-time updates and maximising home comfort with bespoke temperature control, the way you want it.
Still not convinced? Here are a few more additional perks smart heating control can bring to your home:
Through temperature automation, you’ll be able to perfect heating activation timing based on a process known as “geo-fencing”, or in simple terms: monitoring when you enter and leave your home. Geo-fencing monitors your location and overrides your heating timer to optimise your home’s temperature in time for your return, based on customisable preferences and intelligent usage pattern monitoring.
With intelligent heating control and remote activation, you can heat selected rooms during the day and night with zone monitoring, from inside the property or on-the-go with just the touch of a button.
Industry leading temperature control technology like the Heatmiser Neo system come with onboard motion sensors, detecting whether you’re on the premises and automatically adjusting the temperature to suit.
Through the power of IoT (Internet of Things) technology, smart heating systems can accurately monitor the weather forecast in your area and adjust the climate control to suit. We call this intelligence ‘Smart Sense’, it can help to keep your home comfortable throughout the seasons.
Using a user-friendly smartphone interface, smart heating can provide dynamic, real-time insights into energy usage, helping the homeowner to make more informed decisions to lower their carbon footprint or expenses. This data can also be readily available on a smart thermostat, providing instant updates on minute-by-minute climate control consumption.
Never expend another drop of your heating. With an app-controlled all-off button, users are able to power down their heating remotely from anywhere with an internet connection. Not only does this prevent your home from wasting unnecessary energy, it also provides that extra peace of mind when leaving the house in a rush or on-the-go.
Smart heating systems linked to smart meters will automatically send readings to your energy supplier each month, so that you don’t have to. Your display will show how much energy you’ve used, your budget, CO2 emissions and more.
Which System is Right for my Home?
With up to 12 smart heating zones, you can control the temperature of your home on a room by room basis. Set individual zones for your living room, kitchen, and bedrooms. This will allow you to stay cosy in the rooms you are using and turn the heat down in ones you are not.
- Controlled via an app
- Can integrate with Alexa, Google Home etc
- Easily switch between heating and cooling mode
- Set heating schedules for each of your zones
- Save money and reduce the energy bill
The Heatmiser Neo system allows you to control up to 32 temperature zones around your home. There are both wired and wireless options available. These will integrate with your other smart home technology seamlessly. Controlling you home has never been so easy.
- Controlled via app or panel
- Remote system updates
- Geolocation features
- Mesh Networking Connectivity
- Energy-efficiency Monitoring
- Zonal Heating Control
Control4 Climate Control means more than just programming your thermostat. Using discreetly place temperature sensors, this system gives you the tools to perfect the heating balance through your home, n0 matter which room you're in.
- Controlled via app or panel
- Humidity Level Adjustment
- Weather Monitoring
- Heating & Cooling Scheduling
- Sensor Temperature Control
- Zonal Heating Control
What is Smart Security?
Smart home security installations have fast become the go-to solution for homeowners looking to shore-up their protection. It’s easier than ever to design a home with a security-first approach, using remote control of electronic door locks, lights, alarms and CCTV to monitor your home around the clock from anywhere with an internet connection.
Alongside controlling the obvious smart locks and intelligent motion sensors, smart security systems can also automate lighting control and blinds and simulate your home routine when you’re not around, adding another layer of security to ward off prying eyes.
In essence, a smart home security system combines the features of traditional legacy security measures like burglar alarms, CCTV and access control to offer complete, concise control over your home - unlocking a range of groundbreaking benefits.
Remote Surveillance Monitoring
Using a Wi-Fi connection, a smart security system enables remote control of security devices using an installed app on a smart device, offering a ‘smarter’ way to keep an eye on your premises on-the-go. Using the app on your smartphone or tablet, you’ll get instant push notifications and alerts for each time an alarm is triggered, allowing you to take the necessary action to prevent an incident on your property. We call this a proactive approach to security, rather than a reactive one.
Top-shelf smart security systems, like those designed by Control4, come with a wall-mounted panel that acts as the central hub for security control. This display lets the user communicate with a professional monitoring service if an alarm is triggered and view video from any of the smart CCTV cameras installed around the property.
High-end smart security systems like those available from Senstar offer advanced smart perimeter security through smart CCTV and motion sensor integration. Smart perimeter controls build an invisible wall around your premises, triggering an alarm if trespassers cross the boundary onto your property.
- Discreet Sensors
- Integrable with CCTV and Smart Lighting
- Pinpoint Intruder Access Point
Security systems from brands like Verkada feature 4K-ready cameras, boosting video surveillance with ultra-clear 4K quality. These smarter CCTV systems put users on the front-foot with super accessible control interfaces and remote apps. Smart CCTV can also enhance your existing chain of motion sensors to create video tripwires; virtual zones that trigger the intruder alarm if crossed.
- Advanced 4K-Ready Video Recording
- Motion Sensors & Activation
- Integrable with Intruder Alarms and Access Control
Smart Intruder Alarms
Smart alarms are intelligent intruder detection systems that are designed to alert the homeowner, security services or police in the event of a break-in. These systems enable users to arm/disarm and monitor all of their alarms at any one time. With sensors, users can even detect changes in the security of their homes, like doors opening or windows breaking.
- Monitor Specific Rooms Remotely
- Instant Activity Notifications on Smartphone
- Real-Time Intruder & Trespass Detection
Smart Security Installation
Any smart security system worth its salt is built on integration between a range of devices, offering total control, excellent user experience and of course, automation. Through smart security integration, a professional installer will be able to set up custom rules to fit your preferred method of security response - whether that’s police alert, keyholder alert or something else.
But remember, security can be an expensive and dangerous thing to get wrong. While a variety of DIY smart offerings are available on the market, it’s always worth considering a full professional installation to ensure your system is keeping you safe around the clock. Using heat-mapping technology, installers will be able to judge the best spots for your surveillance cameras and motion sensors to ensure that nothing slips through the net undetected.
Professional Installation & Maintenance
With any smart home, regular maintenance and auditing is crucial in ensuring that your systems run at peak performance. While greatly convenient, fully integrated smart homes are highly technical and require regular professional care to ensure they work effectively, maintaining long-life performance and saving costs on purchasing new technology.
We always recommend professional installation for any smart home offering - but for those that do choose a DIY system, regular maintenance becomes even more essential. With smart technology, there’s a lot of room for error. Keeping on top of maintenance may seem like a burden, but upgrading when necessary and taking impartial insight from an experienced pro will add unquestionable value to your home’s performance.
When you upgrade your system you may even discover new opportunities for integration and cost-cutting in the long-term, reducing the need for emergency repair call outs.
Why Use an Experienced Pro?
Generally, smart home complications are easy to troubleshoot with professional guidance. More often than not, the cost of repairing your existing system is cheaper than having a new system installed. Through an expert restoration, you'll also learn more about the potential of your technology, discovering additional features and adding further convenience to the running of your home.
Do I Need Regular Maintenance?
Upgrading and maintaining smart technology may feel like an expensive luxury, but to prevent your systems from becoming outdated, it's a more than sensible consideration.
As smart systems age, they begin to slow down, becoming unreliable, clunky and problematic - this becomes even more apparent with day-to-day use. Over time, this can affect the convenience of your smart home; preventing your devices from communicating with one another effectively.
Benefits of Regular Smart Home Maintenance
Smart Rack Renovation
A poorly installed rack is the number one cause of performance issues in any smart home system. The sheer amount of back-end wiring that goes into a fully-suited smart home can make troubleshooting faults an overwhelming task, but a professional rack renovation is usually a good place to start.
A correctly wired rack is a smart home technician’s dream. It can make the difference between a reliable, smooth-running system and one that falls short of expectation. Not to mention, proper rack wiring makes future maintenance, repairs and troubleshooting far quicker and easier.
In this article, we’ve defined a range of modern, innovative smart home technologies individually, though it’s important to remember that these shouldn’t just operate in isolation.
Integration is the key to unlocking the full potential of your property. Your smart devices should work in tandem to increase the functionality of your home, whether that’s through smart lighting and automated blind compatibility or outdoor cinema, smart surround sound technology - the integration opportunities are truly limitless.
Automating your home should be seen as a linear process. Uncover your home’s pain points and understand how you can implement smart technology for your own convenience - smart technology is designed to revamp your home experience, so it should be personalised to suit your needs.
Whether deciding on one specific smart home addition or the full suite, Chris Lewis Group are passionate about surpassing your expectations with industry-leading installation and the expertise to match.
Get in touch to discuss your dream smart home design with our experts