TECHNOLOGY IOT & NETWORKING
A Truly Integrated Solution
A robust and reliable network is the essential backbone of today's smart home systems.
By Lindsay Bull
WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR LIVING designing and specifying smart home solutions, there’s that elephant in the room — if we’re truly being realistic — that gets addressed frequently. “Can’t we just buy a Nest and Ring to cover the temperature and be able to see who’s at my front door? I’ve heard that these DIY products are great, and that we don’t need anything more elaborate.”
But how accurate are the claims made by DIY products? How accurate are reviews from influencers who get comped to write positive reviews? How many of us have read articles about DIY smart home technology that are completely unbiased? Has it even been done yet? Let’s take a different tack with this article you’re reading right now — I promise to bring you material that only influences your decisions based on what’s factual about technology and the home.
There's nothing wrong with DIY
We’ve heard it or read it before — “DIY solutions just aren’t reliable.” But come on. A lot of these products are backed by the biggest players in the tech industry. They’re certainly not pieces of junk. There’s a reason these products have found their way into millions of homes worldwide.
If your client is interested in a true smart home solution, he or she is going to need a better network than what DIY options can offer.
Now, does that mean a fully integrated solution — complete
with products that were all created specifically to work together — isn’t a better option? I suppose that depends on how you define “better”. There are a lot of instances where integrated solutions just aren’t the premier option for the people interested in including smart home technology in
their residences. Their budget or some other factor might
preclude specifying integrated solutions, and the homeowner might ask you to try to use an assortment of DIY products and tie them all together the best you can. But before you hang up the phone and pivot your business to offer these Frankenstein’s monster solutions, consider this:
"If your clients are interested in a true smart home solution, they're going to need a better network than what DIY options can offer." Lindsay Bull, Luxul Networking Solutions
Your customer isn’t Millennial Michael and his obsession with hip technology, and it’s not Baby Boomer Bradley who wants to control his vacation home’s temperature from his bedroom in Milwaukee.
DIY products can be fun and even comprehensive for some
applications, but when it comes to the premier homes that
we’re responsible for outfitting with reliable and robust smart home networks, DIY just is not practical. Especially when it comes to the network. Devices today just use up too much bandwidth to function reliably off a Wi-Fi network that wasn’t designed specifically for their support.
the network | wi-fi
Your typical DIY solution might support up to 100 devices, offering the latest Wi-Fi standard with MU-MIMO technology, but only a 2x2 antenna array. Or you might get the latest Wi-Fi standard with SU-MIMO technology and a 3x3 antenna array; you may even get the whole package with MU-MIMO plus 4x4 Wave 2 technology, but with little ability to support VLANs, QoS, and remote management. (Geeky, no?) Whatever the case, if the network and wireless system wasn’t built specifically in support of a whole-home technology integration package, it’s not going to deliver the best experience for your customer. And when it comes down to it, that’s why we do what we do to begin with! Think of it this way — you wouldn’t want a car salesman to convince you the 2020 Nissan GT-R was the perfect car for your family of seven, only to take it home and realize there was absolutely no way to cram everyone inside.
If your client is interested in a true smart home solution, he or she is going to need a better network than what DIY options can offer, and here’s exactly why:
Devices use up bandwidth. Seems obvious enough. But once you start to consider how much could be on a network, draining it of that precious commodity, it starts to make a lot more sense. So let’s say your client has a basic automation system that enables him to control aspects of his home from a smartphone or touch panel. The system itself, the devices it controls, his smartphone, and the touch panel all need bandwidth on the network in order to function. Now, he also has a wife and two kids who each also have a smartphone, and he and each of his kids additionally have tablets. There’s the smart TV in the family room they stream movies on, and one in every bedroom, plus the AV system in the kitchen and the home theater rig in the basement. There’s the smart lock and the video doorbell that both require an extender due to the material the facade of the house is made of that can block RF signals. Your client has his home office computer in addition to his wife’s own set up, and the kiddies who each have laptops. Then there’s the gaming setup in the basement that gets used more frequently than they’d like to admit. Plus the PoS system in his wife’s studio that needs to be on its own separate VLAN. The surveillance cameras that are PoE require additional attention, because they need to be physically wired in order to be functional, and quite honestly, you blew through your bandwidth on a DIY network a long time ago.
In most of the smart home systems I get to look at, the example above is light in comparison. I see homes with hundreds and hundreds of smart nodes. So you can easily understand the necessity to install a network that is manufactured and designed specifically for these exact types of scenarios.
By foregoing the DIY option and going with a truly integrated networking solution — a solution that offers MU-MIMO 4x4 Wave 2 technology, complete with RMM software built in, products that enable you to deliver Wi-Fi to edge devices and hard-to-reach locations, full and free tech support, etc. — you’ll be providing your customers with the bandwidth necessary to support every device on their network; security for all their connected devices; complete coverage to every corner of their home; some degree of future proofing; and most importantly of all, technology that’s backed by those with the most experience in providing solutions that work.
I’m not saying DIY solutions don’t have their place, because they do. Their place just isn’t in the homes we’re integrating advanced technology solutions into; and it’s important that as the leaders in the industry, we understand and can communicate the value of what we’re offering our clients and how to best provide for their needs.