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Do I need smart home wiring?

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smart-wiring

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In today's connected world, people want accessibility, security and adaptability. And with the advent of so many new technologies each day, keeping a home's appliances, tools and gadgets working together cohesively is more than desired. It's necessary. Luckily for homeowners, there's a way to seamlessly integrate all of their devices. Smart wiring is the name and home automation is the game.

What is smart wiring?

Put simply, smart wiring is a system of different wires connected in one place. To elaborate, this system of wires is a central hub that allows all of the devices and sensors in a home to be organized into a single platform, with the ability to add more at a later date if needed. This system can include wiring for lighting throughout a home, security systems, internet connections and home entertainment systems, among other things. By arranging a whole-home network into a sleek and logical system, smart wiring installations provide easy accessibility to home wires, and an easy way to expand on the system at a later date if desired. According to HomeAdvisor, an average smart wiring system in 2022 can cost up to $15,000 for a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home. Some luxury fully-connected home installations can cost upwards of $150,000. It's important to keep in mind that new builds or remodels will present an opportunity for a cheaper installation opposed to upgrading a wiring system into an existing home.

Smart wiring can future-proof a home

Advantages of Smart Wiring

Convenience

In addition to a home’s wiring system being organized in one central location, so too is the ability to control the devices and appliances that belong to them. With one easy-to-use interface, homeowners don't have to worry about downloading different apps to control their wireless devices.

Remote Access

Since the programs and devices that are wired into a modern wiring system are "smart" in and of themselves, this allows end-users to control their devices remotely. Stuck in traffic and left the lights on? Shut them off remotely right from your smartphone.

Keep Your Home Safe

Smart wiring is capable of controlling home security systems too. Incorporating such features into your smart home network allows for greater protection that can be controlled from a phone. When connected, one has the ability to turn on and off security features with the tap of a finger, as well as receive security alerts on their phone.

Future Proof Your Home

Aforementioned, smart wiring configures the system so additional devices can be added later if needed. This means if one year after an installation a homeowner decides they want to install a new smart TV, they won't need to tear through walls to install their new device.

Reduced Energy Bills

At the center of smart wiring are intelligent devices and appliances. The inherent feature that makes a device intelligent is their ability to provide end-users with valuable data to make proactive energy decisions. Smart thermostats and lighting are great examples of modern devices that provide energy savings to homeowners.

How to Wire a Smart Home

For safety reasons and to guarantee a successful install, a certified electrician is the best route to take when installing a smart wiring network. Certified installers are required to follow a Code of Practice that holds them to certain standards ensuring they'll get the job done right. After all, they are experts in smart home electrical practices.

However, if the DIY bug has bitten you, here are some of the devices you can hardwire yourself so they can communicate with your smart home system:

  • Light switches
  • Wall outlets
  • Smoke detectors
  • Smart thermostats
  • Video doorbells
  • Sprinkler systems

Switches and Outlets

Once installed, smart switches and outlets allow homeowners to control what they're connected to from their smartphone or smart speaker. As a precaution, you may want to have a voltage tester on hand when wiring these devices to determine which is the hot wire and which is the load wire.

  1. In order to set these up, you first need to shut off the power to the switch or outlet at the breaker panel.
  2. Next, unscrew the switch or outlet plate from the wall.
  3. Then you need to disconnect the wire nuts by unscrewing in a counterclockwise direction.
  4. Once that's complete, you need to identify the wires as many smart switches and outlets will require a neutral wire.
  5. Now it's time to connect the matching wires in the wall to the switch/outlet. The line and load wires are typically black and red, with the neutral wire being white. If you are unable to identify which is which, use the voltage tester to determine the correct wire pairing. Once correctly connected, push the wires back into the wall.
  6. Finally, screw the smart switch or outlet into the wall and attach any plates. Once you're finished fastening the wall plates, turn the power back on.

Smoke Detectors

The beauty of a smart smoke alarm is that it can notify you on your smartphone if it is going off or not, so if you aren't home, this is a great way to remain vigilant. If your house has wiring capabilities to support electrical smoke detectors (opposed to battery-powered), then installing a smart smoke alarm will not be much different than a regular one.

  1. Turn the power off to your smoke alarms at the breaker box.
  2. Take out your old smoke alarm and mounting bracket, then screw on the mounting bracket that came with your new smoke detector.
  3. Now it's time to unscrew the old wiring and remove the old connection to your regular smoke alarm.
  4. Attach the wire connectors for your smart smoke detector, and plug the connector into the back of your new smoke alarm. Attach to the mounting bracket.
  5. Last but not least, turn the power back on.

Smart Thermostats

A smart thermostat is a great way to reduce energy consumption in your home. While installing a smart thermostat is pretty simple, it's important to get it right so you don't damage your HVAC system.

  1. Turn the power to the thermostat off at your breaker panel.
  2. Take off the faceplate from the wall and take a photo of the wiring as it is now for future reference.
  3. Label your thermostat wires (most smart thermostats should come with labels), and remove your old thermostat.
  4. Next, use the guide from your new thermostat to make necessary markings where screws will need to go. You will also want to drill holes and place anchors if needed.
  5. Now it's time to pull the wires through the wall and attach to your new thermostat, then attach to the wall.
  6. Screw the baseplate to the wall, double check your wiring to make sure it's correct, then attach the faceplate. Once that's complete and you're sure it's installed correctly, turn the power back on.

Video Doorbells

Smart doorbells allow homeowners to see who is at their door, making them a nice safety addition to any home. If your doorbell is electrical, follow the steps below to install your new video addition.

  1. Turn off the power to your doorbell at your electrical panel then remove your old doorbell.
  2. Identify what surface you will be mounting your new doorbell to and grab the appropriate drill if necessary.
  3. Attach the wires coming out of the wall to your video doorbell, and screw the doorbell into the wall.
  4. Turn the power back on.

Sprinkler Systems

Smart sprinkler systems take your old irrigation system one step further. Unlike old sprinkler controllers, the smart version can pull weather data to avoid turning on before, during or after periods of rainfall.

One major difference between smart sprinklers and other smart devices is that sprinklers are typically plugged in with an AC adaptor so you will not need to turn your power off to install your new system.

  1. Take a picture of your sprinkler's controller wiring setup and jot down which wires go into their appropriate zones.
  2. Next, unplug the existing controller and remove the wiring.
  3. Now pull the wiring through the smart controller and mount it back onto the wall.
  4. From here, plug the wires into their corresponding zones. If you have a Master or Pump valve, check the installation guide as these can differ with each system.
  5. Plug in the AC adaptor. If your smart sprinkler doesn't have an AC power adaptor, then you’ll need to run the wires to the electrical panel that controls your irrigation system, in which case you will need to turn your power off.
  6. Turn the power back on if necessary.

Conclusion

A smart wiring system is fantastic. In our digital world, automating a home's appliances and systems is key for a comprehensive smart ecosystem. Beyond convenience, smart home wiring offers flexibility, safety and close control of a home’s appliances and gadgets. While a certified electrician is the safest route to take when wiring a smart home, some devices can be installed manually depending on one's electrical knowledge and comfortability level. In addition to organizing everything into one standard set up, smart wiring systems future-proof a home so homeowners can expand on their smart network whenever their heart desires.

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