Home tech is a wild card. Countless gadgets hit the market every year but many of them quickly disappear. For a production builder, deciding what technologies to make standard can feel like a bet on a Vegas roulette wheel.
Fortunately, a few basics will always earn their keep. In 2018, Zillow.com analyzed features that reduced time-on-market for 4.5 million homes. The top 20 included things like luxury appliances but smart thermostats and lighting control also made the list.
Beyond the basics, the best technologies are those that solve real problems. Two of today's biggest problems are how to accommodate home-based work and how to keep the family healthy.
Remote work. A March 2020 Global Workplace Analytics study estimated roughly 5 million U.S. telecommuters. That was at the beginning of the lockdowns. They now project that 25-30% of us will work at home at least part time by the end of this year.
This has fueled demand for home offices, but in many homes children and adults are also spread around the house on laptops. That's an argument for installing more than the code minimum number of electrical outlets in key areas.
Respiratory Health. Awareness of this became huge in the past 12 months. While envelope detailing and a good HVAC system are the foundation for IAQ, data can also play a role.
For instance Woodside's Homes' Chowa Concept Home, sponsored by BUILDER magazine during the 2020 International Builders Show (IBS), used air quality sensors to coordinate fresh air ventilation. Joel Abney, Woodside's VP of operations, says that the builder wants to apply the lessons learned to the 2000+ units it completes each year.
Of course the fact that so many digital devices use WiFi begs the question of whether a home needs data wiring. The answer is a resounding yes because wired devices are more reliable. At the same time, wiring has evolved.
Running coax and Cat 6 ethernet cable to every possible TV location no longer qualifies as future-proofing. Today's smart TV's can need coax, HDMI cable and up to three ethernet cables. The builder can identify likely locations, or can offer the wiring as an option in any location.
Large homes can also benefit from wireless access points, or WAPS, that are hardwired back to the main router and boost the WiFi signal in remote parts of the house or yard. That lets laptop users stream videos from anywhere on the property.
Another digital home technology that can deliver long term ROI is a smarter electrical panel. Take for example the explosive growth of electric vehicles, expected to surge to 6.9 million cars by 2025 Or in solar power homes, which is currently mandated in California and has seen an average annual growth rate of 42% in the 2010s.
Schneider Electric’s new Square D Energy Center includes energy monitoring to help consumers know how their home is using electricity so they can take steps to reduce their consumption. It also includes a solar inverter, which helps save significant installation time for builders including solar in their designs.
By offering homebuyers a back-up ready, grid-to-plug solution like the Energy Center, builders are offering peace-of-mind, sustainability, and convenience that many of today’s home buyers are looking for.
For more information about building smart, connected homes that perform now and in the future, visit Schneider Electric.