Making a smart choice
SMART home technology is on the rise as homeowners embrace a future of intuitive houses.
Homeowners are joining the home automation movement, starting with appliances that connect to your mobile phone via the internet through to complete integrated systems such as C-Bus.
And real estate agents say buyers are now expecting certain innovations such as internet points throughout the home.
The take up of smart home technology is modest, mainly due to cost, but new national figures show it is on the rise.
The number of home automation-related jobs rose 37 per cent in January to April compared with the same period last year, according to figures from home improvement website Hipages.com.au.
Popular smart technology projects outside the home include solar power, home security and automating doors, gates and garage access.
Inside, people are increasingly connecting up home theatres, entertainment systems, lights and appliances.
Hipages co-founder David Vitek said smart home technology was the next evolution in making life easier.
The C-Bus and Dynalite wiring systems, which act as a central hub for controlling things like lighting, blinds, airconditioning and audio, have become synonymous with home automation.
However, Mr Vitek said wireless internet was making home automation more accessible to homeowners who could not afford more sophisticated systems that required wiring through the house.
“If you consider that most people now have wi-fi and the capability that brings — it means everyone has a platform to start thinking about other things that can be automated in the home,” Mr Vitek said.
For example, Mr Vitek said he linked his doorbell to his mobile phone via wi-fi so when it rang so did his phone, allowing him to talk to the person at his door.
“I didn’t need to wire the doorbell into my home to ring my phone, I just used wi-fi,” he said.
Protec Electrical Services owner Troy Jackson said most of the increase in home automation in Melbourne had been in the top-end of the market, in suburbs like Toorak.
He said the cost of smart home technology, normally thousands of dollars, meant it was still considered a luxury.
Mr Jackson said a lot of people were opting for the cheaper option of installing internet points throughout the home so that appliances like televisions could access the internet directly instead of relying on wi-fi.
This provided faster internet speeds, seen as especially important with the rise of online streaming services such as Netflix and Stan. “People are becoming more tech-savvy in many ways,” he said.
Real estate agent John Clarkson, of Buxton in Brighton, said smart home technology added value to homes but it was hard to quantify how much.
He said buyer demand for internet connectivity was greater these days because people depended on the internet much more than they used to — whether it was watching television programs online or for research.
Mr Clarkson said there was a push to install networking and home automation devices among homeowners that were either building, rebuilding or renovating.
Buyer’s advocate David Morell said home automation was not just popular but expected at the top end of the market.
He said wealthy homebuyers often bought with plans to renovate, spending millions on projects that included state-ofthe-art technology.
“I’ve seen some houses that have more automation than a 747,” Mr Morell said.