You probably saw that coming. But what does it depend on?
The main variables are quantity, quality and scope.
Scope - what things would you like to be smart?
Not every client uses us for everything on that list. That's really normal.
Entertainment, in particular, is so personal - how do you like to relax at home? Our main specialty is high quality home cinema and media rooms, we also offer music round the home, and distributed video. But it's a different solution depending whether you love sport, gaming, music, or films (or all of them!)
The level of integration is up to you too - that is, how tied together are these systems? Integration gives rise to benefits like:
• Check security cameras on all your TVs, tablets and phones
• Dim the lights from your TV controller
• The doorbell usually pauses the music that's playing, but when you're having a party it does something else instead - lights flash, or a phone alert.
• Blinds raise and lower depending on time and weather - prevent sunlight glare, solar gain, or to help you wake up and sleep.
• Reduced 'wall acne' (and ceiling acne) - a central control system means a single, clean looking control panel, instead of several wall controls of varying shapes and sizes.
• A bit less to think about - every evening at bedtime, and before you go out, you probably have a mental tick-list of jobs - check the doors, turn lights and other systems off, set the alarm. It's much easier if you can do that by selecting 'All Off', 'Leaving' or 'Good Night' commands, programmed in advance to your needs.
Quantity - how much?
An obvious one is lighting and shading. More rooms will need more lighting circuits, but different lighting design schemes (and different designers) will have more or fewer circuits, even in the same size home. Is this scheme quite minimal, or are you going for a luxury feel?
Imagine your kitchen diner. You'll want separate control over these lights: work surfaces, island pendants, dining table or breakfast bar, wall lights and downlights. You may also have low-level lighting or 'floor washers' - the overall lighting design will influence the cost to make it smart.
Window treatments - blinds and curtains - will add up depending on how many windows you automate.
You can - as a cost saver - drop some rooms, but people often add them back in later on, which is more disruptive.
Sunlight has a CRI (Colour Rendering Index) of 100
Quality - how good?
You can always keep on going.
A 65" TV from a make you've heard of might be £800, but the latest high performance OLED screens are well over £3,000 - both are well worth having, depending on your expectations.
Or, a reasonable quality LED downlight will cost about £20, but a really high quality one at £100 is not just better made, it gives a much better quality of light - colours look more natural and it's easier to relax. We may think 'LED fittings' are the same, but they're really not.
The key measure is Colour Rendering Index or CRI - this describes how much of the natural spectrum the light puts out, so higher numbers are better. 100% is sunlight, 85% is acceptable but really you want over 90% in the rooms you spend time in.
Save cost without spoiling your smart home experience
Mix and match qualities. The kitchen is critical, living rooms and bedrooms are really important, but could you drop down a level for your utility room, garage, and guest beds? The savings you make could be substantial, allowing you to enjoy better quality in the rooms where you spend time and socialise.
That can apply to anything - lighting, TV, or music.
A few examples:
• 'Soft start' dimming from the lighting system always looks lovely, magical even - but you can reduce cost by using basic relay switches in the functional rooms.
• In the media room, or cinema, have the high quality handset with touchscreen control and backlighting, but guests just want a bit of TV - so in the guestroom, have a standard controller with no display.
• When you have people over, you'll want full-bodied music that fills the room effortlessly without dominating or distorting. Extra bodies soak up sound, so you may need more performance - and more level - in the larger, social rooms. Just as with home cinema, large rooms need more sound energy - larger speakers, or more of them - just to achieve the same performance.
Smart home guide pricing
As you've seen there are so many variables - but here are some ideas:
Cinemas and media rooms - depends very much on room size as well as performance level - a cinema starts from about £20,000 in a smaller space, a media room can be less, especially if TV based, or could be more. We look at this in greater detail in How much does a Home Cinema really cost? A cost saving tip - could you divide the room, making it smaller and for fewer people?
Whole-home video - The key question here is how many TVs, and how many source devices - e.g. Sky, Apple, Roku, Blu-Ray or DVD, etc - do you need? The entry point is 4 screens and 4 sources, while 'mainstream' products top out at 8x8 - 8 sources and 8 screens. Adding more than that needs a network-based video system - not technically hard, but more expensive. An entry-level 4x4 system, which has basic TV, Sky and Apple control built-in, costs from £1200 for hardware, plus cabling and installation.
Lighting and shading - for more circuits, higher quality and esoteric lighting fixtures, nicer keypads or real switches - move us up the quality range. Product like Lutron RA2 Select is very well priced - £250 for a central processor, £125 per switched or dimmed circuit and from £60 per wall panel.
The more advanced systems also cost more and have greater flexibility, better suited to larger homes.
Automated blinds vary with the size of your windows, and with your fabric choice, starting from around £750 each. Curtain tracks will depend on the length, and weight of the curtains.
For more complicated and larger schemes we can't really give guide pricing, we'd want to see the lighting design first - or we can help prepare that. DALI control reduces the cost in the lighting control system but usually adds to the cost of the lighting itself - it's more suitable for larger schemes.
Integrated control system - Central processor from £650, basic handsets from £250, wall panels from £500.
The right choices for your project will depend on the answers to everything above.
There are several good quality control systems in the market - we major in RTI and ProControl. We chose them because we wanted to create our own graphics, and we believe has the best blend of bespoke and fast programming - in other words we can achieve highly tailored, client-appropriate results at a reasonable cost.
If we can help with your smart home project, we'd be delighted - please get in touch.