Why the DIY Smart Home is a Bad Idea

The era of the “DIY Smart Home” is upon us. Time and time again I sit with a potential client and discuss the reason as to why their self installed home automated system isn’t working properly. So, I wanted to take the time and explain why a DIY smart home is just a bad idea.

Poor Planning and Impulsive Purchasing

A serious problem in home automation today is the misconception that making your home smarter is as easy as buying an Amazon Echo and asking Alexa to “Turn on the Lights”. But as many of us know, and as the piles of abandoned equipment prove, this just isn’t true. Without some type of planning or structure, a home automation system simply will not work well. Too many of the current smart home products on the market do not communicate with one another and can quickly cause technology chaos. The best way to approach a smart home system is to ask yourself what you really care about controlling and why. Then plan your system with devices that are proven to work well together, keeping in mind any devices that you may consider adding later on.

Constantly Playing the “Incompatible” or “Unsupported” Device Game

I hear the same remarks over and over again. “None of my electronics ever work”. Or, “As soon as one thing works, something else stops working”. Or, “My internet provider say’s it’s not a problem on their end…and my A/V guy says the same thing, ugh”.  This is exactly why you should let a home automation expert design a custom system using products that work seamlessly together because smart devices is just like communication in that they speak different languages. Zigbee, Z- Wave, Insteon, WIFI, and Bluetooth are the most common communication protocols used today. Like people, smart devices need to have someone in command that directs the decision making within the system and keeps everything running smoothly.

For our clients, AIC has partnered with Elan Home Systems and Lutron to create a seamless automation system with almost unlimited possibilities.

Are you Automating or Overcomplicating?

I laugh inside when someone try’s to brag to me about their automation system and whips out the iPhone thats loaded with a dozen different smart home apps. There’s an app to control the lighting, there’s an app to control the thermostat, another app controls the window shades.

What the . . . ?

Let me explain something, having a dozen different apps to control things is no different then before when you had a dozen different remote controls. Thus, you’re still confused and the system still does not work together. Wasn’t that the problem to begin with? Automation systems are designed to let all of the sub systems, like the lighting, thermostats and window shades, to work together in unison with one simple to use app or control system.

Your Home Network Could be a Problem

Think of your home network as a city of streets and traffic lights. Any wired or wireless devices on this network are like vehicles. Initially there wasn’t a lot of traffic. Maybe a couple of iPhones, a wireless printer, and a Blueray player. But over time, as you’ve added smart devices such as iPads, laptops, smart TV’s, Apple TV’s, WIFI thermostats, wireless cameras and wireless music systems, what’s happened to the network? It becomes congested and slow. Upgrading your home network system is a critical element in creating a solid home automation platform.

Compromising Security and Privacy

A single platform system like Elan Home Systems has strict privacy protocols in place to provide the latest security and privacy protection. Good luck getting that with multiple third party DIY smart home systems! Therefore, lack of a dedicated home automation system could compromise your DIY Smart Home systems security and privacy.

Is there a difference in cost? And is it worth the loss?

Let me lay out a simple scenario and see what you think. Let’s say we have a home and we are looking to have some automation. We want to control the outdoor landscape lighting and a few light loads within the home, the thermostats, the security system, we want to have (2) outdoor video cameras, a couple rooms of wireless music, and control of the pool and spa.

See the comparison between a well put together DIY smart home system and a system using the Elan Home Systems platform below.

DIY Smart Home Design: Total Cost $2,760.00

This is a basic DIY system that you could purchase from local home store. Most of these products still require a skilled professional for installation and the end user would need to manage all programming. Sub Contractor Labor is estimated based on average rates. Moreover, this system would require the use of multiple apps and there is currently no way to control the existing security systems or the pool and spa. This type of system is less reliable and would also be more prone to security and privacy invasions.

Wink Lighting System by Leviton: Cost $750.00

Labor (Electrician) $375.00

Nest Wireless Thermostats: Cost $300.00

Labor (HVAC Technician) $225.00

Nest Wireless Outdoor Cameras: Cost $400.00

Labor (Electrician) $350.00

Security System Control: No option to control existing systems.

(2) Amazon Echo’s for music: Cost $360.00

Pool/Spa Control: No option to control existing systems.

Professional Design: Total Cost $4,785.00

This system is based on using products that work well together and give the user the ability to control every aspect of the homes technology through one easy to use interface. This system also allows the individual devices to work in tandem with one another. An example would be having the outdoor lights blink rapidly if the security system sensed a problem. This could alert the neighbors that there is an emergency. One app. One integrated System. More reliability and more secure.

Lutron Caseta Lighting System: Cost $510.00

Labor (Electrician) $375.00

Lutron Caseta Thermostats: Cost $475.00

Labor (HVAC) $190.00

Luma I300 Series IP Outdoor Cameras: Cost $475.00

Labor (A/V) $300.00

Security System: Full Control and no extra cost with Elan g.

Labor (A/V) $95.00

Sonos Play 1s: Cost $400.00 Labor $95.00

Pool/Spa Control: Full Control and no cost with Elan g.

Labor (A/V) $95.00

Elan Home Systems Processor: $1395.00

Labor (A/V) $380.00


Yes, there is a difference in cost, but paying a little bit more for a professionally installed smart home system that guarantees complete, uninterrupted control is well worth it!

-Blogger, Owner – Curt Hubner

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