Smart Switch-board: Expectation vs Reality
Just 10 years ago, smart home automation seemed something from the future which was possible only in sci-fi movies and TV shows. It evoked a sense of awe in us, seeing doors, windows, lights, fans, computer screens etc. all working via voice commands and wireless remotes. Well, we can tell that era has definitely come!
The concept of smart homes or smart home appliances started becoming a reality a few years ago when with the boom of the mobile industry, most of the world population got access to internet, wireless communications and access to smartphones.
The boom of smartphone industry paved the way for other smart home appliances like smart televisions, smart fridges, smart color changing lights (which was heavily influenced by the LED revolution), smart fans, smart faucets and the list goes on.
But there was one problem. They were not cheap. These things came with a heavy price tag which made them a luxury. Often used in expensive luxury hotels and by wealthy families, these were a showoff rather than a utility. The awe factor of controlling appliances with just your phone using an app, well, came at a steep price.
But it wasn’t to stay like that forever. As popularity increased, the prices went down and soon affordable home systems were available to the general masses and the smart appliances producing companies jumped in on this occasion.
A report from Statista showed that the year 2018 brought $23 million to the smart home market and that 81% average US consumers, wanted preinstalled smart home switches and hubs preinstalled rather than buying them individually.
The trend soon became popular in India too with several companies emerging in this market attracting multiple customers and generating a very profitable margin of revenue. And with the introduction of voice assistants like Hey Google, Siri and Alexa came a tremendous boost in this market.Smart appliances are controlled through smart switch boards and that is why they are a key component of home automation products.
It is what the end user uses to gain access to smart features of these appliances.
But What is a Smart Switch?
Smart switches are like your regular switches with a few extra handy features. They provide new ways to control your home lighting and switch wired devices.
They connect through a dedicated app on your smartphone over your home Wi-Fi network so that you can access your switches anytime anywhere wirelessly.
How do Smart Switch work?
Smart switches connect to your home network providing access through Wi-Fi to remotely control the switch using a dedicated app on your smartphone. They can even be managed by a home automation controller or by using a smart speaker.
But is the smart switchboard really worth it? Is it better than conventional switches and will it replace our old switches?
Let us try to answer this question by first looking at some of the expectations people have with such systems and compare that with the real situation.
1. Can smart switch malfunction
The fear of something going wrong with their new device is seen with almost every customer making a purchase and this case is not too very different. Change is difficult and it takes not only a mindset but an overall getting used to when you are making a move to smart home systems.
But fear not, smart switchboards are much more fail-proof than you think. Using a smart switch, you can control all your appliances via the dedicated app and use it as a conventional switch when your phone is not around.
One belief that prevents potential customers from opting smart switches is the fear of malfunctioning of the app as in app crash which could make their lives more difficult contrary to their expectations.
While the problem of app crash is there and even smart switches are not 100% fail proof, it is at par with conventional switches which malfunction a lot too (remember switches which short circuit or which become loose and then you need to press really hard to make it work or the ones which keep disconnecting every now and then) but with a lot of other benefits.
Sure, some companies don’t focus on making the app both aesthetically pleasing and easy to operate leading to an app full of bugs and freezes and crashes, but a lot of companies like iCapotech have a professional app which is updated regularly, is super easy to use and is crafted and coded by professional software engineers.
In a nutshell : Smart Switches are Reliable
2. They are not secure
Movies have a significant influence on the human mind. Hollywood and Bollywood movies portraying hackers cracking open into smart homes and stealing everything from cash to jewelry to gaining access to webcams thus jeopardizing privacy have prevented time and again from people wanting to switch to smart homes.
People think that by gaining access to your smart switch, they can open locks, switch on and off lights and other appliances and thus create un-necessary nuisance and thereby prefer to keep their conventional manual switch boards.
But in reality, it is not that easy to hack into your smart switchboard. Plus, the added benefits it provides can make your home even more secure. When you are out on a vacation, you can switch on the lights remotely from your location anywhere in the world and thereby make it appear that the house is occupied.
With increasing marketing and promotion of home security equipment, hooking it up to your smart switch adds an extra layer of security for your loved ones.
3. They are not cost effective
Electricity prices are surging and with increased number of electrical appliances in our home our consumption has gone way up compared to the last decades. According to a report by Economic Times, India’s energy consumption is set to grow 4.2% by the year 2035.
In comparison to manual switches, smart switches can save you a lot of money in the long run. According to research by Lutron, the average home can save up to 60% more by combining dimming and occupancy sensing in a residence,
People expect that since smart switches uses Wi-Fi and other wireless technologies to operate, they have to be always on but the reality is that these devices use almost negligible power to operate and in turn help you save a ton of cash.
Suppose you are on a vacation and you forgot to turn off your lights. If it was a manual switch you couldn’t have done anything. The lights would be on until you manually switched them off, but if you have a smart switch, you can just open the dedicated app on your smartphone, press a button and turn off the light from anywhere in the world.
As humans, we sometimes forget to turn off lights either by mistake or we are just being lazy. Now you can binge on your shows till late night and then just a switch to turn off the lights before sleeping.
You can also set timer using your app so that the light dims at a specific time and switches off automatically at a particular time hinting that it’s the time to hit the bed.
With the dawn of the LED revolution, manufacturers are producing LED bulbs and tube lights which produce much brighter light than conventional CFL or tungsten bulbs and consume almost 90% less energy. Many manufacturers have also come with smart bulbs which can be controlled via your smartphone but the downside is that these smart bulbs cost way more than a single smart switch.
Also, with one smart switch you can control all the appliances of your house and these work with existing non-smart appliances as well compared to controlling individual smart bulbs. This means that you don’t have to spend a lot of money investing in equipment.
4. They are not convenient
If controlling all of your lights, fans and electrical appliances with your smartphone isn’t convenient than what is?
Contrary to popular belief, your smart switch will not eat up all your bandwidth that you have nothing to left to stream your favorite tv shows. These consume very less bandwidth and use various wireless technologies like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Z waves etc. to connect and thereby provide a good connection range throughout your entire house.
With smart switches you don’t have to travel to the far end of your house in case you forgot to switch off a light.
Gone are the days when you would have to struggle to find the switches in the dark. And now you can easily enjoy your movie on your bed and fall asleep without forgetting to switch off the lights.
It is just because of the convenience factor that people switch to smart switches.
All this still maintains the ability to manually turn on and off switches as these work atop existing conventional switches!
In a nutshell : Smart Switches are Extremely Convenient
To sum it up:
Popular to contrary belief and expectations, smart switches are:
- Extremely convenient
- Energy efficient
- An affordable leap into the future
So, coming back to our question, yes smart switches are extremely convenient and worth the investment. It is better than conventional switches in a lot of ways and it will eventually replace conventional switches but that is not anytime soon.
Choosing a smart switch for your home is crucial. There are a number of factors to be kept in mind. Whether or not it gives multiple users access, the cost associated, installation difficulty, range of control, ease of use etc. One of the best smart switches available in the market right now is Living Things by iCapotech.
It is a smart home lighting automation product while makes the existing lights and fans in your home smart so that you don’t have to invest in additional hardware. It connects via your home Wi-Fi and gives you the ability to control all your home light and fans using an easy to use app remotely from anywhere.
Gone are the days when you had to haggle someone to switch on and off a light. With the touch of a button your entire home lighting is in your control.
So, no worries while travelling if your forgot to switch off the light, on bumping into objects while trying to find the switch in the dark, falling asleep while binge reading or watching your favourite shows and no need to get up from your work every time you need to switch on/off something.
The best part is that due to its small size you can fit it in your switch board so that it doesn’t ruin the aesthetics of your room and no unnecessary wires lying around. It is something you can definitely flaunt!
The app is easily downloadable from the Google Playstore and can be used by 4 members so it is a one stop family lighting solution. With an affordable price tag, it is definitely something to look out for!
At iCapotech, we believe clarity begins at home and so we constantly improve our products to provide the best experience at a very affordable price. With a competent team of engineers and software developers and with the values of team work and hard work and a constant strive for innovation and technological advancements we strive to make technology smart and easy to operate.