At first glance, the answer to that question is obvious. You use your car for transport, and you want to make your house or apartment as pleasant as possible to live there happily. But there’s more to it than that. Your car features an abundance of smart functionalities that you use on a daily basis. It uses electronics, computer technologies and software, probably without you even noticing. Most likely your home is still cabled in the traditional fashion and does not have any smart functionality. The car has evolved along lines dictated by our current needs, whereas our homes in most cases have not. Even though that is perfectly possible. Let’s have a look at how things could be.
When you’re walking over to your car, you unlock the car from a distance with what we will call your car’s access control system. A light will switch on automatically so that you can easily find the ignition in the dark. Once the engine is started (with a key or a badge), the light slowly goes out. When it is dark, the headlights and taillights will switch on automatically. The GPS will guide you to your destination without you having to take out a map. While driving, you can use the handles around or the buttons clustered on the steering wheel to consult your fuel consumption, the mileage left before you need to stop to refuel or recharge, determine your average speed, and other pertinent information available from your on-board computer. When traffic is light, you may want to use your cruise control. On top of that, your car probably also has a radio, a CD player, the possibility to listen to MP3 music files from a USB memory stick, and a Bluetooth connection to your smartphone, all of which can be controlled from the touchscreen or with your hands on the wheel.
The home with a traditional installation
The majority of European homes are still equipped with a traditional electrical installation. Besides a couple of power sockets, you have one or more switches for each light. Sometimes there is also a smoke detector, but that is probably operated by small replaceable batteries that you have to replace from time to time and not connected to the mains. Functionality is very limited. The flexibility of such traditional installations is nil. These installations are not capable of evolving with the changing needs of the residents, or with innovative and modern technologies. All of your electrical appliances and systems work, but separately from each other. There is no bilateral communication. They may work well but they stand-alone.
The home with an IHS
Homes are increasingly equipped with an Integrated Home System (IHS). Besides the traditional electrical components such as switches, there are also electronic components and software integrated as well to operate and control the home. Actions can be carried out even from a distance when desired. The technology has been around for more than 25 years and enables the integration of various stand-alone systems.
An example: When you come home in your car, you open the garage door from inside the car with your remote control. When it is dark, the IHS will automatically switch on the lights in, for instance, the entry or kitchen. In addition, the heating or air-conditioning receives a signal to switch to comfort mode.
These are merely some of the many possible functionalities that can be adapted to your needs at any time. For more functionality, consult the IHS Design guide (link at the end of the article).
Car vs home
We tend to drive our car for several years (4 to 10 years). Upon purchase, the car is already equipped with lots of functionalities and possibilities. We seldom have the choice of individualized options anymore. Today, everything is more or less standard with only one or two option packages available. Hence, upon purchase, the car is almost certainly equipped with the latest functionalities and possibilities.
When a house is concerned, things are quite different. When buying or building a house, we generally have the intent to live there for 20 to 25 years. The electrical installation is one of the main building blocks of a house, as are the bricks and the roof. It is of utmost importance that we immediately opt for a modern electrical installation with functionalities and flexibility. Switching from a traditional installation to an IHS after a few years will be far more expensive than simply opting immediately for IHS. In the latter case, you are set for at least a few decades to enjoy the current and future potential of these systems. Tune your home as you do your car.