One of the most significant differences between a well-designed home automation system and a poorly designed one is scenes. Worse, you maybe have no scenes set up at all. In this blog, we will review what scenes are, pick the top 6 every home should have, and talk about getting them right for you. If you think we have missed some, let us know.
What is a scene?
The big difference between a connected home and a smart home is how the technology you have installed is integrated. In a ‘connected home,’ you may have lots of ‘smart devices’ like a Nest HVAC control system and August door locks, but they are controlled by remotes or apps on your phone, which you must make work together. Making all these separate devices work together can be complicated and annoying to manage, and often, a homeowner will discover that while they have smart devices, they do not have a smart home.
To turn a connected home into a smart home requires a single, house-wide automation platform like Elan, Savant, Crestron, Lutron, or Control4. These platforms connect and integrate the technology to allows different smart devices to work together seamlessly. They also offer multiple ways of controlling the home through touch-panels, remote controls, and apps on your phones. To make it more convenient and easier to use, each of these different interfaces looks alike and works alike, which means you only need to learn to use one system and not a separate app for each smart device.
This more holistic approach means that you can make different smart devices work together seamlessly and integrate them into your life. For instance, when you get up in the morning, you might want to open the shades in your bedroom, turn on the kitchen lights, and start the TV playing your favorite channel – this would be your Morning scene.
Scenes can have different owners, with other devices controlled, for various days or any combination you can imagine. Scenes can be activated by you, by tiers, or even by events like the sunrise in a location. Every homeowner has a different set of scenes that are important to them, but here are six that we find most homes can use.
Top 6 Scenes
- Good Morning – this scene can turn on lights, open the shades, turn on the radio or TV in the bathroom, set your climate for daytime, and get your home ready for the day. Different house members may have different needs, and each bedroom or suite may need its own Good Morning program.
- Good Night – the reverse of Good Morning, the Good Night scene can get your home locked up, secured, and shut down for the night.
- Away- the last person leaving home can hit the Away button. You can configure this scene to turn off all interior lights. And if needed, exterior lights, close shades, turn off media, set the climate controls, ensure fireplaces are off, and activate the security system.
- Lights Off – this scene will ensure all the lights are off in the home but do not change shading or other systems.
- Home – is the reverse of Away and gets your home ready for you. Away can often be tailored to different people in the house and integrated with garage door systems.
- Party or Entertaining – at the touch of a button, your whole home, or just vital rooms can transition to a party or ‘chill-out’ zone. Lights, shades, music, TVs, or any other systems can be combined to create just the right atmosphere.
Can I do this myself?
If you have a small apartment with four shades and three light switches, then complete home automation seems overkill. It has been estimated that over 75% of the time, homeowners who install manually operated shades never open them. Yet, if those shades are on a westerly facing wall with a great view, then automated ways to open and close them may be beneficial.
Most scenes should be pre-programmed by your technology integrator. However, with some systems, you can, at the press of a button, capture the status of all the technology in an area and name that scene. This allows you to live in your home and make simple changes without calling someone to change the programming. A good example might be setting the room up for watching TV. While you may have a ‘TV Time’ scene set up for you, at different times of the year, the sun can come through other windows at different times, and you may not have seen that initially. Once you spot it, you may want to quickly update the program to capture the fact that you had to lower a shade or turn a light off.
A quick note on Apple HomeKit and other platforms like it: while you can use HomeKit to create scenes, this is something you must manage and maintain. This can be time-consuming and confusing – significantly when manufacturers change their technology (Google does this often). What does work well with these platforms is voice-activation, and most Home Automation Platforms will link to your Siri, Alexa’s, and Google devices.
So, having a smart home is one thing; using it can be another. In our experience, the difference between the two is how good a job was done setting up the home’s scenes. Working with a company like Bravas ensures you not only get the right technology that works for your home, but it is a step up in a way that works for your lifestyle.