Electronic devices get smarter every day, and those devices are more connected than ever. Remotes to control motorized shades, wall-mounted keypads to control lighting throughout the home, apps to control music and temperature, cloud based storage for security cameras – all of these developments have brought home automation to the forefront, and made it more appealing and more accessible than ever before. Two questions we hear almost daily are, “What happens after the system is installed?” “Is there any maintenance required?”
The answer is a resounding yes for several reasons. The rapid progression of the technology means frequent software updates from manufacturers. These updates come in the form of both app updates and component firmware updates. Generally speaking, the app updates can be handled automatically by the user’s smartphone or tablet, but in some cases, those automatic updates can lead to problems if the device firmware isn’t updated at the same time. Updates to the devices can be tricky. Some systems, like Sonos for example, push updates directly to their components and do not require any special tools or expertise. Others, however, require a knowledge of the connected hardware, and sometimes proprietary software or cables to connect to the devices directly.
There are other potential issues a maintenance visit can uncover. Heat is an enemy of electronic components. If conditions in the cabinet, closet, or room in which the equipment is installed change, it’s possible that the components can reach temperatures that cause them to malfunction or to shut down in thermal protection mode. There are many connected components that can communicate to the owner or the installer if the temperature of the equipment is outside of the recommended parameters. Any components that include ventilation openings or fans should also be checked for dust and debris and cleaned as necessary.
One of the more obvious issues that is often overlooked is battery life. So many of our connected devices run on batteries: wireless alarm sensors, wireless motorized shades, wireless lighting control keypads, handheld remote controls, wireless occupancy and motion sensors, and remote temperature sensors. These batteries all have different life spans. An annual visit to check battery levels and replace those in need of replacement go a long way toward keeping the system running as designed.
Network settings are another potential pain point for automation systems. Many of our devices communicate on the home’s network via a wired or a wireless connection. All of these devices will conceivably have their own IP addresses and will require constant communication with the network. Adjustments to network settings, whether a major change like the replacement of a router, or minor tweaks, can create communication issues in the system and with your connected devices, smartphones, and tablets. An annual review of the network configuration is highly recommended.
And then there are several small items to be attended to on a regular basis. Shading limits should be adjusted over time. Fabric can settle or stretch after installation and require minor adjustments. Lighting scenes can be adjusted based on changes in usage patterns or tie-ins to energy management systems. Televisions and audio systems can be re-calibrated and brought back up to factory specifications. Security devices can have limited shelf-life and may need replacement after years of use. On larger systems, the list can be extensive.
In short, integrated systems can provide connection, control, security, efficiency, and peace of mind. They, much like automobiles, are systems comprised of dozens of distinct components that require maintenance, updates, and adjustments over time. At Starr Systems, we provide scheduled maintenance opportunities for all of our customers – whether their systems were purchased from us, from another integrator, or installed by the homeowner themselves. Click on the link below for a detailed description of the available plan options.