Today's world is growing fast and improving everyday. 15 Years ago, a 30" television was considered to be large. Today the norm is 75" and in a few years the standard could be 100". When determining how to layout your new home for the future there are several things you need to keep in mind. It's near impossible to predict the future, but if we examine current trends and where they may lead, we can make a good educated guess at what we may need or desire in the future. What may seem like a heavier price today, will always be less expensive than the time and money you would have spent in the long run. So let's look at a few ideas to help you stay ahead of the curve.
Structured wiring is a crucial aspect of your home internet infrastructure. Many companies today still use the Cat5 cable as the standard. This is barely enough speed control to handle today's internet needs. Connected Home recommends a minimum of Cat6e cables, which is the minimum we currently use in our structured wiring packages and even offer Cat7. Cat7 is the choice for all of our luxury homes, but we can offer this to any home if the client wants to make sure they are ready for advancements in home audio and video over at least the next 15 years. If today's televisions are a standard 55-75" pulling 4k streams into the home, just imagine the amount of data you would be using if you had this size television in every room or even integrating 100" 8k sets into the home. All of these options will require massive amount of data and the only way to utilize these at their maximum potential, your wiring must be able to carry that data.
4K is the best available resolution currently on the market. With 8K on the horizon, you should keep this in mind when designing your new home. But I thought wireless was the future? Easy mistake to make. There will always be a need for cables and a lot of them. Wireless technology simply cannot keep up with the audio-visual needs of a modern home. Yes, it’s fantastic for certain devices (e.g. there’s no chance of your printer returning to a wired connection anytime soon), but other units are already right on the cusp of needing more bandwidth. The average home will have 500 smart home devices by 2022, and some of these will require a lot of bandwidth. Devices such as gaming consoles and smart security systems with HD video outputs will quickly outstrip your wireless bandwidth supply.
Home automation has been around for a decade and is now becoming increasingly popular. In another 20 years, smart homes will be the norm. Not only do you a substantial network to connect all these devices, but you need additional lighting wiring. Even if you home has some automated lighting now, there will be an increased need in the future and we all need room to grow. The atmosphere we find ourselves in now could be labeled as the infancy of automation. Everyone has DIY products like Phillip's Hue or other smart bulbs, maybe a smart fridge or maybe some wifi cameras for security. The issue is that all of the different devices have different apps to control them and they are all WIFI. Believe it or not, the are limits on every wireless router made to control how many devices you can connect to this wireless connection. Most routers only allow 20-30 connections. Even our commercial grade systems can only handle 100 comfortably. With an average of over 500 devices expected in the next 15 years, how can we handle these connections? Devices that draw the most data need to have a dedicated ethernet cable (hard-lined) to ensure the remaining devices on the wifi network will have access to the data they need. Extra hard-lined data connections need to be added to your home now to ensure that you are ready. You will also need a better way of controlling all the devices. If you currently had 50 devices including lighting, cameras, tv's, wireless speakers and other smart devices, you probably have at least 7 apps that you need to control them. Now imagine the apps needed to control 500 devices. Simply adding an all-in-one integration platform such as Control4 or Elan Home Controls can help tremendously. If nothing else, leave room to upgrade to these later. You may even consider a Brilliant system. These are not very expensive and can be added at any time. You can replace your current light switches with these units to gain wifi control of your lights, while also controlling integrating sound and other controllable devices.
When are laying out your rooms, make sure to leave enough space for future improvements. Currently televisions are 55-75" and will only get larger. Make sure to leave enough wall space for a larger tv. Virtual reality is becoming more popular and not just in gaming. Virtual reality movies are soon to be a norm and you will room to move about when playing or watching in a first person scenario. You also need to leave enough space on your network to incorporate new devices as your need increases. There also needs to be enough wall space to allow for additional cabling and wiring during retro-fit situations.
Protect Against Downtime
Your network is the brain of the home. If your network ever goes down, how will you arm or disarm the alarm? How will you connect to the outside world? Would I lose connection to the smart fridge or my washing machine? This is a scary thought, but it can be avoided easily. Even if your internet company goes down, you still have options. maybe your phone could be tethered to the home to share your 4G or 5G connections. One solution to this problem is Speedify. This amazing software allow you to bridge all of your internet connections into one place. They can be used simultaneously or in replace of each other so when one goes down, your home simply switches to another previously established connection to make sure your home is always connected.
Make Your Home Eco-Friendly
When building or remodeling your home, try to think about future improvements as well as your current situation. Maybe you can use low VOC paints that are less harmful for the environment and for your pets. Try to use as many recycled materials as possible, especially when adding decks, sunrooms or patios. Not only should you think of smart lighting, but efficient lighting. Many newer LED dimmable bulbs have a lifespan of over 10,000 hours. Protect yourself from loss of power. The easiest way to achieve this goal is to integrate solar panels. Solar panels have finally got to the point where they actually make financial sense to install. Including maintenance while factoring in energy savings, your break even point on newer system can be as little as 7 years. After the system has been paid for, you can realistically save up to 80% of electricity costs every month. Lucky enough to live on the water? Hydro-electric is still practical and with current technology, turbines are more efficient than ever.
There is no time like the present. If you are purchasing or building your "forever" home, try to make sure you can actually live in this space for the rest of your life. Remember people change, technology gets better and faster, and you are the master of your destiny. Think outside the box and you may just set yourself up for success!