Make smart tech choices for your new smart home

SAN DIEGO — The smart evolution has begun in our homes. More and more connected items are available to let you control your property from a single device, no matter where you are. Everything from lighting to heating and even making a cup of coffee can be at your fingertips.

Smart home products are streaming into the marketplace, which makes it very confusing to know what’s really useful and what’s just really cool — but not so useful.

As smart solutions become more and more mainstream, builders are increasingly incorporating high-tech options into new construction. So what smart technology should the homebuyer keep in mind when shopping for a new house?

Most technology in new homes centers on security and energy savings. Look for systems that can control interior and exterior lights, heating and air conditioning, such as the Nest smart thermostats, and home security systems with items such as video doorbells and smart door locks.

Remote-controlled sound systems are also popular items. Savvy shoppers are expecting to find these compatible with voice-activated devices such as Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home.

All this technology means homeowners need to consider how the home is set up. To make everything work properly, the home needs to be completely wired with enough bandwidth to support audio and video streaming and good Wi-Fi reception in all corners of the home.

For example, Hallmark Communities provides homes with a Structured Universal Network (S.U.N.), including Category 5 Enhanced (CAT 5E) wiring for telephone and data communications and Quad Shielded (RG-6) Coaxial Cable for television and video distribution.

Sophisticated buyers in high-end downtown high-rises expect homes to be equipped with the latest technology.

“It’s important for Pacific Gate residents to have a smart home that allows them to easily automate climate, lighting and window treatments using their mobile device,” said Bemi Jauhal, director of sales and marketing at Bosa Development. “This way, homeowners can program settings to fit their individual needs and preferences. In addition, technology that provides filtered water, such as Everpure, is relevant to our homebuyers.”

Some developers have announced that they will make smart technology part of their standard offerings.

Meritage Homes recently announced that it will include Wi-Fi enabled home automation technology in all new construction as of this month. Items include video doorbells, thermostats, garage-door openers, lighting and irrigation. Homes will be designed with a centralized location for the Wi-Fi modem.

Toll Brothers, which is building in the new master-planned community in Carlsbad, has also recently announced its expansion of smart home offerings. Homebuyers will be able to consult with a low-voltage contractor to choose a range of options, from home security systems to whole-house automation packages.

Increased technology goes hand in hand with sustainability. Automated blinds will keep homes cooler, and thermostats will turn the temperatures up and down only where and when it’s needed. Power management systems are becoming increasingly popular. These systems shut off standby power, which some studies say use as much as 5 percent of U.S. energy consumption.

Although items such as connected refrigerators — which let owners peek inside from the grocery store to see what’s missing — are gaining some traction, items like this are still relatively rare and expensive. Consumers are looking for solutions that will save time, money and energy. It’s those items that will begin showing up as standard features in new homes.

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