Here’s an all-too familiar scenario: You go to a big-box retailer thinking they have the answer to all your smart home needs. Yes, they have a massive store to go with all their shiny stuff, but too often they’re not the type of products you need for your space. Their retail clerks usually don’t really know what you need. It's not unusual to even see some of them avert your eyes once they see you approaching them. And when you ask them questions they can’t answer, they may also become visibly irritated and frustrated. A constant refrain, “We don’t do that” could actually mean, “We don’t know what we’re doing.”
However, many fall prey to a store’s marketing efforts because they’re big enough to market to a mass audience. So for those who are not too familiar with the products and services they need, here’s one thing to keep in mind: You should NOT trust the same guy who only installed a TV bracket to build your smart home system.
There’s the better option of actually choosing the real deal – the smart home integrator with fully certified technicians that can customize your smart home system to fit your lifestyle. Just as you wouldn’t trust a plumber to do your electrical needs, you can’t rely on a TV mounter to build your smart home or smart enterprise. You could end up spending $7,000 without seeing any work done, as one of Premium's customers experienced.
Smart home systems could involve a variety of things – from any or all of the following, integrated together to give a better experience, for your enjoyment, convenience and even as a way for you to conserve energy.
Of course, smart home automation is still something new to most people which adds complexity to the process of choosing the right smart home integrator. It doesn’t help that smart home technology extends to other spaces – offices, stores, even yachts which can all be automated with smart technologies that can be controlled using touch screen devices – a remote control, phone, a tablet computer and a touch screen panel lodged on a wall to make it part of a space on a permanent basis.
Yes, you will find a smart bulb, a surveillance camera and your favorite voice assistant brands but these are standalone devices. A legitimate smart home integrator can make your products communicate with nearly every device and every part of your space.
It’s hard to find these products and types of service in big box stores because they are more product-focused than system-oriented. You may get the product you want but you will often find yourself doing your own research to find out how to pair them with your purchased item.
Many big-box retailers are simply not trained to provide the knowledge and expertise you need. The problem is when they may claim more than they know which leads to many complaints when something goes wrong and the customer finds himself in a tight bind. He has to make the big box store dismantle what they did wrong before a smart home integrator can come into the picture.
This can be very frustrating for customers who have to endure the bad service of the big box store, but they have no choice anymore when they’re in so deep. To stop hemorrhaging money and the pileup of mistake after mistake, the only thing they can hope for is that the big box store didn’t make a complete mess up and that things are still salvageable – for the right smart home integrator to right the ship.
The bare minimum a smart home beginner can do is search for the right smart home integrator on Google. For those who live in South Florida, Premium Digital Control & Automation can handle both small and large-scale smart jobs. Here are 10 tips to make sure you select the smart home integrator for your needs:
Wired connections are the backbone of your smart home system as they guarantee you internet connection, among a host of other things for your smart devices to work together almost seamlessly. Wireless networking is good on a case-by-case basis.
If they’ve done this type of work for 5 years, there’s a strong chance the team behind it can do the work. At Premium Digital Control, lead technicians have more than 20 years of years of experience, on top of the South Florida company having a total of 15 years, and several awards to boot.
Ask them if they have certifications as well. Other than being insured and bonded, Premium Digital Control has in-house technicians certified by the prestigious CEDIA, Control4, Crestron, Ketra, Lutron, Savant and many more.
CEDIA stands for Custom Electronic Design Installation Association, the world’s largest association of smart home professionals, that helps with resources like educational programs and networking opportunities and connects them directly with manufacturers.
What’s in a name? Because smart home systems have not settled on naming conventions, the smart home professional falls under many names or labels, including smart home integrators/installers, home automation specialists, smart home technicians, custom electronics dealers, smart home programmers and A/V installers.
The important thing is that they must be armed with tools, resources and experience to build truly smart spaces, having undergone work with manufacturers and received training as well as done actual work with other technicians on several projects.
For those with a small window of time to choose from a wide selection, find out if they do the following very early in the process:
Overall, a high percentage of big box retailers lack this mindset when approaching a smart home project. It’s easy to quickly spot someone with inadequate training. Ask them if they were promoted from the computer repair department to work as a smart home installer, without training.
Has anyone here gone through any problems with big box retailers? If so, please share your story by emailing us at email@example.com.