What to Know About Smart Home DIY?
Whatever project you’re undertaking, make sure you read this guide.
18:36 24 July 2020
If you’re looking to smarten up your home yourself, you are looking at the world of do-it-yourself work, where the oldest home improvement methodology is applied to the newest home improvement technology. Smart home DIY work can be as easy as buying a single appliance, or as complicated as programing your own Arduino to automate or modify almost anything. Whatever project you’re undertaking, make sure you read this guide.
Can You Do It Yourself?
Most smart home devices are standalone appliances that just require an installation so simple that you just need to plug them in and turn them on. However, there are some items that you need to wire into the building, such as cameras, some security systems and maybe some smart heating interfaces.
When determining whether a more complicated project is within your scope of abilities, avoid going straight to YouTube tutorials. Although 60% of DIY projects are successful, almost 25% of home DIY jobs go so wrong that tradespeople have to be called in to fix a mistake. Throwing yourself at a DIY job that you don’t have the skill to pull off can also have dire consequences on your health.
You just need to be exposed to 50 volts and a high amp to suffer from fatal electrical injuries like electrically-induced heart stoppages or failure to breathe, and the UK power system provides 230 volts to houses. One in 20 people in the UK have ended up in A&E from a DIY attempt gone wrong, so it’s vital that you know what you should be able to do.
Consult Part P Please!
Part P of the 2005 building regulations is a good guidance. It splits electrical work into minor and notifiable. Minor work is work that isn’t in an especially dangerous location (like a bathroom or garden) and involves things like replacing a cable for a single circuit, replacing accessories like socket-outlets and control switches.
Notifiable works are more major — including work in special locations, wiring new circuits, full house rewiring and more. If you need to do notifiable work as part of your smart home DIY (e.g. modifying a circuit for some tech to be near the kitchen sink), you need to know what you’re doing.
You will need to complete a course like those offered from Skills Training Group and then send a letter to the council informing them about your planned work. This may seem like a lot of fuss about what you feel is a minor job, but it is for the safety of everybody in your household. What happens if you start an electrical fire? If an insurance company learns that you did notifiable work and did not follow protocol, your insurance will be null and void. Alternatively, you can just hire an electrician.
Working Tools for Smart Home DIY
It’s especially important when working with any technology to use the proper tools. If an appliance has broken and you want to fix it, or if you are looking to perform minor or notifiable work, you need to have the right tools to stop yourself from getting a possibly lethal shock with 230 volts. If you’re meddling with electrics, you should have:
- A voltage detector – these are needed to test for the presence of power in anything and are a handy check that you should do even if you have switched off a circuit breaker. Checking something with a voltage detector takes a couple of seconds and can save your life.
- A cable detector – if you are installing anything directly into the wall (e.g. smart plugs), you will need to check for buried wires in the place you want to install your technology. If you don’t take this precaution, you can accidentally sever important house wiring or, again, electrocute yourself.
- Screwdrivers and cable strippers approved with a TIC by the Verband der Elektrotechnik – the German organisation of electricians that subject their tools to the ultimate safety tests. They are tested to make sure they stay protective when charged with 10,000 volts of alternating current. They are given a cold shock test, cooled down to -25C to see if they break after sudden impact. They are also given an adhesion test to see if the insulation is still working after high tensile force for a week as well as a combustion test to see if the tool can withstand flame for 10 seconds. The result is a tool that you can trust to protect you when dealing with sockets.
Smart Home Set-Up for Beginners
Many people want to get involved in smart homes but don’t want the risk or expenditure of doing complicated DIY. As a result, most basic devices require almost no installation. Here are some smart DIY mods for the smart home beginner:
- Lights: you can buy smart bulbs, which allow you to control lights from your phone to easily set up different brightness levels and colour temperatures in different rooms. You can set them to turn off and on in response to different triggers and they’re very easy to install — all it involves is screwing in a light.
- Smart Lock: some smart locks are easy to install. The Kevo Touch-to-Open Smart Lock 2nd Gen is a piece of smart tech that comes with an interactive installation guide that walks you through the steps. Since it is battery powered, there is no danger of electrical shock. This allows you to unlock your door simply by touching the tech.
- Doorbells: you can get smart doorbells like Ring and Nest which allow you to see who is at the door and give them instructions if you aren’t home (or avoid them if you are).
- Alexa: Alexa comes into her own when you sync her up with pieces of smart home technology. You can connect her to a smart remote, which can control multiple devices like lights and televisions, meaning you can turn them on with a simple voice command.
- Sprinklers: you can also buy smart sprinkler systems that monitor the weather and water plants automatically if they need it.