Smart Home: Your guide to educating customers and expanding your electrical contracting business

Smart homes are rapidly becoming the new standard, and homeowners are looking for guidance. While they may dream of making their homes havens of comfort, security, and efficiency, they’re probably stuck with an assortment of “smart" gadgets. Worse, the homeowner doesn't understand why these devices don’t work together.

There’s a big opportunity to upgrade or install smart home systems in the coming years, but how do you get homeowners on the same page so you can help them unlock the convenience of a real smart home system?

My name is Kirby Penner, and I’m a Data Specialist with EECOL's Data and Communications team. In this article, we’re going to help you bridge that gap. We'll give you talking points that will make it easy for your customers to understand smart home tech and get excited.

Most importantly, we’ll show you how you can partner with EECOL for all your smart home installation needs – from training to product selection to design to installation support. Become your area's go-to smart home expert and generate new revenue streams for your business.

But first, let’s arm you with information about how your customers and electrical business will benefit from smart home installations.

Benefits for customers: Why they want smart home tech

The demand for smart home technology is surging, and it’s no surprise. Here are just a few reasons your customers are interested:

Increased security and oversight: Smart doorbells, like the Google Nest Doorbell, with cameras, allow homeowners to see who's at the door, even if they're not home. Security cameras can deter break-ins and provide valuable video and audio evidence in case of an incident.

Convenience: Imagine setting the mood for a movie night with a simple tap on your phone or having your thermostat automatically adjust when you leave the house. Customers want more control over their spaces, and manufacturers create innovative products to make their lives easier.

Energy savings: Smart devices can help homeowners save money on energy bills. Programmable lights turn off when rooms are unoccupied, and thermostats can adjust based on real-time usage patterns.

Benefits for electrical contractors: Why offer smart home installations

Customers will always need wires and switches, but smart homes are the future. As an electrical contractor, you’re uniquely positioned to offer smart home installation and supercharge your business. Here are just a few of the reasons to consider adding smart home automation to your portfolio:

Stand out from the crowd: Not everyone offers smart home installation. Become the expert, the one clients trust to bring their homes into the future.

Minimal training required, big rewards: Don't worry, you don't need to become a tech guru. EECOL offers online and in-person training programs to quickly get you up to speed and confident in your skills.

Boost your bottom line: If you’re already charging for electrical work on-site, why not make extra money by upselling your client on a smart home system or smart tech options? From consultations and product sales to installation and support, you'll create new revenue streams that keep your cash flowing.

Future-proof your business: The smart home revolution is here to stay. Smart home training today positions you to meet increasing demand and keeps your electrical services relevant for years to come.

Happy customers, repeat business: Helping clients create a dream smart home builds loyalty. They'll sing your praises, bring you more referrals and keep your business thriving.

Smart home installation is your chance to expand your services, attract new customers, and become a leader in the electrical contracting game. With EECOL's training and support, you'll be a smart home pro in no time.

As with any journey, it starts with a first step. In this case, that’s helping your customer understand what a smart home is and how it works.

Educating your customers: How smart home systems work

“Smart” has become a buzzword, an umbrella term that covers a limitless number of devices and applications. Your customer might have a smart plug or a doorbell camera, but that alone does not make a smart home.

When we say smart home, we mean a home that responds to your needs and preferences. A true smart home is a system where physical devices connect through the Internet or cloud-based technology, also called the Internet of Things (IoT). They can collect, share, and act on information and data the devices collect – that’s how smart homes make life easier.

When explaining it to your customers, tell them to think of IoT as a team effort. The lights might tell the thermostat when nobody's home, so it can save energy by turning down the heat. Or, the security camera might send an alert to your phone if it sees someone outside your door. By talking with each other and sharing information, they work together to automate tasks and make our lives more convenient.

But before we install a system, we need a solid foundation, starting with your customer’s network.

Building the base: Why your network matters most in smart homes

Imagine rush hour traffic but for your internet. It’s a typical evening in your home: someone’s streaming a movie, another person’s playing an online game. The movie freezes. The game lags. No one is happy, and everyone blames the internet for being slow.

The real culprit? A congested network or poor Wi-Fi coverage. Like a narrow highway, when everyone is online at once, there must be more bandwidth to handle all the data traffic smoothly. If you connect a series of smart devices to that already-congested network – nothing will work properly, and your customers will be upset.

Upgrading your customer’s Wi-Fi network is like adding extra lanes to the internet highway. More bandwidth allows all the data to flow freely. Everyone can use the internet without a hitch, and smart devices can talk to each other and function just like they should.

How can you convince your customers to upgrade their network? Some apps can assess the network strength in a space, but in most cases, an upgrade is necessary, no matter the internet provider. EECOL can help you choose the right equipment to ensure the smooth operation of your customer's smart home. We offer network design, installation, and troubleshooting expertise, providing a solid foundation for your smart home projects.

Three things to consider when choosing smart home products

Cybersecurity: Protecting your network and privacy

As with anything connected to the internet, security is a valid concern with smart products. Unfortunately, when it comes to smart tech, you get what you pay for. Less reputable products, like smart plugs, cost a lot less, but they can also come with lax security features or “back doors” that make them vulnerable to hacking.

EECOL only offers products from reputable manufacturers with robust security features and can help you design a secure system. However, educating your clients about how to protect themselves is still the best defense. Reputable sites like Get Cyber Safe are a great starting point.

Speak the same language: Matter protocol

Imagine being part of a team where everyone speaks a different language; chances are you wouldn’t work very well together. Smart devices are like this, except their language is code.

Developed by the Connectivity Standards Alliance, the Matter protocol is a new universal language for smart home devices. Matter means devices from different brands can work together flawlessly, eliminating compatibility headaches and creating a more cohesive smart home experience.

At EECOL, we offer a wide range of Matter-ready devices, and most of the quality manufacturers we partner with are developing products with Matter compatibility or bridging capabilities. These products will help future-proof your customers' smart home systems, allowing them to seamlessly integrate with new devices as they come onto the market.

Ease of use: Why a user interface can make or break a smart device

User interfaces allow us to interact with smart devices, whether by using a switch or keypad, an app, or voice commands, to name a few. The usability of a device is critical to the experience.

We recently tested a few products like those already on the market, and I’ll tell you, a poor interface is a deal breaker. A device may do the same thing as another, but nobody will want it if it's not easy to use. I should be able to hand it over to anyone, and they can figure it out.

At EECOL, we constantly test products to ensure the user interfaces are simple enough that even Great-Grandma gets it.

Crucial smart tech component: Programmable lighting systems

Lighting is an essential component of smart homes and a great entry point for your customers to get into smart devices – especially if you're already on the job wiring and installing lights. The best part is that residential and commercial applications are currently available. Let's explore some of the differences between them.

Residential lighting

Set the mood: Smart lighting allows homeowners to create the perfect ambiance for any occasion. Imagine using a voice command to dim the lights for a movie night or lights that brighten automatically to mirror the sunrise and encourage you to get up.

Simulate occupancy: When homeowners are away on vacation, smart lights can be programmed to turn on and off at random intervals to make it seem like someone is home, deterring potential burglars.

Simplify the everyday: As you rush out of your house to make your dinner reservation, you press the “away” button on your app; all the interior lights turn off, and the outdoor lights turn on. Your child wakes up in the middle of the night, but luckily, you have pre-programmed low hallway lighting for those middle-of-the-night scrambles to kids' bedrooms.

Commercial lighting

Energy optimization: Businesses can use smart lighting systems like Lutron’s Athena to save on energy costs. Programmable lights adjust automatically based on occupancy and natural daylight levels.

Area-specific control: Retail stores, for example, can use smart lighting to highlight specific products, like a sales wall, or even create different moods in different areas, like a changing room.

The smart home revolution is here: Partner with EECOL to lead the charge

Whether you’re a seasoned smart home installer or need basic training to get comfortable, EECOL can help. Here’s how we can help you gain a competitive advantage:

Expert training: Skill up quickly through online or in-person sessions at your local EECOL branch to get confident in smart home installations.

Top-tier products: Access reliable and secure Matter-ready smart home devices designed to work with each other seamlessly.

Custom design: Whether you need help designing a smart lighting package, layout for cameras or audio, or a whole smart home system, we can help create the perfect solution for your customer.

Unparalleled support: Get technical guidance from our specialists before, during, and after installation. We're happy to visit your job sites ourselves or alongside manufacturers to answer questions and ease any apprehensions.

Remember, it doesn’t take an IT professional to install smart devices. It just takes a little time, training and finding the right partner to support you every step of the way.

Sign up for smart home training

Ready to take the next step and become a smart home leader?

Contact a Specialist Today