Before delving too deeply into information about market sizes and country-specific data, we need to be clear about what we mean by a smart home. There are myriad definitions for Smart Homes and Connected Homes in the industry, with companies’ own definitions of such systems often differing widely from their competitors. BSRIA defines Smart Homes as a building control system, which provides integrated, centralised control of two or more individual systems. Effectively this is the residential extension of commercial type controls. These individual systems can be any of the following (Fig.1.):
- Environmental control system (heating, air conditioning and ventilation)
- Household appliances (clothes dryers, washing machines, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, ovens, coffee-makers, microwaves, etc.)
- Consumer electronics (TV, radio, audio-video equipment, game consoles, etc.)
- Building components (blinds, curtains, windows, doors, etc.).
Devices may be connected through a wired or wireless network to allow control via a personal computer, and may allow remote access via the internet (using a PC, smartphone or tablet). If the Smart Home system is accessible remotely via the internet, BSRIA refers to it as a Connected Home.
Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS) are increasingly part of the Connected and Smart Home offering.
HEMS provide updated energy and budgeting information to help optimise home energy use. They may provide an easy-to-use application that allows a utility to schedule demand to avoid peak periods, and can integrate all components in the home (including electric vehicles, energy storage, and micro generation).