How the Smart Home Changes What Your Techs Need to Know

June 24, 2020

A home is no longer just a home. It’s fast becoming a smart home.

What’s a smart home? In its simplest terms, a smart home is a home (or apartment, condo, or living space) with core functions that can be operated using internet-connected devices such as a smartphone or control pads.

For example, turning on lights, adjusting a room’s temperature, opening a garage door, and more can and is being done under the umbrella of smart home technology. While the technology is still in relative infancy, there is very little about your home that can’t already be controlled, adjusted or operated with a mobile device or control pad of some sort.

More than changing how people live, smart home technology is changing what electrical, HVAC and plumbing technicians must learn, know and understand. In every room in the house, technology has changed the trades.

A change of this magnitude hasn’t been seen in a long time. Yes, the eco-boom that began in the late 1990s created more efficient furnaces, hot water heaters, showerheads and other home appliances. But the advancements were more along the lines of engineering improvements.

With the smart home movement, you have a technology revolution that entirely rethinks and changes how many devices interconnect with a home’s systems and occupants.

Sound intimidating? That’s okay, NexTech Academy will have your electrical, HVAC and plumbing technicians ready to understand and capably handle smart home service calls.

Water and electricity are mixing more than ever.

An electrician is no stranger in a bathroom. But rarely have they had to coordinate with a plumber when it comes to installing a shower, toilet or sink. However, when installing or servicing smart home technology, this kind of coordination happens frequently.

Why? Because in a smart home, touchpads are used to control showerheads and water temperature, bidets require power lines or electrical outlets, and even the simple bathroom sink faucet can have touchless on-off functionality.

What’s more, these smart home plumbing advancements are not merely limited to the bathroom. Many of these same functions can be found in the kitchen and even with outside sprinklers or irrigation systems as well.

All of this calls for greater collaboration among the skilled trades, as well as a better understanding of how systems work together.

Oh, and let’s not forget knowing and meeting code requirements, too.

There’s digital technology in the air.

Don’t go thinking HVAC technicians are getting off easy with smart home advancements. For many people, HVAC is the first entry point to the smart home experience.

Not only can a smart home thermostat be operated using a smartphone, but it can function autonomously too with machine learning features. For example, some thermostats have sensors that measure movement in the room and activity throughout a house allowing it to adjust heating/cooling functions for optimal performance and efficiency.

These smart home HVAC systems will also monitor humidity and adjust as needed to make sure the climate in a smart home matches the owner’s preferences.

HVAC technicians are at the forefront of smart home implementation, and the need to keep their knowledge current is critical.

Which technician should answer the service call?

While a great benefit for the homeowner, smart home functionality can create a complicated challenge for service technicians if and when they fail.

Say a homeowner’s bidet isn’t working. Odd as it may sound, a plumbing technician must first determine if the issue is actually a plumbing problem or an electrical problem. In fact, the issue might not even be with the bidet itself. It could stem from a wall-mounted control panel.

And this just scratches the surface of the smart home service call challenge.

A technician may need to dive even deeper, trying to discern if the issue is a physical malfunction, like a circuit board or it an operating system problem, or outdated firmware. Then they must consider another variable, the homeowner’s WiFi.

The variables, while not endless, can certainly feel nearly infinite. All of this makes the task of diagnosing the problem more challenging and more time consuming, making proper smart home training essential. Your technicians won’t have all day to figure out a problem or understand how a system works. They must be able to walk in the door, ready to go to work and have a clear understanding of technology in use.

Smart homes mean smart money.

On the surface, many aspects of the smart home movement can feel intimidating for the future of your electrical, HVAC or plumbing business. New technology, new challenges, new tools, new vocational training, perhaps even new roles/titles, and so forth.

But let’s not forget one other aspect: new revenue growth.

The electrical, HVAC or plumbing business owner that embraces smart home technology first and best, will likely be the business owner that profits most. From installs to repairs, to upgrades, the smart home boom is creating enormous opportunities.

Longer and more complicated service calls create more revenue opportunities. Additionally, digital devices have a comparatively shorter lifespan than their traditional counterparts. This means they will require upgrades and replacements far more often than non-smart home service products.

Lean into this mindset and allow it to prepare your business to profit from the smart home movement.

Prepare for the smart home movement with better online vocational training.

How do you prepare for the smart home movement? Where can your technicians find the training, content, curriculum, support and education they need to be competent in working in smart home environments? It comes from the same source Nexstar Network members have counted on to meet their vocational training needs for years: NexTech Academy.

NexTech Academy has the knowledge, lessons and videos new and senior technicians need to get up to speed and on their way to flourishing with smart home installs and service calls. Put your technicians and business in the best position possible with NexTech Academy. It’s an amazing perk of being a Nexstar Network member. Have your new hires or interested technicians get started now or call us at (651) 426-2000.

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