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The future is electric – and smart! Near the end of Web 2.0, data scientists and computer engineers began developing the next generation of internet services based on connective and collaborative technologies.
One of the groundbreaking inventions around this time was the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT). With this technology, we could finally bridge the gap between the offline and online worlds. In a nutshell, IoT brings offline “things” or physical objects like appliances and devices to the online world.
This technology works using an array of sensors, devices, and onboard computer chips that allow a physical device to access the internet and take instructions from virtually anywhere in the world.
This groundbreaking technology has had an impact on every aspect of modern life – even in electrical installations!
Read below to learn more about how IoT is setting new standards in the global world and how this technology is changing electrical installations for the better.
To understand IoT, we need to understand the basics of an internet connection. In a normal setting, you would connect to the internet via a router or internet device. This connection allows you access to the World Wide Web where you can interface, interact, and explore the world at large from the comfort of your couch.
In the same way, previously offline devices such as fridges, TVs, juicers, water heaters, and even electric toothbrushes can connect to the internet! However, to do this, the device in question will need to have two things:
These devices are often referred to as “smart” devices – as they should! They are truly smart and capable of processing a lot of information behind the scenes.
Let’s take the example of a smart fridge. A smart fridge is able to connect to the internet, specifically to a server that allows it to send and receive information. For instance, a Samsung smart fridge will connect to a secure server online. The server will also have a connection with another interface, like a mobile application.
Thus, a triangle is formed where the smart fridge is at the top, and the server and mobile application are at the bottom of the pyramid. The user interacts with the mobile application to send and receive information to the fridge.
This information can be related to temperature settings, power monitoring, scheduling cycles, turning the freezer on and off, adjusting the ice box settings, etc.
These features will often be advertised by the manufacturer so you can tweak and interact with your fridge in different ways!
So, this is the gist of how the Internet of Things works, but how does this technology apply to electrical installations?
SMART HOMES AND DEVICES
With the advent of IoT, we have seen a large uptick in a range of smart devices. The combined functionality of these devices enables us to build a smart home.
A smart home is essentially an integrated space where all (or most) of the devices are connected to the internet and are able to be controlled via a mobile application or voice command.
Smart homes are all the rage these days and they allow users with ultimate convenience to control and even monitor devices from anywhere in the world, so long as they are connected to the internet.
Smart home devices come in many forms, perhaps the most prevalent of these are the smart electrical devices. These devices essentially make offline devices smart – but there is a catch: since these devices only control the flow of electricity, you can only turn them on or off.
However, there are a lot of fun ways you can configure these devices. For example, if you have a smart switch installed in a socket that is connected to the kitchen lights, and another one that is connected to a stereo system, then you can program these devices to work together.
“Program” might be a strong word since these devices are usually extremely easy to use thanks to a companion mobile application that provides an excellent user experience and user interface to control the device.
So, in the evening time, you can program the lights to turn on at a certain time, and you can also program the stereo system to work with the lights to set the mood for the house.
These devices are designed to be easy to use, however, not every smart device has a plug-and-play functionality. In fact, if you want to fully integrate your house then you will have to opt for a professional and certified electrician to get the job done.
Calder Electrical provides certified electricians who are well-versed with IoT devices. This means that you don’t need to explain how the device works for them to install it the way you want it. This can save time and money, and the electrician may also guide you on how to use the device optimally.
Before we get into smart home installations, let’s first discuss a few common smart devices. Here are some of the most common smart electrical devices on the market:
These plugs are one of the most popular types of IoT devices in the market. These smart plugs are quite literally “plug and play”. All you need to do is plug them into an existing socket and then plug in a device behind the smart plug like you would in the socket.
Voila, you have successfully integrated whatever you have connected to the smart plug into the internet. Here is what you can do with Wi-Fi Plugs:
For example, water heaters don’t necessarily need to run all day, and with a Wi-Fi plug, you can either turn on the appliance on demand or schedule the water heater to turn on during specific times. This can not only help you save time, but you can also save electricity and therefore, costs!
With power monitoring-enabled plugs, you can precisely see how much electricity is being used by your devices throughout the day, this information is available on a mobile application and some companies may also offer AI-enabled monitoring where the system will learn trends and save electricity for you by operating the device optimally.
For example, you can condition the TV and lights to switch on when you enter your home using a smart lock device. As soon as you enter, the smart lock will send a signal to the server that will execute the conditional command.
Smart fuses and breakers work in the same way as Wi-Fi plugs; however, they require professional help to install them correctly. These switches are way cheaper and more compact than traditional Wi-Fi plugs.
An average smart fuse or breaker can be anywhere from 10mm thick to up to 20mm thick with a width of around 20mm to 40mm. This means that you can essentially fit the smart breaker inside the switchboard!
Smart fuses can also be installed in a traditional power distribution box. They are just like regular fuses, but smarter.
These fuses and breakers have the same functionality, however, since they are designed to handle huge loads, they have a higher amperage and can handle up to 3500-4500 watts of power on average.
Smart lights are the most common types of smart devices. These bulbs operate like any other bulb, and they can be installed in the same way as well. Once connected to a power outlet, the bulbs can be configured via a mobile application.
Newer air conditioning systems are also evolving to become smarter and more connected. For example, newer HVAC systems can be connected to a home network where you can remotely control the thermostat, set schedules, monitor power usage, and more.
Solar panels are a great alternative to the power that you receive from the grid. Not only is solar power cleaner, but it is also quite convenient to store electricity thanks to improved and smarter battery technology.
One of the key components that’s making these systems better is IoT and Artificial Intelligence. Smart solar systems work in the same way as traditional systems, however, instead of being offline, they are connected to a processing unit that enables the system to analyse trends and operate remotely.
For example, smart solar systems can inform users about various usage trends, battery health and capacity, optimal charging times, system status updates, software updates, and much more.
Perhaps the coolest thing about these systems is that they can communicate with other smart devices and even change the power consumption of load-intensive machines, such as HVACs to use power more optimally.
As per BS 7671: Requirements for Electrical Installations, IET Wiring Regulations, the British Standards have outlined guidelines for how to install smart electrical devices.
It is important to understand that most smart devices are easy to install by yourself since they can connect to a traditional power outlet like any other device in your home.
However, for fuses, breakers, smart switches, solar systems, and other devices that need access to an existing electrical installation, you will need to go with a professional and certified electrician.
These devices don’t have a typical male or female connector and require complex wiring. Furthermore, since these devices need to be installed in power distribution boxes, you should never attempt to install them yourself.
Here are some of the benefits of going with certified electricians for smart electrical installations:
The most important reason for going with a certified electrician is that they offer their services in accordance with the latest compliance standards. Complying with laws and regulations is essential for smart electrical installations.
Smart home installation and integration requires quite a lot of experience and knowledge about various smart devices. This is why we highly recommend that you always opt for a certified electrical installation company like Calder Electrical to ensure maximum efficiency.
A certified electrician will install and run the necessary diagnostics and tests to ensure that the smart system is working efficiently. Smart systems not only require to be configured offline but they must also be configured online using a mobile application.
Integrating multiple systems into a smart home hub or software can be quite difficult, thankfully, if you go with a professional installation company, you can get the job done in the least time possible. Once the electrician has configured the device into the electrical installation, they will proceed to connect all the devices online and then run all the necessary tests.
The electrician will share the results with you and furnish an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC) that will confirm that the installation was done using all the best practices and following all the latest compliance.
An Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC) will also contain an important inspection schedule. This schedule is mandatory for professional installations because it allows potential issues to be highlighted before they become a problem.
During an inspection, a certified electrician will visit the premises and physically inspect the installation for faults or errors. The technician may also run online diagnostic tests to confirm that everything is working accordingly.
Some IoT systems can also inform the user if a device is not working as expected. You can either share this information with the technician during the visit, or the technician may address the issue after running their diagnostic tests.
We have been providing electrical services to residential, commercial, and industrial properties for over 40 years and are specialists in all aspects of electrical installations, maintenance, and testing.
All our work is fully insured, and we work to meet the standards set by the NICEIC to make sure all your electrical installations meet the current regulations, and all the notifiable work is signed off by the local authorities.
If you have unplanned issues within your home or business, we can provide a call-out service to rectify and solve any problems such as circuit tripping, loss of power, broken items that need repairing, or to check if you feel something is unsafe or a potential hazard.
Our team can generate a Visual Inspection Report (VIR) to identify anything visual that does not comply with the standards or looks unsafe, as well as a full Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) where we will identify and test each circuit to make sure they are not deteriorating and are safe for use within the current standards and regulations set by the BS 7671.
We can also provide PAT testing of appliances to make sure that any items such as kettles, computers, and microwaves are safe for use in the home and workplace.
Contact us here or call us at 0800 612 3001 to get in touch with our professional electricians for more information on the future of electrical installations and smart homes and IoT devices.
Or would like us to provide a survey and quote then please contact us and we will be happy to help.Call us on 0800 612 3001