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The Importance of a Home Systems Installer to a High-Tech Smart Home

6 traits to look for when hiring a home systems installer to set up the tech equipment in your smart home.

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Smart devices and systems can have a profound impact on every part of your home. But with so many smart home options available today—from automated lighting and shading to whole-house music and home control systems– deciding exactly which types of technology to add can feel overwhelming—and confusing as you determine the best way to have these features integrated into your home.

Related: 10 Smart Home Devices to Buy with Your Tax Return

To simplify the task of smartening up your living space, and save yourself from possibly making a series costly mistakes, it’s wise to hire a home systems professional to handle the selection and setup of your smart devices. If the addition of tech will coincide with a remodel or new build, they are able to work with designers and architects to ensure that the technology will coexist nicely with the layout and cosmetics of the home. They understand the options, and based on your needs—including budget–can recommend products that will add value and enjoyment to the space for years to come.

Related: Award-Winning Smart Home Remodel

Not sure what to look for in a home systems installer? Here are six necessary traits a good installer embodies that will help make your home more comfortable, convenient, and functional.

Listening Skills. Like any good contractor, a quality home systems installer knows that he must work closely with many people—designers, builders, homeowners, etc.—to ensure a pleasing end result. He must be willing to listen to everyone’s ideas and suggestions and fully understand each party’s needs, wants, and expectations. Regular meetings and close correspondence with key people on the project should be expected.

Depending on the scope of the project, a home systems installer will collaborate with contractors even before the home is built or remodeled. Everything from the layout of the room and the construction of cabinetry to the make and model of appliances and fixtures can have an impact on his home technology plan. Any modifications of the design of the room should be communicated so that the technology can be integrated in a way that suits the style and function of the space.

Proper Certification. Adding smart lighting, automation, audio/video components and other technologies to a home is a huge undertaking, which is why organizations like the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) exists. A visit to the CEDIA website can identify qualified home systems installers in your area. CEDIA is a national association that requires its members to complete regular and rigorous training in all disciplines of smart home design and integration. By hiring a CEDIA-qualified and trained installer, you’ll have the assurance that the work will be completed in a professional and timely manner, and that the end-result will be precisely what you envisioned.

Good References. You wouldn’t hire an employee without first checking his or her references, so do the same when hiring a home systems installer. Ask to see your prospective installer’s portfolio and have him walk you through a similar project that he has completed. In many cases, a home systems installer will have his own private showroom that you can visit to see a variety of systems in action, usually in a setting that resembles a real home. Here, you will be able to gauge the quality of his work.

Creative Thinking and Problem Solving. The installation of smart systems should not follow a cookie cutter approach. Just as no two families or homes are exactly alike, nor should the systems that help run the household. A home systems installer must be able to determine the unique requirements of a project and devise solutions that suit the space and the needs of the homeowners. A good home systems installer will document details about each phase of the project, and be willing to deviate from the plan when necessary.

Speaks Your Language. Technologies for the home are, well, fairly technical and complex. You need an installer who can explain how the systems work and their key benefits in terms you can understand. If not, you might be sold on something you really don’t need, or worse yet, fail to fully utilize them.

Post-Installation Support. A home systems installer’s job is far from over after all the smart tech components have been set up. For most people, it takes some practice to master the operation of many of the technologies that can enhance a kitchen or bathroom. A home systems installer should provide a thorough walk-through to explain how the technologies work within the space and teach you how to use them. If anything minor needs to be changed, like the brightness level of the lights, a home systems installer will gladly accommodate requests. Finally, a home systems installer will supply you with detailed documentation of the products used, warranties, and his contact information for any questions or concerns that may arise.

Lisa MontgomeryLisa MontgomeryLisa Montgomery has been a member of the Electronic House editorial team for nearly 20 years; most of that time as the Editor. With a knack for explaining complex high-tech topics in terms that average consumers can understand, her style of writing resonates with people who are interested in addition electronic systems to their homes, but are unsure of the steps involved and the solutions available. From basic lighting control systems to full-blown automation systems, Lisa understands the home electronics market well, and is able to point consumers in the right direction on their quest for a smarter, more convenient, efficient and enjoyable home. Over the years, she has developed close relationships with key manufacturers and seasoned custom electronics professionals, giving her a keen sense of what home technologies are hot now and what's on the horizon. She shares this wisdom regularly through feature stories, product roundups, case studies technology spotlights and comprehensive guides and books, which can be found on the Electronic House website, www.electronichouse.com. Have suggestions or something you want to read about? Email Lisa at >[email protected]

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