You and your spouse have finally decided to take the plunge into home automation. You plan to start with a smart speaker and then graduate to a smart thermostat and automated lighting. You eventually hope to have a complete package that includes home security features. You will want everything from video cameras to smart locks.
Your big question right now is this: is a professionally-installed system worth the higher price? You can definitely see the upsides to professional installation done by a certified technician. Yet you also like the lower cost of a DIY system. You are thinking that over time, DIY components will save you money. That may be so, but money isn’t everything.
What Professional Installation Means
One of the first things you would have to decide is what professional installation actually means. Service providers can do this in one of three ways. Take Vivint Smart Home. They professionally install the equipment you buy. However, they only install what they sell. This guarantees their technicians are always familiar with the equipment they are working on. It also guarantees that everything works out-of-the-box.
A second model involves installing equipment that is ultimately rented from the service provider. This generally means that the equipment itself doesn’t cost anything. You pay for the installation up front. Thereafter, you pay a monthly rental fee on the equipment. Your provider furnishes upgrades as needed.
The third way to approach professional installation is to buy all of the equipment yourself, then hire a technician to install it for you. This is probably the cheapest way to go if professional installation is non-negotiable. You get the benefits of a pro’s services along with the cost savings realized by purchasing your own equipment as you see fit.
Installation Done Right
Professional installation’s primary benefit is that it is done right. Or at least it should be. A trained and certified technician knows how to install equipment the way manufacturers intend. They don’t have to cut corners or employee workarounds to get things up and running.
Installation done right is important enough when you are talking about things like smart thermostats and smart locks. It becomes more important when you introduce home security equipment. The last thing you want is an experienced technician cutting corners with your motion sensors, video cameras, and door sensors.
Of course, you might be confident enough to handle installation on your own. That’s fine. But how well do you know wireless networks? Virtually all of today’s home automation systems for the residential market are wireless in nature. If you have trouble adding things to your home network, you are going to struggle mightily with DIY home automation.
Training and Assistance
A second benefit of professional installation is training and assistance. Going back to Vivint as an example, their technicians teach customers how to use equipment once installed. And if customers ever need help after the fact, assistance is offered free of charge.
Given how complicated some pieces of home automation can be, homeowners need as much assistance as they can get. They also need training. Installing a home automation system and not knowing how to use it is akin to flushing money down the drain. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.
When a home automation package includes security components, most companies offering professional installation also offer around-the-clock monitoring. Do you need that monitoring? Technically, no. But it certainly makes your home much safer by guaranteeing that someone is always keeping an eye on things.
Around-the-clock monitoring can alert the authorities in the event of a burglary, fire, or carbon monoxide leak. Monitored systems feature two-way communication as well, so monitoring personnel can check-in if there is ever a concern that your safety is at risk.
Tying it all together are faster response times when emergencies do occur. With 24-hour monitoring, the authorities are just a quick phone call away. Monitoring personnel immediately assess any alarm that comes through. When necessary, they contact first responders on your behalf.
Dedicated Customer Service
Part of what you pay for when you go with professional installation is a dedicated customer service team. You might get customer service if you purchase a complete DIY kit from a single company. But it probably won’t be the same level of service you get with professional installation. That says nothing for buying DIY components piecemeal.
Individual manufacturers can provide support for their particular devices. They cannot provide support for other devices. That means their customer service department will not be able to help you figure out why all of the components in your system fail to talk to one another. You will be left to figure it out yourself.
DIY Is Not All Bad
This post has offered four reasons explaining why paying for professional installation might be worth it. However, the point here is not to sell you on professional installation. It is simply to present the honest truth. To that end, it is not fair to paint DIY home automation as all bad. It is not.
The DIY model makes it easier to control your budget. You can buy individual components as you can afford them. You can limit your expenditures to just those components that are important to you. Far too many professionally-installed systems do not give you that option. You have to choose from a number of packages offering little-to-no customization.
DIY home automation also makes for a great hobby. You might not want to pay for pro installation simply because you want the challenge of building a system and making it work. The fact that you could probably spend less money on hardware (at least piece-for-piece) is the icing on the cake.
Is professional installation your best bet for home automation? It could be, if the four things mentioned in this post are important to you. Otherwise, you might want to give DIY installation some thought. You might be the type of person for whom DIY home automation option is ideal.