Home automation has taken the world by storm, and South Africa is swiftly following suit. It’s easy to see why, as tomorrow’s tech-savvy consumers can control energy efficiency, ensure safety, and reduce their carbon footprint conveniently from the palm of their hands, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT).
“The world has embraced the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which has changed the way people manage their daily lives,” said Charl Osborne, organisational head at CBI-electric: low voltage, a local manufacturer of low voltage electrical distribution, protection and control equipment.
While there is a gap in the South African market of home automation devices, there are companies that offer smart controllers, isolators, and smart plugs – all managed using a mobile application on smartphones.
According to Osborne, here are five ways smart devices are revolutionising home automation:
1. Improve energy efficiency
In the past, South Africans have had relatively little control over their electricity usage, aside from choosing energy-efficient appliances. Now they can proactively manage their demand and easily schedule their peak power use while also reducing their impact on the environment. This is especially important as Eskom has predicted more power cuts for the next 10 months.
This can be done through schedules controlled with a smartphone or tablet. Scheduling can be set for different days of the week, with automation according to time, weather and more. Electricity usage is displayed in daily graphs and monthly usage on the app.
2. Minimise costs
As energy prices increase, South Africans are feeling stretched with their budgets. The cost of electricity has doubled in the past decade with another 15.06% increase expected in 2022. For maximum energy savings, smart devices can control when power-intensive appliances are run – such as air conditioners, geysers, and heaters – so that consumers benefit from the comfort they offer while minimising costs. Additionally, appliances that are not in use but still plugged in the wall can still use electricity, costing South Africans unnecessary money. With smart devices, users can turn off these products from the palm of their hands to ensure they aren’t wasting money on electricity that isn’t being used.
Consumers can also use smart devices to automate their homes or turn off geysers while on holiday.
4. Set safety measures
Many people can relate to the anxiety of wondering whether they’ve turned off fire-hazards such as heaters, irons, and electric blankets when they’ve left the house. Now they can use the app to see whether these appliances are still switched on and effectively turn them off at the wall if and when necessary.
For home security, users can also take precautionary measures by switching on lights when needed.
5. Customised requirements
Some automation devices allow for multiple on and off programs and have manual by-pass capabilities with maximum control.
As some of the devices work with already-installed electrical infrastructure, they allow users to decide which product to install first according to their needs with no added costs. For example, if they want to tackle the heaviest electricity usage first.