Interconnecting nodes for smart home mesh

Thinking of getting a smart home? We answer 4 burning questions to help you take the plunge.

Voice activated speakers, robot vacuums and wireless surveillance cameras. Today, smart technology has invaded our homes.

With experts predicting an increasing popularity of smart homes over the next decade, the smart home market in Singapore is only going to continue booming. But not everyone is on board with smart technology or home automation systems. In fact, the topic of smart homes has generated buzz among technology skeptics.

Buckle up, as we tackle four questions you may have about smart homes and show you that there’s more to smart homes that meets the eye.

1. Are smart homes expensive?

The perks of a smart home definitely don’t come free. In fact, most people associate automated devices with luxury and frivolity. Just look at the hottest smart home products: a smart TV can easily set you back S$3,200, while a robot vacuum cleaner can cost around $369. Depending on what devices you are looking at, you can quickly rack up a bill. 

But in the long run, smart homes can be more affordable than you imagine. Let’s check out what’s behind the price tag of a smart lighting system – a quintessential product that will kickstart the smart home experience. From arranging consultancy sessions to buying and installing lights, setting up a typical smart lighting system can quickly burn a hole in your pocket. And this doesn’t even account for the time spent liaising with your designers, smart solution integrators, lighting providers and contractors. 

You must be thinking: how can this cost make sense? Well, the answer is energy efficiency. Current smart lighting solutions found in the market typically consume less power than traditional bulbs as they adopt the use of energy-saving LEDs. On average, traditional incandescent bulbs emit around 17 lumens per watt, whereas LED bulbs are capable of emitting 92 lumens per watt. Converting that to dollars, the annual energy cost of a LED bulb is only around S$1.50, while an incandescent bulb’s energy costs a whopping S$10.90. Think about the savings in a month. Or even a year.

Adding on, some smart lighting systems also provide a dimming function that may further reduce your electricity bills while creating the perfect ambience. Not to forget, there are many other benefits that you can reap from a smart lighting system – remote access, adjustable colour temperatures and scene automations. Summing these up, certainly the cost of owning a smart lighting system seems more worthwhile now, doesn’t it?

Except…the thought of the upfront financial commitment and hassle still paralyses you.

Different ways to make payment for smart home
The high upfront cost of smart technology can be intimidating. Artwork by Teresa Wojcicka.

Fortunately, there’s us at VIO. We offer you another way to experience smart living through access. Apart from removing the biggest obstacles of high upfront cost, our subscription model also takes care of the hassle involved with maintenance or replacement, at no additional cost. At the end of the day, if smart living still isn’t to your liking, feel free to cancel your subscription with no termination charges. 

TLDR; with the right solution, smart living can actually be pocket-friendly. 

2. Are smart homes prone to poor connection? 

The Internet is the basis of smart technology. And we all know that technology can fail us. But that should not deter you from anything “smart”. Instead, get to know the different communication protocols available and what each has to offer. One popular option is to use an intermediary bridge – a compact box that connects your smart home devices to your router. This bridge acts as a middleman and allows your devices to communicate with your router via Zigbee protocol. 

But there’s a catch to having such a network arrangement. Getting a bridge will incur additional cost in your smart home bills. For some homes, a single bridge may also be insufficient if there are too many devices connected to it or if devices are out of range. However, this may not be a concern if you are planning to adopt a different protocol – WiFi. With signals that reach up to 30 metres, WiFi-enabled products can accommodate almost all devices in most flats. 

Apart from that, smart systems running on WiFi protocol also offer immediate cost-savings as it connects your devices directly to your router – removing the need for a bridge. In fact, it may actually be easier for beginners to adopt a WiFi system as it’s plug-and-play, and hence you may not require in-depth technical knowledge. 

That being said, WiFi connections are prone to interruptions which may destabilise and slow down the pairing of devices with your smartphone. Yet, this can be resolved by adopting a hybrid protocol – the Bluetooth-WiFi that we advocate at VIO. With Bluetooth integrated, it enhances the connectivity and speeds up the pairing process. Thereafter, your lights will run comfortably on WiFi connection. 

Of course, these are not the only two protocols in the market. There are a few others we have yet to mention, but if you’re curious to learn more, check out this article. Considering all these protocols, you may be wondering, which one should you choose? The answer is there’s no “best” protocol out there. Different protocols will work better depending on factors such as your space and budget. Do your research and choose the protocol that can best fit your needs.

3. Are smart homes a hassle to set up?

From hacking walls to removing ceiling boards and running additional wires through your homes, thinking about installing a smart home system already sounds tiring. But did you know that smart technology can be installed while keeping your walls and false ceilings intact or as good as new?

As mentioned earlier, WiFi smart systems are relatively easy to install and use. Hence, smart solutions provided by VIO will not require complicated wirings and can work on regular electrical access points. This means that even with an existing system that controls 3 lights to 1 switch, we can offer modular control for each individual light. Or, if you require a group of lights to turn on together, we can also allow for that flexibility through our mobile app – without hacking any walls. 

For those who are more handy, you can even try doing the installation yourself. But for a complete home revamp, we definitely recommend enlisting professional help. Afterall, a smart home system isn’t just an average DIY project. Combining electronics with technology, you might be better off leaving the hard work to a professional. Between comparing prices and expertise of different smart home installers, finding the right professional to handle your installation can be stressful. Thus, we provide the end-to-end service that will save you the trouble of endless searching. Simply add a one-off installation service while shopping for your lights on our platform and spare the hassle on your end.

4. Are smart homes really convenient?

Tech skeptics will think: why can’t I just use a physical switch; what’s so good about smart homes; what if I end up over-reliant on technology and can’t even switch on a light without my smart home? 

Well, that’s not what smart homes are about. Because the invention of smart homes is to make your life easier and take care of you. Frankly speaking, we all accept a certain degree of convenience. Rather to say you’re building dependency on technology, why not view it as having the option of not walking to the switch? Smart homes exist to provide a convenient, centralised control system that allows you to access your smart devices no matter where you are. In a rush and left your lights on? Switch them off on your way to work. Or, need to wake your kids up for school when you’re not home? Just switch on their lights to wake them up (sorry kids).

But more than just controlling your devices remotely, smart homes enable customisable automation at your fingertips. With the touch of a button, you can adapt your home environment to your current activity.

Need to focus on an important task? Bring on the blue lighting to maximise concentration. Time to wind down for the day? Switch to warmer hues to create a relaxing atmosphere. 

Smart home considerations for working at home
Let your smart home take care of you. Artwork by Anupreethi Ravichandran.

With all the conveniences of a smart home, we often overlook a glaring inconvenience that will come about with long-term use – malfunctioning. It may be easy to get replacements for your blown fluorescent tubes or bulbs at a regular convenience store. But what happens when your smart system is down? Well, that’s probably what your warranty is for right? Except, what if you run out of warranty? There’s a really high chance that you will burn your pockets from trip fees to diagnostic fees to replacements, depending on your smart system.

Since we are basically consumers of our own product, we decided to build VIO on a subscription basis that includes perks such as lifetime guarantee. We take away the hassles from ownership and provide replacements and repairs at no additional cost. If you’re having issues, we will be happy to assist.

At the end of the day, not all products are made equal. On top of paying attention to these commonly asked questions, do your further research. Dip your toes in the water and find out which smart home systems work best for you. 

Here at VIO, we transform your smart living dreams into reality. Forget about high-upfront costs and commitments. Our commitment-free subscription allows you to change or cancel your subscription anytime you like, with no termination fees.

Convinced yet? Sign up for a free trial today and let our products speak for themselves. The trial is only available for a limited period of time so don’t miss out!

VIO is a home-grown start-up that offers a new way for consumers to get access to smart living with low upfront cost and commitment. #Experiencethedifference with us today.