We posted a blog yesterday, discussing the pros and cons of DIY. The response was interesting, and I thought it warranted a follow up. First, lets be clear about several things.
1. We love DIY, and think it’s a growing market we want to be a part of. We have some fun plans to help the weekend warriors do their own systems.
2. The term DIY has become somewhat ubiquitous, and needs some redefining.
3. There’s exceptions to every rule.
In recent years, particularly in the Smart Home arena, DIY has become a very loose term that’s all inclusive. So lets start there. At a minimum, you have two divisions. First, you have a classification of products that you purchase from stores like Home Depot or Best Buy. Things like Sonos Audio, Wink, or Lowe’s Iris. These products are more ‘Plug-and-play’ solutions that get lumped into the DIY category. Direct-to-customer, or Plug-and-Play would be a better classification for such products. There’s nothing wrong with these products, we use them regularly in both small and large installations. Sonos for example has started integrating with companies like Control4, and is an easy Audio solution to add in at any stage of the game.
The other division of DIY is for the weekend warrior, that person who can hop on a few forums, read a book, consult a friend, and figure out how to do anything. This has nothing to do with products that are marketed as ‘DIY.’ This is where the individuals are legitimate do-it-yourselfers, and we love DIYers. To me, this is what DIY really means. Without question, there are some true DIYers out there that know their stuff. I met with a DIYer last year at a parade home. I couldn’t believe how well she knew the industry. I mean this lady had vetted and studied just about every major smart home platform on the market. It was one of the most enjoyable conversations I’ve had with a perspective customer in my years in the industry. At it’s simples point, DIYers are fellow enthusiast, and there’s nothing more fun than talking to, and working with someone whose equally excited about the space.
Now back to yesterday’s post. If you read it carefully, you’ll see that the post was addressing the difference between Do-it-yourself products like you find at Home Depot and higher end systems like Control4 or Savant, but not DIYers. Again, there’s nothing wrong with these products we use them often when the application warrants. The Smart Home space is vast, and it’s easy to get lost in the different options. Customers start growing their smart home systems with these DIY products and soon find their systems have maxed out. The plethora of DIY products and platforms in the space make it difficult to understand where the different devices reside on the Automation Spectrum, and how well they integrate. I’ll give you two practical examples.
An increasingly popular item is the Front Door Station. A doorbell and camera that integrate easily with your Smart Phone. Check out Ring.com. Awesome product, but currently it doesn’t integrate with 3rd party applications. I checked their site today just to be sure, and an API for integration is coming, but doesn’t appear to be ready. So a customer has their Wink system, and they bring in their Ring.com doorbell excitedly only to find out the two won’t talk to each other.
The second example is an Automated Door Lock, and this illustrates the trouble with integration. Integration is not equal. Most Smart Home platforms integrate with Door Locks, but the user experience is not the same system to system. At a minimum, you want your Smart Home App to tell you the status of the lock. That’s sort of the point. If you are across the country, and want to make sure the kids locked your door, you want the app to tell you that the door is in fact locked. Believe it or not, there are some Smart Home solutions out there, that simply toggle the Door Lock, but cannot give you the status.
In both these examples, customers get frustrated, and in some cases write off the industry all together. We would rather customers consult with us so we can help road map the system for them so they understand how the different items are going to integrate in their homes, and the limitations of the different products they’re using. We’re partial to Control4 and Savant, and believe customers will be happiest with these platforms, but even Control4 and Savant have limitations we want customers to understand before they dive in.
Lastly, for the true DIYers, the people that want to wire up their own homes, custom write their own drivers for integration with 3rd party products, more power to you. I would encourage you to consult with your local AV company, or someone online for tips and best practices. While you’re probably more than capable of pre-wiring and installing your own systems, some friendly tips will help you save headaches down the road. I met with a lady several weeks ago, that was doing her best in a small town that has no AV companies. Her electricians did a great job, but they missed a few simple things that would have prevented her from growing the system the way she wanted to in the future. She sent us her plans, we marked them up, added some notes for her electricians, and sent them back, and now her home will be properly wired for anything she wants to do in the future.
If you are considering a DIY project, send us your plans or give us a call. We’ll help you line it out, and navigate the different platforms to find the best fit for you both now and in the future.