Robert F.P. Ludwick

My home on the Internet for technology, leadership, and other silliness.

Smart Home Administration

Post - June 24, 2021 - smart home, network

I’ve been working lately on chronicling my home network’s journey from its nascent beginnings as nothing more than a WiFi router, cable modem, laptops, and smartphones. As I’ve been working on the more recent timeline of all of our smart home network appliances, I stopped to think about how much time and energy I’ve spent in administering them. Cumulatively, it’s a lot. As recently as last week I had to work on our home alarm’s central hub not reconnecting to the network properly after our ISP had some intermittent outages (rebooting the hub did the trick, by the way).

It’s not a big deal for me to handle all of my family’s smart home needs. I’ve been knee-deep in technology for over two decades. I’m comfortable with smart thermostats, smart locks, and more. Self-administration of our smart home is relatively interesting to me (and let’s face it, I like playing with new-to-me technologies), though it can get annoying at times when I have other things to do, or if the problem repeats itself and doesn’t self-heal. I must assume that I’m one of the more tech-savvy smart home technology consumers, though I don’t have any numbers and data to back up that assumption. I assume in part due to Ring doorbells - they’re everywhere, and I know of many whom aren’t as into technology as I am which own these doorbells.

My natural next thought was that there are likely lots of tech-savvy Millennials such as myself helping out their older (or otherwise less tech-savvy) family members with things like smart home technology. In the past I’ve helped out family in establishing WiFi bridges in their homes, and helping suggest powerline adapters to extend home networks (spoiler alert - the powerline adapter worked much better for them than the bridge, as it did for me too). It’s a pretty common pattern - the younger generations help out the older ones with emerging technologies. But what if a family doesn’t have a resident technologist to help them out? What if there aren’t any neighbors or friends who can or want to help out?

The question that arose in my mind was a simple one - are there any small businesses which have cropped up to administer smart home appliances for those residents who can’t or won’t self-administer? Some cursory Internet searches seem to indicate that businesses such as these exist - I came across a blog post from Loxone where they offer guidance to those who might want to start a small business around offering smart home solutions to residents, as well as another post from TRUiC. But this doesn’t really tell me how many small businesses have actually been setup for these purposes.

Further searching, specifically in the Portland, Oregon area yielded a HomeAdvisor result for a single “home automation system” business which has been prescreened. There are other searches one can run in this space for specific things like home alarm system installers, surveillance camera installers, and more. Anecdotally, though, most of the results I found were with electricians and others who have electrical certifications. Since things like smart doorbells and thermostats need to be connected to low-voltage power, these kinds of results aren’t surprising. Another conclusion I’ve made is that a lot of these results seem to be closer to professional-grade systems. I didn’t find many results of small businesses who’d help residents with “consumer-grade” smart home technologies like Ecobee thermostats and MyQ garage door openers.

I haven’t really been paying a lot of attention to smart home automation businesses, so I’m not really surprised to find that there are some results out here for these kinds of services for residents. I’m a little surprised that there aren’t more results, actually. When this whole exercise began, I felt like maybe I’d realized there was a whole market not being served. Alas, I was not as brilliantly insightful as I thought.

I won’t be paying others to administer my smart home automations though. Not when I’m running Home Assistant. I won’t trust anybody else to administer that.