From Basic to Sophisticated: The Growing Smart Home Trend in Costa Rica

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Harnayz Jiménez married Alejandra Quirós in 2008 and together they inherited her parents’ house, in Oreamuno de Cartago. At that time it was a house that was just over 30 years old, but it needed restoration to become the home they were looking for. At first they focused on strengthening their foundations, but some time later they decided to invest in technology and say that today they see the fruits of that decision.

When they learned about smart homes and automation, they saw a way to give a much more modern “new life” to that house where they were going to start a family. After installing their smart home system, the couple managed to control their home with a digital panel on the wall of their living room, which has made several tasks easier for them, but mainly, it has provided a level of security that makes them sleep peacefully.

“This not only allows us to go on vacation without having that fear of leaving the house with the lights off, but it has also helped us increase the value of the house and consume less energy by only using what is necessary when we occupy it. Since we have had it, there have been very few technical failures and now we have updated it quite a bit with more articles,” said Jiménez, who has been using the system for more than 14 years.

Israel Solís is another person who has taken great advantage of this technology, but not only at home, but also at work. This content creator offers live streaming services to companies and organizations in an office he built next to his apartment, where he has all his electronic devices connected to a voice assistant that makes his work tasks easier and accompanies him in the working day.

“Because they are live broadcasts, I can’t spend a lot of time getting up, so from my desk I can turn specific lights on and off, activate sounds and turn off cameras. The volume of the music and the type of songs are also automated, I even have alarms so that the clients know how long they have been live. Also when I go 100 meters away or closer, the studio turns off or on,” she explained.

According to the Green Building Council (GBC), an organization that promotes sustainable and modern construction in Costa Rica, a smart home is one that adapts to the needs and desires of its occupants, automatically controlling all kinds of household tools. It works with a system that learns and works from the routine of its residents, observing how they really live, in which rooms they spend most of their time and how they use the air conditioning and lighting of the space on a daily basis.

Elías Robles, president of the firm, indicated that today this type of housing is much more common than people imagine and that even in any supermarket you can buy different types of devices that can greatly simplify daily life. In addition, he assured that currently having a smart home is not expensive, but rather a way to lower costs through energy savings.

“For example, we can find smart lights that not only turn on and off, but can also change color depending on the time of day,” he said.

He added that these systems can be attached to motion sensors, alarms, security cameras, audio systems and endless appliances that, once configured, offer greater security.

Harnayz Jiménez and Israel Solís also confirm that in recent years it has become more affordable to have a smart home compared to the past, when this trend had not become so popular. Both say that now the devices are cheaper and that they are easier to get in the country.

Robles points out that, worldwide, all products related to connectivity can join a smart home system, interacting with each other and also creating scenes of all kinds to generate environments that improve quality of life. “This is not just a trend but the way in which the world is going to adapt so that our homes are a unique experience,” explained the president of GBC.

Among the most popular voice assistants for these homes are Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri, with which you can control various devices just by purchasing compatible devices. However, there are also more sophisticated systems that are included in the construction of the home and that allow the automation of security aspects and other much more complex functions of the residence.

Nexxt Connectivity is one of the leading producers of these items in the country and explains that the first step in making a home smart is to review the available spaces and needs in the home, which can be security, lighting, energy, pets and plus.

After this, essential products must be chosen, such as a multi-color A19 smart bulb, a 2×2 outlet and a ptz camera, which are complemented by a voice assistant to enjoy the automation experience with voice commands.

Pedro Rivas, sales manager of the company, confirms that he has also perceived an increase in demand for this type of house because they have experienced sales growth of more than 50% year after year. “Customer acceptance is very good because they complement the sale of regular products that can become smart, such as a hair straightener, a toaster or an air conditioner,” he said.

As he said, the products can range from $12, to kits and appliances that are around $90, and that the main trends are for lighting, security, energy and audio or video functions. Likewise, he highlighted that in Central America the smart category is barely “poking its nose”, because in other regions they are already very advanced, but that rather generates a lot of opportunity for growth.

“All of our retailers have live displays of functional products, in which customers can review the operation and how the ecosystem coexists with each other with the other products; In addition, we have real estate agencies that have adopted model houses and apartments to show added values ​​of lighting, energy and security. Our main distributors are EPA, Monge, Office Depot and Universal”, he stated.

sophisticated systems

Jorge Vargas, Standardization Manager at Legrand, a French company recognized worldwide for its smart home systems, explains that home automation is called home automation and is increasingly “a growing trend.” The basic thing is to add digital intelligence to the daily functions of the home to control them from a cell phone, mainly the lighting systems that are around $300.

However, in some houses home automation is integrated from the plans, so that homes have sophisticated systems that reach $15,000 and that control lighting, level of energy consumed, air conditioning, alarms, garden irrigation systems, video surveillance cameras, background music, control of blinds and curtains, among many other functions. Everything is usually managed with a mobile application or a physical panel that connects the devices with the central system or “brain” of the house.

“The current trends of people looking to automate their homes depend to a large extent on the budget allocated for this purpose. It can start with the simple control of lights that has affordable prices, up to systems for those residences that have a high level of finishes and a large number of functionalities, where more complete systems are recommended”, explained Vargas.

In the end, the benefits that can be obtained with these technologies range from comfort and security, to an increase in the value of the home and optimization of information. However, we must also keep in mind that sometimes these systems store personal information of families, so they must be provided by companies with support and seriousness. “Cybersecurity for information management is a highly valued value in times when hackers are on the prowl,” said the expert.

One of the real estate firms that married smart homes is Garnier & Garnier, since it includes automation in all its new housing complexes, according to its project manager, Ronny Rodríguez.

The company has apartments with rents ranging from $750 to $1,100, in a tower located in Uruca de San José, as well as houses for sale from $400,000, in San Rafael de Alajuela.

“At the concept level, what is sought is to provide tranquility, comfort and seek efficiency in the consumption of resources. This is transferred to practical things such as the main key can be closed remotely from the cell phone, with lighting control in different areas, managing music in all spaces and what is called the Internet of things, which is like putting coffee on the way home,” Rodríguez said.

The firm ensures that these digital tools, at the end of the day, make life easier for people who are very busy, and that this is the profile of those who most seek this type of residence. He stressed that when you buy an apartment or smart house, you receive training to understand how to use the system; but residents generally learn on their own because the functions are “very intuitive.”

In recent years, Garnier & Garnier has prioritized the acquisition of sophisticated smart home systems because their market studies have determined that this is the world trend in real estate, and their clients are increasingly interested in automating their homes. . The company even plans to build a fully intelligent hotel and take more advantage of this technology in its future investments.

The smart apartments of Azenza Towers, located in La Uruca, range from $114,500 to $211,000, depending on the number of rooms.