THE home concept transforms. The importance of every space in the home – from the inside to the outside – has been heightened by the pandemic. THE comfort, safety and energy efficiency has risen to the top of the agenda, driving demand for home automation solutions over the past two years. But still, there is only about 1% of smart homes in Portugal. There are several challenges that the home automation sector face in the country. And idealista/news went to find out which ones they were with professionals in the sector.
Regarding home automation, “almost nothing is done” in Portugal, according to Alfredo Valente, CEO and Managing Director of iad Portugal. And Luís Pinto argues that today there are only 1 to 2% of smart homes in Portugal. “And if we were to filter out low-automation homes, we’d be talking about less than 1%,” says owner of IOLine, maker of home automation technology Mordomus, which has been on the market for about 20 years.
Today, there is “a need for people to do more efficient and more comfortable homes, that is, to combine maximum comfort with minimum consumption and expense. And the whole spectrum of possibilities that 5G brings us will, I think, raise the question of automation, robotization and home automation on the table in the near future,” says Alfredo Valente.
The interest of families in home automation solutions has increased in recent years. Because today the home automation solutions the simplest can start below 2,000 euros and bring in several advantages starting with energy saving, as market experts explain in this article. But there is still a lot to do. THE home automation pole today faces several challenges that prevent it from growing at a rapid pace.
“The integration of technology into the equipment we use on a daily basis develops according to areas of interest, but for us it must also be so. And it’s growing very slowly in that regard. Luis Pinto, from Mordomus
The current challenges of the home automation sector in Portugal
Home automation has failed to position itself against the market
There is a ghost of the past that still haunts the affairs of the present. And it boils down to this, according to Luís Pinto: “Home automation arrived on the market and it did not know how to position itself”. “The first products to arrive in Portugal, Europe and the world, called home automationthey were products that had it all wrong and had everything to go wrong”, explains the boss of Mordomus:
They were too expensive: around 20, 30 or 40 thousand euros;
Bad product philosophy: dependence on the product supplier;
- Economic home automation was not perceived.
And now, the challenge is precisely to know how to reposition oneself, a strategy which, from the outset, consists of putting on the market home automation solutions at competitive prices and that families can afford. Nowadays, “home automation cannot be neither expensive”, warns Luís Pinto, revealing that a home automation solution it should be between 1 and 2% of the price of the house, i.e. a house worth 100,000 euros should cost between 1,000 and 2,000 euros.
“A the most basic home automation solution can start at 1,800 euros and has no upper limit,” says Hatto Fehst, CEO of Enancer Electrónica, a Braga-based company that created Only-Smart Buildings home automation technology in 2008.
Moreover, the positioning also depends on the offering automated solutions which is now much more complete and is not only dedicated to lighting. “With home automation, I have to come home and fix everything: I have to own the television, the irrigation, absolutely everything in the house”, reinforces the owner of Mordomus, based in Gouveia.
Low demand for home automation by property developers
The way that the home automation positioned on the market initially is still being felt by several real estate players. And, currently, there are still few real estate agents who seek to integrate these solutions into the homes they promote, but there are already examples like these smart homes in the north of the country.
“The demand is there, but it’s not that high. We have many more requests from the end customer than from real estate agencies,” says Filigério Pantaleão, Sales Department & Field Applications Engineer at Enancer Electrónica. Luís Pinto, from Mordomus, also reveals that “very few” promoters are looking for these solutions.
Both consider that the fact that these solutions add a layer to the final price of the house is one of the main obstacles to investment. “THE real estate developer try to get one house price as competitive as possible, so if we use technology, the price will not go down, it will go up. In fact, we put a added value in an apartment, but it also depends on the segment, the medium-high segment being more open to these solutions,” explains Filigério Pantaleão. But the fact is, property developers still don’t see the smart homes as added value, adds the representative of Only.
And there is yet another factor underlined by Luís Pinto: the real estate agents still consider having home automation It’s “just another problem”. Because “they don’t want after-sales service”, which, according to the Mordomus manager, “is a mistake”. “It’s a situational problem and this problem really needs to be dealt with,” he also underlined.
Lack of new construction: aging housing stock
On the other hand, home automation does not affect families either because “there is a huge lack of new constructionwhich, for Alfredo Valente, risks further delaying the penetration of technological innovations on the market.
This is because in “real estate rehabilitation old, it is very difficult to take the experience of robotics and home automation to the limit”, explains the director general of the iad in an interview with idealista/news. But it is possible. In an existing house, the introduction of home automation consists of placing communication cables in the existing pipes, or installing wireless solutions.
Moreover, in a context where the real estate prices are on the rise and have evolved much more than the family incomethe price itself could also be a barrier for families to introduce these solutions into their new homes. “I’m also a bit worried that the pricing pressures will force people to put something aside and then what might be left out is even the innovation and technology», concludes Alfredo Valente.
Brief evolution of home business
“The house is not a Commercial zone advanced” from a technological point of view, just like the automotive sector which stands out for its cutting-edge technology, begins by explaining Luís Pinto. Why? “You house sellers have not evolved. I don’t think architects know anything about houses. I think builders know next to nothing about houses. I think everyone Villa he has no idea what a well-run car company is. There is absolutely no care in this aspect. [tecnologia] in terms of houses,” the Mordomus manager explains.
This happens, in his view, because there is no real teamwork in house building, as is the case, for example, in the automotive segment. In the development of a dwelling “we have an absolutely isolated individual who takes care of electrical engineering, that is to say electrician; we have an individual concerned solely and exclusively with the aspect of things which is the architect; we have another one worried about whether the house will fall or not, who is the Home builder (even if you do not strictly follow the architect’s instructions); we have an individual who is going to drill holes to place a tube which is the plumber (who doesn’t care about the electrician’s wires); that is to say, whereas in the automotive sector there is a close-knit team, in house building there are several isolated teams that almost look alike to each other – and often they are,” he explains.
To solve the problem, the ideal would be to have a personality in charge of bridging the gap between the different specialties of the construction of a house or rehabilitation. “And there is this the site manager and often this person is led by the architect or is a civil engineer, so he has an insufficient view of the house. The fact is that the architect is already poisoned by a disease called architecture, which is very necessary, but which is not complete in the house”, explains Luís Pinto, noting that often the home ergonomics is not taken into account and that it is important to have functional housing adapted to the needs of families.
The benefits of home automation do not reach families
Families don’t miss what they don’t know. “People don’t think about updating the technique and the home control because they are used to taking care of the house like that”, explains Hatto Fehst, of Only, who points out that “the technology of switches is already more than 100 years old and that is unacceptable”.
On the side of real estate mediation, Alfredo Valente assumes that he feels “above all that people are looking for more comfort, but we do not have the feeling that people are still sufficiently informed about the home automation potential“, he says in an interview. “We are a poor country, where people are still looking for slightly more basic solutions with comfort. But it is very important that there is democratization of solutions, especially that people can pay, that is the main concern. And it is my fear, it is in fact that people in the near future may not be able to pay what we have to give them at home”, explains the head of the iad.
The government must lead by example
The future therefore goes through home automation awareness. And this should happen both within the family, and also in the training of the specialists themselves involved in the process.house building, believes Luis Pinto. And, in addition, this also goes through the example of the Government itself.
“Until it’s more widespread, until we have automated housess made by the state itself – which makes them “automatically” more efficient -, the average homes where most of us live will not. You always have to start looking from below,” explains the head of Mordomus.