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Knowledge is power

Jan 2018 Smart Homes, Training | Comments Off on Knowledge is power
Knowledge is power

The role of the electrician is evolving and investing in training is key to staying ahead. Demand for smart technology in the home continues to rise and – with the right knowledge – electricians are ideally positioned not just to install but to advise on the best product to suit the customer’s lifestyle. Honeywell marketing and communications manager Andy Mansfield explains why, in the world of smart technology, knowledge is power.

Finding the time to attend training can be a big commitment, especially among self-employed electricians, for whom time is money. However, as the increasing popularity of smart controls has opened new avenues for electricians, the need to not only understand the technologies, but become an expert in them, is paramount.

By brushing up on their smart know-how, electricians can capitalise on the opportunities available in this growing market. Possessing the right knowledge means they can add value for their customers, which can often be the difference between securing a job or not. What’s more, smart heating controls are just the beginning and the first rung on the ladder to fully connected homes, where even more business opportunities are available.

Inevitably, training requires some investment. However, understanding how smart thermostats can give a customer greater control over their heating will allow electricians to fit them with confidence. So, not making time for it now is a false economy because it may lead to missing out on work in the future. Manufacturers have even developed online training portals for those who wish to learn new skills without losing valuable work hours can do so from the comfort of their homes at their convenience. Either way, it will pay dividends in the future.

Evolving with the technology

Traditionally, fitting a thermostat or smart security product would come under the remit of a heating engineer or security specialist. However, when it comes to these new connected devices, electricians have the skillset that makes them perfect for the job. This is because they are electrical devices, so there is often a wiring element to installation which heating engineers may require assistance with.

Manufacturers have designed the technology not only to be easier to install than a traditional thermostat, but also for the homeowner to interact with it. However, being able to recognise which one is the best for a particular customer comes with experience and, of course, training.

Manufacturers’ courses will give a good grounding on the products available on the market and their capabilities. Understanding how the products work allows electricians to add far more value by recommending the right solution according to their lifestyle needs.

Trend alert

Being able to offer a customer the latest products on the market will position you as an expert. This is where product knowledge and awareness of trends is invaluable, as it helps electricians understand how related market trends affect customers’ choice of heating control. For example, homeowners are increasingly using a central ‘hub’, such as the Amazon Echo, to control their smart technology, rather than switching between a number of different apps or devices.

As these products become more popular, they will begin to influence homeowners’ decisions when purchasing thermostats and other smart home technology. As such, electricians will need to advise on which thermostats are compatible with home hubs and set them up to work together as part of the installation process. This reduces the risk of disgruntled customers calling up because their thermostat will not integrate with their shiny new gadget.

The ability to talk confidently about which connected smart thermostats work with these products both today and in the future, is a great way of introducing and upselling them to customers.

Beyond technical knowledge

By undertaking professional training, electricians can not only understand more about the products available on the market, but also learn about heating system design – an area that is unlikely to be included in an electrician’s traditional training.

Both of Honeywell’s connected and non-connected training courses cover these key areas and allow participants to put the theory into practice with a practical wiring session on a number of different heating controls. The connected course also provides experience in wirelessly binding products and fault finding.

Those who receive professional training can also gain a better understanding of WiFi systems and signal strength testing for more sophisticated connected heating controls such as evohome. In practice, this means they will be able to configure the system in a way that best suits the homeowner’s needs.

Selling it

In addition to having the technical and product know-how, having the ability to ask the right questions and answer customers’ queries in a clear, straightforward way is also key. After all, customers need to trust the advice they are receiving before making a purchase decision, so being able to demonstrate a confidence in their own ability is a vital skill.

When planning an installation, asking the customer about their lifestyle and what they want to get out of their heating control helps with working out which heating controls best suits their needs. Equally, having the ability to talk homeowners through the set-up process ensures that when you leave the property the homeowner will be confident enough to get the best out of their new heating control.

Smart is here to stay, and who knows what is to come. The one thing we do know is that the smart control business model relies on more than simply ‘fit and forget’, and it is the electricians’ role to ensure they are equipped with the knowledge to adapt to each customer’s needs and wants.

Installing smart heating controls now requires a new set of skills and knowledge that can’t simply be picked up overnight, but require professional training to bring them all together. As electricians start to invest time in up-skilling, the benefits will soon outweigh the costs of being left behind in a rapidly developing market.

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