Smart Living FAQs | Smart Entertainment

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We believe Smart Living improves the every day lives of our clients by creating solutions to the day to day niggles we all go through. Here we will discuss our most frequently asked questions about our Smart Comfort Solutions including Smart Heating, Smart Curtains and Blinds and much more.

If you have any questions about Smart Living and want to find out more, please get in touch at or call 01738 566 566.

Smart Entertainment

Do you do things other than Smart Living Systems, things such as smart televisions, smart speakers, automated blinds, etc?

Yes, we do.  But as an established company with many years of experience we have preferred product ranges which we know work, and work well.  We are always happy to talk to anyone about anything but being honest we never compromise on quality and therefore we may not be able to help you with what you want to buy or use.

One of the things we do advise clients about on many occasions is the poor quality of audio from the modern TVs.  Being so slim the average TV has a speaker that is the same size as the speaker in a handheld radio from the 60s – so no wonder that the sound is tinny and often distorted. We always recommend adding a good soundbar or surround sound system to compliment the TV.  We are happy to help you with this and advise on what’s good and what’s not.

A last note about quality – Smart Speakers are not all equal.  There are hundreds if not thousands of different brands and models of “Smart Speaker”.  We have our preferred range of manufacturers based on product design, audio quality and value for money.  There are many speakers that do not sound good and are really not worth listening to and will not give you much of a feel-good experience, which is, after all, what music is really all about.

Lastly remember that it is important to buy a product that is going to last, is going to be constantly updated with the latest software and is going to give good long reliable service.  We are too much of a throw-away society these days and often it is worth spending just a few pounds more to get something that is clearly better in every way.

I hear lots about Surround Sound for TVs – is this something I need?

One of the things we do advise clients about on many occasions is the poor quality of audio from the modern TVs.  Being so slim the average TV has a speaker that is the same size as the speaker in a handheld radio from the 60s – so no wonder that the sound is tinny and often distorted. We always recommend adding a good soundbar or surround sound system to compliment the TV.

Or why not go a little further and invest in a Smart Media Room or Smart Home Cinema?  These are great places to “escape” to and relax whilst being in complete control of what you are watching and listening to.  They can usually be designed to suit various budgets so well worth considering.

What are the main components of a Home Cinema room and what’s the price range?

The main components of a Home Cinema are:

Projector – typically placed on the ceiling but there are now options to have short throw projectors that can be placed almost against the wall they are projecting onto – so they can sit on a cabinet against the wall with a pop-up screen or a simply painted white wall

A Large Automated Screen – can be ceiling mounted or recessed into the ceiling for a nicer looking finish.  Alternatively, the screen could be mounted inside a cabinet and lift upwards out of the cabinet which can save having to mount it on the ceiling and be good in rooms with very high ceilings etc.

AV Amplifier – connected to the speakers

Speakers – 5.1, 7.1, 9.1.  This is about how many speakers there are – so a conventional surround system has 5 speakers, Left, Centre, Right, Rear Right and Rear Left and a Sub-woofer for the deep bass – that’s a 5.1 system.  The 7.1 adds some speakers in the ceiling to give an element of height to the sound and the 9.1 adds two rear side speakers to further enhance the overall surround effect

Seating – there are many cinema couches and seats available online which are really only for light use.  If you plan to use the Home Cinema a lot then it might be worth investing in some proper cinema seats which will be much more comfortable and very much longer lasting – not to mention having cup holders, electric reclining mechanisms and, in some cases, built in beer fridges.

Lighting – some form of Smart Lighting is recommended as it very much increases the overall enjoyment of the room.  This can be as simple as wall lights or lamps or something more wow factor like led cove lighting or a Starlight ceiling.

Remember a Home Cinema can be a dual-purpose space – so a Cinema in the evening and a kids play room by day – it really is up to you!

Does a Smart Audio System integrate with all music streaming services?

Most Smart Living Systems will integrate with most music streaming services.  This may seem like a cop-out answer but it’s as close as we can get to the truth. Each Smart Living System is different and music streaming platforms tend to come and go especially from a popularity perspective.

Nobody can predict the future of new music platforms but at the moment Control4 integrates with the main ones within it’s own app – Amazon, Tidal, Napster, Deezer, Tune-in and others.  Spotify is a law unto itself and wants to keep you within its own app so it can make money from you and show you ads – so it can be used with Control4 and other Smart Living Systems but only via the Spotify app not the Control4 app. 

If you choose a leading Smart Living system, such as Control4, they will always be keeping their ear to the ground and looking ahead to ensure that they integrate and encompass all new and future technology.

Do Smart TVs need Wi-Fi?

This is a question that is really part of a bigger one which is “Why do I need cables – doesn’t everything use Wi-Fi these days?”

The truthful answer to the TV question is no – they can work with a wire or Wi-Fi but they need one or the other for the “Smart” bit to work

The “cable or Wi-Fi” debate is one that has been around for some time.  The fact is that a cable is better than a Wireless connection. This is not an opinion but a fact – no matter how good the Wi-Fi is, there will still be occasions where it falters or suffers from interference and, therefore, whatever is on the other end is going to lose connection or information.  A cable is always connected regardless of the situation around it and, therefore, keeps the end device connected at all times.

The other fact is that in most cases a wired connection will be faster than a Wi-Fi connection, therefore information transfer will be quicker.  We have all experienced the spinning circle waiting to watch something on the TV – often this is due to the streaming device having a Wi-Fi connection rather than wired, and often coincides with someone else doing a bit of online gaming and another on a Zoom call – so eating up the bandwidth available on the Wi-Fi.  Cables don’t suffer this problem and as long as the incoming internet is fast enough then all the wired products will perform admirably.

Also remember that wired is more secure than Wi-Fi –  it is almost impossible to hack into a cable whereas hacking your Wi-Fi is often not too difficult, especially if you are a bit of a computer wizard.  Remember the Wi-Fi is broadcast outside of your property so is fair game to any hacker walking or driving past.

What is Smart Living?

How much does Smart Living cost?

Defining an exact cost of Smart Living can depend on a number of variables and therefore the cost varies from person to person depending on what elements they are looking for.

There are many factors that can affect the price such as the number of rooms, what systems you want to include, quality of components, where and when the project will take place, and so much more.

The simplest answer we can give would be to say that the level of investment for one of our systems can vary from £5000 to £50,000.

One example would be a 4-bedroom house with Smart Lighting, Smart Audio, Surround Sound in the lounge, some Smart Security around the perimeter of the property, Smart Heating Controls and the all-important cabling would be around £25,000.

John Ross Smart Living will work with you to find the best possible solution for your budget so we can all live smarter together.

What is a Smart Home?

Smart Living is our philosophy of using technology to make life easier.

A Smart Living system offers the freedom to play music throughout the house or isolated in individual rooms all from your mobile phone. It’s the ability to turn your heating on as you leave the office – or turn it down when the teenagers have been left home alone! Forgot to turn the bathroom light off? No problem, simply switch it off from your mobile device. From increased security to a heightened sense of comfort in the home, Smart Living provides solutions to everyday chores and worries that need never cross your mind again.

We like to think about it as imagining your home having its own brain that is dedicated to thinking about your needs and what would give you the best experience everyday. The benefits are endless and often different for everyone – but you will certainly benefit, without a doubt!

Do I need to buy the whole Smart Living System at once or can I do it in stages?

It is possible to stage your Smart Living System but it is important to keep in mind that certain parts of the system are essential and therefore need to be installed in the early stages of the project.

For instance, once a design concept has been agreed, it is vital that the cabling must be installed at the outset of your project, regardless of the project type. If the correct cables are not installed early on, some of the Smart Living system may not be possible without mess, expense and redecoration.

It is understandable that your budget during the build may not stretch to cover all aspects of your dream Smart Living System. With this in mind, we are always happy to adopt a planned approach so that the things that your priority systems are installed first, and anything that is lower down in the list can be fitted once your budget allows.

Will my Smart Home require to be replaced after a few years due to technological changes?

The honest answer is yes – some of it may. 

Technology changes swiftly and is constantly moving forward so what is leading edge today may not be in 5 years time.  Software is continually being updated and our systems are capable of being upgraded in this way with a fairly long-life expectancy. Products do wear out over time so will need replaced due to age but may also need replaced due to software becoming too advanced for them. 

There are two types of upgrades/replacements that may need to be considered – a little like a car – the normal wear and tear on an item and the fact that the item may not have the capability of running the most up to date software.

A good installer should advise their clients that some form of update or replacement will need to be considered after 5 years and probably before 10 years is up.  They should also recommend some form of maintenance option to ensure that your system is kept updated as and when required but also to be proactive with regards to replacements etc.

How much does maintenance cost on a Smart Living System?

This is a very good question. 

As with most things the answer is that it will vary depending on the system size, complexity etc.  In our experience it is simply based on the size of the installation and the level of initial investment – so can be anywhere from £100 per year up to many hundreds.

There are different levels of service depending on the client and system, which can vary from remote only support to a regular 3 monthly call to site to check the system.

And on a last note – you don’t need to have maintenance in place, this is entirely up to the you, but like everything peace of mind is less stressful!

Is having a Smart Home the same as having an Amazon Alexa?

Not exactly, but having an Alexa in your Smart Home can enhance the experience by adding Voice Control to your whole system.

Having Alexa only or Alexa with other non-integrated products, can give you a reasonable experience but it is often quite hard to setup the voice commands with all the other appliances you are trying to sync.  With a Smart Home the system is already setup and working and all Alexa is essentially doing is turning your voice command into an electronic command, feeding that into the Smart Home system which then interprets what you want to do and carries out the command.

If you only want some reasonably basic level of smart technology, or currently have some smart devices and don’t want to invest in a Smart Living system, then Alexa is probably a good idea for you – but it is worth while considering having a professional company to come and set it up and connect it to your other devices.

Remember that the sum of the components of a non-integrated smart system such as one with smart light bulbs, smart thermostats, smart speakers, Alexa or Google, may end up being a reasonably significant cost, so it might be worthwhile talking to a good Smart Living installation company before you go down that route.  And, in real terms, the non-integrated system cost is not truly an investment as any purchaser is unlikely to want to take on these types of devices, whereas a Smart Living system is designed to be a part of the house so is a good investment.

What are the main solutions that make up a Smart Home?

Core to a Smart Home is the structured cabling, which is the backbone of the system, and the connectivity, which covers incoming internet and the internal network including wifi.

The main solutions that make up a good Smart Living system could include:

Cabling – the backbone of the system – no system can work without this

Connectivity – extremely important because all communications between devices, you and the outside world are carried by this part of the system

Lighting – Smart Lighting is key to having a great Smart Home

Audio – music in one, some or all rooms – have it where you want and when you want

Entertainment – TVs, Home Cinema, Surround Sound systems etc

Comfort – Blinds, curtains, heating etc

Security – cameras, door or gate entry, door locks, garage doors etc

Will a Smart Home investment increase the value of my property?

Any investment in a property is an investment regardless of what it’s for. Some people may spend £3000 on a kitchen and others may spend £50000.  A Smart Living system will not age like other parts of your house – so the really expensive kitchen that you buy now will lose its sparkle in 10 years time – but the Smart Living system will still be doing its thing regardless.

So – the honest answer to the question of “Will a Smart Home system increase the value of my property” is probably, but there are too many other factors to give a definitive yes or no.  What a Smart Living System will do is increase the desirability of your property and raise it above others around you in the same marketplace.

Would a Smart Living system be beneficial to someone who has a physical disability?

Yes, absolutely it would.  And not just physical but mental disabilities too. Relatives and friends of dementia sufferers greatly benefit from being able to keep an eye on the person from afar without intruding on their life.  There are many parts of a Smart Home that would be beneficial to anyone with a disability such as music, Video Doorbells, automatic door locks, external security cameras and many more.

Check out for some more information on a Smart System that is dedicated to helping people with disabilities and their friends and relatives.

How cost effective is a Smart Living system with the current energy crisis?

This is an interesting question and one that is highly emotive due to the spiralling costs of energy.  Although there is a certain level of investment required for a Smart Living system, this can be offset by some of the energy saving that will be experienced.

Smart Lighting systems can save energy by reducing the amount of time lights are on, and by reducing the level to which they are turned on. When you switch a light on in a conventional home, via a simple on/off switch, the light is either fully on or fully off.  When the same light is switched on by a Smart Lighting system it will never be fully on but will be operating at a lower level depending on the scene selected and even if turned on fully will typically only be on at 75%. 

;So even in its simplest form a Smart Lighting system, installed by an experienced Smart Living Company, will save you around 25% of the energy used by a conventional system.

Smart Living heating systems are another good source of energy savings as they will be working in the background, via the system, to optimise your home heating use and therefore your utility costs.  They do this in various ways, but the simplest form is when they detect that no one is home so will set back the heating and then bring it back up when you arrive home – or even before.

In addition, the combination of various Smart Home functions working together can fully optimise your energy usage. For example, if it is very sunny outside then the system may raise the blinds and open the curtains, switch off the heating, and allow the sun to warm the room.

Do you have a show room or test products that I can view the technology before potentially


We have something better!  We have a fully functional Smart Home in Rural Angus which is available to rent as a holiday home or for a short visit to see how Smart Living actually works.

The house is fully equipped with:-

Smart Lighting – in every room

Smart Audio – we have music in almost every room as well as the patio and Hot Tub areas outside

Smart Security including CCTV, Smart Door Locks and Video Doorbell

Smart Home Cinema room with 8ft screen, High Definition Projector and 5.1 Surround Sound

Smart Curtains and Blind integration

Smart Heating

And we even have a pop-up TV.

And all the above is managed by Control4 technology – seamlessly, reliably and very simple to operate.  In fact we have now had over 30 different guest groups staying at the property in the last year and feedback has been incredibly positive with no issues and specifically very positive comments about the ease of use of the Smart Home technology installed.

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