Home design 101: why you need to think about electrical early in the process
Building or renovating your home? What an exciting time: it’s that rare opportunity to really think about how you like to live and what you need from a space.
Of course, you can choose flooring, think about appliances, the colours you love, etc – but one area that has a huge impact on both design impressions and quality of living, but is often overlooked in the early stages, is electrical design.
Whether you’re a typical aesthete, with countless home inspiration Pinterest boards and a love for interiors; or someone who wants their home to perform – to be liveable, smart, and a good investment – speaking to your electrician early will pay serious dividends, in terms of both the finished project and your ease of living in the home.
Homes are becoming smarter by the day, and there are now a huge range of electric innovations that are about enhancing living. A good electrician can speak to you about your needs, dreams and aspirations, and suggest solutions that will help your home come alive.
Robert Knight, Residential Electric Design Consultant at PDL by Schneider Electric, says that in the past, homeowners tended to approach the electrical considerations of their home as a kind of afterthought, instead of thinking about it early in the process and as part of the grand scheme.
“By the time some people get to the electrical, they’ve used up much of their budget and are forced to make critical sacrifices, which means their home doesn’t operate as well as it could. We hear it time and time again, people wishing they put in more power points, or thought about their lighting plan earlier on. It really impacts how much they can enjoy their day-to-day use of their home.”
He says that simple aspects such as drawing up a plan with an electrician and installing enough power points can make a huge difference to the overall outcome of the build or renovation.
For starters, homes these days can contain literally dozens of devices, including phones, tablets and computers, so having ample USB chargers is a must.
Knight also notes that modern households rely on the convenience of wireless Wi-Fi in their everyday lives more than people often realise. However, not all devices are wireless, so it’s wise to run data cabling whenever possible for bandwidth-heavy streaming and gaming, for example.
“Even fridges can be smart appliances these days, so plan to put a data cable behind yours.”
He says fixtures such as heated towel rails chew up power if they’re left on permanently, but now you can set them on timers and even control them from your phone (as you can with many other appliances). Keeping energy consumption at a minimum.
“Motion sensors are another useful feature, allowing you to move around your house safely as lights come on at night – or when you open the pantry – or even your wardrobe.” Another wonderful space for a motion sensor is the laundry – a space in which we often have our hands full.
Knight has also noticed that Kiwis have a tendency to under-light their homes in a general sense, but he believes it’s actually better to overdo the lighting in the first place, and then make it customisable so that you can dial it back using tools such as dimmers.
Bad lighting ruins good design, so if the latter is top of mind, electrical should be too: plan so that you can have lighting that complements and showcases the elements you’re most proud of in your home, such as a special artwork or a feature staircase. You don’t want your most beloved items to end up in the shadows.
Savvy designers should also consider the design and style of light switches and power points. PDL has ranges that include anodised aluminium, modern matte and fingerprint-resistant finishes, and in a variety of shades and styles. “You often see this beautiful kitchen with every element considered, except the look of power points, it completely changes the whole aesthetic. Homeowners often just don’t know that there are switch and power point design choices out there that actually contributes to the overall design and feel of the space.”
Other key things to consider are security cameras, two-way switches in hallways or large rooms, outdoor power access to create alfresco spaces that are perfect for entertaining and remote access and control of a home.
Knight says that the most compelling reason for factoring in an electrical plan at the outset of a project is the fact that much of this groundwork is difficult to do retrospectively – not to mention more expensive.
But he’s pleased to note that more and more people are getting online to research all the electrical options for their new build or renovation, and are showing an increased understanding of the benefits of thinking ahead about electrical.
“Good electric home design adds value to your property and is something that will always pay off in the end, especially how much you enjoy just living in your home and it being suitable for your day to day needs.”
PDL offers a comprehensive range of electrical solutions for seamless, stylish living on their website where you can discover more exciting possibilities for your home. Visit pdl.co.nz/homebodies