There are more Wi-Fi devices in use than there are people on Earth and about 50 percent of Internet traffic flows through Wi-Fi networks. Wireless devices are everywhere, so it’s easy to understand why Wi-Fi connectivity is critical for homebuyers. Virtually everyone has had that experience of being in a home or building that has weak Wi-Fi connectivity, and that can be a major headache for buyers who rely on Wi-Fi connections.
For builders, designing a home with connectivity in mind is essential to ensuring homeowners don’t have to keep asking, “is the W-Fi off??”
The Wi-Fi Certified Home
Sixty-four percent of home buyers would pay more for a new home that is pre-wired with high-quality Wi-Fi equipment. Seventy-six percent are interested in smart home devices that rely on connectivity, such as thermostats or door locks. Every home builder should be considering Wi-Fi connectivity when designing or building a home and Wi-Fi Certified Home Design™ can ensure that builders can integrate planned Wi-Fi networks into home floorplans so that buyers can have confidence in the new home’s Wi-Fi network.
The certification program is offered by the Wi-Fi Alliance, a network of worldwide organizations responsible for driving the interoperability, adoption, and evolution of Wi-Fi globally. Wi-Fi Certified Home Design provides home builders with an industry-approved network installation plan based on guidelines that specify criteria for access point (AP) placement to deliver strong Wi-Fi coverage throughout the entire home as well as outdoor spaces, like garages and patios.
Companies in various industries worked with the Wi-Fi Alliance to develop the criteria for the home design, which considers the increasing number of smart home devices expected in homes over the next decade, and the growing demand for data-intensive usages such as virtual reality and video game streams. According to the Alliance, home design will scale to accommodate both the growth in Wi-Fi devices and high-bandwidth applications.
One prominent builder, Lennar, was the first to offer new homes featuring Wi-Fi Certified Home Design as a standard feature of its “Everything’s Included” program, which enables seamless voice control, shopping, and home automation.
Wi-Fi Certified Home Design is a great way to ensure that a home can achieve reliable Wi-Fi performance in this information age. However, if a builder is interested in best practices that enhance the Wi-Fi connectivity of new construction homes, but not committed to seeking this certification what should they do to ensure that customers have the connections they need to ease the use of Wi-Fi enabled devices and home automation?
Tips for Wi-Fi/Home Automation Ease
Patrick Stuart is the director of product and business development for Hubitat, a home automation company. He provided tips on three tech-savvy practices for builders to ensure great connectivity and satisfied customers in the automation age:
- You Can Never Run Enough Ethernet – “Every room should have at least two cat 6 or higher runs at a minimum,” Stuart said. “Despite the proliferation of Wi-Fi, the need to hardwire devices is still more desirable than Wi-Fi. In fact, running ethernet to attics, crawl spaces, etc. would enable point-of-entry Wi-Fi access points to be properly distributed.” Stuart says Wi-Fi mesh networks are emerging as viable solutions for smaller homes, but nothing beats a wired connection.
- Avoid Metal in Walls – “Home automation systems rely heavily on wireless technologies and Wi-Fi uses a variety of radio frequencies that need to get through walls,” said Stuart. “Avoid metal in walls as much as possible, particularly interior walls.”
- Run Everything in a Central Location – Ideally, this location should be the size of a typical closet with proper ventilation. “Technology generates heat, and it is critical for those devices to be able to get fresh cool air and exhaust hot air,” Stuart noted. “There should also be enough room to get to the front and back of equipment and plenty of room to install and space out the equipment properly.”
If the goal is a high-quality user experience with Wi-Fi in the home, builders should be knowledgeable about potential design considerations that could interfere with Wi-Fi enabled devices.
 Lennar Home Technology Survey, 2016