Honda Wants You to Build Your Own Home So They Can Make It Smart

Honda open sourced its smart home—except for the part that actually makes it smart.

Image: Honda

Honda wants you to build your own smart home—then use its "brains" to help make it energy efficient.

The company just open sourced the designs and blueprints to the smart home that it unveiled back in April—everything except for the Home Energy Management System that makes the whole thing work. The HEMS tells the house when to pull power from a small lithium battery pack that's charged by solar panels during the day. It also tells the house when to charge your Honda electric car, naturally. 

The implication here is that the company wants energy efficient homes to become much more common, so that it can begin selling HEMS, or something like it, to people who build an inherently energy efficient home. Michael Koenig, project leader for the Honda Smart Home, wouldn't say when HEMS would go on sale, but told me that, in the future, the company would almost certainly be involved in the industry.

"Honda isn't an architecture firm. We're not in the business of building houses," he said. "Honda wants to be involved in this future, and there are certainly some products where it might make sense for us to participate in. It'll be on the energy management side of it, for sure."

So it's a bit disingenuous to say that Honda completely open sourced its new smart home—more specifically, it has taken the legwork out of designing and building an incredibly energy-efficient home.

"The original plan was to try to create value to society. Building one house doesn't do that," Koenig said. 

Everything but this just went open source. Image: Honda

That it doesn't. The play here is simple: The company wants DIYers and home building companies to start making these things en masse—either in communities or separately—so that there's a market for its future energy management products (and, ideally, a spot in the garage for a Honda electric vehicle).

On the company's smart home website, you can now download the home's architectural plans (including CAD files that can be manipulated and reshaped), interior design and plans (including details about the super energy-efficient appliances and materials the company used), and mechanical and plumbing plans. Everything is modifiable and hackable, so, presumably, you could buy a third party energy management system or put one together yourself to make your own smart home. 

"What we've released doesn't cover the technology at all—it's the smart, architectural design," Koenig said. "With this, you could build the entire structure, but we're not releasing the controls."

At least, not for free.