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Home Automation Systems
Home Automation Systems

Home automation systems can be controlled with your Android or iPhone.

Until relatively recently, home automation systems were considered to be something that belonged in smart-homes of the future. The technology was perceived as a somewhat unaffordable luxury that could be implemented only with considerable difficulty. That has begun changing rapidly, though. Falling component prices and technology advances have made home automation systems broadly accessible to a wide cross-section of people. A growing number of homeowners have begun integrating such technologies into preexisting homes as well as homes that are being newly built.

What Is a Home Automation System?

In a nutshell, home automation systems let you remotely control various systems in your home, including your lighting, heating, entertainment and home security systems. The technology allows you to accomplish tasks such as turning on and turning off lights in your entire home, changing thermostat settings, turning on your underground sprinkler system, or monitoring your home alarms from anywhere in the home or even outside it.

Web-Enabled Systems

Many home automation systems these days are web-enabled, and allow you to use your smart phone or any Internet-connected device to manage your home systems from anywhere in the world. With web-enabled home automation, you can sit in your office and set your timers, dim your lights, turn up your heat, monitor your security and even open or close your window drapes. Besides the convenience factor, home automation systems also enable better energy management and home security.

Retro-Fitting Existing Homes for Automation

The most convenient way to deploy home automation is to integrate the technology into your home while it is being built. It is relatively easier to enable home automation when your house is already wired for it, and all your outlets, switches and dimmers support remote control. However, if you wanted, you can retrofit your existing home with home automation technology.

Many vendors for instance, these days sell switches, dimmers, thermostats and electrical outlets that are based on a home automation standard called X10. All you need to do is replace your existing hardware with the new X10 technology to achieve at least some basic automation of your heating and lighting functions. Increasingly, vendors who sell X10 home automation kits also offer a web-enabled management console that you can use to control your home systems using your smart phone or PC. You can buy a basic one-room X10 automation kit for as little as $50 to $75 these days.

Tips for Deploying Home Automation

The best way to implement home automation systems is to do it in a phased manner.

  • Decide if you want to automate on a room-by-room basis or on a function-by-function basis.
  • If you take a room-by-room approach, prioritize which rooms would benefit the most from automation. For instance, kitchen lighting and appliances might best benefit from automation. Alternatively, entertainment systems and lighting might also benefit from automation in the living room.
  • If you embark on a function-by-function approach, decide whether you want to automate your lighting system first, or your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC). List and prioritize which other functions you would like to automate.
  • Determine your budget for the project and see what functions you would absolutely like to have and what you can do without for the moment.
  • Shop around for components that allow you to upgrade or add more functions at a future date.
  • Home automation systems can deliver a lot of convenience and cost savings so long as you have a clear objective for obtaining and using them.

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