In our days a home automation system can provide safety, security, convenience, energy conservation and peace of mind – all from a single control panel. You can create a smart home today that unlocks the door and turns on the lights when you arrive, brews coffee to wake you up, and automatically waters the garden.
So, a “smart home” can range from fully automated, with every appliance controlled, to a more basic system controlling lighting or home entertainment equipment.
Of course, the technology will vary from large scale automation systems operate with computer software to small installations which use a single thermostat-like control panel.
There are high-end systems can include voice-control features.
Home automation can be an inexpensive project, and some even find it to be an interesting hobby.
How to Set Up a “Smart” Home
First of all, you should define your objectives. Do you want to control your house from your phone and check on it from across the world, or are your goals more simplistic? You should plan everything carefully. Most installations start out small but knowing where you want to end up is the key in proper planning.
In designing a smart home, you can do as much or as little home automation as you want. You could begin with a lighting starter kit and add on security devices later. If you want to start with a bigger system, it’s a good idea to design carefully how the home will work, particularly if rewiring or renovation will be required.
Home Automation Standard
Your automated home needs three main components: a computer, software, and modular, automation-aware devices.
How it works?
1. Choose a Software. The computer and software are your home’s “mind.” If your PC goes to sleep, so does your home’s intelligence, so you’ll want to run automation software on an always-on system, such as a server. Depending on your software, you can gather all sorts of data for use with you home automation system.
–If you’re using software other than Activehome, you’ll likely have to run the computer 24/7. X10’s Activehome is an easy to use, inexpensive option, but it has limited functionality.
–PowerHome2 is a home automation software package that allows you to control your home’s lighting, appliances, security, and your Home Theater. It has a fully programmable interface via your choice of language.
–Another software is HomeSeer Windows automation. HomeSeer home automation software has been the standard in the industry with thousands of systems installed worldwide. It’s available in the lower-tier HS2 version or the high-end HSPRO edition
2. Choose a Home Automation standard. Install the software, than attach an X10 or Insteon controller (available for purchase through either X10 or Smarthome).
–X10 and Insteon are the two dominant automation standard. Both are pretty similar; X10 tends to be cheaper, while Insteon provides more data for your home automation system to work with. For decades, X10, which sends signals over a home’s power lines, ruled the market. However, X10 can drop messages, misinterpret cable noise (thinking you’ve told it to turn on a light, for instance), and bleed into your neighbors’ wiring. Insteon was designed to address those problems, but they can still occasionally crop up.
–Z-Wave and Zigbee are another two home automation, if you want to go wireless.
–HAI is also used but typically for professional. It is very expensive, its installation exceeding $50,000 USD.
X10, Insteon, ZigBee ,Z-Wave and HAI just provide the technology for smart home communication. Manufacturers have made alliances with these systems to create the products that use the technology.
3. Install home automation modules. In order to automate lights, use a Lamp Module or Wall Switch. For appliances or large loads, choose an Appliance Module. If you are using X10, you can automate things like garage door openers using a Universal Module. Most modules simply plug into the wall and act like a normal electrical outlet. However, many devices, such as light switches and thermostats, are available in automated versions, but you can add almost anything. If a device runs on electricity, you can connect to it and automation-aware box that toggles the power; you could put one between, say, a fan and outlet.
Examples of smart home products and their functions:
Plug your tabletop lamp into a dimmer instead of the wall socket, and you can brighten and dim at the push of a button.
Cameras will track your home’s exterior even if it’s pitch-black outside.
Door handles can open with scanned fingerprints or a four-digit code, eliminating the need to fumble for house keys.
A video door phone provides more than a doorbell and you get a picture of who’s at the door.
Audio systems distribute the music from your stereo to any room with connected speakers.
Motion sensors will send an alert when there’s motion around your house, and they can even tell the difference between pets and burglars.
Remote controls, keypads and tabletop controllers are the means of activating the smart home applications. Not to mention these devices are coming with built-in web servers that allow you to access their information online.
Channel modulators take any video signal — from a security camera to your favorite television station and make it viewable on every television in the house.
The Benefits of a “Smart” Home
1] Obvious, the biggest benefits to a home automation system are safety and security. Lighting and sound/motion sensors are connected to a computer program that track activity 24 hours a day, and notifies you and your local police or fire department if anything is wrong. You can monitor your home over the Internet while you’re at the office or on vacation.
2] The ability to control thermostats and lighting can save energy as well. While any $50 programmable thermostat can raise or lower room temperature automatically, automatic lighting can help reduce energy costs as well.