The Basics of Home Automation

Smart Home
Smart homes — which you can control with a smart phone or tablet — make life more convenient.

With new technology emerging all the time and lots of jargon, navigating the field of home automation can be confusing — even a bit daunting.

You’ve probably got plenty of questions but finding answers isn’t that easy, so if home automation is on your radar this year, here’s some simple information.

What does home automation actually involve?

Imagine coming home to an inviting atmosphere where the curtains have been closed remotely, the climate control set to your preferred temperature, your favorite music streaming, the lighting just right and your alarm system turned off.

The latest home automation systems can be retrofitted into an existing home or incorporated into a new build — so even an old home can be a smart one with the very latest in technological innovations.

Chamberlain’s MyQ Smart Garage Hub makes any garage door opener smart.
Chamberlain’s MyQ Smart Garage Hub makes any garage door opener smart.

Home automation technologies comprise five main categories:
• Entertainment (music, internet streaming services, home theaters, etc.)
• Efficiency (controls that take care of everyday tasks)
• Environment (remote control of things like lighting, heating and cooling systems, sprinkler systems, security alarms, etc.)
• Lifestyle (convenient automated technology that adds value and enhances your lifestyle such as smart garage doors)
• Energy (monitor and manage your energy use to reduce bills, minimize waste and improve the environment).

These technologies combine to create ‘intelligent homes’ that operate intuitively to make your life easier.

Depending on how much you want to spend, you can always start small and build up over time into a more comprehensive system.

C by GE smart switch
The C by GE smart switch can control any vintage light bulb with smart technology.

Often, people choose to start with lighting products (such as remote dimmer switches) or wireless home alarm systems (whereby the user controls the system using a digital device such as a smartphone or tablet).

Choosing the right system and platform upfront is crucial and it is well worth investing in quality hardware and proven technologies.

Those in the know talk about ‘backward’ and ‘forward’ compatibility and ‘orphan’ lines. This essentially means that because technology is evolving all the time and innovations are constantly coming to market, it’s important to ensure that your products don’t become obsolete.

Products need to be able to keep ‘talking’ to each other, so you don’t have to replace your system, but rather you build it over time into an integrated, reliable and multi-faceted solution.

Even if you’re starting small, you should spend some time researching your options.

Here are questions to ask:

• Can the system be expanded over time?
• Is there good technical support for the system?
• What kind of wiring do I need?
• Is a home automation starter kit the best option, or should I be looking at something more comprehensive upfront?

Just as you would employ an architect or qualified builder to design and construct your home, if you’re considering home automation, it’s a good idea to consult an industry specialist. They will listen to your ideas and expectations, advise on what’s possible and make recommendations based on your budget and your needs.


Further Reading:


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