In our present economy, people are choosing to stay in their homes longer. Rather than move to a bigger, better home, they are upgrading their present home into something that may have been a dream to them in the past. What is becoming a more common upgrade is to automate the home or make it a Smart Home.
Home Automation, or domotics, is a system which integrates designated electronic devices with each other.
An automated system consists of three components:
(1) A controller which is usually some sort of computer
(2) Sensors which are devices that measure a physical quality (like motion or sound) and convert it into something that the controller can read and send to actuators
(3) Actuators which will convert energy into motion and make the desired action happen.
Homes that incorporate automation are usually described as smart home
s and have some or all of the following components:
- Home Theaters
- Distributed audio (whole house audio)
- Security system
- Surveillance system (cameras and CCTV)
- Central vacuum
- Automated window coverings
- Solar products
Smart homes can be hardwired (usually called structured wiring) or wireless. It is important to know that although technology has not advanced to the point where it is prudent to put in an extensive wireless system, it will be very soon. Advances are occurring so quickly that it seems what is new this month will be mainstream in 6 months!
One of the wonderful things about home automation is that it is really only limited by the customer's imagination (and the skills of the installer). For example, the home can be made more secure for an elderly relative who has chosen to remain in their home. A motion sensor can be placed at ankle level (to maintain privacy), along the route from the bedroom to the bathroom. If it is not triggered any time between 6AM and 8AM, (the time Mom usually gets washed up), the controller can be programmed to call Molly, her daughter, and let her know that Mom may need some assistance. Another example would be motion sensors along the driveway, when triggered after dark, would 'tell' the controller to open the garage door, turn on lights in the garage and in the home and start playing music, insuring a safe and happy arrival. (I bet you can think of a few examples, yourself, that would be specific to your needs!)
The advent of smart phones, the iPad and apps is opening up a new avenue of less expensive, more easily accessible, and more flexible home automation programs.
If you are interested in home automation, it may take some work to get exactly what you want. Remember, the biggest limitation you will encounter will be the installer. Be sure to shop around and don't settle for less than what you want.
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