The term 'home automation' refers to connecting different devices in your home, such as lighting, entertainment and security components, into a set of master controls that can automatically control them to alter the environment in your home.
Another advantage of home automation is that is can help reduce your energy consumption through careful monitoring and managing many different appliances. With home automation, everything can work in harmony to make your home as comfortable, secure and efficient as it can be, with as little effort required as possible.
Why choose home automation?
People choose to automate their homes for a variety of reasons, and not everyone is going to want the same thing or the same smart home. Automating aspects of your home can make it far more energy efficient, secure, comfortable or convenient - and these are the key reasons that people invest in home automation. Depending on how extensively you intend to automate your home, you may well benefit in all of these areas.
Types of home automation
Various aspects of your home can be automated to increase its security. With the installation of movement sensors outside your home or intrusion sensors on doors and windows, you can detect and discourage unexpected movements or intrusions. Automated security systems can even record intruders, and send images or video of them to your email, smartphone or to a security service in real-time.
With automated lighting controls, movement sensors can detect when someone enters a room and turn the lights on, while timers can ensure they turn off again after a period of inactivity. Automated lighting systems can also incorporate curtain controls and change according to the time of day. They can also adjust lighting schemes or intensity based on your activities or mood.
Climate in your home can be very carefully controlled by zone-based heating and cooling, which will ensure that appropriate temperatures are maintained in different parts of your home, regardless of outside influences like sunlight or windows. By mastering your curtain and window systems, you can also help decrease your energy consumption, increase your ventilation and improve your health. Sensors are a great way to ensure proper ventilation in your home.
Home entertainment is about more than just the TV; it's about creating the right atmosphere. Home automation is very useful for achieving the desired atmosphere. Lighting systems can dim as you turn the TV on and audio can be installed into multiple rooms in the house, allowing you to listen to whatever you want from anywhere.
Implementing timers, sensors, energy dashboards and smart meters can help you to ensure that you are only using electricity when it actually need to be used. Not only does this cut the cost of your energy wastage, but it can also help to significantly cut the cost of your power bills.
Types of home automation systems
There are many technologies you can use to help automate your home, including timers, sensors, controls and smart meters. While some allow your home to change its 'mood' at any programmed time or event, others can adjust to the changing environment around them.
Most home automation systems rely on a single house-wide control system to operate everything. Such systems include things like KNX, Z-Wave and Zigbee. These control systems work in different ways, but all provide a 'standard' protocol, or language, which is used to help manage your home.
Home automation systems are normally either wired or wireless - the choice you make between the two will depend largely on cost, whether you're retrofitting a system or building afresh, and what your automation needs are.
How much does home automation cost?
With any smart home, scope and cost will vary depending on what you want it to do. A basic C-Bus system will cost about $15,000, plus installation. However if you want a fully automated and integrated system that includes extensive security, lighting, entertainment and control features, a high quality system may even cost between $50,000 and $100,000. Having the system installed as the home is built will cut down on labour costs and help to reduce your final bill.
How to find a home automation professional
Many aspects of home automation are within the capabilities of a competent DIYer - for example, installing a smart lock on the front door. However, home automation isn't just about its parts - its about the whole house working seamless. For this kind of coordination is pays to consult a professional. Most often call 'integrators' or 'custom integrators', these professionals can design and install an entire system that incorporate the aspects of home automation that you want.