“Smart home,” “smart home,” or “automated home” are interchangeable terms used to refer to a system that automates myriad functions in your home. Once considered a futuristic concept… now, not so much. Although it is an evolving technology, the future arrived, a long time ago.
Home automation simplifies the management of many, many household functions and repetitive tasks. A system can execute individual commands or a group of commands, initiated by the touch of a single button. Processes can be repetitive or spontaneous.
Some of the more common features include lighting, home security, audiovisual components, and climate control. However, higher-end systems may also include the ability to monitor/control irrigation, pool/spa water level and temperature, motorized window coverings, entry doors, and appliances. Many of these processes can be integrated to enable various functions with a single touch.
The main components used in home automation systems are CPUs (central processing units) and interfaces. A CPU is the centerpiece, or brain of the process. Items like touchpads, remote controls, and even keyboards on computers are examples of interface mechanisms. Communication between the interfaces and the CPU allows the user to issue commands to the various devices being controlled.
The price of these systems can vary greatly. As with most technology, the bigger your wish list, the more it will cost. The most basic systems are usually oriented to home security, alarm control and basic lighting. Whereas, a pricing scheme will normally include more sophisticated communication equipment and extensive programming which would offer wider utilization options.
Due to price restrictions for many homes, there is a recent movement to automate individual rooms instead of entire houses. It seems that the most common rooms that are automated are family rooms, kitchens, and master bedrooms. A word of warning… if you have visions of eventually integrating a single room scheme into a whole house system at a later date, be sure to use equipment that will allow you to do so.
A definite money saver would be to pre-wire a home or building, instead of trying to install wiring and equipment into an existing structure. It’s often worth the nominal expense of pre-wiring even if you’re not sure when or what type of system you can eventually use. It is always more expensive, after construction.
Over time, some form of home automation will find its way into most homes. It is an exciting and dynamic technology with ever-expanding capabilities.