Where once home automation appeared only in the world of Sci-Fi or futuristic films, they are today a feature in many homes. With the increasing popularity of home automation systems offered by industry leading companies, resulting in an ever growing market, automating your home is now more accessible than ever.
If you’re considering a home automation system, then you may be overwhelmed by the sheer scope of options in terms of what you can control and the number of different systems that are out there.
What is a home automation system?
A home automation system involves technology that controls security, music, lighting or HVAC (Heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems to either increase your home security, improve a person’s comfort or provide convenience in day to day life.
What do you want to control?
Whilst all manner of home automation systems exist, before you start to look at what’s available you should decide on what it is that the want to control. If you start to look around at all that’s on the market, the chances are that you’ll make an impulse purchase, and end up with something you don’t need.
Home automation systems can, amongst other things, control:
- Lighting – Systems that control lighting can be as basic as automatically switching on and off certain lights at set times, to as advanced as a complete lighting system that allows you to select moods such as ‘ambient lighting’.
- HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) – A HVAC system can completely automate your houses temperature and ventilation control. You can additionally set rooms to be of different temperatures. Perfect for those that like to be warmer in the day but cooler in the night.
- Security – A home automated security system can provide a wide range of features. From being able to unlock doors from another country to let your house sitter in, to being able to view CCTV images direct from your mobile device.
- Music – Music systems can involve the installing of a complete music system throughout your house, allowing you to set rooms to certain music genres.
What kind of technology should you choose?
Home automation systems encompass all manner of technologies. With the main technologies being:
- Wireless/RF (Radio Frequency) – Wireless home automation, whilst being a relatively new technology on the market, are becoming increasingly popular.
- X10 Compatibility – X10 technology, whilst being the oldest for of home automation, is the most popular technology in use today.
- Powerline – Powerline is a general term that means a device that is able to control various home automation features throughout your home, via your houses electrical system.
You can also find systems that may have elements of both.
What kind of interface do you want?
Once you’ve decided what you want to control, and what technology you want to control it with, you’re ready to start looking at all the market has to offer.
When deciding what type of interface you wish to work with it is vital to keep in mind how comfortable you are with technology. It is pointless to chose one of the most impressive and futuristic interfaces if you don’t know how to operate a mobile phone.
There are a wide range of interfaces available, ranging from the simplistic to the frighteningly complicated. Therefore there is something to suit everyone’s needs.
Additionally, you can always start out with a simple product (something that controls only your lighting, for example) and then you can move onto something more complex for your other requirements.
This guide should have given you an idea of the types of home automation systems on the market, however if you’re still unsure then the best advice is to do extensive research and become accustomed to the various products and technologies that are applicable to your needs.