Beginners Guide to Understanding and Using Home Automation

September 07, 2017

Beginners Guide to Understanding and Using Home Automation

Home Automation what is it?

Do I need it? Do I want it?

You probably have heard about home automation, smart homes, internet of things. But how does that apply to you, how can you use and is it of benefit to you?


Here we lay out for you a simple introduction to home automation and how you can use it to improve your life and lifestyle.


Home automation is where the homeowner uses technology to run their home. You can control things either at home whilst you are at home or from a remote location.


You will normally do this through either your Smartphone or Ipad.


When you do this then your home is called “smart” due to the fact that your home can appear to think on their own. This ability to think is also known as being an automated home.


For a home to be smart or automated then various items, products, appliances etc need to be connected to a network. For most homes, this is generally Wi Fi.


An example of this would be if you want the living room lamp to turn on, you don’t need to get up and turn it on, you simply tell something else to do it for you. This is generally an app on your smartphone or Ipad.


Another way is you can control various light switches to turn lights on or off whilst you are at home or driving home at night so that the lights in your home are turned on before you get home.

 

A fully integrated home means that all the components work together. That includes your locks and alarms; indoor and outdoor lighting; audio, visual and your system.

 

When you have a number of inter-networking of devices then this is generally called the Internet of Things (IoT). It refers to the connectivity of your home devices to WiFi or another network so you can control your devices from your phone, iPad or via voice controls. You do not physically need to touch the device to operate it.

 

When you begin to start to make your home a smart home you will need to decide what home automation protocol system you will use so that all the components of your system can work together.

 

This is basically the technology that controls your home and sends instructions to and from a device. It can be wired or wireless. In most cases, this will be Wi-Fi but there are a number of options you can choose.

 

The Internet of Things (IoT).

That’s the catch-all phrase for the trend toward embedding sensors and microchips in everyday objects in a way that allows them to be connected to a network—like, say, the Internet. With the Internet of Things, your washing machine, for example, can send an alert to your phone when it’s time to move your clothes over to the dryer.

 

Analysts expect the number of devices connected to the Internet of Things to reach between 26 billion and 30 billion by 2020. And the more IoT-ready devices you have access to in your home, the more you’ll be able to accomplish with even the most basic home automation system.


In just 40 years, complete home automation systems have gone from high-tech curiosities to affordable and accessible modern home conveniences. They're so simple now that just about anyone can take advantage of home automation to simplify their lives and enjoy what was once a luxury of the wealthy and tech-savvy. In the future, we will wonder how we ever lived without them.

 

Where To Start


First plan.


What do you want to connect?

How do you want them to connect?


Then plan your budget.

 

Home automation can run from under $100 into thousands of dollars, so think about what you want to automate.


Beginning Your Plan

 

  1. Don’t do it all at once. Start with the items that are most important and relevant for you to automate. The ones that will bring the most convenience to your life.
  2. Do it yourself instead of paying for installation, when possible. It’s not suggested to install complicated security systems on your own because it’s your safety at risk, but for smaller tasks try it on your own before paying for the service.
  3. Start by automating lighting and heating which will actually save you money on your heating and electricity bills. Investing in energy saving technologies first will help you save for other fun home automation.

Factors to Think About

  1. You may need a centralized controller. Home automation systems can be managed from your tablet or smartphone but some do require the installation of a centralized control panel somewhere in your home.
  2. You will need to access a network to send messages from your controller to your home devices. If you plan to use Bluetooth then you won’t be able to access your devices when you’re not at home.
  3. Your devices will need some way to receive your instructions. For some, this is no problem, such as entertainment systems because they are built in. For others such as lights, you will need either smart outlets or smart light bulbs to include them in your automation system

In most instances though having Wi-Fi and a smartphone will get you a long way along.


What Can You Automate

 Home Security

Everything from doorbells to window sensors can be managed and tracked remotely, so even if you’re not home, you can live stream what’s going on at home — whether it be from the office or from across the globe.

You can start with wireless locks and surveillance cameras. Maybe have someone with the know-how install them for you and set up the app on your smartphone or iPad device so you can self-monitor.

A home automation system will allow you to check—and change, if necessary—the status of your locks and security system remotely. Also, many systems allow remote monitoring of your home security cameras.

Equip your home with indoor and outdoor cameras that you can control and keep tabs on directly from your smartphone.

Smart home security has become a great asset to homes, both for safety and the value of the property.

 Beginners Guide to Home Automation

Lights

Today’s home automation systems make it easy for you to use your smartphone or tablet to control the lights in your home.

You can switch on your lights and set them to an appropriate brightness, all while you’re away or just relaxing on your couch.

If you simply want your house lit up when you come home in the evening, save by installing timers on some lamps inside your house.

You can also easily install timers or motion sensors on outdoor lighting so your yard is illuminated as well.

Automate your lamps with smart light bulbs so you don’t have to move from the perfect position you’ve found on your couch.

Automated lamps are the same ideas as bulbs. You can turn them on and off remotely, be it an outside lamp to scare off an unwanted intruder or a bedside lamp that seems too far to reach at the end of the day.

Using voice control, you can either dim the lights or turn them off completely from wherever you are in the house.

Either via your smartphone or through voice control, you have the power. The light-on, light-off game is a great antidote to boredom, but it can also save you from racking up electricity bills.

 

Blinds

Brighten up even the darkest of days with the simple push of a button on your phone, or darken up your room for bedtime with voice-controlled blinds.

Imagine not needing to get out of bed in the morning to open the curtains and start your day?

Why not set them to rise with a timer, just in case your alarm clock isn’t enough to get you out of bed.

 

Audio and Visual

Your entertainment devices might be among the first things you would want to automate in your home.

Your existing stereo equipment or TV will work just fine linked up to an integrated home system so you save by not having to buy new components.

You might, however, want to upgrade to a surround sound system that includes new speakers so you'll get the most enjoyment for a home theater experience.

Some home automation systems also integrate entertainment. Set your TV’s recording schedule, manage your stored programs, and decide where to watch them, all from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop.


The main aspect of smart home entertainment is the screen you choose to control your system with, involving your smartphone or tablet. The benefits are that it allows you to simplify and declutter.

You can put away the pile of remote controls (that’s so last year), and get right to the movies and music you want without the hassle by interacting with your devices seamlessly, whether by touch or voice.

Beginners Guide to Home Automation

Appliances

With home automation, you can easily change the oven temperature, for example, while you’re relaxing in the backyard or watching a movie in the den thanks to wireless technology, smart outlets, and a smartphone app.

Automating your kitchen appliances seems very Jetsons, but it’s no longer in the far off future; it’s happening now.

You can automate everything from your cutlery to a refrigerator that can also order your groceries.

The kitchen, where everyone gathers for meals, is often considered the heart of the home making it a great place to start experimenting with home automation.


Temperature and indoor climate

Use your home automation app to raise the temperature in the house a few degrees so you can stay comfortable.

Not only will you feel more comfortable, but you’ll also enjoy the pleasure of a lower your energy bill.

For your Air-conditioning system, there are thermostats available and can be retrofitted into your home that works off an app on your smartphone or iPad.

The ability to control your home temperature remotely might be one of the best technical innovations out there. WiFi-controlled thermostats let you save money on power by controlling the temperature remotely or keep your home warm and cozy or comfortable and cool right from your couch.


Carbon Monoxide Detection

Your home automation system can detect increased levels of carbon monoxide in the air and set off an alarm if you’re in danger. It’s a far more reliable method than the old, stand-alone detectors from the hardware store.

Beginners guide to home automation

Gardening

Did you forget to water the lawn before you left on vacation?

You can try smart products that let you turn on your sprinklers remotely.

There are some apps where you can check on your lawn anytime — and if you’ve scheduled your system to go off but the weather has changed. It will send you an alert suggesting an adjustment. It’s like a personal gardener, without the cost.


Cleaning

It might be everyone’s dream to have a home that cleans itself, because, let’s be honest, scrubbing and dusting are just no fun.

Luckily, smart cleaning devices are making their way into the market.

There’s everything from robotic mops and vacuums, to robotic grill cleaners, window cleaners, litter box cleaners, lawn mowers and air fresheners.

Check off your list of chores without lifting a finger.

 

Health and Fitness

In addition to making your life more convenient and saving you money and energy, smart homes should better the quality of your life.

There are tons of devices on the market that help keep your home healthy by monitoring the quality of air or tracking your sleep.

Then there are smart devices that help keep your personal fitness up to par while at home.

 

The good thing is that you can control all the devices in your home either via your phone or tablet or even voice control. There are a number of devices on the market that will allow you to use your voice to control all the different devices in your home.

Whilst the thought of home automation may seem a little scary the future is very exciting. To be able to control numerous devices through your phone no matter where you are in the world is a part of today, not just the future. 

To learn more check out these articles:

Practical Ways to Automate Your Home

Smart Home Automation

Photo by Oliur Rahman on Unsplash

Photo by Alberto Castillo Q. on Unsplash

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash




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