Once upon a time, having an automatic gate was a novelty that would impress most guests, now pretty much everyone has one. Now, thanks to the wonders of cutting edge technology, it’s not that hard to have your home automated inside and out. But hold your horses, let’s not get all gung ho about it just yet, as a little planning will go a long way into making your house reflective of the modern age… without looking like a 60s cartoon gag.
Thanks to computers, Smartphones and the Internet, we now have the option of having access to just about any appliance in the home wherever we are. And, more and more innovations are becoming available. This, has proved indispensable to urban dwellers with hectic schedules – allowing for better security and energy savings. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the some of the basics to get you started.
Just about any device plugged into a power source can be hooked up to a timer. Commonly, these are used with appliances we need activated at specific times such as sprinklers, lights, and central air-conditioning.
You can get these at your average hardware store and they won’t burn a hole in your wallet. However, if you’re thinking of a centralized timer system for a multitude of appliances, that, is going to cost you. The main benefits of having timers are for power savings and to create the illusion that people are home.
Thanks to infrared technology, you have the option of replacing conventional switches with sensors. Why would someone do this you ask? Pretty simply, this allows you to activate devices from a distance, without a remote control.
Clapping your hands twice for the lights to come on may be a little cliché, but with the latest sensors you can just wave and the lights will come to life. These can look especially sci-fi on staircases and pathways, where the entire stretch lights up upon the first step.
Detectors, Alarms and Cameras
You can equip pretty much every door and window in your house with a magnetic sensor which connects to a central alarm system. But why stop there? You can have lasers placed in strategic parts of your home which will sound the alarm as well, coupled with surveillance cameras (which are far more discreet than they used to be).
Also, to further enhance peace of mind while you are away, smoke, fire, and gas/water leakage detectors can be installed. Besides sounding the alarm, the latest systems will send a message and live camera feed to your phone, and even contact the police/fire department in case of an emergency. Furthermore you can even install automatic food dispensers with cameras and sensors for your pets.
Besides the common automatic gate, more and more homes are getting equipped with automated blinds, curtains, windows and awnings – and this helps you better manage heat, along with the flow of light throughout the home. They come in handy in a multitude of situations, for example in areas with plants, clothes hanging, and on windy days. At just the click of a button, or a few taps on your mobile phone you can activate them and carry on with your business while the automation does its thing.
Other useful devices in this category include Smart Locks, which require you to enter a code on your mobile phone to unlock them. These only recognize selected numbers (such as your family members/housemates) as authorized users. Basically, these allow you to check your surroundings before unlocking the doors, and save you the trouble of fumbling around for your keys.
The Nerve Centre
Depending on how extensive the automation works you’ve envisioned in your home are, you may or may not require a centralized system to manage all functions from a single location. To help you do so, various types of software are currently available, allowing you to manage devices in your home from any place with an internet connection such as your office, or even another country when you travel.
‘Control centre’ apps are available for mobile devices as well, making even easier to manage your home’s automated systems on the go. While having the control panel installed in a convenient location in your home is still an option, many homeowners are now opting for mobile alternatives which save you the hassle of more hacking and drilling.
DIY or Professional Help?
While many automated devices are easy to install, with some such as automated locks running on batteries and requiring nothing more than a screwdriver to apply, it would be wise to consult professionals if you’re planning to give your home an ‘automation makeover’. While it may be simple enough to synchronise one or two apps on your phone, you may need help when synchronizing numerous devices to a single program or application – so as to ensure hassle free operation. On the other hand, for those on a budget, all-in-one solutions are available to help you manage just about any appliance plugged in – by way of being connected to the main power supply. This option makes sense if you’ve already got all the appliances you need and don’t want to waste extra time re-fitting your entire home.
That said, you may now embark on your mission to transform you home into the house of the future.