It’s a widely used phrase that you hear often used with other terms such as “Internet of Things”, “Connected Home”, “Connected Things” and it’s now made it’s presence felt retailers such as Home Depot or online at Amazon.com. Home Automation is about utilizing technology to perform tasks that you normally would have manually completed. These gadgets and services consist of iOT’s, also known as “The Internet of Things”.
Is Home Automation for everyone? It really depends on your requirements and your budget. The first thing you should determine before diving into this complex world is “What are you trying to accomplish?”. For me, my first gadget was back in 2012 , a smart thermostat and my requirement was to be able to automatically adjust the temperature as I absolutely hated manually programming schedules. I find that a lot of people who dive into the home automation world often start with a smart thermostat as not only can it make your home more comfortable to live in, some of them look really snazzy on the wall, so it’s something they also get to see immediate value in as it meets the “cool factor” when guests arrive. My requirement now is to basically automate ANYTHING I do manually.
In addition to smart thermostats, over the past few years, I have automated my entire home, from light to, locks, garage doors, blinds, doorbells, cameras, irrigation system, TV And home theatre, alarm and finally my water heater and almost all can be controlled from my smartphone, and some even from my voice controlled technology platform that sits in my living room or from my smartwatch. So why have I invested a lot of money into this technology? First and foremost, I enjoy it. It’s a hobby. Some people like to golf, (which I do once in a while) and some people like to ride bikes, well this is my enjoyment. Second, it makes my life easier and knowing I can do just about everything to control my house, while I am not in my house is a piece of mind and comfort that I like having. As far as making it easier, here are some examples how home automation has simplified my life:
· Blinds automatically open and close based on sunset/sunrise and of course when my toddlers are napping, so the dog doesn’t bark!
· Receive alerts when the wash and dryer are done
· Receive alerts when water, smoke, CO is detected in my home
· When I go to sleep at night, I shut off my TV in the bedroom and my house goes into sleep mode (doors locked, lights shut off, thermostats adjusted
· Thermostats automatically adjust when I leave and arrive home
· Lights automatically come on and off when I enter rooms/close doors, etc.
· Notified when my doorbell is rung, and have the ability to talk and see them remotely
· My irrigation system automatically schedules and adjusts my lawn’s watering needs
So where do you begin? Go back to your requirements and then research which products can help assist you with meeting those requirements. Be very open minded, and accept the fact that one piece of hardware will not be able to do everything as your requirements grow. Some products are point solutions, others try to centralize your home automation such as Wink and SmartThings. The key is selecting products that play nicely and integrate with each other making the possibilities endless on what you can accomplish. Also, realize, this market is still very young and evolving, so there will be growing pains as these products and companies work to further stabilize their platforms and products. For this reason, I highly recommend with any part of your home that you automate, that your old manual way, STILL works. This is not only important from a reliability perspective, but also will help gain your families’ approval. Some people don’t want to rely on technology and still like to turn on the light the old fashioned way.
Another key piece of advice I can give is to start off slow. You know the expression, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? This is no different. Limit the amount of products you buy at first and slowly build upon them. Costs can add up pretty quickly, so it is important to pace yourself from a budget perspective as well. In addition, before you start building all sorts of logic and intelligence to occur automatically, start off my manually controlling these products from your smartphone/tablet, etc. first.
Finally, discuss the proposed changes you would like to make with your house mates. This will set expectations, understand their requirements and make your quest easier to accomplish.
By Marc Helfman
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