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What's New in Home Automation?

Friday, December 3rd

What's New in Home Automation?

Quite possibly, if you can think of something you'd like your home to do, somebody else already has, and has developed a component to tie into your home automation system.

Have the urge to use your Smartphone to remotely give the command, "Let there be light" in your kitchen? You can purchase light switches that have remotely controlled dimmers, as well as control up to eight other groups of things at the same time, such as starting the pre-readied coffeepot, or detect motion and react accordingly.

But, say, you've got just the perfect switch plate already mounted on your wall; one that coordinates with your wallpaper and you can't bear to replace it with something utilitarian. No need to fret. You can buy a component that does almost all the other functions the vanilla one does, but is connected to the wiring behind your decorative switch plate.

Hubs are available that extend the range of motion sensors inside your home and which can text you when someone is moving around in a part of the house where they ought not to be.

Find your bedroom door open when you know you closed it this morning? As we know, not all doorknobs need opposable thumbs to open, and dogs have been known to lie about not getting on your bed when you aren't home. Between motion sensors and indoor cameras, some of which resemble the 'son' of R2D2, you can easily determine whether it was your dog or something more sinister. Obviously, there is no component for a home automation system that will teach Fido to fetch your slippers quite yet, but believe it or not, there is one that can automatically feed the cat.

Should you have motorized blinds on the inside of your windows or rolling shutters on the outside, there are components that can lower and raise them by timer or by remote control command from your iPad.

There are components available that will monitor the moisture in your houseplants and water them with a drip system while you winter in Florida. When it's hot as blazes in your neighborhood and you are spending two weeks in at the beach, there are components that will test the dryness of the soil in the yard and water the vegetables using a soaker hose. Components are available that will play selected music at selected hours to your growing garden. These same components can turn the television on and off so the dog doesn't get lonely while you are gone for 10 hours out of the day.

When it comes to a home theater system connected to your home automation system, there are many possibilities. Selected scenes can trigger lights to dim and the air conditioner to crank up. Components can also turn down the volume or flash the lights if someone is ringing the doorbell, or if a catastrophe is underway, such as a kitchen fire. You can even have the home automations system alert you to which channels the kids are watching in their rooms and how long the TV has been on in. And of course, you can then turn it off as needed.

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Home Automation Company FAQ

Sometimes referred to as a "smart home" , home automation lets you operate your lighting, appliances, security equipment and more - usually through an app on your mobile phone or through an online dashboard. Want your home to be playing your favorite relaxation music and have the thermostat set to "just right" every day after work? Home automation can do that - and much, much more.
It's true that most systems start with security as the foundation. From security cameras to smoke detectors, "smart homes" can give you peace of mind knowing that it's all under control and professionally monitored, if you choose a company that offers that. But, as technology advances, more features are being added "for fun" , like controlling all of your audio and video or letting your kids turn off lights at bedtime with a simple verbal command.
You could pay as little as $20/month or as much as $10,000+ to set up a smart home with all of the bells and whistles. Obviously the more features you want, the more you'll have to pay for the equipment. Monthly monitoring fees (for systems that include security features) are rarely more than $60/month.
Yes. Check with the provider of your homeowner's insurance policy to see if you can get a discount for the home automation system you're installing. A "smart home" can also save you money in the cost of utilities through managing your use of electricity and water.
Most of the time, yes. That's the appeal of "smart home" equipment: being able to monitor and control it from your phone, tablet or computer.
Sometimes. This is more common if you have security features that are professionally monitored. Read the terms and conditions carefully to determine if you're obligated to keep the service for a set period of time, and what the penalties are for early cancellation.
Possibly. If you've got features that are hard-wired into your home, maybe not. However, most of today's home automation systems use equipment that is easy to install and take down on your own, letting you use it wherever you live. Just be sure to change your home address in your provider's system, to allow emergency services to be dispatched to the correct location (if you're using a service that includes security monitoring).
It might! Home automation is in high demand, so having a system already set up may make your property more appealing to prospective buyers. Consult your real estate agent, though: they may not recommend that you install a home automation system solely for the purpose of increasing your home's value.

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