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How Expensive is Home Automation?

Some home automation systems can be do-it-yourself projects with a variety of components available from big home improvement centers and similar stores. Costs for this approach are dictated by what you put in your shopping cart and present to the cashier. Components start under $10, depending on what they are, and climb to a couple of hundred dollars or more each. Usually, the home-grown system consists of a simple group of controls that toggle power on/off to specific electric appliances at preordained times, or monitor if a window or door has been opened when it shouldn't have been. Readily available, inexpensive components might help you get the most out of your home theater and music system. They might, with a speaker siren add-on, warn you of an intruder or fire within your home. With a contractual engagement of a home security agency, a do-it-yourself system can also summon help in the event of fire and intrusion.

These starter-quality systems begin around $500 and go up depending on the pieces you purchase. Following that route is not for the average, weekend Mr-Fix-it however. Since the cost decline of home automation systems is associated with some devices using existing home wiring, if your house wiring is not up to code, one must factor in the cost of a electrician, in the neighborhood of $100 per hour, and whatever materials are needed to upgrade your home's wiring.

Help with installation, set up, programming, connectivity and troubleshooting of a do-it-yourself home automation system is most likely limited to a printed brochure that comes in the box, and maybe an 800 number for customer service and training.

Realistically, the kind of home automation system that you envision for making your life easier may be one of the professional products. The type of system that will do the variety of things you want, and do them with a simple interface between you and your system, as well as be controllable from a remote location via Internet and cell phone technology, comes with a higher price tag. It also requires professional installation. However, higher-end systems often come with varying degrees of training and professional help when you need it, which may or may not be part of purchase price/installation agreement.

One must also factor in internet or cloud-based service setup, and the electric usage of the system. The more complex the system you desire, the higher the initial cost for the control system, various components and the long term cost of maintenance.

Some necessary components are priced under $20, others are more than $1,000. The same price range can be said for individual components you want for your system to serve your needs. Professional installation has its cost, a ballpark estimate being about $5 per square foot. One should shop around for the best price and keep in mind installation costs are just that, not the total cost of a home automation system.

To purchase and install a professionally installed, good quality, home automation system, it would probably be wise to budget at least $5,000 and up.

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