The tantalizing benefits of home automation have been heralded since at least the 1930s, when a succession of displays labeled, “Home of the Future” began popping up at World’s Fairs. Visitors saw homes that cleaned themselves, made the family dinner, and even let the family dog in and out of the house. Home automation today, however, is no longer an amusing sideshow.
Home automation today can take advantage of wireless technology to connect many systems and appliances through radio waves from a central controller to each radio-tagged device. This is an improvement over the need to hard-wire every automated component, and allows for add-ons.
- HVAC—this is the most important energy-saving system to automate through zone controls and programmable thermostats. Wifi thermostats can be remotely set or altered, so even while on vacation a continent away, you can control your home’s interior temperature, humidity and airflow.
- Home Entertainment—a central panel conveniently placed in living room or bedroom can provide one-touch control of stereo, television, cable feeds, internet and radio through ceiling-mounted speakers, surround-sound theatre systems, and flat-screen televisions.
- Lighting—Energy-efficient lighting is ideally suited to automation. This can be as simple as programmable timers or as elaborate as a central processing unit (CPU) turning inside lights on and off to a schedule or by sensors that detect when a room becomes occupied.
- Communication—From intra-home intercoms to internet connectivity, your home can be automated to make communication with your teenagers or corporate offices far easier and more efficient.
- Shades and blinds—Whether for privacy or to lower heating and cooling costs, the shades and blinds of your home can be automated to control glare, temperature and brightness levels.
- Security—Your entire home can be secured with window and door alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms, and medical monitors.
Remote control for industrial garage doors usually implies gadgets inside each family auto, but you can do much more today. Applications for smart phones include features to alert you when your garage door is opened or closed, if it is left open, and to allow you to open it remotely (as when a repair person or home service needs to get in while you are at work).
Additional automated technology features for the garage can include:
- Control separate heating or cooling systems in your garage
- Monitor a freezer or refrigerator located within your garage
- Alert you to carbon monoxide levels in the garage
- Holiday lighting—famously splayed across viral videos, holiday lighting extravaganzas with computer-controlled animated figures and accompanying soundtracks demonstrate how readily home automation can make the holidays more fun.
- Gardens and greenhouses—temperature controls, pest monitoring, and judicious watering can all be controlled from one interior location.
- Yard Watering—sprinkler systems can be intelligently controlled to stay off during rain or operate during early morning and later afternoon hours
- Outdoor overhead lighting and motion sensors—automating your outdoor lighting increases your home security by deterring unwanted burglars.
- Pools, Hot Tubs and Spas—Enjoy all the fun and few of the hassles of your pool or hot tub by turning temperature control, filtering and cleaning, waterfall features and jet pumps over to a computer.