These days, home automation can be almost anything you want it to be. For the right budget, your home can become an extension of you. The basic function of home automation is to consolidate the points of control for multiple devices to one platform which is accessible from any number of user friendly locations.

Typical applications would include keypads/iPads conveniently positioned throughout the home and full smartphone compatibility. With preset scene lighting, integral curtain/shade control, whole house audio/visual and smart climate control, you can chose your desired environment at the touch of a button from your smartphone or wall mounted iPad mini. Other options include access control, intercom, security, surveillance and remote control of all household functions from virtually anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

Let’s begin by looking at two of today’s most common applications, lighting and home audio. Here’s a basic breakdown of the types of features you can expect to find:

Lighting-
Depending on whether your project involves new construction (or at least opening up walls and ceilings) or is a retrofit in a finished space, your lighting controllability options will vary in cost and in terms of what’s possible. When doing new construction or any time you have the capability of rewiring all of your light circuits, the preferred method would be to install all the light switches/dimmers for the home in one centralized location (like a tech closet, etc.) and control them with programmable keypads throughout the home. The advantage of this application is that you can designate the multiple buttons (usually 5) on each keypad to activate individual pre-programmed light settings. Some common settings include: scene lighting (using different light zones to create a desired atmosphere), entry, all on, all off, away, low, etc. There are also retrofit options for situations where centralized light switching is not in the scope of work. Various light switches can be removed and replaced with programmable keypads that communicate with one another via RF (radio frequency), creating a very similar functionality throughout the home.

Home Audio-
When it comes to home audio systems, retrofit and wireless speakers and component are readily available for those looking at minimal impact to finished living spaces. With wireless speakers throughout the house you can achieve a fairly balanced sounding system. Functionality and sound quality will depend on how strong your Wi-Fi is and how spread out the system is. Although wireless speakers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, you will compromise on a certain degree of overall sound quality. If the highest sound quality is what you’re looking for, nothing compares to wired speakers properly installed and specifically chosen for the space. With multiple apps to choose from when setting up your home audio, you should talk to your General Contractor and/or Home Automation/Audio professional about your specific intended usage of the system.

Check back in a couple of weeks when we dive into climate control, remote entry control and surveillance.