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Not Sure What Home Automation Is? Here's a Quick Explanation

5 Mar 2019
Derek Crippin

Close your eyes and picture arriving home after a long day at the office. Just as you step inside, your alarm system disables to let you in, and the lights in the room turn on. The smell of freshly brewed coffee greets your nose as the warm interior from the heater tickles your cold ears.

You can hear the highlights from the football game from the TV in the lounge as your fridge suggests spaghetti bolognese for dinner based on the ingredients within. Nobody is at home, and these appliances were turned off when you left in the morning. So how did this work?

Home automation.

Home automation is using information and technology to remotely configure and connect devices, like home appliances and electrical systems, to perform intuitive and useful tasks. The automating of such tasks—like lighting, heating, and ventilation—can save time and money and allows you to personalize your home to your preferences.

Furthermore, each setting can be controlled and reviewed remotely from an app on your smartphone, whether you are at home or anywhere in the world.

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Almost any appliance or electronic device in your home can be programmed. The item can be set to respond to a certain time-based event, like turning the lights off in a room after a period of no motion, or a non-scheduled event, such as sending a notification to your phone when high levels of air pollution are detected.

Home automation also extends to home security, such as access control and alarm systems. With home automation technology, you can stay connected and informed when things happen. The app or control panel will notify you of any leaks, faults, or unforeseen events when you are away.

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This technology is more affordable and accessible today than ever before. This means a residential house can quickly become a smart house.

A home is considered “smart” when it has implemented a remotely controlled network to perform functions that would otherwise need to be completed manually (like flicking a switch or adjusting a setting or control dial). Researchers forecast the global smart home market will reach a value of more than $53 billion by 2022.

How Does Smart Home Automation Work?

Smart home automation works through linking a collection of remote devices (typically lighting, heat, ventilation and air conditioning, electronic appliances, and entrance points) to perform activities around the house without the need of human interaction.

Each electronic appliance or system in your home is linked together and can be controlled and monitored via an app on a smartphone. This is called wireless home automation using the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT describes a system that uses computers or mobile devices to automatically control selected home functions and features through the internet from anywhere.

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In order for the system to work accurately, it does require internet connectivity, usually in the form of Wi-Fi or internet connection. There are alternatives to internet connectivity for smart home automation, though: Both wireless and wired systems can be set up.

Smart home technology and the connected devices don’t just connect to your phone, though—now, they are compatible with virtual assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home. The voice-controlled smart software can be used to set up and monitor a household and all connected appliances.

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For example, you can manage your home’s temperature or locks by speaking your request aloud to an Amazon Echo, which will then connect to the device and perform the task for you.

Home automation is not without its flaws and does require a level of technical know-how and management. There are several recognized brands that offer integrated home automation software, but such a fully-integrated system often come at a price.

In order to be fully integrated, the devices and appliances must be compatible. Security risks and outdated software or hardware can pose a risk to the system, too. But with a little research, it’s easy to integrate your connected devices and create a home automation that works for you.

What Are the Benefits of Home Automation?

Home automation varies widely in scope and capabilities. For example, thermostats and sprinkler systems have long had the ability to be programmed to run on a defined schedule.

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However, home automation now allows these devices to be scheduled remotely and integrates data, like weather patterns and temperature, to run the devices more efficiently.

An integrated home automation system, rather than being restricted to a single function or device, encompasses the entire household, thus exceeding the scope of a traditional system.

According to a study, 46 percent of buyers want their current or next home to have smart home technology. That’s because a smart home is designed to save money and human energy.

The system can track and monitor the usage of different applications and devices. Idle devices can be powered off, while other applications that are not being accessed often can be powered down to a more energy-efficient state.

monthly-energy-usage-report-croppedA sample energy savings report from a smart thermostat.

By setting a category for each device, like “Arriving Home” or “On Holiday,” you can simultaneously initiate a set of functions with a click of a button. When “Arriving Home” is selected, your alarm system will disarm, the lights of selected rooms will switch on, and the television and sound system will wake up.

A Coldwell Banker survey found that around 70 percent of consumers who owned home automation technology say buying their first connected product made them more likely to buy another.

It’s easy to see why. Imagine being able to unlock the door for a friend or turn on the coffee machine while you’re in bed, or being able to warm the bed and turn on the security system while waiting in line at the grocery store. These luxuries are what makes home automation so popular.

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Smart home automation goes beyond just making life easier or more convenient—it can provide an enormous amount of assistance in supporting the elderly, for example.

Eldercare is considered a full-time responsibility and often requires an individual to monitor the older person and their actions. With home automation, mundane and routine tasks, like bathing, cooking, and sleeping, can be tracked and safety-proofed.

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As an example, faucets can be set to turn off automatically after a short duration, preventing them from being left on or causing a flood. A family member or medical official can be sent a notification if a person’s weight, breathing, or sleeping pattern changes.

 

Taking Smart Home Automation to the Next Level With Home Security

Safety and security in your home are non-negotiable. Home security has evolved with improvements in technology, and you can now integrate things like security cameras, doorbell cameras with microphones, smoke detectors, motion detectors, and alarm systems into your smart home automation.

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Most of these devices are coded to perform repetitive tasks and react to preconfigured events. With home automation, they can become even more effective and intuitive and provide faster, more meaningful remote reactions and notifications.

Smart home security integrations can perform tasks like activating all lights in a house when motion is detected or automatically locking doors when it gets dark. Events like this would not be possible without using the software and resources available in home automation.

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Being able to create “mockupancy” scenarios when an intruder is detected or stream real-time video footage to your smartphone allows you to have greater control over your security and helps you feel safer whether you’re at home or away.

Even if you’re not smitten by the idea of turning your lights off simply by asking Alexa on the Amazon Echo, it is worth utilizing home automation and smart devices for home security.

If you have a smartphone and access to the internet, then wherever you are, you can monitor and address safety concerns happening at your home remotely and in real time.

The Ultimate Home Security Guide

A comprehensive list of steps you can take to protect your home and your loved ones.

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