When I started to use home automation a couple years ago, I was doing it because it was cool and techie. I quickly learned that it was much more. I now have peace of mind and convenience rolled into one while being self-reliant.
In general, home automation is a very broad term that covers a bunch of possibilities. Home automation covers smoke detectors, motion sensors, temperature sensors, open/close sensors, light switches, light bulbs, door locks, door openers, water detectors and much more.
It is incredibly overwhelming to get started because there are so many options. I hope to help you feel more comfortable getting started so you can become self-reliant.
Many of the home automation items on the market use wireless technology to talk to each other. Most commonly these items use ZigBee or Z-Wave technology. Many home automation systems start with a hub. The hub will communicate with all of the items. As the human, you communicate with the hub and give it commands. The hub then sends the commands to the items which will obey your commands. How exciting!
Start by choosing a hub. Some hubs are brand specific and only work with their brand of items. Think of Apple/Macintosh. They are reliable but can limit your options. Others are more open because they work with their own brand of items as well as other items. Two well-known open hub brands are Wink and SmartThings. Once a hub is chosen, you can buy items to perform tasks. When purchasing items make sure it works with your hub. A hub typically costs less than $100.
The hub is plugged into your home internet network. This allows you to communicate with the hub via computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone.
For the purposes of self-reliance we’ll start by getting smoke detectors, motion sensors, water sensors and open/close sensors.
Some motion and open/close sensors also have temperature monitoring included. Each of these devices costs around $20-$40.
I would suggest looking to the National Fire Protection Agency (http://bit.ly/2FC278l) for smoke detector placement. Then place an open/close sensor on each exterior door. They can be attached with two-sided tape or screws. Open/close sensors can also be attached to windows that open.
This could be great if you have a teen who likes to sneak out his window at night. Motion sensors work great in larger rooms, such as a living room or a rec room, and can be installed with two-sided tape or screws. Place water sensors on the floor in places where you could experience a devastating water leak or flood.
There are tons of additional home automation items you can purchase but this a great starting point to get comfortable. With your hub’s smartphone application you can now set up the hub to monitor your home for fires, intrusion, water leaks and extreme temperatures. When an event occurs the system will notify you.
Instead of paying a company to monitor your systems you can do it yourself.
I have included door locks, lights, light switches, and a garage door opener attachment. When I go to bed at night I click one button. My system will close my garage door if I left it open, it will lock my doors if unlocked, it will turn off all the lights in my house and it will arm the security system. The open/close sensors will also advise me if I left a door or window open so I can go shut it. In the morning, I click one button.
It will disarm my security system and turn on the lights in my bedroom, hallway, and bathroom so I can get the day started.
Your home automation system will provide you the ability to take charge of the safety of your home and your possessions whether you’re at home or on the go.
Scotty Anderson is a computer programmer who enjoys serving the community through various community-oriented service jobs.