Angie's LIST Guide to
Home automation

Home automation systems are the next generation of high-end consumer electronics. They allow users to program default settings for their home that match their own personal preferences and remotely manipulate certain appliances via smartphones and other remote technologies.
 

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home automation
Home automation systems can control multiple electronic devices and features in your home. This system controls the home's audio and visual system, lights, temperature and the fireplace. (Angie's List member Rob K.)
 
 

Options and services

There are a number of different home automation options available including remote operation and total automation. Recent technological advancements in home automation systems has brought the price down in recent years.

Remote appliance control

You don't necessarily have to rewire your entire home to indulge in a little automation. Many people link their appliances together with fairly simple wireless components. One popular example is the automated stove. With an automated stove, you can program it to start preheating at a certain time of day so it's ready for use when you get home from work. Another popular option is remote control lighting, which allows homeowners to control household lighting from anywhere and boost home security.

Total automation

This can refer to either the total automation of a room or the total automation of your whole house. Of course, total automation of an entire house can be extremely costly. This means that most people only automate a specific room or set of rooms. The extent to which you can automate a room will depend entirely on your budget.

For example, there are extremely advanced systems that utilize voice-recognition software. The analysis is then gauged against a preset list of stored voices so the system can tell who is in the room. The system then uses this information to adjust the room's heat and light settings to match the presets of user. There are also home automation systems that allow you to control these settings with dedicated voice commands. This gives you more control over the system and provides additional customization options.

Latest trends

Many people are turning to home automation for home security. Home automation systems offer a unique way to monitor your property while you're not home using Internet protocol cameras stationed throughout the home. These cameras can send and receive date over the Internet and be controlled remotely through a smartphone or your computer.

As the cost of energy continues to go up, people are also becoming more conscious of the amount of electricity they use. As a result, there has been a growing demand for components that remotely monitor energy usage of specific appliances. The technology can automatically shut off appliances when they aren’t in use to conserve energy.

Integrating home systems

There are several options for integrating your automation systems with your home. The two most common methods include wireless and hardwired integration.

Home automation systems can help you control all your electronics from a single device. In addition to electronics, things like temperature, lighting and security systems can also be included in a single control. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Abbe R.)
Home automation systems can help you control all your electronics from a single device. In addition to electronics, things like temperature, lighting and security systems can also be included in a single control. (Photo courtesy of Abbe Rosnov)

Wireless integration

Wireless integration of automated home systems uses a set of routers that are similar to the wireless router that you may use for home Internet. Instead of website information, these routers relay information from remotes to various appliances around your home. This is a convenient option for people who don't want a full automation of their home. It will require you to purchase new appliances that can couple with the routers and can be executed very easily with little to no technical assistance.

Hardwired integration

Homeowners generally spring for a hardwired integration of their automation system if they are interested in larger-scale automation. It can become very expensive to automate an entire house full of appliances with wireless technology. Hardwired integration allows users to connect all of the systems in their home in a more permanent way. This type of integration will generally require the assistance of a qualified home automation professional.

Get a home automation system

It’s fairly easy to automate a few of the appliances in your home, or to set up a mild security system of cameras. For systems like this, you really just need to get the equipment and follow the instructions for installation. However, more advanced systems will require the assistance of a home automation contractor.

Home automation contractors should have an Installer I or II certification from the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association or a CompTIA HTI+ certification from the Computing Technology Industry Association. They will be able to do all of the wiring for you and set up your entire automation system. It's important to hire a professional for the wiring of an automation system like this because they’re extraordinarily complex and improper installation could result in a fire.

As with any other service provider, be sure to get at least three estimates and check consumer reviews on Angie’s List before making a hiring decision.

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