The Basics of Home Automation

home automation basics


Home automation is becoming a growing trend as evidenced by the many associated devices coming out in today’s market. With everything from individual components to entire automation systems being made available, people who want greater convenience and safety in managing their households will not run out of options anytime soon.

And there is even better news for homeowners as the newest generation of home automation systems and components are much more affordable and user-friendly than their predecessors. That being said, you can install a home automation system as a DIY project just like how you would go about any other home improvement activity.


Why DIY?

The obvious reason for turning home automation installation into a DIY project is cost—or to be specific, the reduction thereof. You do not need a comprehensive home automation installation if a few of the basic components will be enough. With the reduced need for hardware, the need for labor is reduced as well, thus further lowering costs. If you go the DIY route instead of bringing in the services of a dedicated home automation installation company, you will reduce labor costs even further, not to mention give yourself greater room for customization. Furthermore, basic DIY home automation installation requires no professional training or technical knowhow, particularly if you are to focus only these two home system types: home entertainment and home lighting.


The Benefits of Automating Your Home

Now you may be thinking these two systems constitute only a small part of your home and that installing the necessary components will not make your home fully-automated. However, even though automating only your lighting and home entertainment systems will not make your entire home look like something out of Dexter’s Laboratory (or Star Trek, if you’re old enough to remember that), it will guarantee you the following:


  1. Lower utility bills – When you can easily turn off your lights and appliances from wherever you are via remote access, you can properly ensure your home will not be consuming as much electricity. During those times that you have to leave the house in a hurry, like when you are in a rush to get to work, leaving such fixtures turned on becomes inevitable. Fortunately, you can still enjoy great peace of mind as any lights and entertainment appliances that have been left on can be easily switched off without you having to return home. This translates into a much lower electric bill (as well as a reduced carbon footprint).
  1. Greater security – On the other hand, it may be necessary for you to leave some of your lights and appliances on while you and your family are out at night. This gives your neighbors and passers by the impression that you are at home. Any opportunist thieves will think twice and move on to easier targets.


Automating your home entertainment appliances and your lights is also much cheaper and easier than doing the same thing for your home security system, HVAC system, or sprinkler system. For one thing, incorporating automation into these other home systems requires additional skills and knowledge in the areas of audio/video installations, ventilation, temperature control, and plumbing, not to mention a different set of tools. On the other hand, basic home improvement skills and tools will suffice if you are to limit yourself to just the two systems indicated above.


DIY Home Automation Options

There really is nothing complex or fancy to DIY automation of your entertainment and lighting systems, especially if you have a small home like an apartment unit in the city, or if you have a larger home but you are thinking of limiting the automation to fixtures in just one room. Here are the two main options available to you:


  1. One option is to use an automation hub device (that is connected to your home’s electrical grid) and connect it to your existing lighting fixtures and entertainment appliances. Even the simplest “smart hubs” available today have network connectivity, allowing you full control of your lighting and appliances via your smartphone or any other mobile device even when you are not physically present.


Moreover, instead of relying on commercially available automation hub software, you can download free open source software that is compatible with different devices. Through this option, you are given the freedom to choose the components you really need and not worry about connection issues due to brand compatibility.


Note that installing a smart hub may also necessitate some work on your part to incorporate the necessary sensors, switches, peripherals, and other accessories to your existing lights and appliances. However, doing so is pretty straightforward and won’t require any advanced technical skills or sophisticated tools.


  1. Another option is to use “smart plugs.” These are small gadgets that act as go-betweens between your appliances and your power outlets. Simply plug these devices into your home outlets and then plug appliances into them. After you have downloaded the companion app on your smartphone or tablet, you can turn your appliances on or off remotely.


This option may be a bit costly at around $40 a pop, but with installation and setup being this easy, it’s an approach worth considering, especially if you have little to no DIY skills.


What is the Future of Home Automation

With the use of home automation systems on the rise we can expect manufacturers to make things more automated. That said, it’s not that difficult to get up and running with a few devices and add to it as you go along. If you want to know more about the different components and protocols involved in starting your own DIY home automation project we have developed this guide to improve your learning curve.



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