Home Automation - Frequently Asked Questions
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Beginners Guide to Home Automation
Today’s home automation systems make it easy for you to use your smartphone or tablet to control the lights in your home. You can switch on your lights and set them to an appropriate brightness, all while you’re away or lounging on your couch.
2Locks and security systems
A home automation system will allow you to check—and change, if necessary—the status of your locks and security system remotely. Also, many systems allow remote monitoring of your home security cameras.
With home automation, you can easily change the oven temperature, for example, while you’re relaxing in the back yard or watching a movie in the den thanks to wireless technology, smart outlets, and a smartphone app.
Some home automation systems also integrate entertainment. Set your TV’s recording schedule, manage your stored programs, and decide where to watch them, all from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
5Temperature and indoor climate
Use your home automation app to raise the temperature in the house a few degrees so you can stay comfy. Not only will you feel more comfortable, but you’ll also enjoy the pleasure of a lower energy bill.
6Carbon Monoxide Detection
Your home automation system can detect increased levels of carbon monoxide in the air and set off an alarm if you’re in danger. It’s a far more reliable method than the old, standalone detectors from the hardware store.
Home Automation Can Help Limit Resource Use
Home automation can help you save energy by ensuring your home uses resources like water and electricity more effectively, reducing waste throughout the home. You may know that home automation can help increase your home’s convenience and security. But did you know it can also save you money? With home automation, you can make a small difference for the environment—and you see smaller utility bills as a result.
Climate Control: Smart thermostats like the Nest Learning Thermostat and ecobee3 keep your heating and cooling costs at bearable levels. The devices monitor energy usage within the home, as well as outside temperatures, helping to heat or cool your home as efficiently as possible.
Lighting: Lighting controls can be set on timers, preventing lights from staying on all day or night. Many smart lightbulbs work with motion sensors, too. These bulbs respond to people entering and leaving a room, which saves energy and money.
Energy management devices include smart power strips and switches. These gadgets can power off lights and appliances, thereby saving energy and reducing costs.
Water Allocation: Smart sprinkler systems can plan the most effective watering schedule for your yard, reducing water waste that usually occurs due to poor sprinkler positioning or evaporation.
Are Smart Home Devices Worth the Investment?
1Pros of Smart Home Technology
For those who enjoy the convenience of home automation, smart home devices fit the bill. Smart home technology can control everyday tasks such as starting the coffeemaker just before the user’s alarm goes off so that the coffee will be hot and ready by the time the user walks into the kitchen. Other devices control various features of automated home security, such as the ability to remotely monitor motion sensing cameras or activate the security system automatically at the time you normally go to bed. Some smart home technologies, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat, are not only convenient, but they save you money as well. For example, this smart thermostat learns the behaviors of its users, such as when they go to work and come home, so the thermostat adjust the temperature of the home to an energy-efficient temperature until just before the user arrives. This saves money on the monthly electricity bill as well as maintains the proper temperature for its users so they don’t have to.
2The Technology’s Drawbacks
Smart home technology in its current form has drawbacks as well. Some argue that the programming is too complex and time-consuming and that it’s easier to perform the task in the traditional way, such as controlling lights with a light switch rather than a smartphone. “It’s this task-driven approach to selling the idea of the smart home—offering a device or kit that solves a specific problem, rather than an all-in-one solution—that seems most likely to overcome the reluctance of most of us to add complexity to our personal sanctuaries,” Mims said. Others maintain that the technology is still too expensive for being in its early stages of development, and the “wow” factor for the industry has not yet hit the market. For them, spending considerable money on a product that starts your coffee machine before you walk into the kitchen is not worth the investment. Another argument states that many of these devices do not yet communicate with each other or even on the same network. Smart home tech companies use different proprietary systems of communication, and users must have an app for each individual device rather than one app that controls them all. Smart home technology hubs, such as Revolv, and communication languages, such as Zigbee, create a universal smart home automation communication platform, but this still does not apply to all smart home gadgets. Analysts argue that smart home technology is not worth pursuing until companies produce more and better smart devices.
3Which Smart Home Technologies Are Worth It?
At this point, certain smart home devices work better than others. Nest’s smart thermostat determines schedules on its own, so this is a simple and useful smart home device that also saves the user money. Technologies that control lights can be useful if you don’t want to climb out of bed or off the couch to turn on or off the lights, as long as you don’t mind having to access the app every time you need it. Other devices, while convenient, are not as practical. An automatic garage door opener you use to remotely open and close your garage door could be a home security hazard, as an intruder could be waiting outside of your garage door, but you may be too far away to know. Similarly, an intruder could have easy access to your front door, so having an automatic lock device that opens while you aren’t in front of it may not be as safe either. Debates surfaced in the past few years as to whether smart home technology is necessary, useful, or practical, but companies continue researching and producing smart home technologies. As these devices evolve and learn to communicate with each other, opinions may change in the future.