How to Automate Your Home

Get the information you'll need on how to automate your home, and get ready to create an economical and efficient network of connected home systems.
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Matt & Nicole Murry

Photo by: Wes Calvin, Platinum Productions

Wes Calvin, Platinum Productions

By: Sean McEvoy

If you're shopping for a home automation system, you're likely to explore many options as you contemplate how to automate your home. There are systems that will allow you to automate your entire home, connecting all of its systems to one central automation hub, but there are also options for automating your home which are far less complex and costly.

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The most fundamental function of any home automation system is to integrate electrical devices with each other. In the past, the systems controlled through home automation were often hard-wired to a home's electrical system. Modern systems are often connected to the home's computer network, letting homeowners control them remotely from any computer or mobile devices.

Setting up a whole-house home automation system can be a technical challenge for anyone without expertise in computer hardware and software and electrical engineering. However, for smaller-scale systems or ones that control only one or two aspects of home automation, homeowners may be able to install their own home automation networks—at a significantly reduced cost.

The primary systems controlled by home automation are security, lighting, HVAC and outdoor sprinkler systems. In addition, there are many other uses for home automation, including the use of robots for interior cleaning, pool maintenance and exterior landscaping. When it comes to do-it-yourself home automation, home entertainment and home lighting are two systems that can be fairly easily configured without a professional skillset.

Many systems that control lighting or home entertainment operate on a simple timer, so that some or all of the home's lighting fixtures and electronics can turn on or off at pre-set times. The greatest benefit of lighting and entertainment automation is energy and cost savings, but automating these systems may also be viewed as a security benefit, since a well-lit house with entertainment appliances on may be less of a target for criminals.

Automated lighting and entertainment systems require a connection to the home's electrical grid; they may be controlled remotely or via in-home controls. Self-installs for lighting and entertainment can be fairly straightforward, requiring only a power source and a connection between lighting or entertainment fixtures and an automation hub device. Using this minimalist approach can be a great option for smaller homes or single rooms within homes, allowing homeowners to control lighting and entertainment via in-home controls, or, if the automated system is connected to the home's wireless network, from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

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