I have always been a passionate guy all about smart homes and homes automation from an education perspective and also from a lifestyle perspective.
I am in a position now where I can suggest and recommend a number of platforms and devices that go with them to add a bit of smartness to your home.
Before diving into the details, let’s first look at what home automation is exactly.
What is Home automation?
I think we all know what a home is. It’s a place, a house or apartment where we live and automation is whatever device or process we use to replace human labour. As such, we can conclude that home automation is whatever we do to automatically control tasks within our houses or apartments. You can read a more detailed definition as well as the history of home automation in the following article.
What are the benefits of home automation?
The benefits of home automation go beyond the coolness of controlling your household devices. To begin with, being able to get things done easier and faster than ever before creates a sense of unparalleled convenience.
Think about it:
- You can remotely unlock your car from your phone to allow your love one (wife, son, daughter,) to get back her or his keys and everything else.
- You are on a road trip hours away from home and suddenly remember that the lights were left on in the house. You can pull out your cell phone and with few taps switch off the lights.
There are many more things you can do conveniently from your mobile phone while away from home:
- Raise or lower the windows shades
- Unlock or lock your front door
- Clean your aquarium
- Find out if someone enters your home unannounced
- Adjust your home’s thermostat
- Control your sprinkler system
- Turn on a washing or drying cycle
- Check how much electricity you are using
- Get some notification when there is a leak in your house
- And much much more…
I can also mention security as a benefit of home automation. Indeed, being able to monitor your home remotely thru security cameras is relatively easy with today’s technology and not as expensive as it’s used to be. You have the ability to use wi-fi cameras, smart door locks, and motion detectors to keep your home secure.
One of the most obvious benefits of why you would want to automate your home is the potential savings you could achieve.
In today’s world of internet of things, network-based automation technologies are much cheaper than whole home options. You can basically save anything between hundreds to thousands of dollars.
This savings will depend on the level of automation you want to achieve for your home.
Here are some of the obvious automation tasks that could save you some hard earn money:
- Lighting costs can be reduced by turning the lights on and off at desired schedules.
- Water leak detection can prevent high water bill.
- Controlling your home temperatures level can save some money too.
- I think you can also save fuel when you don’t have to drive back home simply because you forgot the lock the door, or some lights on etc…
- If you use robotic lawn mowers, you can save a lot on gas as they use electricity.
There is no doubt that if you use your home automation devices intelligently, you will save money.
What you need to get started
Let’s understand which items you will need to begin automating your home.
Wi-fi network with wireless router
First of all you will need a good internet access with a strong wi-fi network. Your network will likely use a wireless router allowing you to connect your devices without the need for complex cabling.
Ideally you want a high speed network that can handle multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and so forth.
I personally have a 25Mbps internet access and find it good enough for my current automation need. You could check the different offers from you ISP and go with the highest speed available – if possible and affordable to you.
One piece of advice though: when adding a new device to you network, first make sure that you run some basic testing such as surfing the web. After adding the device, do the same test and if things are more or less the same then you are good. If not, you may need to upgrade your bandwidth.
You may also run into insufficient coverage of the wi-fi network in your house e.g the signal strength is weak in some parts of the house. In such a case you would require some signal booster devices to communicate reliably throughout your place. Those devices are also called wireless range extenders.
You will also need the “brain” of the automation system: a hub in most cases that drives the automation. The hub comes with it’s built in application allowing your connected devices and gadgets to control your equipments.
Finally you need a smartphone/tablet from which you can control your devices away from home. You will need to load the vendor’s application to connect to your hub.