The concept of home automation is popularly known as “The Internet of Things”. We recommend this Forbes article for a general overview, but the gist of it is that modern devices can now be connected through the Internet. In many popular setups, a smart phone controls different devices and their functions via apps.
Home automation promises convenience. This guide can get you started on home automation with a list of products like Kuna, the smart light, to choose from as you begin your home automation project.
Automating your home functions doesn’t have to be highly technical. Most of your kitchen and home appliances probably have automation functions built in. It’s only a matter of taking the time to set everything up.
The easiest way to start home automation is to buy appliances with timers, such as:
If you want something more sophisticated that not only does things automatically, but can also be controlled remotely, you’re going to need to get tech-savvy. Here are five reasons to put in some extra work:
The Belkin WeMo is a $50 power outlet that can control the on and off switch for everything plugged into it, in flexible ways. Using a dedicated app that you can download from iOS and Android, you can create schedules, set timers and basically turn everything plugged into the WeMo off and on from anywhere in the house.
Imagine arriving from work and your living room lights and the news automatically turn on. You can even get your roast started and make ice for your beer. This can all be done easily with a few presets on your appliances. This is what products like Zigbee, Insteon, Z-wave and the X-10all do. Zigbee is a programming language that most smart devices use to communicate. Your devices may already be using this protocol. Insteon is a wireless hub that lets you use your smartphone to control your lights and certain other smart appliances. Z-wave is a complete wireless system that can be used to automate smart devices at home.
The X-10 is just like the Z-wave, but it uses a wired system. But this doesn’t mean you need to install new wiring—the X-10 uses existing connections in your home to work. To make all of this work, you need to have Smart devices and appliances. Appliances like this should be able to log on to your home network and start talking and communicating with your central device.
The clever device called the Emergency Party Button works with an X-10 central device and can literally turn your home into a music video—with a little setting up. You create a protocol for your X-10 that connects to your home entertainment system, your smart strobe lights, and other party things. Then, you connect your Party Button to the X-10, as one way to activate all your party settings.
For super tech-savvy home automation enthusiasts, building a system from the ground up can be difficult but very rewarding! You’ll need three things to set up a home automation system from scratch:
Many tech-savvy users prefer the Raspberry Pi, a very small and inexpensive processing unit that can be programmed to accept commands from a mobile app. An old desktop computer can work as well, if it’s capable of sending WiFi or Bluetooth signals that can help the other devices communicated. You can even use your own home computer or laptop as the central unit of your scratch-build home automation system. But most tech-savvy smart home enthusiasts prefer a dedicated device.
Get Kuna! Kuna is a smart home security system built into a weatherproof outdoor lighting fixture. Kuna lets you program on and off lighting cycles with a mobile app. The camera detects movement at your door and sends an alert to your smartphone, allowing you to see and interact with visitors no matter where you are.
In the end, automating your home should be based on how simple, complex or comprehensive you want your system to be. If you want to set something up for your parents and relatives, match the complexity of the system to their technical capabilities.
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