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The Benefits of Home Automation Systems

Updated on October 31, 2014

Home automation is a term that refers to the remote control of various features in a home. For most, the term home automation means being able to control several functions in their homes with the use of a mobile application. This can mean locking the house from the car, turning the lights on and off, activating surveillance cameras and even adjusting the temperature on heating and air systems while away from the home.

Today, many companies offer home automation solutions, both as a standalone product and as an addition to other services such as Internet service and cellular service to the mainstream public at affordable rates, encouraging more individuals to utilize the service.

The Advantages of an Automated Home

Home automation, something that was literally only for the super rich just a few years ago, has become more accessible to the mainstream public thanks to advances in technology. One of the greatest benefits offers by home automation systems is that the apps used to control the various features can be used on the widest array of platforms including smart phones and tablets using various operating systems as well as laptops, desktops and more.

How Does Home Automation Work?

The core of any home automation system includes the base hardware and the network. The network is designed to connect the various home functions and devices into the automation hub and provide for communication between the hub and the devices. The communication between the end user and the various functions and devices is transmitted via Internet connection and cellular networks. This makes having a wireless router in the home vital to the function of a home automation system.

When discussing a home automation system, there are three main terms to become familiar with: sensors, controllers and actuators. Sensors will be installed in the home and can sense changes in lighting, temperature, and motion. Controllers refer to devices used to send end user commands to the system and actuator refers to the mechanisms used to carry out the commands of the controllers.

After the initial installation of the home automation system, which will be conducted by the service provider, the end user will download an app to the controller device of preference: desktop, laptop, smart phone, or tablet computer. In some instances, end users will have the ability to define more than one type of controller device. However, for others, the controllers are more narrowly defined.

After the controller applications have been downloaded and installed, the end user will have access to a control dashboard. This dashboard will be the command center for the home automation system and will provide all of the functionality needed to perform all of the functions in the system.

For example, an end user leaves home to run some errands and realizes several blocks away that he or she has forgotten to lock the front doors. He or she then pulls over to a safe location and accesses the home automation dashboard and selects "door locks" from the main screen. On the secondary screen, the end user will choose "lock" from the list of available commands and the external doors of the home will lock. Before leaving, the end user decides to raise the temperature in the home while he or she is gone and then chooses to make sure that the clothes dryer is turned off by submitting that command as well. All of these functions are available from the mobile application on the end user's cell phone.

Not only does the end user help control energy usage and utility costs, he or she has taken steps to prevent a break in and a potential home fire.

What Features are Available Through Home Automation Systems?

Depending on the service provider used to supply the home automation system, the end user will have access to different features within a given system. However, many home automation systems offer many of the same features including the ability to monitor the home for carbon monoxide gas and fire, remote security system and lighting control, HVAC system control, access to surveillance cameras in real time, and appliance control.

Each home automation solution is different and will have different features and functionality within the dashboard. Generally speaking, the more functionality a home automation solution offers, the more expensive the service is. The main reason behind this is due to the amount of hardware that has to be installed to provide adequate control. However, those who purchase home automation as an add on service to an existing service plan can offset some of the additional cost through bundle pricing.

What are the Benefits of Home Automation?

Homeowners cite one of the biggest advantages of using home automation systems is that it makes it easier to lock doors and turn off appliances, which leads to fewer break ins and fires. In addition to remote control, users can also receive real time text messages and alerts that result in a faster response time to a potential emergency. In addition, controlling energy usage by controlling lighting and temperature can lower utility bills.

In addition to lowered utility bills, the energy conserved through the use of home automation solutions can also have a positive impact on the environment, making homes that utilize them more environmentally-friendly. And, many insurers offer policy discounts to homeowners and renters that use home automation systems due to the decrease in potential fires and break ins.

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