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Home automation is on its way. Come into a room and choose your environment at the flick of a switch. Have a complete cinema system installed with lights automatically dimming. Program your security system to make it look as if you have never left. Change your home every day into the peaceful, relaxing haven you have always dreamed of.
There are a great many products on the market today that will allow you to realize these dreams and with every technological leap they become more readily available and intuitive. Here follows a breakdown of the main areas of automation within the home:
As the name states, this concentrates on the lighting found within a given residence or area of work. This can include 2 differing areas that include physical lighting (e.g. strip lights, downlights, table lamps etc....) and also natural lighting (e.g. from windows, opening, skylights etc....). The addition of automation to physical lighting can include:
- Lumination control related to your required luminosity (How hard or soft you would like the lighting to be)
- Control of all lighting within a building (Have the ability to turn on or off singular lights or all lights from one central location, control panel or remote unit)
- The ability to shut down or disable any given light switch
- The ability to control the opening of shades, drapes and blinds within any room
- The ability to extend and withdraw external awnings
Although there are many products on the market produced by differing manufacturers, most of these are universally compatible with the many control units that are available.
Audio and Video
This area mainly concentrates on switching and distribution of a central signal. In principle you would have a central audio and visual source e.g. a TV and stereo in your living room and through a patching and switch system you would be able to route these signals to all or any specially selected room or rooms within your home. This is sometimes referred to as "multi-zone audio and video".
This would also involve the addition of a speaker or set of speakers and a screen to each room (if desired). There are also several options in the switching system. This can be a manually patched system where you would use special leads to patch between the sources and outlets or there are now automated systems available that would allow you to switch between source and destination using either a central panel or remote control.
This system can also be adapted to include the integration of a telephone system, CCTV system or even a video door entry system allowing you to take phone calls, answer the door or monitor CCTV cameras from any room in your home.
This is a rather straight forward system that allows you to link several or all rooms within a house via a series of speaker systems and microphones. You may have experienced this system before in the form of a baby monitor, the principle is very similar.
There are many differing systems available allowing differing levels of control e.g. allowing you to broadcast throughout all rooms or just to specific rooms. Most of these systems also allow the integration of an alarm, allowing you to broadcast an alarm, for example a burglar alarm or fire alarm, siren throughout your premises.
There is a massive amount of home and premises security equipment available on the market today that includes alarm systems, CCTV and camera systems, door entry systems, electronic gate entry systems and garage door systems to name just a few and all of these can be automated or integrated into one central control unit.
The majority of these systems utilize sensors in order to monitor a huge amount of information and they can include:
- Motion detectors to indicate an unwanted presence
- Sensors that detect gas leaks, water leaks, smoke and heat
- Magnetic contact sensors that detect the opening of doors and windows if broken
As mentioned previously many of the above systems can be integrated into each other to provide a more comprehensive overall blanket of cover and as you can see you can pretty much cover every possible security and personal welfare instance that you can possibly imagine.
With the huge advances in web based and mobile technology these days it is also possible to connect to your home automation systems and control them via the internet and even from your mobile phone or PDA device so even if you are on the other side of the world it is still possible for you to program your lights to come on at 9pm and also for your curtains to close at the same time, open and close cat flaps and even feed your pets and water your garden!!