Home Automation

Written by Stephanie Dula
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Home automation refers to an industry that develops products for remote management and regulation of household systems. Automation components are commonly used to control lighting, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), security, and home entertainment systems. There are plenty of ways for average users to easily incorporate some form of "smart house" technology into their homes.

Smart homes have long been regarded as futuristic living spaces for the ultra-rich, but most of us already have some form of intelligence in our everyday appliances. TV remote controls, motion sensitive outdoor lights, and automatic garage door openers are a few of the more commonly used automated components. New standards for smart home technology are continually explored and developed for the consumer automation market.

Home Automation Applications

There are plenty of practical reasons to install some level of home automation into our living spaces. Networking a home's lighting and other appliances creates endless possibilities for everyday convenience and security. It's possible to instantly activate any number of lights on the property if there is an emergency or intrusion without getting out of bed. People feel safer when they are able to light a home before entering and control outdoor lighting without having to go outside.

Macros can be programmed to perform multiple steps at once. Many people create a morning routine that can be set in motion at the same time daily, or at the touch of a button. For example, every morning at sunrise the coffee maker is activated, the heat turned up, and the electric shades lifted. Security settings allow for multiple lights and appliances to be activated even when occupants are away.

Macros can also be used to network digital and audio equipment together and program scenes for watching movies or listening to music. Commands can be programmed that can allow the simultaneous activation of appropriate entertainment devices and even lighting. Regulation of energy-consuming devices is another attractive feature that home automation offers. Pools, irrigation systems, and even water heaters can be set to operate only when needed, or washers and dryers only when rates are cheapest.

PLC Home Automation

While structured cables are sometimes installed to achieve home automation, especially in new construction, there are a variety of options for retrofitting an existing home. Powerline carrier (PLC) products utilize standard wiring for communication with appliances throughout the home. The PLC protocol allows home and business owners to install individual modules to be accessed through a number of user interfaces, including remote controls and the Internet.

The X10 standard is the oldest PLC product line still available, and many automation enthusiasts remain familiar with its design and operation. Since the X10 protocol can sometimes allow for interference and loss of signal strength, it has come to be seen as inherently unreliable. New technologies have been developed over the past few years to combat these problems, and there are now dependable alternatives to X10.

The Universal Powerline Bus (UPB) protocol is one such alternative that also communicates over existing powerlines. Operating at a different frequency than X10, UPB products remain operational even in the existence of X10 and other PLC products. Since the UPB protocol has been tested effectively and shown to be highly reliable, an increasing number of manufacturers now support the technology. Products are available online that can be purchased individually or in the form of kits to help home and business owners get started.

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They are low voltage wires that are going from a clsoet to the attic and off thru-out the house. Most are two wire and some are four wire. The wire is solid core and is red-green color code like that of phone wire. I want to use this clsoet as a wiring clsoet for the Home entertainment and home network and automation.I checked the fire alarms and it is not going to them.Can someone tell me where these are terminating?This house was built in 2001. Also should I drop CAT5/6and Fiber or wait on the Fiber?