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How to Get Started With Smart Home Automation?

Smart Home Automation Concepts for New Homes

From lighting control to multiroom audio or to automatic sprinkler systems, the possibilities of a smart home are only limited by your imagination and, of course, your budget. Control home lights, appliances, air conditioners and more from a remote location with your iPhone, or from a central large touch screen in the house. Use motion sensors to activate the staircase or bathroom lights automatically or trigger the security system. Keep an eye on your home while on holidays with security and video surveillance systems that let you see what's going on back home and simulate you being there if you wish to ward off burglars. These concepts are just the tip of the iceberg. Smart Home automation makes your life easier whilst keeping you Secure, Comfortable, Energy Efficient and Entertained.

Most people find themselves bombarded with seemingly endless questions and few answers. On this site, we try to provide you as much information as possible about the Smart Home concepts to consider and how to implement them. This helps you in having a discussion with us at Nous House or you Home Automation consultant and being able to understand the big picture and concepts or services tht you want provided by your home.

With so many brand and technologies available and all the different concepts to consider, starting your 'Smart Home' or Home Automation system may seem overwhelming at first. You may be about to sign the contract on a house you are building and have only just considered making yours a Smart House. People are in different starting positions based on their individual circumstances and there are so many 'parts' to a Smart Home, it may seem daunting or too much. Be aware the hardest part is just to get started.

The main advice we can give is:



Consider Home Automation Starter Kits, but you may become disappointed in the longer term
Many people, particularly over enthusiastic technologists start their home automation setup on a whim using simplistic lighting products such as RF switches and dimmers or stand-alone audio area control systems without considering the long term potential of what they are purchasing or the aestetics of the final system.  Cheap Lighting starter kits are increasingly available in a number of configurations from several different manufacturers and typically include several light switches or plug-in modules and a remote control or interface panel. Starter kits can range in price from $50 to $500 depending on the technology and the number of components.  But Beware!!  If your intention is to build an easily supportable, reliable, full capability Smart Home that's saleable as such, many of these 'appliance' based systems may not end up meeting your expectations.

Things to check are:

1. Does the system allow you to build the starter into a realistically more comprehensive full Smart Home system

2. Local support - is it by a large or small number of people / companies or just the importer?

Another issues is that over time, if the equipment provider does not gain any long term traction in our local marketplace, additional automation items may be difficult or impossible to get and local support may be more difficult to find.

It is our opinion that you are better paying slightly more money for a system knowing in advance it can be expanded upon and is well supported locally from a well known vendor. There are very few home automation systems that we have seen remain stagnant after the customer better understands the potential after running the small system for a while. The extra upfront cost of well known, well supported products will be returned to you in your long term satisfaction with your installation.  and then there's the aestetics..............................

Although you can buy individual low cost automation products and assemble your own system, it is a better solution to choose a long term technology that has backward and forward compatibility and avoid 'orphan' product lines that whilst being usually quite cheap leave no scope for future expansion or integration with other systems. Metaphorically your automation system should be like 'Lego' being you can add new parts to it and it continues to evolve into a bigger system. Having 5 different styles of 'blocks' collected over time doesn't make for a very interoperable or easy to support system.

The key is backwards compatibility. When purchasing new home automation products, always check for backwards compatibility with the products that came before from that vendor or the potential for interoperability with, or gateways to the products of other vendors. Also remember a single vendor solution will generally always work together more seamlessly, be more easily supportable and usually provide greater feature depth than 'technology partnership' or equipment built cheaply to meet some 'industry standard'. Interoperabililty is very important in your home because you don't want to spend your time chasing incompatibilities and technology furbulls in a system that was supposed to enhance your lifestyle and give you back more leisure time. A mixed technology system may end up with no one to support it but you.

Home automation may be a constantly evolving field, but the suppliers with the best track records have been selling for many years systems that interoperate and have been backward and forward compatible. Remember that your house is a long term investment, and the basic systems within your house should not need replacing continually like discarded appliances. Buy something you can build up.

A small 'Lego set' never stays that way.

Clipsal C-Bus Auxilliary Module Clipsal CBUS DMX Gateway Clipsal C-Bus Pascal Automation Controller Clipsal C-Bus PC Interface USB Clipsal C-Bus Current Measurement Unit 5504CMU Energy use monitor



by Brad Merrick - Technical Director - Nous House - 2012

E&OE. This article is general opinion only and may contain inaccuracies or errors and therefore should not be relied upon by the reader for any particular purpose. If you would like to talk more about the information contained in this article please contact Nous House 

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