It’s amazing how much of our lives we can control using the push of a button on our smart phones and tablets these days. Besides schedules, to-do lists and steps walked, there are countless tools we can use to make our homes safer and our lives a little easier by combining home automation with smart phone technology.
Thermostats: We’re all familiar with the benefits of programmable thermostats, which allow you to set temperature adjustments for various times of the day, but do you know about thermostats you can control remotely from the convenience of your smart phone or tablet? Perhaps you have guests arriving before you return from work and you want to warm the home or you forgot to change the settings before heading out of town, well now you can make the necessary adjustments remotely using your mobile device. This feature is also handy when you’re heading to your vacation home as many systems have the capability to access multiple locations on one account.
Home Security: Many home security systems on the market today allow you to receive instant alerts on your mobile device whenever the system is armed or disarmed, as well as control the system remotely. Can’t remember if you closed the garage door before you left for vacation? Simply check from your phone and shut it. For after-school safety, receive an alert on your phone when the kids come home, and schedule the door to relock automatically. These systems are also handy if you have someone that needs access to your home at a certain time each day, such as a dog walker, or if you have a service call scheduled. You can program the system to unlock the door and disarm the security system before they arrive and automatically secure your home again after they leave. You can also achieve peace of mind with access to security cameras via real-time video feeds on your mobile devices from anywhere at any time. Check on kids and pets, as well as monitor vulnerable spots like entrances, patios, and pool areas. Additionally, some units can monitor critical home systems and alert you when a leak is detected or if the temperature goes beyond a certain range indicating a possible service issue.
Lighting: Many intelligent lighting control systems offer automation of not only the lights, but shades and ceiling fans as well. Integrating motion sensors with these systems can help with additional energy savings by turning lights off automatically in a room when unused. With Lutron’s HomeWorks QS system, you can select the customizable “pathway” button to create a pathway of light to your bathroom, for example, during nighttime hours or your kitchen and coffee maker before dawn. Systems can also be configured to have specific lights come on at sunset and off at daybreak. Savant has a feature called TrueImage Control that allows the user to simply touch an image of the light they wish to control on their iPad, which will then turn on, off, or dim the actual light when pressed, while illuminating it on screen to confirm the command.
Seamless Integration: Companies, such as Creston and Control4, offer integrated home automation, which can encompass lighting, thermostats, security, home entertainment, and more, all on a single platform. This type of system eliminates the need for multiple controllers and offers homeowners the ultimate in customization allowing one to create scenes, a combination of controlled events, at the push of a button. For example, push the “Good Night” button and have all the lights in the house turn off, the camera outside the front and back doors turn on, the security system arm itself, any open shades drawn, and the thermostat set to a comfortable sleeping temperature. Similarly, you could also automate a “Wake Up” scene or even a “Movie” scene that dims the lights, lowers the blinds, starts the movie, and turns the surround sound on, all from the comfort of your couch.
With so many products and services available, it can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out which type of system would be the best for your home and lifestyle. To get started, develop a priority list of the things you will benefit from the most then consult a home automation professional. If you would like assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us.