What is a Smart Home and How Can Home Automation Solutions Help You?

Apr 18, 2018

Home automation solutions aren’t just Futurama-cool, letting you lock doors and turn on lights with the tap of a button or the sound of your voice. These intelligent home systems can save you hundreds of dollars through energy conservation, and they can provide state-of-the-art security to protect your house and the loved ones inside of it.  
What is A Smart Home?
A smart home is one equipped with lighting, heating and electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by phone, computer or voice. Consider the benefits: you never have to worry about running home to open the door for your children after school or wonder if the kids remembered to turn off the lights after they dashed off to sports practice. You easily have control of the situation through your phone.
The most commonly automated activities include lights, door locks, thermostats and security products like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and cameras, but there are tons of other options. Thanks to the recent boom of tech-enabled consumer products, you can automate everything from brewing your coffee to feeding your pets.
What is Home Automation?
A home automation solution is the platform on which your devices, appliances and electronic devices are networked together to give you the ability to control them in a way that best fits your lifestyle.
Home automation systems can be wired or wireless and there are numerous home automation protocols available: UPX, X10, Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and more. Some of these protocols use radio waves to communicate. Others use your home’s existing power lines. Some home automation protocols are built on open standards, so any manufacturer can create products that will work with it. Others are proprietary.
There are pros and cons to every system, but the single, largest con to a wired home automation solution is that it’s controlled from one central location, so that convenient picture we painted a few paragraphs previously isn’t possible.
With the mobile world we live in today, wireless systems are the go-to for home automation and security solutions and the technology developers and manufacturers are putting the greatest emphasis on. The key to ensuring reliability and security is careful planning. You must be smart about designing your system from the get-go to end up with a smart home that works for you.
Professional installers are key to helping you to develop a plan for what you want to automate and how your appliances and devices should communicate with one another.

For instance, when you leave your home for the day and set your security alarm, do you also want any lights left on in the home to be turned off and the thermostat turned down? If you are at work during the day and you need to let a repairman in, do you want security cameras in your house to turn on and the front door to unlock? When you are at home, do you want to be able to turn off lights downstairs and turn on your security system using voice commands from the comfort of your own bed?
Other important considerations for home automation installation is a careful site analysis of your home. Thick glass or concrete walls in certain parts of the property can block signals. Are there physical barriers on your property that must be planned for? What is the range the signals must travel? What are the data rates required?
The Most Common Smart Home Solutions
The most common smart home solutions include lights, door locks, thermostats and security products, like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and cameras.
With lighting, there are many options to consider. You can have bulbs with built-in microphones that automatically turn on if they hear your doorbell or burglar alarm. There are bulbs that can put out invisible infrared light during the night to enable night vision cameras in your home to see further. Voice-activated lighting is extremely popular, and there are even lighting options that are just plain cool, such as lights that change color in rhythm to the music you’re playing. Rock on!
Smart door locks also offer a host of features. You can lock and unlock your door remotely, even if you’re halfway around the world. You can give “digital keys” to friends or family who regularly access your home. You can even set time limits on these codes, so they only work during specific hours of the day or days of the week. Hands full of groceries? Perhaps you want your door to unlock automatically when it senses your key within a certain radius of the door. There are smart locks that can fit over your existing deadbolts, locks with keypads, locks with app-enabled entry and even smart locks that still allow you to use your key.
Is your head spinning yet with the dizzying array of options? If not, and you’re pumped by all the possibilities, keep reading because it gets better and better.
Heating, ventilating and cooling our homes is critical for comfort, but also accounts for a large portion of our living expenses. Today, however, smart HVAC technology means you can have the best of both worlds. Smart HVAC goes far beyond the what the programmable thermostat can do, adjusting the heating and cooling settings at pre-programmed times of the day. If integrated into a home automation solution properly, it can adjust based on your alarm settings. Or, if you choose geofencing technology, it can sense whether you are home or away and adjust accordingly. There are even sensors so sophisticated now that you can be immediately alerted if your hot water tank starts to leak or a water line in your home breaks. Talk about peace of mind if you’re gone for an extended time!
Finally, how many of us have had the experience at least once in our lives of being hundreds of miles away on vacation and suddenly feeling a pit form in our stomachs because we’re pretty sure we left the back door unlocked? Worry no more because security automation is smarter than ever. Home security is one of the primary reasons people choose a home automation solution. Not only can you lock and unlock doors from your mobile device, you can also choose to install security cameras inside and outside of your house, so you can log in at any time to get a live feed from your home. If someone knocks on the front door or rings the doorbell, have an alert sent to your phone. You can even see who is on your doorstep and talk to that person from halfway around the world.  
As you can see, a smart home can make your life much easier, but proper home automation installation is critical for building a smart house that best fits your lifestyle.
Are you ready for the future? If so, making life easier through technology is our goal at FSS. Let us help walk you through the possibilities for your home automation solution.

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