Be smart when you plan a smart home
There is no doubt that smart homes are the future. However, home automation technology evolves so rapidly that most home owners are left in the dark as to how to plan ahead to include this technology in their homes. Michelle Swart finds out more
HOME automation is a must-have for any modern home, says Ryno Goosen, product specialist on new technologies for HFX Systems.
“In today’s modern age technology influences practically every aspect of our home environment. As a result, home automation is becoming increasingly popular in residential homes, especially those at the upper end of the market.”
However, he says that unfortunately many home owners are not aware of the enormous benefits of home automation and therefore do not plan for it when renovating their existing home or building a new one.
Simply put, a home automation system is a system that provides you with remote or automatic control of things around the home. Today, home automation systems can give you the ability to control home functions remotely from anywhere in the world, using a computer connected to the internet or a telephone.
Some of these systems include access control and security, data networks, distributed audio, energy management, home cinema, irrigation, lighting, pool and spa bath systems, telephone and communications, windowcovering controls, HVAC controls and CCTV. All of these are classified as subsystems and the idea is to interconnect all the subsystems under one umbrella so that they can interact with one another and be controlled from one centrally operated system.
Goosen says: “The main aim of any well-designed home automation system is to create a flexible, practical and user-friendly domestic environment, allowing even the most nontechnical people to operate the most technically advanced systems easily. By designing and including an infrastructure that is capable of being readily upgraded, a smart home can maintain pace with advances in technology easily.”
The idea of a smart home evokes thoughts of automated convenience functions that are nice-to-haves but not entirely necessary — spa baths that heat to the perfect temperature while you’re driving home from work or a heating system that switches on and off automatically and intuitively adjusts the temperature to suit the climate.
However, Goosen says that in real terms, smart homes are just homes fitted with intelligent home automation systems that consists of nothing more than innovative software programs written to meet the lifestyle needs of modern home owners.
“Instead of merely looking at the hedonistic privileges of living in an automated home, today increasingly more luxury home owners are looking at state-of-the art home automation systems as a means of managing their home’s daily functions in the most earthfriendly, economical and energyefficient manner.
“Home automation systems can do this by controlling a number of systems and appliances in the home in the most effective and economical way, including lighting systems, audio and visual equipment, heating systems, security, and many more.
“In essence, using home automation technology for energy control can reduce power consumption by limiting use to where and when it is most needed and in the process saving the home owner money on energy bills without affecting quality of life.
“Not so long ago home energy control was one of the more mundane applications of home automation. However, today it has become the most important one, thanks to the need to conserve our planet’s resources.
“Home automation will never conserve energy in the sense of making an inefficient product more efficient. But what it can do is allow home owners to reschedule tasks for when energy costs are lower. Rescheduling won’t reduce the amount of energy used for a specific task but it will cost the home owner less and it won’t put undue pressure on the energy provider’s grid,” says Goosen.
The goal of home automation has always been to make your home more comfortable and secure. In addition to comfort and security, automating the home is the best way to regulate energy usage and reduce costs for heating, cooling and lighting, he says.
“Most home automation systems offer integrated energysaving smart lighting controls, power controllers that turn appliances off automatically and programmable climate control systems. In addition, automated irrigation systems and automatic faucets can help you to reduce your water usage,” says Goosen.