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

Business Day - Home Front - - HOMEFRONT -

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.

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