You Don't Need a Computer Science Degree to Understand Home Automation Systems

Home automation systems commonly control lighting, home theater and entertainment systems, appliances, home security systems, door locks, and manage energy efficiency.

People unfamiliar with the concept of “home automation” may picture George Jetson’s space house, his robot housekeeper and dehydrated food.

The truth is automation can mean different things to different people, but in broad terms, home automation can be defined as any technology that is used in or around the home that simplifies tasks, makes life easier, improves safety, and reduces long-term costs.

Home automation systems commonly control lighting, home theater and entertainment systems, appliances, home security systems, door locks, and manage energy efficiency.

What Does Home Automation Actually Look Like?

Home automation can be very simple – or it can be used to a smart home that would spark envy in George Jetson.

Lighting control kits can be purchased for as little as $60, though more complete house-wide systems can run homeowners thousands of dollars.

One of the most beneficial features of home automation is that most systems are designed to be expandable, meaning homeowners can grow their systems as their budgets, needs, and interests allow.

Some examples of home automation:

  • Lights that turn on and off when someone enters or leaves a room.
  • Remotely monitoring and managing home climate.
  • Thermostats that respond to the number and placement of people in a room.
  • Remotely preheating an oven.
  • Unlocking the front door when a homeowner pulls into the driveway.
  • Managing yard sprinklers via a smartphone app.
  • Viewing home security cameras from a remote location (work, smartphone, etc.).

Any piece of electronic equipment that can be controlled remotely or automatically falls under the larger umbrella of “home automation.”

The Deceptive Simplicity of Home Automation: Anyone Can Do It

Some homeowners can be intimidated by home automation. When they enter a home that seems to “think” on its own, it would stand to reason that the technology involved would be extremely complicated. Quite the contrary, almost all home automation systems are easy to install. Anyone who has ever installed an electronic thermostat in their home has the ability to install a home automation system.

Because users don’t need a technical background to set up automation, it is accessible to anyone who has an interest. There are thousands upon thousands of home automation enthusiasts in the United States. Many got their start with a single automated task, and went on to include the whole home. The industry has experienced exponential growth over the last two years, with no signs of slowing down. According to The News: Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration, the industry is expected to grow 11.36 percent annually between 2015 and 2020, and is expected to reach $12.81 billion in the same time frame. Part of this growth can be attributed to the fact the home automation is far easier than the name implies.

Why Would Anyone Want to Automate Their Home?

When it comes to home automation, some skeptics may ask, “Why?” If you turn lights on and off when you enter and leave a room, why do you need a sensor to do it for you? The truth is, home automation is about more than convenience.  There are practical applications for everyday problems. Home automation can not only make a home more efficient by reducing water, gas, and electricity consumption; it can also save home owners in other ways. Rather than paying a security company a monthly fee, for example, home automation can create a safer home for a single, up-front charge.

For homeowners curious about home automation, it can often make sense to begin by tacking on an automation project to another home renovation project. If, for example, you are planning on opening up your kitchen, just add lighting and appliance controls to the project plan. If you’re thinking of converting your garage or basement into living space, add climate controlled automation to your list.

Home automation is becoming more popular and more affordable for homeowners. The simplicity and the benefits of making a home “smarter” can be seen almost instantly, and many homeowners with extremely smart homes started out with one, small project before becoming hooked on automation. As more homeowners identify tasks that can be automated, the industry will likely continue to expand, and smart homes will be the rule, not the exception.

This article and its content are sponsored by Mitsubishi Electric US Inc., Cooling & Heating Division. 

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