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Turning Your Home into a “Smart Home”

There are many benefits home automation has to offer.  To put it simply, home automation is all about controlling things.  I’m not talking about control in the traditional sense, where you walk up to a light switch and turn it on, but other ways of controlling things.  Before I get into how you can control things, I’d like to talk about some of the things you can control.

You may be surprised to know how many things that are currently available and can be controlled by home automation systems.  Some of the more common items include: lights, thermostats, shades, and audio/video systems. Then, there are some things you probably would have never guessed that you can control – like an oven!

Ok, so you can control any of those things now, by going up to them and pressing a button or turning a knob.  With home automation, there’s a big difference – you don’t always need to go up to each device to make them work.  The main idea is that “automation” makes things happen automatically. That’s where part of the magic comes in.  This type of control is best described using lighting as an example.  Many lighting automation systems have a controller, which includes something called an “astronomical clock”.  What it does is pretty interesting. You can think of it as a timer, but unlike traditional timers, an astronomical clock knows when the sun comes up and when it goes down, regardless of what season it is.  This type of intelligence eliminates the need to make seasonal adjustments for longer or shorter daylight hours.  This is a huge benefit.  Here’s one popular way lighting automation is used.  Let’s say you like to have outdoor lights turn on at night, so your pathway is lit when you get home from work, they can automatically be set to do so.  When the sun starts to go down, the lights come on.  When the sun starts to come up, the lights can automatically turn off.  Not only is it great for security, but also for the safety of having a well-lit pathway in the dark.  Of course, there are potential energy saving benefits to have lights turn on and off at the appropriate times as well, particularly if dimmers are used instead of regular switches.

Besides timers, there are some other types of controls often used for home automation. Possibly the most common are handheld remote controls.  These can range anywhere from a dedicated remote for controlling a single item,  to a universal remote, which can control a whole house worth of thermostats, lights, shades, TVs and more.  There are also in-wall controls, such as keypads and full-color touch screens.  The in-wall controllers are typically placed in various convenient locations, so you can control any part of your automation system from anywhere in the house and not worry about where the handheld remote is.  Last, but not least, are the third-party.

One of my favorite things about home automation is that it doesn’t need to be incredibly expensive and is often modular.  What that means is you can do a little at a time if you are on a budget and build it up over time.  Modern wireless technology has made installation much more convenient and hassle-free, compared to older systems.  When replacing thermostats or light dimmers with ones capable of being controlled by a home automation system, no new wiring is necessary with many systems.  This will save a lot of money on installation labor interfaces. Some examples of these interfaces include: iPod, iPad, smartphones and web browsers.  These are extremely useful, particularly if you are out of the house, need to check on a second home or just can’t be there in person.  You simply go to a secure web page, which can look like the screen on the controllers you may already be used to, and check on the temperature, turn lights on or off, or even set the alarm while you’re away.  It’s all incredibly convenient and efficient.  Possibly the most important part is that it can be very, very easy to use, even for those who are not tech-savvy.

Automation can simplify your life and help make your home more efficient.  The possibilities are endless. Dolphin AV services the Hilton Head/Bluffton SC area and would love the opportunity to turn your home into a Smart Home.

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