An "Automated Home"


An "automated home" is a living environment that empowers you to maximize the potential of technology to satisfy personal lifestyle needs. It gives you control to integrate two or more home systems to realize the benefits most desirable for your lifestyle. Those systems could include communications, computers, audio/video (your system and multi-room), entertainment, security, lighting controls, cameras, high speed Internet, utilities and environmental controls.

Home automation pays for itself in energy savings as well as increasing productivity and saving you time in your increasingly busy day. This is also beneficial by making the house look lived in when you are away (either during the day or on vacation). A burglar will never break into a home if he thinks someone is there. This is far more valuable than any security system can ever be.

While an "automated home" adds convenience, peace of mind and security to our day-to-day lives, the applications to simplify life are nearly endless. There are other many advantages and conveniences of an "automated home" including:

Connect to the Internet
Advanced wiring systems allow consumers to "plug-in" personal computers anywhere in the home to access Internet services, as well as send and receive e-mail and faxes. Multiple computers, printers, fax machines and other devices can be connected to create a cost-effective and convenient "home area network" that allows for sharing of files, printers, games, etc. Single phone lines can share Internet access for multiple, simultaneous users without tying up phones for emergency or other needs. Callers will no longer get busy signals. Families can enjoy high-speed Internet access and multiple e-mail accounts while maintaining a single access/service provider.

Home Office
Professionals can work at home with the same convenience as at the office. Home offices can accommodate multiple communication technologies, so the computer, fax machine, modem and telephone can function simultaneously while providing the efficiency of the latest in high-speed Internet access.

Home Entertainment
Homes are equipped to readily accept all entertainment systems/distribution services (including: direct broadcast satellite, DVD, cable, etc.). You have maximum freedom and flexibility to direct audio and video services on demand to all or one outlet in the home-from the bedroom (see Multi-Room Audio/Video) to the home theater (see Home Theater, Audio/Video Systems and Audio/Video Installations).

Environmental Controls / Energy Management
Access to sophisticated heating and cooling controls offers maximum comfort and efficiency. This allows you the flexibility to control HVAC, drapes, the water heater and other appliances to work more efficiently when necessary and automatically shut down/turn down when not needed to save on overall heating and cooling costs.

Security and Property Protection
An "automated home" can contribute to numerous security protection applications including the use of intelligent lighting controls, monitoring systems and motion detectors. This is also beneficial by making the house look lived in when you are away (either during the day or on vacation). A burglar will never break into a home if he thinks someone is there. This is far more valuable than any security system can ever be.

Components of a an Automated Home System

Existing Homes
First of all, most applications can be installed without messy construction or exposed wires. It is done with radio frequency technology (like the kind used for your garage door opener). Existing wall switches, electrical outlets, etc. are replaced with radio controlled ones (look very similar). A receiver/control unit is added to receive signals from remote controls, wall switches, touch screens, computer scheduler, etc. This is an inexpensive way to enjoy the benefits of Home Automation today in a home that was not prewired (and most are not). If you are building a new home see below.

Building a New Home
The wiring infrastructure in most homes has not changed in 50 years and is unable to fully support some advanced technologies that are available to consumers today for some applications. However, today's wiring systems are created to handle most of today's technologies and provide the electronic foundation for an "automated home" (see "Existing Homes" above). This infrastructure is necessary to ensure that your family can be connected to today's services and prepared for new technologies. An advanced prewired home wiring system is usually comprised of three main components:

Prewired Homes

The Service Center

This service center is the part where all outside services enter the home, including cable TV, telephone, DSS satellite, Internet, etc. This central hub distributes these services to locations throughout the house in a way similar to how the electrical breaker panel controls electricity flow.

High-performance Cables
Certain services like digital satellite, high-speed Internet, and digital TV require high performance cables to allow full access throughout the home. Most systems include RG6 coaxial cable for TV and video, and Category 5 or better twisted-pair cable for telephone and data. RG6 (quad shield) Coaxial cable provides maximum protection from interference with your TV picture. Category 5 or better cable provides high-speed access to multiple phone lines without cross-talk. These cables deliver all the performance you need today, while providing the capacity to handle tomorrow's technology.

The outlets in each room determine which services are available in that room. Each outlet can be customized to your specific needs based on which services are desired in each room (cable, Internet access, telephone, etc.). Without the proper outlets, the high-performance wiring behind the wall is of little value.

Structured Wiring vs. Conventional Wiring
Think of wiring as a pipeline for information. Conventional wiring has the data capacity of a squirt gun. By comparison, structured wiring, using Category 5 cables, has the capacity of a fire hose. Structured wiring can transmit more information, faster. Conventional wiring, which is found in most homes, consists of one or two twisted pairs of wires, and is adequate for basic voice, fax or data communications. Structured wiring is more advanced wiring. Not only can it handle traditional telephone, fax and data communications, but also sophisticated video and data signals from computers.

The Investment
Regardless of size, location or cost of a home, incorporating minimum wiring standards will add value to the home at resale and effectively ensure optimum access to all developing home communication, entertainment, security and control technologies. A "automated home" can be achieved today with minimal investment and is not limited to custom construction (see "Existing Homes" above). In most cases, prices for structured wiring solutions range from approximately $1,000 to $2,000 and up, installed. The initial investment varies depending on the scope of an installation, with a range of upgrade and home control options available to consumers who want maximum control. In addition, to ensure that your home is "future-proofed" and your investment secured, it is recommended that a 2" PVC pipe be installed from the basement to the attic. This will enable new wires to be pulled, if ever necessary, between floors without having to replace walls or ceilings.

Resale Value
Homes built today without an upgraded wiring system will not be able to accommodate the demands of new technologies. As such, they will not retain value as strongly as those built with a solid technological infrastructure and, in fact, may not even be considered by a large percentage of future home buyers. With the rapid growth of new technologies for the home, the ever-changing working environment (telecommuting, home business, etc.), and the revolution in home education and entertainment opportunities, it is predicted that installing structured wiring will potentially increase the resale value of the home.

What is Home Automation?

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