In today’s instant gratification, technology-based world, everyone wants remote access and control over their homes, especially those vacation homes that are frequently left vacant. Because there have recently been great advances in wireless technology and the ability to create cell phone apps, we can now add many smart home features to an existing home without having to do anything invasive like running wires or installing large servers.
In the old days, each component of a smart home had a separate operating system (one for HVAC, another for lighting, etc) tied together with one master automation system that controlled each system from a central control point. With the systems available today, we can utilize these wireless technologies that run independent of one another to control any aspect of the home we desire, all from our smart phones.
The most common thing people want remote access to is their camera system so they can see who is at their home and what they are doing when they are not there. Luma Surveillance has a system that works with a cell phone app to allow users access to their in-home DVR system from anywhere they have an internet connection. This is compatible with both wired and wireless cameras and is easily expandable if you want to add more cameras down the road.
Similar to the camera system, many people like to also have full remote control over their alarm system. Instead of having to give out codes and passwords to everyone that needs access to their home, owners can simply log into their alarm, disarm the system and even unlock a door with a controlled access lock. Honeywell Total Connect uses technology that utilizes your existing alarm system and connects it to their server over the wifi network.
HVAC system controls are one of the most advertised home automation technologies around. Nest thermostats have made remote HVAC controls almost standard in recently renovated homes. Their thermostats can be connected to your system using the pre existing wires that your original thermostats used. Once installed, you can remotely control all aspects of your heating and air conditioning or program set schedules for the systems to run including automatically adjusting the temperature setting up and down at designated times.
Pool and spa systems have always been controlled with a mechanical clock timer that turns the system on and off at the same time every day but offers no other settings or controls. Similar to the HVAC controls, the Jandy iAqualink allows users to remotely turn on or off your pump/filtration systems, jets/blowers, lights, heaters, adjust temperature settings and any other features your system may have like a water fall. These pool computers can also be programmed for different schedules each day based on your planned use of the pool.
Sonos has the most user friendly audio/video system on the market today and has revolutionized the home audio market with their simple to install/simple to use, plug-and-play systems. Sonos can utilize existing speakers or can include wireless speakers into their system, which uses a cell phone app to pair zones together and stream music from virtually any source.
RadioRa is a lighting control system that uses a network of switches that does not require any special wiring. These switches can be installed in place of any existing light switch and can be controlled by a cell phone app. It can also be combined with other switches to be turned on and off by scene controls that can set any combination of lighting throughout the house to a specific configuration. Zones of lighting can also be programmed to go on and off at a set schedule to make the home appear to be in use even when it is vacant.
Somfy makes wireless, remote controlled, motorized shades for your windows. They get mounted just like an ordinary shade and use a long-life battery for power – no wiring needed – and come with a small remote control that can be kept in a drawer or mounted on the wall. Multiple units can be programmed together to use the same remote and can be paired in a scene selector like the lighting system to be operated in sync with each other using the cell phone app.
These are just some of the options for retrofitting home automation features into your existing home. These systems are installed separately and all work independent of one another. Combined, they can give you full control of all of your home’s systems right from your cell phone or tablet.