It has been the traditional belief that Smart Home Automation systems are meant for high end villas and apartments. Also the general understanding is that installation of a Smart Home Automation system involves complex equipment, engagement of installation experts and lots of changes to the electrical wiring. But wireless communication technology has rendered Home Automation affordable, eliminated any need for wiring changes in most cases. It is possible now to even retrofit an existing apartment with a Home Automation system without spending too much. Best of all, most of it can be done by yourself that is DIY without the need to engage any additional technical help.
Every Smart Home requires a Home Automation Hub or Controller which functions as a command centre and communicates with the various Devices and Sensors wirelessly. It also allows for control over the internet and makes it possible to control the Home Automation system using a browser based interface or mobile App. There are different wireless communication protocols such as Zigbee and Z-wave based on which these Hubs operate. Zipato, Cozify and Vera are some of the brands of hubs that are available on our store.
Entry of Amazon Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant – the intelligent “voice assistants”, has added a new dimension; that is voice control of Home Automation functions. As an example, Amazon Echo and Echo Dot are devices that utilise Alexa and are capable of receiving verbal commands and execute tasks. By enabling Home Automation ‘Skills’ Alexa can execute tasks such as switching on lights, Air Conditioners and appliances; adjusting brightness levels of lamps through the Home Automation hub in response to verbal commands. Echo can be used independently as a speaker or connected to your Home Theatre system with Bluetooth or through the audio jack. Additionally, Alexa can stream music from the cloud, answer queries, read audio books, provide weather, traffic and other real time information.
The many benefits of a Smart Home can be grouped under four categories such as Ambience, Health & Comfort, Safety & Security and Energy Saving. Let us analyse the options under each of them and each of these could be implemented in part or as a full fledged system depending on the needs and choice of the home owner.
Regardless of the size of the living space, creating the right ambience makes it a pleasurable place to live in. Apart from the wall colours, furniture and furnishings used in the room the lighting arrangement affects the ambience of the room. Smart Lighting choice between Cool White, Warm White, other colours to suit the mood and occasion plus the right brightness level enhances the ambience. With the advent of LED lamps the choice of colours is limitless.
RGBW Lamps by Zipato fit into regular E27 holders, produce cool white and warm white plus 16 million colour combinations.
- Philips Hue, Osram LIGHTIFY market very similar products.
- LIFX has many different sizes and shapes of LED lamps.
- LED Lightstrips by AEON and other brands mentioned above is an alternate choice for cove lighting, diffused lighting behind a false ceiling, lighting up background of furniture.
- Nanoleaf by Aurora is a very innovative and unique lighting system for decorative purposes to simulate a totally different ambience and mood. It can also be used as a regular source of illumination.
Operation of the lights could be automated by setting up scenes. The bedroom lights could be set up to come on just before the time to wake-up and gradually increase brightness so that it assists waking up in the mornings. The common area lights could be programmed to turn ON at specific times say at sunset and and then turn OFF when there is ample ambient light in the mornings. Ambient light can be sensed using a Light Sensor. The common area lights can be set to turn ON as soon as residents arrive which can be sensed using presence sensors or opening of the main door lock. Opening of doors can be sensed using a Door-Window sensor.
HEALTH & COMFORT
While modern living conditions have given rise to increased comfort Home Automation can enhance it to a higher level by making it a very convenient, comfortable and healthy living space for us and our children. Just as lights can be automated, appliances such as coffee machines, room heaters, washers, bathroom water heaters could also be automated using Smart Plugs that plug into existing sockets. This will ensure hot freshly brewed coffee is ready on waking up and water is warm enough for a shower on a chilly winter morning.
Due to climatic and environment considerations we live in air conditioned homes which forces us to keep doors and windows closed. There is always a definite possibility that the quality of air we breathe may be low on oxygen content due to lack of fresh air supply which can adversely affect our overall health. Overcome this by installing Carbon dioxide sensors so notifications are sent when CO2 levels exceed a set point and fresh air could then be let in by opening the windows or the air intake valve of the air conditioning system. Particulate Matter sensors help in monitoring dust content in the air to prevent asthmatic attacks on family members who may have a dust sensitivity.
SAFETY & SECURITY
No place can be called home unless we can make it safe and secure for everyone in the family. Our homes need to be protected against intrusion and break-ins. It also has to be made safe through prevention of fire or water flooding.
- Install Door/Window Sensors to monitor Open/Close condition
- Shock Sensors installed on window panes to sense breakage of glass.
- Install motion sensors at strategic locations to sense human presence and movement and trigger alarms when the house is unoccupied.
- Prevent Fire incidents by locating Smoke Sensors & Alarms strategically that can sense a fire,
- Carbon Mono oxide Sensors that sense a smouldering fire and Heat Detectors that sense rapid rise of temperature
- Flood sensors to prevent water leakages turning out to be a major damaging incident
Using the Home & Away functions in the Home Automation system interface, door/window sensors, shock sensors, motion sensors described below could be ‘Armed’ when everyone leaves home so that local alarms could be sounded and alerts sent over the mobile device to warn of any intrusion or break-in.
Whichever way one looks at it; energy saving is a sensible thing to do. And there is lots of scope for saving energy in the household; but with a Home Automation system in place this can be done without much sweat. Household energy consumption is broken down into three major demands: HVAC, lighting and electric appliances. The simplest and direct approach to saving energy is to replace the incandescent bulbs with LED lamps. LED lamps consume only about 1/5th the energy of incandescent lamps and by this the energy consumption for lighting can be reduced by 80% straightaway.
Connect appliances such as clothes washers, dishwashers, room heaters, coffee makers, humidifiers using Smart Plugs and gain the flexibility to turn them On/Off using the mobile device. They can also be set up to turn On at specific times of day or in response to a trigger. As an example using a Humidity Sensor the Humidifier can be set to turn On whenever the measured humidity goes below a certain value. Not only is this an added convenience and comfort but also an energy saving measure by eliminating wasteful usage.
There are different types of air conditioning systems in use and each type demands a slightly different approach. Once the appropriate devices explained below are installed they can be controlled from mobile device Apps or programmed to automatically turn On/Off at preset times of the day, maintain different temperatures at different times of day or turn off when doors or windows are opened. Increasing the temperature setting by 3 degC is known to reduce the energy consumption by up to 10%.
- Window units and the split units have built in thermostats and are usually controlled by a IR remote control. Installing IR interfacing units and including them in the home automation network will enable On/Off control using mobile device App from any remote location.
- The ducted split and the fan coil unit types have separate mechanical thermostats mounted in the room. Replace these with digital communicating thermostats that can be included in the home automation network to enable On/Off control and temperature setting using mobile device App from any remote location.
Smart Homes cannot be considered a luxury any longer just as owning a smart phone is no longer a choice but a necessity. The wireless Home Automation systems feature a hassle free installation, virtually no maintenance requirements; besides there are benefits that can be acquired at an affordable cost. Making the right choices may sound difficult but ATKNSN can help make the right choice. Please visit ATKNSN online store, peruse the product guides and blogs; drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you need further support and we will be happy to help.