Smart Home Automation – Affordably and Efficently
Greetings everyone – it’s Smart Home Automation time at Projector Reviews!
I promised a blog to tell you a bit about our “Smart Home” plans. Here goes:
We’re creating a Dream Home! It will be a Smart Home, a Connected Home, and lucky me, it’s my home (and Lori’s and Lisa’s).
As a former dealer, my old company Presenting Solutions! did some fairly high local automation, although I personally stayed focused on the online “box” side of our projector business. Note, we mostly did automation for the Navy, and large corporations, rather than home automation. Back then we were Crestron authorized. It’s always been easy to automate a home if you don’t mind throwing six figures of money at the project. Not all of us, however, (certainly not me) have $100,000 or $250,000 to accomplish that.
Our goal, therefore is to create a Dream Home but do it with limited “old school” systems such as Crestron, AMX, Control4, and instead focus more on the new. I’m talking wired/wireless products supporting the Zigbee and Z-Wave alliances, and possibly Insteon too. We’ll use “old school” were necessary, of course.
The goal is to do this affordably. Wireless for most things will drastically reduce installation costs. Less centralized control, (but all iOS), will reduce hardware costs in a big way. As a bonus, we expect our heating bills will drop, and our electric will plummet. Cool! (Confession, electric will drop, but probably not “plummet” as virtually all the lighting in the house is already mostly LED and some CFL. but I’m still looking for an average 30% further reduction in our electric bill which has already been reduced by almost 50%. BTW, for you Android folks, I figure most things we will do using iOS you can do with your Android phones and tablets as well.
Here’s a taste:
Smart Home Automation: This will be fun. We will automate my theater, from powering up projectors, satellite boxes, and blu-ray players, to raising and lowering my motorized Studiotek 130 screen. (If I had motorized shades – those too.) Here’s a night image of RGB LED down facing strip lighting in our patio wall. Right now, we can control from an RF remote, but soon, from our iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads.
We will use smart lighting. I am currently in talks with Philips, for example, to provide their new Hue smart bulbs (RGB LED) through most of the home. I’m talking with NEST (smart thermostat) and others about smart control for HVAC (heating/air), and working with Zigbee and Z-wave alliances for many individual products needed.
For example, while it’s cool to be able to “turn on the house lights from the driveway” or fire up the Jacuzzi, as you leave work by using an iPhone, sometimes you just want to walk in and throw a switch. For that reason, we’ll be replacing dumb switches with smart ones that will work in conjunction with iOS, wireless, etc.
Same is true for many of the outlets around the house. I’m having a conversation now with HAI/Leviton about supplying all those switches and outlets. Also talking with other players.
Outdoor lighting – all RGB LED, will also be smart, including energy efficient wall washers to light up the front of the house, and our garden. Security? of course.
The Kitchen? Sorry, we can’t afford a $5000+ LG refrigerator that can tell me when I’m almost out of milk, but overall, we’re tackling just about everything else in the house.
At the end of the day, the end of the Dream Home project, our Smart Home will be virtually fully controllable from an iPhone or iPad. Now that’s “smart automation!” If the technology progresses, by the end of the project (early 2015, we hope we will be able to voice control most of the house via our iPhones and iPads! You know something like: “Siri, please lower the living room lights 30%.” Or:
“Turn on the outside patio lights, set to ‘sunset mode’.” Or, if it’s a little cool in the theater: “Run the heat, theater only, for 5 minutes.” You get the idea.
Speaking of the theater: Finally the current 6-9 working remotes for my theater will become an iPad, or iPhone (both). I can’t wait. Even our waterfall and it’s lights will be controlled “smartly.” (Darn didn’t mean to “leak” info about the waterfall.)
OK, that’s a good idea of what we will be making Smart.
The project to complete all aspects of the home is planned to take 18 to 24 months, will be rich in videos, regular blogs, photos, This will primarily be my effort, but with help from a number of outsiders. Much of our Dream Home project will be on the main site in the Smart Home area, but some additional information will, naturally be in the subscriber area as well as a “value add” for our “most loyal” readers.
OK… If you have suggestions, now’s the time. If your comments are about the Smart Home project, post them on this blog, post comments about the subscriber area on that blog, and the website changes on the first blog.
It is my hope that at the end of the day – make that by the end of the summer, the new site will be up, the Smart Home will be in progress, and overall, there will be videos and other content for all of our new subscribers. I’m looking forward to most of you becoming subscribers, and I really intend to do what I can to make sure your subscription is a valuable and enjoyable (modest) investment. -art