At its very basic, a home automation system can operate the lights, thermostats, audio/video equipment and security devices. These core functions are always a great starting point when automating your home, offering some very practical benefits. However, there are many other parts of your home that can also be managed by an automation system. They may not be as conventional as the core elements, but they still provide real value. When working with a home systems integrator, be sure to explore all of your automation possibilities. Chances are, if there’s a product that runs off electricity, it can be automated. Here are a few “out of the box” ideas to consider:
Lawn irrigation systems. These systems come with their own timers for creating automatic watering schedules, but they can be complicated to set up, often requiring a manual to understand and operate. You can simplify the programming process by putting a sprinkler system under the command of a home automation system. Instead of tinkering with archaic timers you can use a sleek, modern touchpanel, smartphone or tablet to set up watering schedules via the automation system’s intuitive mobile app. By leveraging the smarts of an automation system you can get even more creative and efficient with the irrigation of your home’s landscape. For instance, when a motion sensor notices a car pull into the driveway the automation system can temporarily turn off the sprinklers. Ditto, when the weather report that’s fed to your automation system indicates that rain is expected to fall.
Gas fireplaces. The handheld remote that comes with a gas fireplace is easy enough to use, but by letting a home automation system control it, the fireplace becomes a more integral part of your home’s ambiance. When you engage a Welcome Home scene on the touchpanel of your home automation system, for instance, the family room lights can dim, the whole-house music system can activate … and the fireplace can start. Instant romance.
Towel warmers. A typical Good Morning command launched by a home automation system would open the bedroom window shades, gradually bring up the lights and play the morning news over the room’s built-in speakers. Also consider throwing in the towels … or rather, a towel warmer into this automation scenario. Your towels will be warm and ready when you’re done showering.
Swimming pools. Swimming pool systems are like irrigation systems: they’re effective tools for controlling important aspects of the system remotely from a device that’s mounted in the garage, mud room or utility room, but as a standalone system it offers little else in terms of control. It’s when this system is integrated with a home automation system that its real value as an integral part of your household can be realized. For example, as part of a Party routine—engaged by pressing a button on a smartphone or tablet–the pool system can activate the pool lights, fountains and other decorative elements. Simultaneously the automation system signals music to spill through outdoor speakers and exterior light fixtures to illuminate the back yard. In seconds, the outdoor area, including the pool, is ready for entertaining, and all you had to do is touch a button.