What Is Home Automation?

We’ve all seen those old cartoons where the mad inventor is asleep in his bed and when his alarm clock goes off, the giant robot hands pull him out of bed, brush his teeth, fix his breakfast, and send him out the door. That is a form of home automation and it was pretty cool and somewhat farfetched at the time. But in today’s homes, automation is not just a concept for the future. It is actually being used widely right now and there is a lot more being automated than you might think.

What is home automation? The basic idea of home automation is elements of your home that are controlled by preprogrammed monitors and/or remote control. These functions operate automatically without us having to oversee every single task. Home automaton makes our lives simpler, frees us up from having to take care of simple tasks, and with the right systems it also protects us. But what elements of your home can you automate? Well, you can control practically anything in your house with the right set-up. Some of it is for entertainment, some for maintenance, and some for security purposes. Below is how you can set your house up with automation.

How Do I Automate My Home

There are a lot of different systems that can be installed by many different professionals. Some systems are simpler than others and can cost several hundred dollars while others are more advanced and can run you well up into the thousands. The most common automated systems control lighting, security, home entertainment, environment, communications, irrigation, and kitchen.


Lighting – Lighting is one of the most common forms of home automation. Lights can be automatically turned on or off by a remote or they can be programmed to be turned on or off at a certain time. For instance, when you get up in the morning, a timer can automatically turn on the lights in the kitchen or bathroom. You can also have dimmers installed that are remote controlled from anywhere in the house. Automated shades and draperies can even be remotely drawn and pulled back to add more light to a room.  If you have a sunroom, there are panels that you can have installed in the ceiling that are automated to either close or draw back  to control the amount of natural light.

Security – This is another popular form of home automation. There are many different types of security systems but all are automated. This could be anything simple such as an alarm that goes off automatically if your home is broken into or if the right password is not entered. Other systems may include motion sensors, heat sensors, or fingerprint scans (although that may be a little too secure for most homes, the technology is available). There are even some systems that let you lock and unlock the front door by remote.

Home Entertainment – With the popularity and affordability of home theater systems it is natural that you would want to automate your home’s entertainment. A common way to do this is to have everything from your television, stereo, and dvd player operated by remote. You can turn them on or off, adjust volume, switch channels, or pause and fast-forward through a movie. And you never have to get up from the couch to do it.

Environment – This is a type of home automation that no one really thinks about anymore but if it wasn’t for it, we would constantly be adjusting our thermostats. When the temperature in your home gets above or below a specific number, the thermostat will automatically trigger the house’s heating and cooling system. Electronic thermostats can be programmed to adjust themselves during specific times of the day. They can automatically adjust to save on energy when no one is home. You can also control them by remote from another room or even by using your cell phone.

Communications – Home phones are now more automated than ever before. They practically do all the work for you. You can store numbers in them to speed dial. If you get a busy signal, you can program your phone to keep dialing every few minutes. Phones have services such as Caller ID, Call Block, and automated Voice Mail. Some phones can even be used to issue voice commands.

Irrigation – Probably the most common method of home automation is automatic lawn sprinklers. These save you a tremendous amount of time because you do not have to pull a garden hose around with a sprinkler attached to it in order to water your yard. A fully automated sprinkler system can be programmed to come on during certain times of the day (or night) and run for a designated period before shutting off. They even pop up out of the ground and then disappear when they are finished, making your lawn more visually pleasing.

Kitchen – All I can say is thank you for automated coffee makers. These wonderful devices have saved me many precious minutes each morning as I try to cope with waking up and getting ready for work. They can be set up the night before to come on at a specific time in the morning so that by the time you come trudging into the kitchen, there is a hot cup of coffee waiting for you.