(HIT) – Today’s home automation systems offer practical, cost-effective solutions for convenience, security, safety, energy savings and entertainment. The latest systems provide new levels of controls, accessibility and connection.

“Trained electrical contractors can help offer homeowners and builders a home networking system that supports automation control,” said John Maisel, publisher, Electrical Contractor magazine at www.ecmag.com. “They add the necessary low-voltage wiring to homes and come back for desired upgrades,” he said.
Hard wiring offers reliable, long-lived service and often performs better than Wi-Fi, which is subject to competition—multiple devices using the same available bandwidth, i.e., 2.4 gigahertz. It will also ease supply-and-demand responsiveness as the smart grid gets smarter and utilities offer savings incentives to customers who agree to use certain appliances during off-peak hours. While the components may be more expensive, wireless installation is less expensive. Once the cabling is set, components can be added at the homeowner’s own pace.

Home Automation for Residential Lighting

Photo courtesy of Electrical Contractor Magazine

Residential security systems are also now using Internet protocol (IP) communication technology, which enables the homeowner to control system components from a desktop computer or through a router. IP technology also allows the homeowner to use mobile devices to remotely control the system and arm and disarm the system, check status, view camera input in real-time, and even get event notifications, as well as turn on and off lights, appliances, adjust thermostats, etc.

Reasonably priced systems can be operated from a six-button panel or keypad by the front door. Lighting, heating and cooling, and security systems can be adjusted depending on whether the homeowner is home, away, awake, asleep or having a party. More robust systems may include a home theater, multi-room audio, irrigation control, access control, vehicle detection, surveillance cameras and even remote pet feeding systems. In a smart home, the security system needs to be integrated with other subsystems.

All residential security systems, regardless of their complexity, have a control panel with a communication port. Lower end and less expensive systems have fewer devices, such as contacts for doors and windows and motion, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. In the middle range of complexity, there are more zones and peripheral devices, which may include temperature gauges, water and flood detectors, exterior motion sensors, and remote key fobs and arming stations. In this range, homeowners can also program lights and heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to respond to an event and, of course, notify police. Higher end systems incorporate such options as audiovisual integration with message notification for the police and audio warnings in the house, password protection, web-based cameras, driveway sensors, access controls, Apple iPad applications for remote control, the ability to review event logs, and dedicated touch screens for whole-house control.

Published by the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Bethesda, Md., Electrical Contractor magazine delivers 85,000+ electrical contractors and more than 65,900 electrical contracting locations, more than any other industry publication.  Telephone: (301) 657-3110.  Web site: www.ecmag.com.

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