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Home Automation Server
Automation can be as simple as buying a security light that switches itself on
at night or installing a high dollar system with fancy touch screen displays
to control your lights, TV, home theater, thermostats and lots more. Basic
software products can even be installed on your existing PC to offer some big
benefits at low cost. You can even install products that allow you to pick up
your telephone and just tell the computer what to do!
Appliances are being designed right now that you will be able to buy that will
have the ability to communicate with your home network. Forget to turn on the
dishwasher when you left for work this morning? No problem, you will be able to
pull out your cel phone or PDA, contact your house, and turn it on, if you're
ready for the future.
See the explanation of Digital Convergence on the Home Theater page!
Some Basics - Advanced Lighting Controls (ALC) vs. Power Line Controls (PLC)
Advanced Lighting Control (ALC) is intended for installation in homes which have been
pre-wired for installation of ALC system products. What it requires is a pair of wires
run to each light switch, essentially 'networking' them together.
Power Line Controls use the actual power lines that exist in the house to transmit signals to the
switches, the most common is called X-10. ALC offers reliability and a higher price
tag. X-10 can be a very functional but steps have to be taken to prevent problems with
line noise, signals from neighboring houses, and signal strength in large houses.
The Automation Part
Many new products are available that allow for remote and scheduled control of equipment
in your home whether they use ALC and / or PLC switches. Some are integrated into the security
system panels. These products can be easily programmed or setup to perform the basics by
the installer. The better ones integrate your home's thermostats as well, giving you
complete control from a central location. If a fire alarm goes off at night the system can turn on all the
lights in the house, perform it's usual alarm and alert duties, unlock doors, and
turn the A/C system off!
The Computer Part
The obvious evolution is to hook these controllers into a dedicated or existing personal
computer. Now the system takes on some incredible capabilities. We can offer a very reasonably
priced system that allows you to view the status of your security system, view surveillance
cameras, and control appliances over the internet. That means whether you are at work
or roaming around with a pocket PC in hand, you will be able to monitor your home and control
Talk to Your House
This sounds a little too 'sci-fi' for a lot of people, and the press has latched on to some
funny stories about microphone based systems that get confused, but there are products available
today that use your telephone to connect to the computer and allow you to use voice commands
for many of the functions around your house, from switching on lights to changing channels
on your TV. The obvious benefit is that you can call the house when you're not home, and do
the same things. You can even get the computer to read your
e-Mail messages to you.
Throw Out The Answering Machine
You can also throw out the answering machine and use the computer to record messages. It's easy
to give everyone in the house their own mailbox. You can play messages back when you're not home.
Once they are stored on the computer the voice messages could be forwarded to you via e-Mail.