Home Automation is a wonderful hobby. Once getting started with this
technology, you'll find that you want to automate more and more. I'm a
DIY'er (do-it-yourselfer) who pretty much taught myself everything I know
when I installed my system. Having a basic working knowledge of
electronics (low voltage) and networking is key to learning and
understanding how everything works. Having a good computer background is
essential as well when it comes to programming devices.
While home automation is great; it's unfortunate that it won't be
mainstream. Why do I feel this way? Having a custom-installed home
automation system from a professional installed can cost THOUSANDS of
dollars. Sure, you can throw in a basic X10 system to control lights
for under $100, but the advanced logic and control isn't there. In a country
where a builders bottom line is "cheap"; it's unlikely any standard homes
will come with the convenience of home automation. Not only that, but
continued support and modifications to a system can add up to thousands of
dollars a year. Luckily the total cost of my system was mainly in
parts; all the labor was done by myself. I have spent hundreds of hours a
year on automation, if I had to hire a company to do all the work I did, it
would have cost me thousands of dollars just in labor and support.
If you have the talent, I highly recommend venturing out and
experimenting. It has grown to be such a huge industry that you'll find your
only limited by your imagination and not the technology. I recommend
scouring the internet to learn more, there are great sites out there for
learning, installing and troubleshooting.
When wiring your house for home automation, it's nearly impossible to
know what you will be automating. As you get more entrenched in
different home automation projects, you might realize that you need more
then you have. I tried to predict as much as I could, so I wired the
house for a variety of technologies including:
Security (Door Sensors, Motion Sensors, Glass Break Sensors, etc)
Power Door Locks (remote keyless entry)
Remote Garage Door Control
Whole-House Intercom/Audio (M&S Systems)
Video Projection (Home Theatre)
Pool Monitoring Control
The key to wiring is to make sure that if you need extra wire runs in the
future, you can do them somewhat easily. I'm not a big fan of wireless
technologies; too many problems with interference, batteries, and signal
strength. I prefer hard-wired connections! In total, I ran approximately 2
miles of cables (over 10,000 feet) of cable in my home. A lot of the cables
are not in use, but they are there "just in case" I need to use them in the
future. Trying to run cable after all the walls are finished can be a
nightmare if you don't have easy access to route them inside the walls!
multiple runs to each room of the house which consisted of:
CAT6 Network Cable
Ethernet Network Access
CAT5 Network Cable
CAT5e Network Cable
Expansion use (Audio/Video Signals, Infrared, Serial Control,
RG6 QuadShield Coax Cable
Video Up/Down Feeds
Shielded 4 Conductor
Infrared, Microphones, Speakers
I had the convenience of wiring my house while it was being
constructed, so it made the job a lot easier. If you have to wire in an
already constructed home, it can be a nightmare trying to run wires
without making a mess. The most important thing you can do is to pick a
central location for wiring all the components to. Whether it's in your
garage, basement, or attic, just make sure you have easy access to add
new cables or modules if you need to down the road.
Here's a picture of all the wires terminated in the wiring closet.
The "brains" of my system is HAI's great OmniPro II system.
This system is very customizable and handles general security, home automation,
temperature control, etc. Using the Web-Link software, you can
control your entire home from any house telephone, or even from web-page on a PocketPC!
This is the HAI OmniPro panel with an expansion module, and the 8-port
relay module mounted on the door.
Video & Telephone Distribution using Channel Vision Products
The system is VERY customizable and contains a way for you to create
programs/macros to perform tasks based on events, time of day, etc.
My system is also hooked up with the two-way voice module which is great
for making announcements (ie: Tuesday & Friday are trash days).
I also included one zone expansion unit, and the 8-relay module for
some automation tasks.
HAI OmniPro LCD Consoles
located throughout the house. I have 4 of these located in
main hallways for easy access. The system can support a
ridiculous number of consoles, so it's doubtful that you will
hit the limit!
HAI OmniState RC-80 Thermostats
for temperature control. I have 8 total zones (mixed heat/cool)
for baseboard heat, radiant heat, and central air conditioning.
These units are nice because you can even monitor the
temperature of different rooms using the Web software.
I also have a remote temperature sensor module installed
For general home automation control, I stuck with the X10 technology.
I highly recommend the Leviton DHC/X10 True-Rocker decora style
switches. They are more expensive then standard X10 branded modules, but
they quality of the switches is 100 times better. They do not have a
mushy feeling to them.
I purchased all of my home automation products from the following
SMARTHOME.COM - They carry the full HAI line and just about every
other Home Automation product designed! They have a great
selection of Leviton X10 modules.