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Home Automation, Integrated & Web-based Security Systems

What is Home Automation?

Home automation, also called “domotics,” is the centralized control of equipment within your home and can include the integration of appliances, like HVAC (heating and cooling devices), lighting, home entertainment and security systems. Conventionally, home automation integrates your electrical appliances by linking them to a central control panel.  Modern automation systems also uses digital (wireless) technologies to integrate devices; these systems are often managed and operated via a web-based control panel.

Integrated Hard-wired Systems

Hard-wired automated systems create a network of the appliances within your home with the goal of creating an efficient ethos while maximizing your comfort, saving money and downsizing your ecological footprint. An integrated security system can link all your security equipment, including sensors, electrical fencing, environmental detectors and video and access control devices to your central console, which is usually accessed by a touch screen keypad, so you can easily monitor and manage safety levels. These automated systems are sometimes called total security management systems in the business sector; they are quite common in corporate environments and, with the advent of wireless, digital technologies, are also becoming commonplace in the residential sector.

Honeywell’s “structured wiring” solution bundles all your electrical cables and ties them to one central console.  Cameras can then be monitored on any television in the house and one remote control can activate appliances in a different room.

Integrated Web-based Solutions

Integrated, web-based security systems, like CPI’s inTouch or ADT’s Pulse allow you to manage all aspects of your property from your PC or cell phone, either from home or anywhere with an Internet connection.  You can monitor cameras, initiate access control and activate (or deactivate) any alarm zones in your property.  In addition, you can regulate your heating and cooling infrastructure, curtains and blinds, interior and exterior lighting and other home appliances like coffee pots or whatever is plugged into an outlet, as well as carbon monoxide and climate control detectors, by linking them to one central console. These integrated systems are considered to be “hybrid” because they are controlling electrical devices by providing information to the consumer in digital formats.  They are especially appealing to working parents, technology geeks, multi-taskers and conservationists.

ADT released its new ADTPulse system last fall, stating that it allows customers to remotely access their security systems from anywhere in the world using the Internet or a Smartphone.  In addition to controlling their security systems, they can also control lights, their thermostat and any other electrical devices, including air conditioners, coffee pots and entertainment centers.

Alarm.com specializes in wireless home monitoring that is entirely web-based.  Their integrated solutions allow you to track all entry and exit points, which can be helpful if you have pets, small children or elderly guests.  You’ll be sent regular notifications that you can check at leisure to verify that everyone is where they’re supposed to be.  The system can even tell if you garage doors, medicine or liquor cabinets have been opened or left open for too long.  They do outsource their dispatch monitoring to a UL-certified third party central station.  Some independent companies handle all security operations in-house, including monitoring, and even include total energy consumption, weather and traffic guidance in the real-time streaming updates.

Dedicated software like E-Home Automation provides customized solutions that can enhance your lifestyle by making it easy to manipulate your surroundings.  They integrate environmental, entertainment, communications and security systems, allowing you absolute control over your home.  The software can be programmed to send you regular updates, complete with digital video snapshots and audio files.  You can also program moods or scenarios, like “home in 20 minutes,” “away,” or “celebration,” which will instantly prompt the brain of your console to adjust the levels accordingly.  You can also program regular routines, like “goodnight,” e.g. “shut everything off” or specific commands  like “activate lights in zone three at sunset;” since the system has an internal celestial clock, it will automatically update with the shift in daylight.

The Sensaphone is an automated monitoring system.  Essentially a hybrid console that can take both analog and digital sensors, it will alert up eight different phone numbers when there is an alarming event.

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