In our previous post, back-end programmer Attila Csizofszki explained the basics of home automation: He outlined how it works and covered everything you need to know if you’re only starting to look into this subject, and I found his explanations very useful.
In this post, Attila talks us through the smart objects he installed in his own home and advises on where to start your home automation process if you’re new to it all.
What do you have installed in your home?
Let’s start with the alarm system. I use motion sensors for all sorts of things: controlling heating, turning lights on and off, as well as for the garden watering schedule and obviously for the burglar alarm.
The central hub controls the boiler temperature and the temperature in each room individually. The same applies to AC during summer, and I also have CO2 sensors in my system. Imagine I have guests and the CO2 level rises in a room, for example. In that case, the ventilation systems turn on automatically, just like when I take a shower and the humidity exceeds a certain level.
The watering system is also part of my home automation, and it continuously checks the weather and runs accordingly. The house turns on the lights when the sun goes down in those rooms that are being used by family members in that moment. The blinds go down at sunset and come up every morning, using the sensors and schedules as part of the system.
The outer gate is also part of the security system with monitoring and remote control. The garage door is automated as well, as is the robot vacuum cleaner. It never runs when we are at home or, when we are home, always runs in a different room.
The solar panels on the roof are also integrated into the system, and while they aren’t active yet, they still feed useful data to the system: I can see our entire power consumption, which helps me tweak my home automation from time to time.
I want home automation but have no experience. What would you recommend?
(Laughs) I would tell you to call someone whose day job it is to implement home automation. They can tell you what you need and run you through all the options that are available. It won’t be cheap, that’s for sure, but the result will work as you want it to work.
With zero experience, I wouldn’t recommend anybody to attempt setting it up without expert help.
I’m building my own home automation system. Is there anything I should avoid?
I’ve often seen people trying to build their system the cheapest possible way. Most of the time, they end up with a clunky set-up that doesn’t work properly, or they accrue additional expenses changing it further down the line when they are faced with errors, objects that aren’t communicating with each other and systems that require endless tweaking to work as intended.
I would not recommend doing it on your own without extensive knowledge of home automation either. I speak from experience here, because I used an unstable open-source solution that gave me a hell of a lot of freezing from time to time. I then switched to a manufacturer hub (Loxone), which is more limited, but stable and never locks up.
Is it easier for a programmer to build the system and tweak it?
Yes, that’s definitely true.
There are different ways to set up the rules and schedules. My Loxone system for instance has a user-friendly, easy-to-use UI. You can program it as a PLC by moving different blocks, logical gates, sensors and actuators. You don’t need to be a programmer for this particular system to do the basics.
What happens if I have a system and I want to change something? Do I need to call the expert every time?
No, of course not.
Any user can make basic changes to times and schedules in the app. Most of the time, they don’t require expertise.
If it’s more complicated, I would suggest you call someone with programming knowledge.
Attila confirmed what I already suspected: If you want home automation set up well, you need to get an expert on board. It also pays to invest in a system that is stable and offers reliable management of your devices, whether that’s just your hoover or, as in Attila’s case, a large proportion of your home.
Next time, Attila and I will be chatting about possible user errors and faults in the systems. We’ll find out more about his automated home and some funny situations he got himself into with the schedules and rules he applied for his home automation.
What is your experience with home automation? Are you a seasoned pro who can share some inside tips, or are you still on the fence about connecting your home? We’re always curious to hear your thoughts!
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