The term "home automation" describes almost anything you can do to
control devices in your home, including remote control, computer
control, timers, etc. Automation can make life more convenient,
improve security, and it can also save considerable energy. There are
many vendors that produce and sell equipment for home automation. On
this site I describe some of this equipment and how to choose what is
best for you. I also describe some automation projects that I
Sources of home automation equipmentTwo of the best sources for home automation equipment are Smarthome.Com and X10 and each of these has its strengths and weaknesses. If you decide to automate your home, it is likely that you will add to your system over several years, and you will likely choose equipment from both of these sources. Fortunately, the main line of automation equipment from these two vendors will work together. If you need basic modules quickly, you might also check at your local Radio Shack, although the selection will be more limited and you might pay a higher price.
In addition to X10, Smarthome.com offers a second line of home automation equipment that uses the Insteon protocol. This protocol is more reliable than X10, but at present there are some devices that are not available in the Insteon line. The Insteon modules also work with X10 controllers and vice versa. If you are getting X10 modules from Smarthome, I suggest getting the Insteon version since they will also work with your X10 controllers, and it leaves you with Insteon capable modules in case you decide to convert to Insteon later. The price of the Insteon modules is comparable to that for the SmartHome X10 only modules.
Click here for a general discussion of the strengths of each of the vendors listed above, and how to get the best deals on devices. Read the desciptions under "Choosing home automation equipment" to decide which components are right for your application, and to find the best source for those components.
Getting StartedI am setting up a home automation system for my house and have started to order X10 modules. The first thing I did was to take the time to catalog the devices I wanted to control, and from where. I then listed the characteristics of each kind of control I needed in terms of whether I required dimming, non-dimming, confirmation of feedback of current state, and scene lighting, and whether I might want that functionaility in the future. This is an important step because there are large difference in the price of home automation modules depending on the features your require. On the pages linked in the following sections, I discuss different kinds of X10 modules and how to select what you need, and for some module types I discuss the benefits and drawbacks to the offereings of different vendors.
Home Automation ProjectsFollow the links below for information on several of the home automation projects that I have completed. Some are standard projects one would expect to do using home automation, but I discuss the different equipment options I considered and experience with my choice. Other projects are straighforward, but will give you ideas about things to control, and discusses my experince, the cost of the project, and any savings that resulted.
Choosing home automation equipment
For more information related to home automation