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10 Clever Home Automation Tricks

October 6, 2014 | Comments

As we move deeper into the 21th Century, technology that seemed unthinkable just a few decades ago has become reality. This is especially true in home automation where almost anything is possible if you partner with the right home technology professional.

Here are 10 clever home automation feats a savvy custom installation company can bring to the table.

1. Scary Security

The typical security system that sets off a piercing siren when someone tampers with a door or window is so 20th Century. Step up your home-protection game with outdoor motion detectors that trigger the Voice of God (actually, a recording of your voice) to ward off would-be intruders with a special message such as: "The police are on the way," "You have been photographed," or some other foreboding statement.

2. Do Not Enter

If you have areas in your home that are off limits, install an Internet-enabled keypad lock on the door to the workshop/trophy room/whatever that you can control via your smartphone or a touch panel. To lock or unlock the door, simply enter a code on the screen. Go a step further and program the system to send you a text alert if someone tries to tamper with the door.

3. You've Got Mail

Avoid multiple trips to the mailbox by having a sensor installed that triggers a "You've Got Mail" alert in the house when the box is opened. It could be a message that appears on wall-mounted touch panels or an announcement that plays through speakers in the house.

4. Lights On

Install occupancy sensors that automatically turn lights on (or off) when you walk into (or out of) a room. Besides the crazy convenience, you'll conserve energy.

5. Romantic Setting

Who says you have to leave home for a romantic getaway? Set up an automated sequence that draws the shades, dims the lights, and plays soothing jazz at the touch of a button on your smartphone.

6. Vistas Everywhere

If you have a vacation home or live in an area with a spectacular view, train a high-definition video camera on the scenery and feed the video to PCs and touchpanels throughout the house. If you want to get really fancy, install a camera with an optical zoom that pans and tilts.

7. Local Weather

Set up a personal weather station that uses outdoor sensors to report temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, etc. Then create an automation routine that closes the (motorized) windows when it starts to rain or opens them (and turns off the AC) when the temperature drops below, say, 60 degrees.

8. Kid Alert

Replace the old key lock on your front door with an Internet-enabled lock programmed to send you a text or email when the kids get home from school. Each child can have his or her own personal code so you know its Billy who's home early, not Sally.

9. Water Warning

Install water sensors in your basement, laundry room and other strategic locations so you get a text or email if a leak is detected or your sump pump gives out during a torrential downpour. More important, set it up so the presence of water triggers an actuator that shuts off the main water valve to prevent flooding.

10. Movie Magic

Keep entertainment simple with a one-touch theater setup. Push a button on your phone to initiate an automated routine that turns on your TV/AV gear, dims the lights, and starts the movie. Sorry, you still have to take care of the popcorn and candy.

To learn more about home automation options, consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member home technology professionals in your area.