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What is a Smart Home?

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Smart home description

A Smart Home can be so much more than whole-house audio or a custom one-off home theatre. It can incorporate your heating & cooling, lighting, security and access control. The whole house can become intelligent - bringing together lots of subsystems to ensure efficiency, ease of use, and convenience.

Efficient, integrated smart homes

Integrating heating and lighting with air conditioning and blinds can save huge amounts of energy. Fine control of heating and air conditioning can ensure the system is only on when required - this could be driven by motion detectors in rooms or advanced time schedules beyond the usual on at 8, off at 9 schedules. Daylight sensors can sense when sunlight is spilling in to a room and subtly change the blinds to compensate - varying degrees of a Venetian blind until the system detects the light is at an appropriate level - not just open or close. This keeps the room cool and minimises expensive air conditioning use.

iPad control

Convenience and luxury from one integrated system!

Imagine being able to control anything in your house from the comfort of your lounge or from a single push of a button - the lights automatically turn on, blinds are drawn, and the temperature is set to the perfect level all ready for when you arrive home from a long day at work.

An integrated system is a crucial part of your Smart Home. Without it, even the best components are only that, components. Most of us already have a TV, a VCR, maybe a DVD player and a digital TV set top box too. That’s 4 remote controls. Add an AV amplifier, lighting control, a CD player or media server, and we are on the slippery slope to remote control hell.

Lighting control

User control panels

Controlling your lights from a central, automated location is undeniably convenient. It might allow you to switch off your front porch light from your bedroom, for example, saving you from making a midnight dash downstairs and out the front door - an added bonus in the middle of winter!

It also adds an extra layer of security when you’re not home. You could instruct your living room lights to turn on automatically at 6.45pm every night, so that you appear to be home, whether you are or not. And then, to avoid a giant carbon footprint, you could attach a motion sensor that commands the lights to switch off after 30 minutes if no movement is detected.

The best part about all of this is lighting is one of the easiest areas of your home that you can automate. Starter kits are inexpensive, and installing devices can be as simple as plugging it in.

Home security

Security pad

If you have a home security and alarm system currently installed, you’ll know how good it feels to have the peace of mind that your home, and your family, is protected. Can you imagine, then, how comforting it would be to know you have access to your home security system, whether you're at home, at work, or on the other side of the world?

Home security systems range from basic alarm programs to sophisticated set-ups. You can now do things such as: install a camera to stream live on the internet – at a password protected URL, of course – so you can view your home from your office, hotel room, or practically anywhere that you can get an internet connection.

On a simple level, home security systems help to keep burglars out and keep your family safe and sound. An automated surveillance system, however, can achieve much more.

Multi-room entertainment

iPod dock

Multimedia home entertainment systems can bring your home alive - imagine being able to enjoy your music collection anywhere in the home. Multi-room audio systems are discreet yet allow you to enjoy any music source throughout the home. An iPod docked in one of the bedrooms can be enjoyed whilst showering in the bathroom or cooking in the kitchen. Even by setting your favourite internet radio and internet music stream can now follow you around the home.

In-ceiling and in-wall speaker systems can be painted to blend in seamlessly to any environment and become virtually invisible. The same speaker can reproduce extremely high quality hi-fi sound throughout the home, faultlessly reproducing your favourite music. Hide speaker systems in living rooms - ultra slim on-wall speakers are covered in fabric to become part of the interior design and subwoofers can be mounted in bespoke cabinets or fitted under the lounge.

So why do we need a smart home?

The primary purpose of a Smart Home is to aid us in living a more convenient and comfortable life. Right now, your home probably employs many types of technology, from the light switch that controls your globes, to the alarm system that protects your belongings. A smart home simply takes this technology a step further, by automating these devices and providing a method to communicate with them.

To put simply, it makes life run more smoothly. Plus, it gives you access to the latest developments in green infrastructure and eco-technology, allowing you to upgrade your lifestyle without upgrading your carbon footprint.