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A Smarter Home

by Tanek Hood, Reynolds Lighting Division

Two-hundred years ago, homes were basic structures that were needed to keep rain off our heads and give our children a place to sleep, providing basic needs with minimal innovation. In 2017, things have changed: the home senses and interacts with the family to make life better. Innovations in home automation control have progressed quickly in the last two decades with the advent of the Internet and increased connectivity. In fact, what was originally science fiction is now a daily piece of our life.

Now, everyone can have some version of the smarter home and there are many options to choose from when integrating technology to simplify your life. Smaller and faster electronic devices attached to a WIFI grid or cell service have given us more freedom in our world. A generation of paper and pens is moving to mobile talk and text, and intuitive devices tell you when you need to be somewhere or remind you to take your medication. Given the current generation gap with the adoption of new technology, this article will also show you what you can expect today and what is in the future. The following Q&A addresses a couple of the comforting benefits added with home automation and also dispels some myths.

What is a smart system that you can add, at a minimum, to your home and life?

Reynolds’ team members favorite smart feature is to integrate lighting timers and dimmers to make the home present uniformly after dark. A basic mobile app lighting control system, like Webee or Lutron Caseta, will provide more lighting control features with the ability to easily control any home lighting on a timer with scenes. Home size will limit those systems, but they are easy and affordable, within the $1,000-$2,000 range. Limitations in those systems’ expansion exist, but they work for everyone who can control a basic app on their phone.

What are the basics that can improve your home life immediately, and in the future?

At a minimum, we start with updating automated sensing light switches (occupancy vacancy sensors) for bathrooms and closets that turn on as you enter to a dimmed percentage and off when you leave. Get creative with their uses and the auto light sensors will make a positive impact on your life. A device that has dual-sensing with daylight sensing is the best version, but is not needed for interior rooms. Lutron, Leviton, or Greengate are considered the main players in occupancy vacancy sensors.

A control specialist will develop an integration plan for your home based upon your goals for updating your home. Think about the integration of everything eventually, so that decisions about protocol are made initially. The protocol is to ensure that the devices communicate, and that should be the same for many of the devices that you want to work together. Most clients look at their control systems and don’t use them frequently after installation. They are too busy for the interaction, so the more the system can operate reliably on its own, the better. A less-is-more approach will initially include remote deadbolts locks, remote access cameras, and interacting devices. Connection and interaction within the family is a good starting point to make your life easier. If you forgot to turn off the lights, or if you want to see if a child is home from school, these options help save you time and stress. Ensure the control system is ready to grow with the future and your family.

What are some basic myths that can be dispelled with regards to home control and home automation?

1# Some clients think control interaction will mean “big brother” can control their home. Home lighting control with an independent system of occupancy vacancy sensors and timers is very safe. There is no connection to the Internet.

2# Although safe when not connected to the Internet, there is a risk with any system connected to the Internet with access into cameras or appliances. For any aspect connected to a router and the Internet, there is a risk through an exposed weakness in a firewall or filter. Use a professional to set-up your control system and review these risks to choose your type of system. Locate a control specialist that you trust with access to your world, as the relationship gives them access to most of your home and life when integrating certain features, such as cameras, safety, and security. Make sure your system is remotely accessible by their team and checked regularly.

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