Do It Yourself Home Automation :: Affordable and Scalable

New affordable wireless devices from loads of manufactures are now on the market to enable you to put together your own Home Automation System easily and without breaking the bank.

I work in the home automation sector. My company is a custom installers of home automation equipment. We control everything in your home from your lights, curtains/blinds, air conditioning and doors, to your TV, HiFi and media library. It’s not cheap. And although my company is extremely competitive, our solutions are targeted at errr…. shall we say above average income earners.

Also the type of home automation solutions we install are to a degree retro installable, but mainly aimed at new build where we can run lots of lovely cable around your home before you decorate.

There will always be demand for the type of system we design and install, but new technology advances are bringing home automation into the range of normal people, with normal incomes and normal homes that they already live in. Like me.

As I arrive at my apartment my lighting knows from my phone location that I am home, and by the time I open my front door my hall lights are on to welcome me. I can walk into my living room and simply say “Alexa Living Room lights on” and presto my lights are on. Then say “Alexa play ABBA Greatest Hits” and like magic Dancing Queen starts playing through the speakers in the room.

I could go on and on about things I can do in my home. But I won’t. I think you get the idea.

The thing is the technology is starting to emerge and is affordable and useable. It’s still early days and mostly being adopted by technical enthusiasts like me. But as time moves on this will become standard in more and more non techi homes.

You can start by ordering a Phillips Hue starter kit. I got mine on Amazon and had it delivered to me here in Qatar. It costs £150 (QR 670) and includes three colour LED light

Phillips Hue Starter Kit
Phillips Hue Starter Kit

bulbs and a device called a bridge. This will allow you to control three ceiling lights from your phone. You can put them all in one room or put them in 3 different rooms. You can also screw them into floor standing or bedside light fittings. You can then create lighting scenes and control them from your phone. You can add more bulbs as your confidence grows, and like me add wireless buttons to add more traditional control by placing them on the wall next to existing light switches, or stick them on your bedside cabinet. Additional Phillips Hue LED light bulbs cost £15 (QR 67) for dimmable white, or £50 (QR 223) for a full colour dimmable bulb. Everything is wireless so no need to run cables around your home.

Next you can order yourself some Amazon Echo Dot’s. They cost £50 each (QR 223). Or if you prefer the high quality audio option Amazon Echo at £150 (QR 670) each. I personal started by ordering three Echo Dot’s and placed one in my living room, one in my bedroom and one in my bathroom.

amazon-echo-dot
Amazon Echo Dot

These little devices are just the beginning of what we can expect as being normal in homes of the near future. They sit these and listen for a command word, in my case “Alexa”. Once they here this they wait for you to give them an instruction or ask them a question. They have built in speakers that respond with your answers, confirmations and play music you have selected. All wirelessly except for a USB style power cable. And they integrate seamlessly with Phillips Hue lighting.

amazon-echo
Amazon Echo

Examples of things I can get Alexa to do are; “Alexa turn on Living Room Light”, “Alexa Dim Living Room Light”, “Alexa play the latest album by Cold Play”, “Alexa tell me a joke”, “Alexa what is 100 ounces in milligrams”, “Alexa who stared in the movie Top Gun”. You can also set reminders by saying “Alexa set timer for 10 minutes” or “Alexa set alarm for 7am”. Now you can control your home without pressing a single button or reaching for your smart phone. Which is why I love the one in the bathroom because it’s easy to change what I am listening to, or adjusting the volume while in the shower. And because Alexa has access via the internet to all TuneIn Radio stations, I like listening to radio stations back in the UK.

The good news is that more and more companies are producing more and more devices that will talk to each other and work together. Standards are being established for manufacturers to adopt and so you will be able to control more and more aspects of your home in more and more ways.

If like me you buy the Phillips Hue and Amazon Echo, you can add Samsung devices that will control wall sockets so you can turn a fan or a kettle on. You can add sensors for security or convenience, and you can check the status of devises while you are away. Add security cameras, or thermostats. You can keep building your home automation system as you identify your needs and at an affordable pace.

Trust me this is the dawning of a new age in the modern home.

Feel free to contact me if I can help you with anything.

 

 

 

 

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