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Smart homes are the future, however technology revolves at such a rapid pace that many homeowners are left in the dark, writes RYNO GOOSEN of HFX Systems.

Home automation is a must-have for any modern home worth its salt, and in today’s modern age, technology influences practically every aspect of our home environment. As a result, home automation is becoming increasingly popular in residential homes, especially those at the upper-end of the market.

Unfortunately many homeowners are not aware of the enormous benefits of home automation and therefore, do not plan for it when renovating their existing home or building a new one.

From my experience, there are two main stumbling blocks when it comes to the installation of home automation are ignorance and cost. With regards to ignorance ‚ one only has to look at the pace at which technology is being brought into our homes to understand that it would be wise to plan for future developments.

A self-automated entertainment room

The cost factor shouldn’t really feature, as even if you do not have the budget to invest in a home automation system right away, your home should be designed in such a way that you could integrate one seamlessly when you eventually do have the money. It is all about creating space ‚ installing conduits that connect to all the rooms in your home is a great start. Remember, there can never be too many conduits on site, and the bigger the conduits, the better. Conduits built for home automation should have a minimum diameter of at least 25mm, but for connecting different floors or levels, or to run HDMI (high definition multimedia interface) cabling, a conduit with a diameter of 32mm to 50mm is necessary.

Home automation defined

Simply put, a home automation system is a system that provides you with remote or automatic control of things around the home. In fact, today, home automation systems can give you the ability to control home functions remotely from anywhere in the world using a computer connected to the Internet or a telephone.

Some of these systems include access control and security, data networks, distributed audio, energy management, home cinema, irrigation, lighting, pool and spa bath systems, telephone and communications, window covering controls, HVAC controls and CCTV. All the above-mentioned systems are classified as subsystems and the idea is to interconnect all the subsystems under one umbrella, so that they can interact with one another and be controlled from one centrally-operated system.

RTI RK3-V In-Wall Controller

I believe that the main aim of any well designed home automation system is to create a flexible, practical and user-friendly domestic environment ‚ allowing even the most non-technical people to easily operate the most technically advanced systems. By designing and including an infrastructure that is capable of being readily upgraded, a smart home can easily maintain pace with advances in technology.

How does home automation promotes sustainable living?

The idea of a smart home evokes thoughts of automated convenience functions that are nice-to-haves, but not entirely necessary ‚ spa baths that heat to the perfect temperature while you’re driving home from work, or a heating system that switches on and off automatically and intuitively adjusts the temperature to suit the climate.

In real terms, smart homes are just homes fitted with intelligent home automation systems, which comprise nothing more than innovative software programs written to meet the lifestyle need’s of modern home owners. But, instead of merely looking at the hedonistic privileges of living in an automated home, today increasingly more luxury home owners are looking at state-of-the art home automation systems as a means of managing their home’s daily functions in the most earth-friendly, economical and energy efficient manner.

A home automation system can do this by controlling a number of systems and appliances within the home in the most effective and economical way, including lighting systems, audio and visual equipment, heating systems, security, and many more. In essence, using home automation technology for energy control can reduce power consumption by limiting use to where and when it is most needed, and in the process saving the home owner money on energy bills without affecting quality of life.

I remember not so long ago when home energy control was one of the more mundane applications of home automation. However, today, it has become the most important one, thanks to the need to conserve our planet’s resources. Home automation will never conserve energy in the sense of making an inefficient product more efficient. But what it can do, is it allows us to reschedule tasks for when energy costs are lower. Rescheduling won’t reduce the amount of energy used for a specific task, but it will cost you less, and it won’t put undue pressure on the energy provider’s grid.

The goal of home automation has always been to make your home more comfortable and secure. In addition to comfort and security, automating the home is the best way to regulate energy usage and reduce costs for heating, cooling and lighting. Most home automation systems offer integrated energy-saving smart lighting controls, power controllers that turn appliances off automatically and programmable climate control systems. Automated irrigation systems and automatic faucets can help you reduce your water usage, too.

The RTI T3-V+ from HFX Systems

Who to choose an installer

For peace of mind and optimum performance, I recommend homeowners should always choose CEDIA-accredited professionals to install any home automation system in their homes. The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) is an international trade association of companies that specialise in planning and installing electronic systems for the home. Consumers benefit from CEDIA accreditation because it allows them to find qualified, reputable and insured design and installation contractors to counsel them and work in their homes. They also benefit by having CEDIA promote professionalism and honourable business practices in the field of custom installation.

The bottom line is that in order for you to achieve optimum results ‚ it is essential that your home automation system is designed, installed and programmed by an experienced home automation professional. This will not only ensure that all the electronic devices and control software are integrated seamlessly, but it will also mean that the system meets your individual aesthetic and functional requirements.

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