25 Home Automation Projects For The Evil 16
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Photo: The simplest kind of home automation. Plug this time switch into your electrical outlet and it will switch any appliance on and off up to four times a day. This one is digital and uses a battery powered clock. Others have large, slowly rotating wheels with dozens of tiny switches you press in or out to switch appliances on and off as many times as you like. Inside, switches like this use a simple relay that allows a small switching current from the clock circuit to switch the much bigger power circuit on and off.
All these things are examples of home automation, but they're not really what we mean by asmart home. That concept takes things a step further by introducingcentralized control. In the most advanced form of smart home, there's a computer thatdoes what you normally do yourself: it constantly monitors the state ofthe home and switches appliances on and off accordingly. So, forexample, it monitors light levels coming through the windows andautomatically raises and lowers blinds or switches the lights on at dusk.Or it detects movements across the floor and responds appropriately:if it knows you're home, it switches light and music on in differentrooms as you walk between them; if it knows you're out, it sounds anintruder alarm.
Assuming you're not (yet) in the Bill Gates league of having amultimillion dollar smart home built from the ground up, you'll probably be moreinterested in adding a bit of automation to your existing applianceswith as little fuss as possible. Modestly smart homes like thisrange in complexity from basic systems that use a few plug-in modules andhousehold electricity wiring to sophisticated wireless systems youcan program over the Internet. Here are the three most common flavors:
Developed in 1975, the oldest and best-known smart home automation system is calledX-10(sometimes written "X10") and uses your ordinaryhousehold electricity wiring to switch up to 256 appliances on and off with noneed for any extra cables to be fitted.
You might think the idea of a smart home is frivolous and silly.Isn't it lazy and indulgent to have a machine switching the lights on and off for youwhen you can do it perfectly easily yourself? Bear in mind, though, thatmany elderly and disabled people, and those with special needs, struggle with simple household tasks.Home automation could make all the difference between them being able to livehappily and independently in their own home or having to move into expensive sheltered accommodation.
As the population ages, governments and medical charities are looking at home automation with increasinginterest: why not use computers, robots, and other technologies to provide the support thatvulnerable people need to keep them happy, healthy, and independent? For example, people with dementia can have their homes fitted with automated sensors that check whether cookers have been left on or taps have been left to overflow. Elderlypeople prone to falling can have their homes fitted with lighting activated by motion sensors, sothat if they get up in the middle of the night they're not stumbling around dangerously in the dark.Blind people can finally buy ordinary household appliances and use one simple computer controller,programmed to suit their personal needs, to manage them all.
If you're elderly or disabled, home automation systems like this can make all thedifference to your quality of life, but they bring important benefitsfor the rest of us as well. Most obviously, they improve home security,comfort, and convenience. More importantly, if they incorporateenergy monitors, such as thermostats, or sensors that cut the lightsto unoccupied rooms, they can help you reduce household energy bills;automated systems such as Bye Bye Standby, which cut the power toappliances when they're not being used, can dramatically reduce theenergy wasted by appliances such as washing machines,dishwashers,and TVs when they're not actually being used. 2b1af7f3a8