By Jon Solomon
Around my house, our 10 year old is the remote control guru. In the hands of anyone over 18, the remote might as well be a paper weight.
Home automation has been around for years, but it’s been expensive and difficult to install and use. As a Tampa luxury home builder, I can tell you from experience that home automation requires an experienced integration contractor and even then the results are typically a complex, expensive system that either doesn’t work correctly or that nobody can understand how to use. Keep in mind that these systems cost thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars.
So why are they so expensive and unreliable?
Very simply, there are just a lot of moving parts and variables with few standards for the technology. Toss in Verizon, Bright House, Direct TV or any other service provider into this technology stew and you’ve got yourself a recipe for high expectations and lousy results.
Although there will always be custom, expensive home automation systems, I believe the future promises some simpler, inexpensive technologies for the masses. Here are just a few:
- Nest Thermostat - Designed by the same folks that designed the iPhone, this device installs like any other thermostat but uses sensors and other technology within it to learn and adjust to the way you live. It's motion sensor notices when you wake up and are in the home. It learns what temperature you prefer and automatically adjusts itself. It’s easy to override if you want to and can be controlled with an app on your phone.
- Nexia Lock Control - Schlage has an electronic locking system that allows you to lock and unlock the deadbolt from an app on your phone (as well as regular keys). It provides added convenience and security by sending you a message when someone opens it and you can use the app to confirm whether you locked the door or not when you are away.
- Cyber Rain Irrigation Control - This automatic sprinkler system controls your irrigation like you would if you were watching it daily. It will adjust itself if it senses rain and will check the weather forecast to make changes to its schedule. It will also notify you when it senses a failure in the system.
The beauty of all these new tools is that they eliminate the need for costly programming and integration. By using standard interfaces like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with applications on the web, the costs come down dramatically and the products become easier to use and more reliable.
Hopefully these products are a sign that more affordable and functional home automation is on its way to Tampa custom homes. Now if only I can figure out that darn TV remote.
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