There’s a common belief that automation systems make sense only for owners of huge, multimillion-dollar homes. Jan Opat of Aurora, Ill., knows differently. She recently had an automation system installed in her 2,500-square-foot residence—and paid less than $10,000 (which included Graber fabric and hardware for four customized shades retrofitted onto the existing windows).
The Somfy TaHomA system controls everything you’d expect: lights, thermostat, and motorized draperies, but instead of controlling dozens of switches, it operates just 17 (plus 7 outlets for table lamps) in Opat’s house. It’s a small-scale system for a smaller home, that’s making a huge difference in Opat’s life.
For example, Opat no longer comes home to a dark house, like she used to. The TaHomA system turns on select lights automatically before she gets home from work, or Opat can always use her iPad to activate the lights remotely from her car or office. “I’m home a lot by myself when my husband is traveling, so having the house lit makes me feel safer and more comfortable.”
Two pair of motorized shades in the dining room and living room and the thermostat are controlled by the TaHomA system, too, based on a parameters programmed into the system processor by Matthew Kandl of Motorized Window Treatments, Schaumburg, Ill. As part of the security setting, the shades rise and lower and a radio turns on two times a day to make the house look occupied while Opat is away.
Besides security, energy management was another reason Opat went with the TaHomA system. She’s hoping that having the drapes open to harvest the eastern sunlight will allow her to set back thermostat to save energy. Having lived with the system for just a month, it’s too early to tell if this plan will have a significant impact on her energy bills. Per the TaHomA schedule, the thermostat, shades and lights adjust automatically at the four preset times: Wake up, Leave, Home, and Bedtime.
Kandl replaced the home’s existing light switches with TaHomA Z-Wave switches, which enable Opat to control the lights and shades manually, but she says she hardly ever touches them. “We just let the system handle it all automatically.”
Today, the TaHomA system controls only the lights and shades on the first floor. Given that the installation of the gear took just two days, Opat is open to soon add devices on the second floor. “The fact that the entire system is wireless really appealing to me,” says Opat. “No new wring had to be pulled, which made the installation really fast and straightforward. Plus, it lets me add on as I can afford it.”
Check out the slideshow for a look inside Opat’s TaHomA automated house.
Follow Electronic House
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.