November 19, 2007 by EH Staff
Single-room and less expensive multiroom lighting control systems are also available. You might want to start with these, say in a home entertainment room, and add more lighting control in other areas over time.
Home Control Systems
Whole-house control systems, also called home automation systems, can operate everything: the audio/video system, the lighting and security system, even the heating and ventilation systems. They are typically expensive systems—well into the five figures and beyond—that are operated by wall-mounted touchpads and large LCD touchscreens. Some touchscreens can even be docked in wall mounts for charging, then taken out and used throughout the house.
These very cool, very slick systems used to be the sole province of the rich—and some still are. But the advent of less expensive systems that operate over IP (Internet Protocol) are changing that. An IP-based system puts the home’s electronics and subsystems on a network, much like a computer network in a corporate office. Every electronic device on the network has its own web address, though this web only exists inside the home. The beauty of these systems are their lower costs, ease of operation, and the ability to control electronics in your home remotely—either over a secure web site, by cell phone or via other device. IP-based systems had some early flaws, but the technology has matured rapidly and become much more reliable. Wireless IP systems often use mesh networking as previously described.
In very large custom homes, it is still probably best to go with a hardwired automation system that can control anything and everything. You will also be able to get much more customization—in everything from the programming of your touchscreens and what buttons appear to how the home electronics are controlled. Some smaller one-room solutions for home theaters are also available from these vendors. And some can provide you with everything, from lighting to whole-house audio, from one company.
But more mainstream home control is now available through several reliable IP system providers. These will still cost you in the thousands, but you can add onto them over time—and you don’t have to be dripping with money to afford it.
No matter what kind of control or lighting system you get, the most important thing is to make sure it’s is easy to operate and that it works.
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