For many homeowners, it starts with the media room. It’s here that those bitten by the technology bug often indulge in their first taste of high-tech, smart home Kool-Aid, accoutering the space with a big-screen TV and a surround sound system. Later, after countless trips from the couch to the light switch on the wall to darken the room, they might add a system that lets them dim the lights from a handheld remote; they inevitably wonder, “If I can do this from a remote, why not also use it to close the drapes in the media room, and surely it’s possible to control lights in other rooms of the house from it?”
Soon, and without even realizing it, these homeowners have branched into full-blown home control and home automation. And, frankly, it’s one of the best ways to do it. Instead of forking over a huge chunk of cash for all the bells and whistles at once, this baby-step approach lets you live with a few features and discover on your own comfortable timeframe what types of technology make the most sense for you and your family. It’s a wise investment plan.
In this issue of Electronic House we present several ways you can expand your home’s technology footprint—from the media room to the front door and from the front door to the backyard, and other places in between. Maybe you’ve started to play more music—instead of just movies—in your media room. If so, it might be time to turn the den, a guest bedroom, or some other space into a listening room. Check out “The Two-Channel Listening Room” for tips and advice on the equipment you’ll need.
There’s even a place for entertainment beyond the four walls of your home. In “Say Goodbye to Backyard Boredom” we explore how to introduce audio, video, communications, and control to the great outdoors. It’s probably a lot easier and more affordable than you think. The perfect complement to outdoor entertainment is elegant lighting, and this, too, can be an expansion of a lighting control system you might already use inside your house. By branching out the system to the backyard, the deck, patio, and gardens, your house will exude tremendous curb appeal—both day and night. Go to “Smart Outdoor Lighting” for all the details.
No matter how small your start or how big your home control journey becomes, your home is going to need a strong communications backbone. This infrastructure, on which music, video, control signals, and other data will travel, can be wireless, hardwired, or a combination of both. But regardless of its makeup, it’ll need plenty of bandwidth to handle your every growing, every expanding smart home. Bob Silver covers all the bases in “Building a Network for a Smart Home.” Don’t miss it. It paves the foundation for every high-tech plan you’ve got brewing, both inside and out.