Home automation – it seems like the cream on the cake when it comes to the comforts of home. If your mind brings forth a luxurious bachelor pad that requires only a clap of the hands for the lights to dim and soothing music to switch on, you’re not alone. But the truth is, home automation is as much built for the average family and, as tech expert and CEO of Empirical Works Paul Lin, asserts, it is a lot easier and cheaper to implement than you would imagine.
“I love trialling tech products and became interested in home automation a few years ago. I was amazed at how easy products are to set up, not to mention how affordable they are. As an app specialist it became quickly apparent that everything is now controlled by mobile devices and mobile apps,” Mr Lin explained.
“Once upon a time, installing a high-quality sound system into every room in your home meant a lot of wiring, labour and money. These days, wireless systems requires no wiring of any sort other than power, and they present a whole new frontier of possibilities.”
The key to setup is knowing the best products to buy. Many home automation products are simple to set up, straight out of the box.
“Consumers may be surprised how far this area of technology has come, and how simple such products are to set up and operate.”
So if you’re thinking about pimping your pad, here are a few of Paul’s top tips for maximum comfort and minimum spend to get you started on your path to home automation.
Make your home lighting akin to an amazing Instagram filter, ready to change – whatever your mood. The impact of lighting is not to be underestimated; it can significantly alter the ambience of a home. You can easily control lighting from a remote device or app, and set your lighting for specific times of the day. Paul recommends Phillips Hue which allows you to play with tone, contrast, brightness and control as many as 50 light bulbs from a free Phillips app. “It might seem extravagant to invest in lighting but it is one of the most significant home automation changes you can make to your home. Your space will feel so much more relaxed and inviting.”
Philips Hue Smart Lightbulb Starter Kit – $249
Traditionally wiring a building for sound was an expensive undertaking. A smart system of HiFi wireless speakers and audio components can unite your digital music collection in one app, and be controlled from a remote device, for a fraction of the price. All you need is WiFi and you are good to play music. Paul recommends Sonos – speakers are synced, automation set up is easy and you’re not required to be tethered to your phone. “I’ve programmed my Sonos to wake me up to talkback, easing me into the day, and when I walk through the doors at the end of the day, ambient music greets me.”
Sonos products – from $329
There are a lot of sleep sensors available that don’t belong to the home automation category, but you are required to either wearing a band around or ensure your phone is on the bed as you sleep. Installing a sleep sensor is as simple as placing a sticker like device under your sheet, which will then analyse your sleep patterns. “It is also entirely possible (depending on the device) to feed information from sleep sensors to other home automation devices, adjusting the heating, dimming lights or lowering sound to meet your sleep conditions. The beauty of home automation devices is that they are designed to pair.”
Beddit – $149
Gone are the days when your lounge is scattered with multiple remotes. Devices like Logitech’s Harmony One act as one remote that talks to all devices – allowing you to sync up 225,000 devices from 5000 brands, meaning the chances are, you can control all your devices from one place whether it’s your lights, music, sound, DVD player or television. “With all-in-one remotes, it’s a case of never going back once you get one in your life.”
Logitech’s Harmony One $249.95
By using sensors, you have a better understanding of your environment. Whether it’s the temperature, humidity, light pollution, air pressure, noise levels or air quality – environmental sensors help provide feedback about the health of your home. Air pollution is particularly useful to measure – especially if you are using paint, or have a tendency to keep too much plastic in your home. If you rely on air conditioning it also makes you aware when it’s time to open the window and let fresh air in. It’s incredibly useful if you have babies in the home or if you are managing allergies.
Cube sensors – $299
If you make the investment in a number of home automation products, you may want a ‘brain’ to tie them all together. Such products act to automate all your products, exactly as you want them. While it may take a little more work to set up, it ensures all your automation runs smoothly. It enables you to do great things like start your coffee machine when you wake up, get light to follow you as you move from room to room, alert you if your pet leaves, make it look like you’re home when you’re not, or set timing for the turning off and on you lights, thermostat and electronics.
Smart home starter kit $199