Gavin de Boos is a self-confessed gadget fan so the appeal of Home Automation drew him in with little resistance! Linking multiple parts of his home together - for example lighting and audio visual systems - and having them react and interact with each other was his primary goal. This was one of the main reasons why he's chosen Z-Wave as the technology to use, its power and flexibility allowing him to maximise the functionality of his automated home.
"I feel like Tony Stark when I command my phone to turn on the lounge lights!"
Gavin de Boos
While the coolness factor is certainly there, it's the simpler things that came to be appreciated by other members of the household. When the house is empty for example, Gavin can ensure that appliances are turned off at the socket rather than being left on standby, minimising energy used and saving him money too!
Why choose Z-Wave over other available technologies?
Having researched the various options Gavin settled on Z-Wave due to it having two-way communication for status reporting - "when I close the garage door, does the light definitely turn off?" - with Z-Wave there is no doubt! Gavin knew that technologies using one-way communication such as LightWaveRF were a little cheaper but he also knew that he would be expanding his system over a period of time and felt that the extra intelligence and flexibility of Z-Wave would benefit him in the long run. Overall Z-Wave was good value for money.
"I planned ahead and knew I needed two-way communication to achieve certain things I would need in the future, as it allows reporting of statuses."
Gavin has covered a lot of ground already with his system and has already fully automated his lighting. By using a phased approach to his installation he's been able to start out simple and add more devices when funds allow.
There are many Z-Wave controllers available from Vesternet and Gavin chose the Vera Lite after carefully considering the options. It has the most functionality out of the box and could be extended further by using additional applications from the active developer community at MiCasaVerde. It was also fantastic value for money, especially as he picked it up discounted during a Vesternet sale (hint: sign up for our newsletter to get early warning of our special offers!)
By using the four-in-one Aeon Labs Multisensors and the Fibaro Universal Dimmers, Gavin has managed to fully automate his lighting. He wanted the lights to be motion activated but only when the ambient light level fell below a certain level and he used the "PLEG" (Program Logic Event Generator) plugin installed on the Vera Lite to achieve this. The plugin is easy to use, allowing very complex conditional rules to be made in minutes. This has allowed Gavin to build additional "smarts" into his system, for example automatically lowering and raising the lighting levels when watching TV or listening to music.
Gavin installed Everspring Motion Detectors and Vision Door & Window Detectors throughout his home too. These are great for occupancy detection and can also be configured to send him an email if the doors or windows are opened, or if movement is detected while he is away. He's also recently added an Everspring Siren to the system with a view to expanding the security aspects even further. Coupled with a compatible remote control or keyfob this will make a very flexible alarm system to protect his house!
A love of music, TV shows and movies meant that Gavin wanted to integrate those into his system as well. By using the TKB On/Off Switch Socket he's able to turn his audio visual equipment on and off automatically depending on what activity he chooses to do. By using more plugins on his Vera Lite, he is also able to fully control his Logitech Squeezebox music players and his Raspberry Pis that run the excellent XBMC, both of which stream his music and movies from his NAS (Network Attached Storage). This is a brilliant example of using various technologies together to create an immersive Home Automation experience!
Bringing It All Together
The versatility and power of the Vera Lite give Gavin almost unlimited functionality when it comes to integrating all his equipment. For example, he has intelligently used Scenes and carefully used the PLEG plugin to react to movements while he is watching the TV - if he starts watching a movie the lights will automatically dim and if he pauses or stops playback then the lights will ramp up slightly to allow him to get up and get a drink and then automatically dim back down when he resumes watching the movie!
Beam Me Up Scotty!
More of us are now using the next generation of smart phones and tablets and Gavin realised that he could also use those in his set-up to offer even more convenience and user friendliness for controlling his system. He uses various apps to accomplish this and even has voice input to control the house by spoken command!
Gavin is planning on extending his system to cover his central heating next and will be looking at using smart radiator valves and intelligent room thermostats that will allow him to heat the house only when there's somebody at home. This is another fantastic example of using Home Automation to reduce energy usage and save £££££s off those monthly bills!
If you have a home automation system that you think would be a good case study to show others what's possible, we'd love to hear from you - email us at firstname.lastname@example.org