The simple answer is - anything you want it to be!
Home automation is anything that enables you to use your home’s lighting, heating and appliances more conveniently and efficiently.
It can be as simple as remote or automatic control of a few lights, or it can be a complete system that controls all major parts of your home, custom set to your own personal preference. Home automation is anything that gives you remote or automatic control of things around the home.
The aim of this Getting Started guide is to give you an unbiased view of what’s available and help you make an informed choice of what home automation technologies best fit your needs and budget.
We focus entirely on wireless home automation technologies - these are easy to retrofit into existing homes, now need for new wiring and no ripping up the carpets or drilling holes in the walls.
Each technology has its own unique features and benefits, this makes some more suited to particular applications, whilst other can be see for all general home automation installations.
A new technology which offers a reasonable performance for most home automation applications at a very low cost.
Simple wireless technology - does not include two-way communication or mesh networking
Devices controlled by remote controls, central controllers and smartphone apps
Can be connected to the internet to send texts or emails
Great range of stylish, low cost products for control of appliances and lighting (although limited to UK style plugs)
Choosing the technology that's right for You
The technology you choose really depends on what you need to do today and why you think you may want to do in the future.
Some general things to consider when choosing your home automation system are:
Large Installations - You should choose a technology that supports an unlimited number of devices and nodes. Vesternet recommends - Z-Wave as both support unlimited devices
Many obstacles - Choose a Mesh-based technology as these create create the most reliable networks. Vesternet recommends - Z-Wave - established mesh technology.
Small Installations - If you want to control only a few lights or sockets, then any of the solutions will be fine. Vesternet recommends - LightwaveRF for simple UK installations as it has a fantastic range of retrofit switches, dimmers and sockets. For other installations Z-Wave offers a good solution.
Expansion - Choose a technology that has the types of devices that fit your current and future needs. Vesternet recommends - Z-Wave as it is a huge range of nearly 700 products.
This is the area where you can really use home automation to its full extent to provide convenience, comfort and security for your home.
Remote Control - On/Off and dim/brightness control of any light or socket powered lamp
System Control - lights (and other alliances) can be automatically controlled by the system, timers or motion detectors
Create Scenes - set groups of lights to a ‘scene’ and control them from a single button-press. Select your ‘Film’ scene to automatically turn the home cinema on, dim the lounge lights to 40% and turn all other lights off, or click ‘All-Off’ when leaving the house - all lights and other appliances turn off - saving money while you are out.
LightwaveRF - If lighting control (and small appliances) is your main focus, LightwaveRF has some great features and very stylish switches, plugs and sockets that can be easily retrofitted into any home. Especially suited for smaller homes as it doesn't feature mesh technology or command acknowledgements. Only suitable for UK installations.
Z-Wave - Offers a more comprehensive home automation network that can be easily expanded to include security, heating control and energy management. Wide range of lighting control solutions available for UK and European style wiring schemes including insert modules that fit behind existing switches.
Home automation offers a very affordable and easy to install solution that will cover all your security needs.
Alarm activated by various wireless devices including door/window sensors and motion detectors
Alarm can be set to automatically sound a siren, turn lights on and escalate the alarm by sending email/text alerts
Cameras can be triggered to record photos and streaming video - see exactly who is in your home
Z-Wave - Has the most comprehensive range of controllers, sensors, cameras and alarm siren, easily expanded to include control of fixed lights and socket powered appliances, and can be connected to the Internet for remote access and messaging.
Adding home automation control to you home's heating system is relatively straightforward and enables you to fine tune your usage through the day and for different days of the week.
Automation enables your to control which areas of your home are heated, when they're heated and to what temperature at any point in the day
Create zones that can be individually turned On/Off or be set to different temperatures
Reducing waste by intelligently controlling how each room is heated
Z-Wave - Has the most extensive range of controllers, thermostats, radiator values and sensors.