If someone told me a couple of decades ago that I would be able to see who was ringing my doorbell using my phone no matter where I was at the time, I would have laughed at them. Now, thanks to modern technology, using the home automation ideas we found for you, you can make your house feel like you live in an episode of the Jetsons.
Minus the flying cars, of course.
However, modern technological advances mean that even if your car cant' fly, your options are nearly limitless as to the things you can do to automate your home.
Additionally, the equipment you need to get it done is much more affordable than it used to be.
However, what we do have is a whole list of home automation ideas that will help keep you and your family safe and secure.
And that security comes about in ways we could only dream of a few years ago.
So, let's dig in and find out what's going on in the world of home automation and how you can make it work for you.
Let's Start with the Basics
Technology is moving at such a fast pace these days that for most of us, keeping up with the latest developments is impossible.
So, before you can decide which home automation ideas work for you, you need to find out what's available.
For example, did you realize once your home is automated, using only your phone, you could:
And that's only the tip of the iceberg that is home automation in 2019.
The internet of things
Before we go further, though, we need to talk about a term you will often see when you researching home automation which is "the internet of things," or IOT.
This term describes typical everyday products that contain the ability to communicate and interact with other devices over the internet or Bluetooth.
For example, if you can open your windows using your phone, your windows are part of your in-home internet of things.
Check out the video below for a more detailed explanation:
As you will see, depending on the internet of things in your home, you can do some pretty epic stuff.
Before we talk about anything else, we want to go over a few basics concerning software platforms.
All of the modern electronics work by using different types of software that make them do what they're programmed to do.
Well, different electronics use different software platforms and, sometimes, those don't like to communicate with each other.
Start from scratch if you can, and as you build your system, make sure that everything will work together.
As you shop for different devices, check in their descriptions to make sure that they work with your system.
Additionally, new smart hubs will also help the electronics in your home communicate with your smartphone.
For example, say that you want to control the lights in your home.
Well, if the software platform that your lights use won't work with your cell phone's program, what are you to do?
You have a couple of options:
First, you will need to get yourself a smart hub. Using the right hub, you can communicate through your phone with all of your automated home electronics.
In addition to that, in 2010 a software engineer designed a software platform called If This Then That or IFTTT that changed everything.
IFTTT technology works by using a programming language that's universal across all platforms -- meaning it works with any device you can think of.
Now, you are probably thinking, "I can't write code," but don't worry.
Frequently, using IFTTT will be as simple as pressing a button or two.
For more information on IFTTT technology, check out the following video:
However, even if it's a little more complicated than a button, you can usually find "recipes" online or easily create your own to connect every device in your home seamlessly.
Today, to help you make an impressive list of home automation ideas to implement in your house, you have to begin with the basics.
For example, first, you have to choose your in-home interface.
You could choose one of the hubs we listed below or one of the many others available.
However, before you decide which type of hub you need, you need to know how you want everything to connect in your home system.
The interface describes the "communication protocol and hardware combination used for sending and receiving messages between devices, the user, and the overall system."
For more information on the interface, watch the following video:
As you can see, the interface describes both the control units you may need for your system (CCU) as well as the sensors you need to make it work.
Additionally, you may need extra room control units (RCU) depending on your needs.
Next, you will need to decide how you want your system to connect.
The word topology describes how your home automation units communicate with each other.
First, you can choose the star topology -- which is the most popular option.
Using star topology, you will have one central hub that controls all the other devices on the system.
Secondly, you could also go with a mesh topology.
Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution." -- Albert Einstein
The mesh topology doesn't have a central unit. Instead, each unit communicates with the other units.
Learn more in the video below:
Finally, if you want to keep things very simple, you could go with point-to-point topology.
Using point-to-point, you will only be able to hook up two devices to each other -- so, if you are only interested in a small project, this one might be for you.
One very important factor when you're planning an automated house will be not only the layout of the wiring but the layout of the house.
It's vital that you know the measurements of the rooms you're going to automate.
So, you have a couple of options:
- Have someone draw up plans of your home
- Do it yourself using a program like this one online
And one final pro tip: make a couple of copies of the plans so that you can put marks on one of them and still have a clean copy.
Let's Talk About Smart Hubs (CCU)
First, many people like to start with an in-home smart hub which they use as their CCU -- like a Google Home or Amazon Echo.
Like we said, using a smart hub you will be able to use your phone to communicate with the other devices in your home.
Now, let's talk about what's available:
So, hopefully, by this point, you know that you will need floor plans of your house, a method for how you want to connect everything, and which hub you might want to use.
Now, it's time to look at those plans and decide what ancillary equipment, like sensors, that you are going to need.
In addition to those sensors, you can also get a range of motion sensors as well, including:
Room control units
Finally, as we mentioned above, you will likely also need to get some room control units (RCU).
You use the RCUs to control specific things in each room like lights, appliances, and windows.
The RCUs work by communicating with the CCU as you enter commands or if one of the sensors goes off.
Wiring it all together
One final thing before we get into our home automation ideas that you will need to think about will be wiring.
If you are just now building your home, planning your system and installing the wiring is pretty simple.
However, if you are adding the system to a pre-existing home, it gets a little more complicated.
Here's a good rule of thumb:
After you decide what you're doing, choose as many wireless devices as possible to cut down on having to install new wiring.
There are still a few things you will need to run cables for, though.
You will need ethernet or coax cables to run to each device on your system that requires a network connection:
- Automation controller (hub)
- Touch screens
- Door stations
Things that can use existing wires:
- Garage doors
Home Automation Ideas to Help Keep Things as Secure as Possible
Finally, now that you know a few of the basics and have an understanding of the equipment you're going to need, let's get started.
When we hear the word "security" often we think about the obvious things like break-ins and fire.
However, keeping your house dry, warm, and comfortable also provide security.
Not to mention, as a bonus, once you have an automated home, many insurance companies will give you a discount.
Home automation ideas -- security
Let's start with the most apparent home automation ideas to help keep things safe and secure.
Remember, this goes above and beyond just knowing who is knocking on the door.
Here are a few more ideas to help keep your home secure:
- Install a touchscreen in your bedroom and program it to display the person who rings the doorbell
- Program the security camera inside to pan to the front door when someone rings the bell
- Television or movie you're watching pauses at the doorbell (or other emergency events)
- Program your TV to display who is at the front door while pausing what you were watching
- Program outside lights to come on when someone rings the doorbell
- Use your smartphone to view who is at the door
- Install motion sensors inside around high-priced items
- Get a notification through your smartphone when your security sensors detect unwarranted motion
- Cat scene: a protocol which will disarm your security system and turn on lights for your pet's potty breaks
- Program your lights to flash, including those in a master bathroom, when one of the exterior doors gets opened
- Receive an alert if you leave your garage door open
Home automation ideas to use in case someone breaks in:
- Program every light in the house to turn on at 100 percent
- Lock the front door
- Open all motorized shades
- Every television in the house displays the view from the security cameras
Home automation ideas -- geofencing
Many people find that when they are implementing their home automation ideas, they like to install a geofencing on their property.
Now, geofencing is not a visible barrier like you might be thinking.
Instead, it's a virtual boundary that you can place around your home, and when someone enters into the barrier, you can program your system to do any number of things.
For example, with a geofence, you can program your lights to turn on inside and your garage door to unlock when the system senses someone in the boundary.
Remember, though, the trigger for the action will only work if the person arriving home has a smartphone set up on the system.
Check out geofencing in the video below:
Initially, many people used geofencing for their businesses.
Once someone downloads the company's app, geofencing allows the business to track that person and send them coupons when they arrive on the property.
However, you can easily use geofencing around your home and program it to do many things like:
- Turn on exterior and interior lights when someone gets home
- Unlock front door
- Turn on music, lights, or heat/AC inside
- Open blinds
- Activate the garage door
Conversely, if the system doesn't recognize the person inside the geofence, you can program it to do things like:
- Turn on all exterior lights
- Activate camera feeds and send you a text on your smartphone
- Double check to ensure you locked the doors
Home automation ideas -- lighting
Next, the list of home automation ideas involving lighting is nearly endless.
You can do everything from dim and brighten to change colors and turn on the lights automatically when someone enters the room.
You can also automate your lights to do the following:
- Motion sensor lights outside that turn on when something gets near them
- Dim or brighten any room in the house from your smartphone
- Set the lights to brighten slowly before your alarm goes off to ease you into the morning
- Dim the lights at bedtime
- Remind your children that it's still bedtime by turning their lights back off if they get sneaky
- For kids: turn lights different colors to let them know what time it is
- Automated lights in the bathroom, kitchen, and hallway
- Turn lights off but keeps a nightlight going for five additional minutes
- Turn house lights blue when it starts to rain
- One-touch lighting that works for an entire room
- Lights flash in selected rooms when the doorbell rings
- Turn on lights in the house or on the path to the house when the garage door opens
- Landscape lighting that turns on and off automatically depending on the time of day
- Turn on lights automatically at night if you are away to deter burglars
- Set an "all off" button to turn off every light in the house with the push of one button
- Set the lights to dim, brighten, or turn on and off depending on natural light levels in the room
Home automation ideas -- cameras
Years ago, most of us couldn't dream of having a security camera outside of our home, or inside for that matter.
Luckily, these days, the cost of a security camera has come way down.
Now, you can get yourself a wireless outdoor security camera that's weatherproof, includes motion sensors, and has night vision for less than $100.
Also, depending on your needs, you could get yourself a wireless security camera for inside the house as well -- and those are even cheaper.
For those of you with small children, indoor security cameras are almost a must-have.
Home automation ideas -- emergencies
Of course, no one wants to think about something like a fire happening, but we still have to be prepared.
So, when you are making your list of home automation ideas, don't forget to plan for emergencies.
Keep things as safe as possible by doing the following:
- Set garage door to open if the CO2 levels get above a certain point in the room
- Circulate the heat from your fireplace
- Fire alarm turns on all lights in the house
- Send notifications to your smartphone in case of emergency
- Open windows in case of a fire
- Use moisture sensors and receive an alert if a pipe bursts, your basement floods, or your house gets wet for another reason
Home automation ideas for fun and savings
Finally, we are going to round out our home automation ideas with a couple of things that don't have much to do with security.
First, for fun, let's talk about music. You can use your automated system to play music throughout your house, and that's only the beginning.
Keep things musical in your house by doing the following:
- Push all the music you have in storage to audio zones in your home using your smartphone, keypads, and touchscreens
- Program a button to activate different zones of music throughout the house
- Double tap a button to turn an audio zone off
- Have music turn on automatically when you turn on the shower
- Install a touchscreen behind waterproof glass so you can control music from the shower
- Program "his and hers" audio settings that correspond with either the time of day, designated buttons on the keypad, or audio zones
- Create a night-time music scene that dims lights and sets music at a specific volume
Finally, aside from the money, you will save on insurance after you implement all of these home automation ideas, you can also use your automated home to save even more.
You can set your thermostat to turn off the heat or air conditioning if someone opens a window, for example.
A few other economic things to do around the house:
- Set the thermostat to lower at night while everyone is asleep to save on heating
- Turn on the fan in the bathroom when humidity reaches certain levels
- Get an alert if someone leaves the refrigerator door open
- Sends you a reminder when it's time to change the filter in things like the furnace
Now It's Time to Live like the Jetsons
And there you have it, folks -- using this list of home automation ideas and the things you learned today you're ready.
Now, you can get things going, and before long, your house is going to look more like an episode of the Jetsons than you could have dreamed.
Do you have a fantastic home automation idea that we missed? Tell us about it in the comments.
Featured Image Source: Pixabay