Planning a smart automated home

In the summer of 2006 my wife and I bought a house that needed quite a bit of “updating”.  For my part I decided that I wanted a home network and TV distribution.  As I investigated the kit I needed I discovered that the science-fiction world of “smart-homes” was a reality for enthusiasts as well as the super-rich.  As we always planned to be in the house for many years I thought it made sense to include “standard smart home wiring” so I could add devices on the end as time and money allowed.  I soon discovered that there is no standard wiring scheme!


While there are some old (X10) and emerging standards (XAP / xPL / Zigbee / Z-wave) the current market is dominated by a plethora of proprietary systems.  There is no one product (or product family) that does everything and so the starting point was to sit down and think in detail about my objectives in the future and how to prepare to support them, rather than put some wires in and hope for the best.


In retrospect I would classify the main areas of potential automation as

  • Lighting (including dimming and scenes)
  • Home Cinema (HD content)
  • Whole house audio
  • Whole house video (standard def or HD)
  • IR distribution (to support audio and video distribution)
  • Appliance control
  • Heating control (independent zones & hot water, solar panel control)
  • Security Alarms, CCTV & Entry Systems
  • Fire and flood alarms
  • Irrigation & water recycling
  • Ventilation
  • Curtains and blinds
  • Communications (voice mail, email alerts, web server, etc)
  • Remote Control (Infra Red (IR), web, voice, touchtone, email, SMS, Radio Frequency (RF))


At the outset I hadn’t considered many of these but eventually I planned for most of them!


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