When many people think of home automation, they think of functions like Home Theatre, music in the dining room or controlling lights in the upstairs hall. However, this is just one part of what a SmartHome can do for you. This week, we would like you to expand your horizons to the great outdoors, and start thinking of all the amazing things home automation can do for the outside your house.
The Garage The most obvious place to start is also the first home function that was ever automated – the garage door. While the garage door opener has never gone out of fashion, with a fully integrated system, you can do so much more. The garage door can be integrated into your system to that your “arrive home” function could open the garage door, turn on the garage light and the kitchen light (and if you like, even start your coffee maker). Your “Go to Work” function could close the garage door and shut off every light in the house except the front porch. You can even program the system to send you an e-mail alert if the garage door is opened, after which you can use the installed security camera and your phone or iPad to see who’s in the garage.
The Lawn Automated lawn sprinklers have been around for a long time too. They are also still useful. The right time to water your lawn is early in the morning, but who wants to be out doing that? Just program the times, or let your Crestron or AMX system figure out the right time based on the time of year. But how about adding some extra functions? Don’t like dogs or racoons on your lawn? Install perimeter motions sensors, and the lawns sprinkler will come on any time an unwelcome visitor walk on the grass.
The Lights Ask any realtor – the right outdoor lighting will not only enhance the beauty of your home, but is also a big equity builder. The new generation of outdoor LED lights are weatherproof, can change colours and use a tiny amount of electricity. They can also help discourage prowlers, and can be easily programmed as part of your whole home system.
The Front Door How about the front door? Video door phones are becoming very common as a welcome way of finding out who’s there before you decide whether or not to open the door. How about knowing when the mail or a package is in the mailbox? Have a sensor installed in the mailbox and you can be alerted any time you’ve got mail or a parcel. And make sure you add a system-controlled door lock. You’ll never lose sleep again wondering if you remembered to lock the door. Just check from your phone, and lock it if necessary.
The Pool The swimming pool is an area where home automation really shines. It’s a place where underwater lights can make an evening swim a whole new experience, as well as making the pool much safer at night. Put them on the control system so they are never left on by mistake, or so they come on and off when you’re away to give your home a “lived in” look. Hate dry pool slides? Put in a waterproof button switch at the top of the slide. Your home automation system will shut it off after a few seconds so you never waste water. Control the pool temperature, program everyday functions like turning valves on and off – it’s all possible with a control system. Tired of the kids tracking sand in from the pool? Install a floor level vent to your central vacuum system at the entrance from the pool. A motion sensor can turn it on every time sandy feet come through the door, and sweep the sand away.
Outdoor Audio Don’t forget outdoor sound. There is huge variety of outdoor speakers to choose from. If you like the high tech look, go with a modern finished speaker box. If you prefer a more natural feel, speakers are available that are disguised as rocks, planters or flower pots. With a media server as part of your system, you can be outside and still access your entire music collection with the touch of button. You can even get a waterproof button remote from Crestron in case there’s a sudden summer shower. Your neighbours don’t like your music? Have sound tubes installed over the chairs on the porch. You’ll hear the music perfectly, but it will be completely silent a metre away.
Fire Pit On a chilly evening, there is nothing like sitting around an open fire outside, but most cites won’t allow it. What they often will allow is a gas-powered fire pit. Safe and smoke-free, the fire pit can be programmed to come on with the push of a button. For added safety, it can also be programmed to automatically shut off after a certain number of hours, or at the end of the evening. With an automated system, you can even put in a password that will prevent small children front from turning the fire pit on.
The things we’ve looked at this week are just a few of the ways home automation can be used outside. If you can think up the function, there is a good chance we can think up a way to make it happen. The only limit is your imagination. If you’ve ever thought of making the outside and inside of your house smarter and easier to live with, now is the time to contact OneTouch Automation. With spring only eight weeks away, this is the perfect time to plan an early installation that will let you enjoy your new improved home all summer long. Call us today for a no-charge consultation.