posted by David Adams on Wed 21st Jan 2004 22:52 UTC
IconIf all goes well, this summer I'll be building a new house. I've owned a few houses before, some of them built in the 1920s and 30s, and full of all the charm and quirks of an old house, and a couple that were pretty new, with the lack of craftsmanship and imagination that's typical in most new construction in the USA today. But this time I'm building a custom home, just to my specifications, so I can have whatever features I want, limited only by my imagination (and budget). I'd like to integrate some home automation features into the house, and include wiring for future expansion.

Some of the features that I had in mind:

  • Sturctured wiring (Cat5, RG6, and a patch panel)
  • Wired networking (ethernet)
  • Wireless networking (802.11g)
  • Remote lighting control
  • Remote heating and air conditioning control
  • Intrusion alarm
  • Fire alarm
  • Surveillance cameras
  • Audio distribution
  • Making my computer's mp3 library available to the house
  • Video distribution
  • Distributing two Tivos to four TVs
  • Notification of cars entering the driveway
  • Notification that mail has been delivered to the mailbox
  • Remote control of the system via the internet
  • Remote control of the system via the in-house Wi-Fi network
I just got back from the International Builders' Expo in Las Vegas, where I was able to see all the various vendors' wares, and there are some impressive and very flashy technologies on display. Plenty of LCD touchscreens and impressive patch bays packed with wires. Systems that will pipe music to each room in the house, that will allow you to program your home's lights in complex themes, so one touch will create a romantic mood throughout or bring up every light to full blast when an alarm goes off. Your fire alarm can shut off the air conditioning automatically to prevent smoke from filling the house. You can send video over cat5, lighting controls over the electrical wires, and virtually everything wirelessly. It's quite difficult to decide what's the best way to do it.

I'm sure I'm not the first prospective homeowner to be interested in these kinds of gizmos, but a little bewildered at the variety and frankly a little scared off by the cost. That's why i've decided to embark on a mission, and I'd like to take the OSNews readers with me. I'm going to study and evaluate the various home automation technologies and consider them for my building project. Once I've made the determination of which combination I want, I'll price out the various options, and eliminate the ones that are too expensive, or seek cheaper alternatives. Once I've got my kit designed, I'll work with my electrician to install the system into my new house, and I'll tell you all about it.

Some of the company's products that I've looked at: Eaton Electrical - Structured Wiring USTec - Structured Wiring OnQ - Structured Wiring Vantage - Automation HAI - Automation Leviton - Wireless home automation Smarthome - X10-based home automation Centralite - Lighting Systems Architectural Audio - Distributed Audio OWI - Speakers MAS Audio - Speakers

This first story, before I really know anything, is to get a little pre-feedback from the readers to guide me on my way. Do you have any experience with home automation? Do you have any advice? What worked for you, and what didn't? What do you wish you had, or hadn't, done? If you haven't done it before, what would you like to see? Is there any aspect of home automation that I haven't mentioned that you think merits a look?

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