Most people have heard the term home automation for years without understanding what it means and without knowing whether it was within reach.
Home automation means being able to enhance your lifestyle at home by automating lights and appliances using a computer and remote controls. Consider these scenarios. Have you ever left home on a fall/winter morning without turning on evening lights only to return to a dark and empty home and property? Have you ever arrived at your vacation or business trip destination and suddenly realized that you neglected to ask a friend or neighbor to make the house looked occupied? When it's time to relax and watch a movie on the big screen wouldn't it be great to have lights automatically dim as the movie begins? Or light the path to the kitchen with the touch of a button? When it's time for the annual summertime party, how great would it be to know that the garden lights, hot tub, pond and fountain are all operating automatically based on a programmed schedule?
The possibilities are endless. Home automation or control is becoming increasingly popular among people comfortable with surfing the Web. As a matter of fact, starter kits from manufacturers such as X10 have been steadily improving while at the same time dropping in price. These kits are simple enough for anyone to install, fairly affordable and vary widely in price and features. All can be expanded as your interests grow and technology improves.
X10's Active Home Pro kit includes a lamp and appliance module, USB Interface with built-in RF, Universal Remote, Keychain remote and software. All you had to do is choose the lights to automate and set the dials on each module/wall switch to receive on/off commands. The interface connects to your computer via a USB cable and sends instructions to modules through your homes wiring. The RF antenna enables you to also send commands using your handheld remote controls.
The software is colorful, fun and easy to use. You can create an evening lights room and then add the appropriate modules/wall switches using simple drag and drop commands from a lighting menu. Using the macros tab, you are able to group lights in categories of inside lights on/off, outside lights on/off. Under the timers tab, you are easily able to program routines to execute based on dusk/dawn patterns in your local area, again with simple point/click commands. It works so well that you will find yourself searching the house for more devices to add to your new home control system.