An introduction to home automation
For the last 6 months I’ve mused on how to better control the natural light streaming through the main window in my home. A 5 metre wide and 2.5 metre high arch window presents some issues when seeking a solution. After much deliberation I eventually opted for battery powered blinds. Arriving at this decision was not easy but for me it boiled down to 2 key points, aesthetics and ease of use. With a drop of nearly 3 metres a manual blind would soon become a chore, whilst the accompanying pull strings would almost certainly detract from the style of the window itself.
Whilst I had a slightly unusual situation, it soon became apparent that looking to a ‘home automation’ product was the best solution. Within Bang & Olufsen we have seen a shift among our customers to a demand for integrated systems addressing everything from blinds to CCTV to their home TV’s. Subsequently our install team are now not only Bang & Olufsen installation experts, but have further reaching expertise with regard to integrated systems.
What has changed?
Whilst we have watched the AV industry change and evolve over the last decade, we have never really looked to our lights and blinds as something evolutionary. More so a background feature that served a very static purpose, it is now something we can do so much more with. Whether mere lighting control or something much grander, I would encourage each and every one of you to take a step back and imagine what could be achieved through this technology in your own space, you might just catch the bug too!
The rise of wireless technologies such as, but not limited to, Bluetooth has given way to devices to talk to each other around the home. The most obvious implications of this was what we see every day in our showroom in Merchant City where people want to explore sending music from their smart phones to wireless audio systems such as the BeoLit 15. The more subtle effect of this shift in technologies is the ability to control a blind via a remote control or even your phone. Couple that with advances in software that make it relatively simple to have your blinds talk to your lights and your TV all at the same time and the whole ecosystem of your home changes greatly.
There are infinite possibilities when it comes to home automation. Every person will have their own idea of how to they want to have their home configured and what the wish to have control over. Roughly speaking there are three areas that automation falls into. Lights & Blinds, zones and finally full home systems. Like myself, most peoples route into home automation starts when they decide that they wish to control light in a single room, either artificially or naturally. From the natural light angle, we work closely with Lutron who can provide a solutions for any window. The following are some products from Lutron which might give you some ideas!
The Rania by Lutron enables you to replace any light switch and adjust the lighting to your desired level and save energy in the process. For many this brings a whole new dimension to their living space as the mood and feel of a room can be greatly altered with such a minor adjustment. This is how many of our customers (and myself) have caught the home automation bug!
The next logical step is to start to combine these products in a way that they complement each other. The Lutron Grafik Eye, like the Rania, but lets you create a “zone” to collectively control your lights and blinds in any room. This too is where the products start to integrate further as your Bang & Olufsen remote can, with the touch of a button, switch the lights to that scene and start your film playing.
Graduating to a full home solution is the final step in home automation. Lutron Home works has been the ultimate luxury for the last decade giving you multiple “zones” and the ability to centralise control of them. For me, living in an open plan flat this perhaps is a step too far, but there certainly is merit in those with larger houses being able to control everything centrally or in this age, from their smartphone!
A good starting point is our pages on Lights & Blinds and thereafter if you have some ideas from that but aren’t sure how to advance them or implement them, talk to the installation experts at Merchant City on 0141 552 5552.