April 01, 2015

Home Automation Past and Present

Innovative Home Systems was founded in 2003 to provide our customers with top quality automation products and services. Since then, we have seen the industry evolve and have learned a great deal. One thing that stands out is that people often shy away from automating their home or business because they don’t fully understand what’s possible or think it’s too difficult and expensive. It is true, in the past home automation was mostly reserved for the wealthy and professional installation of complex “whole house” automation systems costing $20K-$50K or more, but things have been changing.

 I recently spoke with a customer who had purchased a home with a high-end “whole house” automation system. The installation had been implemented years before, when the home was built.  Like most others the installation involved special, low voltage wiring throughout. Most “high-end” systems involve wiring all lighting fixtures directly to a rack of switching equipment in the basement. Unlike traditional house wiring that connects wall switches directly to the lighting they control, low voltage wire is extended to all parts of the house to allow communications from “Control Panels” to the “Central Controller” switching equipment in the basement.

 Unfortunately, a processor circuit board had failed in our customer’s “Central Controller” causing his entire system to shut down and leaving him with no lights. To make matters far worse, the company that manufactured his automation system had gone out of business and replacement circuit boards were no longer available.

 The customer’s was faced with a choice of two options. One, replace the entire automation system with a different brand that used the same low voltage wiring scheme, or two, remove the home’s drywall and replace all the low voltage wiring with traditional line voltage wiring and wall switches. Either option would cost tens of thousands of dollars.

 This story illustrates the primary reason we don’t recommend the high-end, whole house automation systems. Today’s advances in technology and miniaturization allow distributed intelligence with the brains of the system located in each switch and communications occurs over standard house wiring. 

 Now you’re thinking, “But manufactures of distributed intelligence automation devices go out of business too”.  You are absolutely correct. However, when a device fails, only one lighting circuit is affected and if a replacement should become unavailable, a standard, garden variety light switch would suffice to restore your lights. 

Innovative Home Systems is an Upfront Merchant on TheFind. Click for info.