Asking Home Automation Systems to All Get Along
There are a wide variety of smartphone apps to help users control different parts of their home. But what if there was a single app that could make the home even better by allowing all these different apps to work together?
“Our goal for our clients is to take all of the subsystems of a home or business (lighting, motorized window treatments, heating/cooling, security, music, television, etc.) and move them into a simple to use single interface,” said Jamie DeJean, owner of Smart Home Technologies based in West Fargo.
The early trend in “smart home” technology was focused on the do it yourself approach, which relied on people controlling various features of their home through the use of multiple apps. However, as people began to rely on this technology and expect greater ease of use, the need to integrate these systems to work together in one app increased dramatically.
“Our clients really see the advantage of this technology when multiple systems work together to make their day to day lives more convenient,” adds DeJean. “You can use a single button to turn on mood lighting in a particular room or throughout the home, start playing music, or access security cameras. They can also enjoy the energy savings that come when the different parts of the home work together.”
For example, anyone can put in a smart thermostat such as the Nest and Ecobee brands to help automate their HVAC. Scheduling and knowing when you are away are helpful, but there is so much more a well-automated house can do.
“Why not have your thermostat work along with your motorized window treatments or even your lights?” suggests DeJean. “Let’s say your thermostat reads 76 degrees and is ready to call for the air conditioner to come on. However, before it does that, it checks to see if your window shades are open or if the lights are on, both of which are sources of heat.”
In response, the system can lower the shades and turn off the lights in the unoccupied rooms before using the air conditioner. There are similar advantages in the winter months. If it is too cold in the house, the automation system can open the shades for solar heat gain before running the furnace.
“We feel a smart home is one that makes adjustments to help the home run more effectively and efficiently,” says DeJean. “It is technology designed to make various systems work together to create a more comfortable home.”
You can now reduce the wall clutter of dozens of light switches with a single keypad. You can also control lighting from touch panels, tablets or mobile devices while at home or away. The system can automatically turn on the exterior lights at sunset and turn them off at sunrise.
“Whether it’s movie night, an intimate dinner for two or a business party, lighting establishes the perfect mood,” adds DeJean. “Traveling out of town or working late? The lights can execute pre-programmed scenes to simulate established lifestyle patterns. Dimmers can adjust internal lighting to take advantage of natural light levels in the home and incrementally increase or decrease throughout the day.”
Enjoy your high definition video and music sources throughout the entire home or in just the room you choose with distributed audio and video systems. Watch your favorite recorded video program in the den while your family watches their favorite program in a different room. Entertainment is made easy without the clutter of audio/video components scattered throughout the home. Add peace of mind with a surveillance camera system that can record weeks of activity. Camera video can be viewed on your televisions, in-wall touch panels or mobile devices. See who is at the door or in your driveway, plus monitor your kids in the backyard or check on your home while you are away.
Smart Home Technologies was founded in May of 2014 by DeJean, specializing in commercial and residential projects within 100 miles of Fargo, including the Minnesota lakes area. DeJean has been in the industry for 25 years as both a salesperson and technician.
Mobile devices running Apple iOS (iPhone or iPad) and Android (Samsung Galaxy, etc.) are able to run these technologies. Like anything that is software based, having the latest hardware that is fully updated is best, but not necessary.
“The majority of our work is with new construction,” adds DeJean. “Getting wires in place during the building process is preferred. There are wireless solutions that can be used in existing homes as well.”
The big push right now is with voice control. DeJean says his company has successfully integrated Amazon Alexa in projects to run things like lights, shades, thermostats and TVs.
“Say you are in the kitchen cooking and you want to change the TV channel or turn a light on,” suggests DeJean. “Do you really want to grab your phone or remote with your messy hands? Just like you would ask your kids to change the channel or turn the light on for you, you could have it done by sending the command to Alexa.”
DeJean adds, “The functionality of Google Home and Apple’s Siri voice assistants will be added to future projects. While this technology is not something we developed, we are taking these tools and using them to make our client’s daily lives better.”
Smart Home Technologies is one example of a company that can customize projects to fit client needs, expectations and budget.
“We work with dozens of different manufacturers to meet our client’s automation needs including Crestron, Universal Remote Control, Q-Motion, Sonos, Sony, Autonomic Controls and Pakedge,” says DeJean. “Ultimately, our goal is to make sure our clients are aware of the various home technology solutions available and to help them determine what is best for their lives and homes.” ~L&H
by Dave Pedersen