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Home automation (also called domotics) is a field within building automation, specializing in the specific automation requirements of private homes and in the application of automation techniques for the comfort and security of its residents. Although many techniques used in building automation (such as light and climate control, control of doors and window shutters, security and surveillance systems, etc.) are also used in home automation, additional functions in home automation include the control of multi-media home entertainment systems, automatic plant watering and pet feeding, and automatic scenes for dinners and parties.
The main difference between building automation and home automation is, however, the human interface. In home automation, ergonomics is of particular importance: the control should be largely image-based and self-explanatory.
When home automation is installed during construction of a new home, usually control wires are added before the drywall is installed. These control wires run to a controller, which will then control the environment.
Standards and bridges
Specific domotic standards include INSTEON, X10, KNX (standard), System Box, LonWorks, Crestron, C-Bus, Universal powerline bus (UPB), UPnP, ZigBee and Z-Wave that will allow for control of most applications.
Some standards use control wiring, some embed signals in the powerline, some use radio frequency (RF) signals, and some use a combination of several methods. Control wiring is hardest to retrofit into an existing house.
Some appliances include USB that is used to control it and connect it to a domotics network.
Bridges translate information from one standard to another (eg. from X10 to EIB).
In extreme installations, rooms can sense not only the presence of a person but know who that person is and perhaps set appropriate lighting, temperature and music/TV taking into account day of week, time of day, and other factors.
Other automated tasks may include setting the air conditioning to an energy saving setting when the house is unoccupied, and restoring the normal setting when an occupant is about to return. More sophisticated systems can maintain an inventory of products, recording their usage through an RFID tag, and prepare a shopping list or even automatically order replacements.
Some practical implementations of home automation are for example when an alarm detects a fire or smoke condition, then all lights in the house will blink to alert occupants. If the house is equipped with a home theater, a home automation system can shut down all audio and video components to alert the user to a possible fire or a burglar.
The elements of a domotics system are:
From the point of view of where the intelligence of the domotic system resides, there are three different architectures:
Centralized Architecture: a centralized controller receives information of multiple sensors and, once processed, generates the opportune orders for the actuators.
Mixed Architecture: systems with decentralized architecture as far as which they have several small devices able to acquire and to process the information of multiple sensors and to transmit them to the rest of devices distributed by the house.
- radio frequency, including:
Climotics is the climate domotics. Climotics is related to domotics and addressing of w:climate change through energy efficiency and domotic control of HVAc .
Lighting control systems involves aspects related to controlling electric lights.
- Extinguished general of all the lights of the house
- Automatization of switched off / ignition in every point of light
- Regulation of the illumination according to the level of ambient luminosity.
This category also typically includes control of exhaust and ceiling fans.
Natural lighting control involves controlling electric window shades and draperies. Recent advances include use of RF technology to avoid wiring to switches and integration with third party home automation systems for centralized control.
This category includes audio switching and distribution. Audio switching determines the selection of an audio source. Audio distribution allows an audio source to be heard in one or more rooms. This feature is often referred to as 'multi-zone' audio.
This includes video switching and distribution, allowing a video source to be viewed on multiple TVs. This feature is often referred to as 'multi-zone' video.
Control and integration of security systems.
- Detection of possible intrusion
- Simulation of presence.
- Detection of attempts of fire, flights of gas, water escapes (see fire alarm and gas alarm)
- Medical alert. Teleassistance.
- Precise and safe closing of blinds.
- Ubiquity in the external control as much internal, remote control from the Internet, PC, wireless controls (p.ej. PDA with WiFi), electrical equipment.
- Transmission of alarms.
- Control of home robots, using if necessary domotic electric beacon.
- Home robot communication (i.e. using WiFi) with the domotic network and other home robots.
Using special hardware, almost any electric or electronic device can be controlled automatically or remotely with efficient control and easy handling.
- Pool pump(s) and heater, Hot tub and Spa
- Coffee pot
- Pet feeder(s)
- Garage Door(s)
- Sprinkler System
- Under Floor Heating
- Home Automation Wiki
- Home Automation at the Open Directory Project
- Home automation newsgroup on Usenet (alternative free web access using Google Groups)