Home Automation

As a on & off again project, I have been automating our home with a Security System, lighting control system, and other handy features…

Relatively recently, I rewrote the Indigo Security script, and I am still working on adding features, as well as simplifying the script itself.

The home automation software that we use is Indigo from Perceptive Automation.  The software is the brains behind our Advanced home automation, and is makes things much simpler around the house.  It handles lighting control, remote monitoring, and acts as a security system controller.

There is many tasks that home automation can be used for, and often they are broken into several categories…

  • Simple Lighting control – Very basic light, and appliance control, the goal typically being to be able to turn device(s) on or off, from across the room or across the house.  This is very basic, and often the starter kits are more than complete enough to grant this level of automation.
  • (Basic & Advanced) Computer Management – This starts to tie your computer your home automation.  This would allow you to schedule events, or allow the computer to “watch” for triggering events.  For example, the door in the hallway is opened, turn on the hallway lights.  But often, this requires your computer (PC or Mac) to be on and monitoring your home.

To start automating your house, make a list of what you want to accomplish.  This can be as simple or as complex as you wish, but I would suggest starting simple…  For example:

  • I want to be able to control our recreation room lights with a remote
  • The rec room lights should be able to be set to Off, 30%, 60%, and On from a remote.
  • When I hit a panic button, a siren should go off
  • When I hit the “night” button on the bedroom controller, all the lights in the house turn off

Or for more complex ideas:

  • When the garage door is opened, the garage lights should come on and stay on for 10 minutes, and automatically turn off.
  • When ever a exterior door is opened a chime should go off, and the lights in the house should blink twice.

Smarthome has several packages that act as starter kits, for these scenarios…

The “Lighting Starter Kit” – Which provides the 2430 Table top Control console, 2 Wireless Access points/phase bridges, and 2 LampLinc Dimmers.  Available through Amazon.com, MacHomeStore, and Smarthome.com.  This easily solves the lighting control issues for up to 5 lights (just add more LampLincs or ApplicanceLincs).  This starter kit generally starts for $99.

The Wireless Remote Starter Kit – Provides the RemoteLinc Controller, 2 Wireless Access points/phase bridges, and 2 LampLinc Dimmers.  The major difference with the Lighting Starter Kit, is simply that this is a wireless remote, and not tethered to an outlet.  The Wireless Remote allows you to control up to 6 devices.  The starting price is generally $129.  Available from MacHomeStore, Amazon.com, and Smarthome.com.

Either of those starter kits, are a good foundation to build upon.  As a general rule, you probably will not need more access points, unless you have a large house, or some areas that are having signal interfence, but that is the fairly uncommon.

To add more complex automation, you will want to add a computer interface, preferably the 2412U to the automation.  The 2412U allows your computer to interface with the automation, sending signals, or receiving signals to act upon.

The 2412U is due to be replaced by the 2413U, which is a dual band (RF & Powerline) computer interface.  This will allow the command to be placed on the powerline, and on the RF band at the same time, hopefully preventing a hop or two, and speeding up the responsiveness of the system.