Among those with the financial means, constructing a fully-automated home is all the rage these days. These homes have computer-controlled lighting systems, lawns that mow and water themselves, and entertainment systems that recede into the walls when not being used. These homes, which are referenced to as a smart home, seek to maximize technology, remote control, and security, all while minimizing the space taken up by appliances and electronics.
While many of us surely like the idea of an automated home, the cost of making your home wireless and intelligent is a prohibitive one for most. We instead stick to old-fashioned light switches and to television that never recede into the wall. If we embrace home automation at all, we usually do it by installing a service to insure that our house remains safe while we travel. But perks like automated lighting systems are certainly out of the question.
But there are DIY ways to both monitor your home and control its interior lighting from a remote location. To be sure, these approaches will be less sleek and more rudimentary, but they can carry all the functionability of an automated system nonetheless.
Here’s what you do:
1. Set up a camera system. First and foremost, most people want to be able to monitor their home remotely, while on vacation, away on business, or simply sitting at a friend’s house nearby. The cheapest and easiest way to do this is by using webcams on a computer or a laptop. Direct these devices towards major areas in your home (doors, hallways, etc). You can then use a variety of free online programs to view your webcams from afar.
2. Install an X10 system. X10 is a hardware protocol that can send signals throughout a home’s power line. This means that it can easily control anything that uses electricity or plugs into the wall – including, of course, your appliances and your interior lights. Installing an X10 system requires buying the hardware component as well as appliance modules (all availably cheaply on eBay). The hardware will be installed onto your computer, while the modules can be placed on outlets around your home.
3. Acquire remote access. To control this X10 system remotely, you’re going to now need a software program. One of the easiest, cheapest, and most popular options is heyu. Once you install this software, you can turn lights and appliances on and off with a simple written command. This can be executed from anywhere, whether you are steps away from the light of halfway around the world.
By following these steps you can create for yourself a system of cameras and light controls that help make your home more secure. What’s more, you can do it with minimal cost and effort. The next time you’re off travelling, you’ll be glad to have remote access to your home at all times.