The heart of an automated home is the controller. A controller acts as a central coordinator of all control and automation.
- Control means the ability to issue commands on-demand to any controlled device, such as setting a dimmable light to 30%, or telling the cable box to change to a desired station.
- Automation covers more sophisticated orchestration, possibly involving several controlled components. For example, I might want to have the system wake me up at 6:30 a.m. by playing a radio station at a predefined volume, and provide me a pathway of softly dimmed lights leading to freshly brewed coffee…but don’t bother with the lights unless it’s actually dark out. And, when I leave, let me double-tap that one light switch by the door to turn everything off.
Harnessing control is all fine and well, but clearly the sophistication and personalization of your system lie within automation. Much of what I want to do with my home depends on having a powerful controller that can be programmed to do the things that I want it to.
For my house, I’m using a Control4 HC-800. It’s a massively extensible system that can control devices by either infrared or network devices (ethernet and Zigbee). It even sports some direct-wired controls through four relays and four contact sensor interfaces. You can check out a spec sheet for the HC-800, if you’re curious about it’s capabilities.
So what do you do first with something like this controller? Like many people, I wanted to unify our kludgey home entertainment system so it would finally work elegantly. My wife has had to endure various kludgey Logitec Harmony remotes for far too long. Don’t get me wrong–the Harmony did a fair job for what it was designed to do–but we had no idea how much better a full system could be.
I’ll talk about setting up our one-room theater in my next post.
Note: Control4 systems can be installed only by professionals. Go to the Control4 Dealer Locator to find an installer in your area.
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