Smart living

Carole Levy

Even a decade ago, the idea of home automation seemed like a futuristic dream, but now these systems are the new must-haves. Your iPad, iPhone or Android device will enable you to switch on and off just about anything electronic around the home, whether you’re at work, on holidays or just around the corner.

Here are some pointers from the experts:

1. Plan ahead
Decide if you want lighting, curtains, radio, garage-door or air-conditioning to be controlled from your device, or if you want to integrate a security system. You can even go the whole hog and include your home theatre or living room TV set-up. Your installer needs to know your every wish before proceeding.

2. A good Wi-Fi router is essential
If you have a high quality Wi-Fi signal across your property, your various systems will be able to communicate with each other without any chance of drop-out.

3. Different entertainment device brands
You don’t have to keep all entertainment devices within the same brand – it’s not necessary, for example to have a Samsung TV and a Samsung Blu-ray player – but it might help those devices to ‘talk to each other’ through their
proprietary networking standards.

4. Don’t think you’re an expert
When it comes to complex, it’s best to leave it to people who have done it before. You will need professional advice if you’re going all-out with serious, smart home technology such as lighting, irrigation, pool pumps or solar energy. And touching 240V electricity wiring or your home phone line is a big no-no.

5. Updates
If, for example, you change from a Sony TV to a Samsung, you’ll probably have to re-program your system, but this isn’t a difficult job because it can be handled by your installer, either remotely or in person. Keep your installer’s details on file.

6. Security
Home security has become a hugely important part of home automation. A remote-controlled system that alerts you of window breakage, door openings and unexplained movement on your property when you’re at home or away provides peace of mind and a degree of control over the event.