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Thread: Understanding of home automation

  1. #1
    Automated Home Lurker
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    Default Understanding of home automation

    I am currently doing a final year design project on home automation and am trying to understand the benefits within the automation of products.

    I have realised the costs that occur within setting up a system but how this can be quickly erradicated as turning off unnecessary lights and not leaving TV's on standby and the money saved on doing this will soon cover the initial startup costs. However I need some help in why everyone doesn't use home automation, why you are choosing or have chosen to use an X10 module or other, how easy is it to control, do you have to turn a computer on just to turn a light off, or use a remote control, what would make you turn something off and what do you use automation to do.

    Hopefully some people will be able to help me as I am in the research stage and am struggling to hold any form of focus groups as most people I have spoken to find that the home automation is scary and too dificult for them to setup, a point that I think anyone that uses it will strongly disagree.

    I look forward to a response and any issues you think are important.

    Rob Grandison
    Product Design
    Leeds University

  2. #2

    Default Re: Understanding of home automation

    Rob

    There are many answers to your questions. For example some people use a PC to control X10, while others don't.

    Do you have a structured questionnaire you could give us, or failing that if you just need some more casual info then popping onto our IRC channel should help.

    Regards

    M.

  3. #3
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Understanding of home automation

    Here are some examples for you.
    Basic lighting control can be done with out a PC.
    In my office I have all the lights controlled by X10 lighting modules. At the front door is the light switchs,
    and at my desk I have an X10 RF switch commonly reffered to as a stick a switch

    At home we use a Homevision controller for all the automated lighting. So lights come on about 30 mins after sunset. And for all lighting control we also use a Harmony 895 remote.
    This is just a basic explanation of my setup at home. The wife loves it.
    I also have a touchscreen control via a pc used mainly for the wow factor when giving demos to clients.
    [/url]

  4. #4
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    Default

    Thats great, thanks for your responses so far. I am currently working on a questionnaire so should be able to post it here shortly. Thanks again for your time and I look forward to other peoples responses also.

    Rob Grandison

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Understanding of home automation

    Thank you for taking the time for reading my threads. For my project I need to distribute the below questionnaire and it would be a great help if anyone with or without home automation would be able to copy the below questions and delete answers or fill in gaps appropriately and post your responses back to me.

    1. When leaving the home what state do you leave your TV in.
    Turn off fully Leave on standby Often left on

    2. If you leave your TV on standby would you turn it off fully if there was a message on the screen indicating “time to turn the TV off”?
    Yes No

    3. How many TV’s are there in your household?


    4. Would it surprise you to know that turning off the TV could save you £30 a year if left on standby every night for a year.

    Yes No Thought it was more Thought it was less

    5. When leaving the home Do you leave lights on because..
    Security Forget Always turn lights off

    6. How many lights would you often leave on around the house? (if none please skip this question)


    7. Would it surprise you to know that turning off unused lights could save you £30 a year.
    Yes No Thought it was more Thought it was less

    8. If there was a product that could turn off any unneeded lights and turned the TV off when its not in use; effectively saving you £100 a year would you invest in it?
    Yes No Not Sure

    9. If this meant that you had to have an extra remote control your lights would this put you off?
    Yes No Not Sure


    Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from everyones response.

    Rob Grandison

  6. #6

    Default Re: Understanding of home automation

    Rob

    I've posted a link to your post above to our Mailing List too.

    Might be best to have answers emailed to you? Do you have a GMail account or anything you can publish here?

    Thanks

    M.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Understanding of home automation

    Yeah thats a good idea...

    anyone can contact or reply to the questionnaire through - men4r2g@leeds.ac.uk.

    Rob

  8. #8
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Understanding of home automation

    In a sense I think you are highlighting the very problem with the concept of home automation - what is it?

    In my opinion, to the average person, it probably still sounds like some expensive gadgety subject and not something very practical. This is probably because it tends to be the highly glitzy, gadgety and expensive showcases that hit the media for obvious reasons. A few years ago for example, a well known mobile phone company allegedly spent around £2M on kitting out a very upmarket house with equally expensive 'home automation' gear. And yet the highlights of one of their videos at the conclusion of this project were a person speaking into a microphone headset to command the bath taps to run (which they did after about 3 seconds) and someone texting to unlock a door remotely. What kind of impression do you think that may have left with the general public?

    In your questions above you seem to be homing in on only one potentially useful feature of a home automation system - energy conservation/efficiency. But this is just a small part of the equation. It also highlights another issue - as you ask - how many people would be compelled to buy/install equipment to just do that? Well in these energy conscious days perhaps a few more than in the past - but only if the price was low enough, installation easy, and the function was 'transparent'.

    However in my opinion home automation is about more than allowing you to just remote control your lights, heating or curtains. For the non technophile the technology has to provide a range of practical features, work reliably and be easy to use - out of sight even i.e. it just gets on with the job as intelligently as possible rather than requiring constant interaction via what might be quite intimidating interfaces. This to some extents is at odds with some of the requirements of technophiles who are probably driving the market at present. On top of all this of course its got to be low cost :-)

    But anyway to address some of the energy conservation concepts more specifically:

    Taking appliances out of standby would certainly save energy but I wonder why manufacturers don't expend some effort to make the standby power requirement much smaller - its certainly possible. People may not like to take some items out of standby because of losing set up / clock settings each time.

    Again turning lights off when not required would certainly help, but people will only buy into this if this did not introduce inconvenience i.e. lights going off when they were still required or not coming on quickly enough when required. Either could also constitute a minor hazard ;-)

    An important system you do not seem to mention is climate control - in my opinion much more impact on savings can be made here. Not only that, but data from various sensors and actuators around the home might even provide you with a good indication of how efficient the house or even parts of the house were at retaining heat/coolness and so direct where extra physical measures such as insulation or draught proofing might be useful (though why its not mandatory for all new houses to use heat exchangers is beyond me - instead they have to pass an expensive draught proofing test - but someone correct me if I'm wrong?)

    And should you really have to press buttons for unrequired lighting to switch itself off when you leave the house, the heating to be backed off, the TV to be switched off? Or even when you move out of a room?

    The balance between the complexity and price of the enabling technology versus what rewards you reap is a tricky one. I don't really think the average person would really want to have a PC or equivalent running 24/7 just to automate a few lights (you have to consider the energy consumed by the PC for one thing), however when you start to integrate a whole range of functions the equation rapdily changes in nature since not only would you be gradually removing the inefficiency of a multitude of seperate and sometime duplicitous systems, but more importantly the integration aspect allows you to do much much more than what the individual systems could do.


    Karam
    IDRATEK LTD

  9. #9
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    Wow thanks Karam, you've highlighted some real issues here that I shall certainly include in my project. I am still currently on the research stage and have yet to begin to look at solutions but you have certainly given me a few more ideas and conciderations that would be foolish to exclude.

    Rob

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Understanding of home automation

    Hi, haven't read through all this yet - but you are welcome to also post on the Comfort forums at www.comfortforums.com where I am sure end users and installers will be glad to help. Comfort is a Security & Home Automation System with power consumption like an Alarm panel and battery back up. Mine has run for seven years basically unattended. So another type of architecture to compare with others out there. I've also just had wired some of my domestic sockets (in a new extension) as radial via relays and Comfort will turn off at night etc. I've forgone dimmable lights in the Kichen for GU10 Warm White LEDs which will consume a lot less than Halogens. Good luck with your research. Nigel

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