The home automation market is booming, with experts expecting it to reach $151.4 billion by 2024. Home automation systems connect the smart devices that are now part of every household to a wireless network, allowing homeowners to control and monitor those gadgets from anywhere.
A wide range of companies now offer home automation products, from the very simple to the highly complex. While the most common use is to control home lighting and appliances, many now include features like security systems, door locks, thermostats, water valves, security cameras, and other devices.
Some companies specialize in specific areas, such as Lutron, a company that makes lighting and shading control solutions. Other companies focus on a broad range of home automation functions, including Schneider Electric, which offers energy management solutions. Others, such as Siemens and Trane, are long-established names in heating and cooling systems, bringing their expertise to the smart home space.
One of the most important aspects of any home automation system is the scheduling of functions, whether they are scheduled based on the homeowner’s usual schedule, or triggered by other events. Scheduling can reduce power usage by turning lights off at a predetermined time, or automatically shutting the motorized blinds on a west-facing window at noon each day. Some of the more advanced home automation systems can also set a “routine” for each season, giving the system the ability to adjust for changing light conditions throughout the year.
Another key aspect of home automation is entertainment management, including media servers and extenders that provide access to a variety of TVs, DVD players, and music-playing devices. It is likely that keeping homes comfortable will remain a primary focus of home automation systems, but entertainment applications are evolving rapidly as consumers shift to streaming movies and TV shows on their laptops and tablets.
Lastly, some home automation companies offer a single solution that integrates the lighting controls, climate control, entertainment system, and security system into a easy-to-use interface package. These systems are typically more expensive, but can save time and money in the long run by eliminating the need to manage multiple apps and remotes.
Crestron is one of the most venerable home automation companies, and they have been around for more than 60 years. They have a solid reputation for their hardware, which works seamlessly with compatible devices from a wide range of manufacturers. Their open-ended software gives system integrators considerable leeway to create truly custom systems. RTI is a good alternative to Crestron, and they are especially popular for their line of remotes. They are also known for their integration with the Apple HomeKit, which makes it easier to control home devices that are connected to your iOS device. These devices may include doorbells, motion sensors, smart plugs, and other devices.