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A Beginner’s Guide to Smart Home Automation

Smart home illustration
Smart home illustration

Kevin Leonard

National Monitoring Station Committee, Canadian Security Association (CANASA)

Home automation and smart home systems cover a broad range of products and services and can be controlled easily by an app on your phone. Many security systems are adapting to integrate technologies that create a more comfortable, safe, and worry-free lifestyle. Common devices in your home or business can be integrated so they work together, including thermostats, door locks, security system, fire devices, indoor and outdoor lights, garage door openers, window shades, audio/video and home theatres. Most systems communicate wirelessly via technologies such as Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth.

Today, there are versatile systems that can accommodate a number of budgets. Many devices can be added at a later date but you should start by investing in the right technology.

Peace of mind for caregivers

More and more homeowners are using home automation to look out for loved ones. You can ensure the kids have arrived home safely from school by receiving an email with an accompanying picture or video clip. Elderly relatives can live independently longer when you are able to monitor their routines during the day and receive alerts via text message or email of any abnormalities through door and motion sensors. Furthermore, wellness systems can include contacts on fridges to help caregivers ensure their loved ones are eating at regular intervals, contacts on medicine cabinets to ensure they are taking their medicine, and bed sensors to ensure they are getting regular intervals of sleep. Cameras can also be added to check in every once and a while.

New levels of safety

Whether you are looking for the peace of mind of controlling your lights and locks while you are away, unlock and lock your front door remotely to let the dog-walker in, arm your security system if you have forgotten to in the morning, verify when your security system has tripped, you can now do so in real-time. Live video viewing and notifications are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Home automation also allows you to put safety first. Lighting can be controlled to turn on when the security system is tripped to scare away burglars. When a fire device is tripped, it can turn on all lights to help home owners escape and unlock the front door to allow fire fighters in. Notifications can also be sent to you if there has been a drastic change in your home’s temperature or a small water leak at the cottage, giving you time to react before there is damage.

Security professionals are accustomed to working with critical low voltage technologies and are the best trained for installing and setting up these systems.

You may be weighing the pros and cons of installing a system yourself or having a professional install and monitor your system. What is important to keep in mind is that if you are not constantly watching your phone you may miss an important alarm — having a professional watching for you will give you greater peace of mind and help you save in the long run as only monitored systems can give you a break on insurance.

A poorly designed system can work against you. Hiring a professional will also help ensure that critical devices such as HVAC systems and door locks are setup properly. Security professionals are accustomed to working with critical low voltage technologies and are the best trained for installing and setting up these systems. Be sure to research your professional before beginning work on any project.

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