DIY Home Automation Lighting

Posted on November 7th, 2013 by gadget in Do it yourself home automation

“How can I automate the lighting in my home?”. While the answer requires knowledge of some specifics involved, it is well within the ability of those who can safely replace a light switch or a receptacle outlet to accomplish. The next obvious question people have is “how do all the lights know when to turn on, off or dim?” A little basic background information on the technologies involved makes things a lot simpler.

We live in an age of networks and inter-networks. Home automated lighting in that regard, is no different. There are three broad types of automated lighting controls; those that are wireless such as Z-Wave, those that are hardwired and installed as the house is being built and those that communicate over a households existing electrical wiring such as X-10, UPB (Universal Powerline Bus) and a few others. All of these protocols (or communication standards) can operate as a single, stand alone system or can be integrated with more complex home automation and security controllers for a complete smart home solution.

Obviously, from a practical standpoint, you can’t tear down your walls to install new or additional wires or switches so I won’t go into those types. Wireless systems such as Z-Wave work very well but are subject to RFI (radio frequency interference) at times and rely on using a “mesh” network where all devices talk to all the others and repeat any missed instructions. For the best retrofit DIY lighting automation solution, the technology that appears to have clear advantages over the others is UPB. As mentioned before, it operates over the existing AC power lines in a house and is extremely reliable, unlike its older cousin the X-10 protocol. A simple plug-in adapter and free downloadable software enables full control of the lighting schema when combined with elegant UPB electrical switches and electrical outlets, all from the power of your PC.

Simply turning a light on, off or just dimming is not really a big deal from a PC but the real power comes when you decide that you would like to combine switches to form lighting scenes or zone lighting. You see, these switches are not your ordinary run-of-the-mill variety. Sure there are some that just handle the standard on, off and dim but others are designed to handle scene or zone lighting with the push of a button for any number of rooms or even the whole house, if you so desire.

Also, it is easy enough to scrap your old security panel at a later date and replace it with a unit that integrates other systems in a home such as heating and air conditioning, surveillance, home theater, swimming pool or jacuzzi, water sprinklers, you name it and just about anything else you can imagine. How about a security breech issuing an “all lights on” command? Or maybe you’d like to check on your home or make adjustments from anywhere in the world from your PDA or laptop? The possibilities are virtually endless.

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