Home Automation Overview

When we receive a first-time visitor to our home they ALWAYS ask about the whole-home control panel mounted in our family room. This panel allows us to control and obtain status on just about every aspect of our house from a single location.  This, invariably, leads to questions about what my Home Automation (HA) system can do.

While not an exhaustive list, following are some of the features I’ve integrated so far:

  • Turn on the lights in the house when arriving home after dark and nobody is home
  • Announce when the garage door opens
  • Notify me and the police if the alarm is tripped
  • Notify me if a motion detector is activated and the house is in AWAY mode
  • Notify me when the alarm state changes (enabled / disabled)
  • Display the alarm status (set / not set) on keypads throughout the house
  • Display garage door status (open / closed) on keypads throughout the house
  • Open / Close the garage door from keypads throughout the house
  • Turn on / off porch lights with the setting / rising of the sun
  • Log upstairs and downstairs temperature and humidity
  • Log incoming and outgoing phone calls
  • Control alarm, fans, lights and thermostats from a central command console
  • Control alarm, fans, lights and thermostats from an iphone / iPad
  • Control alarm, fans, lights and thermostats via SMS
  • Control alarm, fans, lights and thermostats via IR
  • Display incoming caller information on TV
  • Log all motion activity
  • Control household music library and radio stations from central command console
  • Play household music library and radio stations on audio zones throughout the house
  • Notify me when one or more Printer Ink cartridges need to be replaced
  • Display on command console
    • Replace air filters
    • Add salt to softener system
    • Purge water system
    • Printer Ink Cartridge Levels
    • Motion in zones throughout the house
    • Who is home
    • Garage Door status
    • Alarm status
    • Voicemail status
  • Lights Out timer for my daughter (10 / 30 / 60 min intervals)
  • Panic Mode – all lights on instantly
  • Sleep Mode – all lights off instantly
  • Notify me when a HA device needs attention (battery replacement, etc)
  • Backup offsite server data (Wiki / Mail / etc)
  • Automatically filter all internet traffic
  • Notify me when power fails

Developing all of this capability over the years means the inter-workings of my HA system have become increasingly complex.  This is most evident when something ceases to function correctly and I have to jump in and troubleshoot the problem.  As the system grew I started documenting the details in a wiki which has proved invaluable for troubleshooting. I also found it helpful to maintain a high-level visual overview of my network and data flow.

Since these are areas that are the subject of so many of the questions that I receive, I thought I would post some images to give you some inspiration on how you might architect your own HA system.

Until next time – GEEK OUT!


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