Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Interact With Your House Via Apps

By Guest Contributor:  Dustin McMullen of LAViD Designs

Along with the usual daily communications of phone calls, emails, text messaging, and social media interactions, we now have the ability to control how we interact with our lifestyles from a single device.  

Imagine leaving the house and pressing one single button to turn off all lights, turn off the HVAC system, and arm the security system.  Or while leaving the restaurant downtown, pressing one single button to turn the driveway and entry lights on so when you arrive home, the house is illuminated for safety.  These are both examples of how our homes can be controlled by using a smartphone apps.

Smartphones and tablets (iPhone, iPad, and Android devices) can now be used to perform a multitude of functions, including controlling our homes with just a few simple taps.  

Lighting & HVAC Control iPad app by Lutron

So I just need an app?
Well, yes…"There's an app for that," but it's not quite that simple. It does require more.  For example, you may have seen the recent TV commercial for new Chevy cars that can be unlocked using a smart phone app.  One could easily download the Chevy app, but without the car to respond to your instruction, it’s not very effective.  The same holds true for home controls.  

There are several manufacturers in the home control industry that not only have apps, but also have the coordinating devices to make the home function effectively from their apps. 

For home control, there are generally one or more devices within the home that can receive information from the app to “do something,” such as adjust the lights or turn off the HVAC system. Determining which is the correct manufacturer and device depends on what's required by the homeowner, and, of course, your budget.    

What will I need?
That depends on what you'd like to control.  Let's focus on lighting, HVAC, and window shades since they're the most commonly requested.  

Lighting control via a smartphone app is fairly simple.  In existing homes and even commercial projects, a traditional light switch can be swapped out to a “smart switch” and then controlled from the app.  A huge benefit is that no new wiring is needed.  

HVAC systems can be easily retrofitted to operate in the same way by replacing a wall thermostat.  Motorized window shades can be installed which communicate wirelessly.  

App control of our homes is not only a great benefit to convenience of living, but also contributes to energy conservation.  It’s estimated that lighting consumes 35% of a home’s electrical usage, and an additional 30% for HVAC usage.  Since smartphones seem to be attached to people 24/7, it easy for homeowners to conserve energy in a very convenient way while also adding a safety factor.

If there's a desire for additional home devices to be controlled via apps (audio/video, security, pool/spa…), there are hardware solutions tailored to each of these, but that's a whole other subject which we can address in the future post.

Dustin McMullen is the founder of LAViD Designs which specializes in design and consulting of lighting controls, audio/video, and smart home technologies throughout California, Lake Tahoe, and Hawaii.  LAViD Designs works with designers, architects, and homeowners to find the best solution for projects.  For more information about LAViD Designs please visit www.laviddesigns.com.

If you'd like to leave a comment, feel free to do so. Where? See the tiny, little word " COMMENT" next to my name below this blog? Click on it and there's a place to type in your comments. That's it. I welcome your feedback and input; go for it! 

The information contained herein is for guideline purposes only, is not intended as an endorsement of any product, and is no guarantee of the results.

Images courtesy of Lutron, electronichouse.com

© Beryn Hammil Designs 2011