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What Is a Home Area Network?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2016
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Also known as a home network, a home area network (HAN) is a communication network that makes it possible to integrate a wide range of electrical devices into some type of central control process. Many different types of appliances can be associated with the network, ranging from computers to televisions and even alarm and home protection devices. The idea behind a home area network is to allow those living in the home to easily control the usage and function of all the devices by simply accessing the network and activating various features, either on a one-time basis or by setting up some type of ongoing schedule that automatically activates certain functions according to a time table.

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One of the easiest ways to understand the nature of a home area network is to consider a situation in which the home alarm system is controlled by a computer that functions as the server for the network. Here, the system is structured to transmit various types of data to a program on that server computer around the clock. This may include the use of cameras that activate when someone approaches outer doors or windows to the residence, automatically triggering a warning signal and providing visual displays that are viewed on the computer screen. This type of surveillance allows residents of the home to determine if the individual is a trusted visitor, a door to door salesperson that no one is interested in speaking with, or even an intruder who appears to be seeking illegal entry into the home. In this same vein, the home area network may also have access to the telephone system, with the capability of placing a call to local law enforcement if an outer door or window is breached.

Other elements may also be included in a home area network. It is possible to establish a secure wireless network that allows desktop, laptop and even Internet tablet devices to be utilized anywhere in the home. Depending on the complexity of the network, even tasks like turning on a sprinkler system or activating the coffee maker on a rotating schedule is possible. Using equipment that allows the appliances to interact with the computer-driven network allows all sorts of tasks to be managed with a couple of keystrokes, from closing the living room drapes to turning interior lights on and off.

While a home area network can make life easier for residents while at home, it is also possible to configure the network for remote access, using security protocols to discourage illegal use. This means travelers can use this remote access to log into the home area network, review the schedules for specific tasks, and change them if necessary. This feature also makes it possible to obtain reports of activity around the home while the owners are away, providing a great deal of peace of mind. Depending on the needs of the homeowners, a home area network can be configured to manage a few basic tasks or be built into a comprehensive network that is capable of handling a wide range of activities.

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