What is Home Automation?

Sheri Cyprus

Home automation is the remote control, or automated method, of operating parts of a house. Home automation equipment may involve voice recognition, sensors and pressure, heat and smoke detectors. Typical home automation equipment includes the automatic remote control of lighting, telephone, security, temperature, sprinklers, gates and windows.

A programmable thermostat.
A programmable thermostat.

Automated lighting is popular, and along with security systems, is often the starting point for home automation. Room lighting can be controlled by a remote control, both to be turned on and off, as well as dimmed. Both indoor and outdoor lights can be controlled remotely including garden and yard lighting.

Smoke detectors might be part of home automation.
Smoke detectors might be part of home automation.

Automated telephone systems were once only for businesses, but are now available for home automation. Voice control software lets each phone in the home be controlled. If caller ID is used along with the home automation telephone system, the system can be set to only accept certain calls.

Installing a home security system is usually the starting point for home automation for most home owners.
Installing a home security system is usually the starting point for home automation for most home owners.

Like lighting automation, many home owners begin home automation with a security system. Security surveillance cameras were once only used in banks and stores, but are now a part of many home automation security systems. Automated security monitors not only alert the police to break-ins, but can also alert the homeowner to water leaks. Automated heat and smoke detectors are also popular. Some types of home automation security systems let the home owner control the locking and unlocking of doors, including garage doors, from a remote location.

Remote control thermostats mean that a home's temperature can be changed from another room in the home or even from a cell phone outside the home. This type of home automation is ideal during extreme winter or summer temperature conditions as the temperature for the safety of pets can be adjusted even when the homeowner is not in the home. Windows, blinds, curtains and fans can also be controlled with home automation. Some home automation temperature systems even have alert features that let the homeowner know if the pipes are in danger of freezing.

Automated sprinklers are great for those hot summer days when the home owner is at work and can turn the water off and on to keep in compliance with any city watering restrictions. Gates can be locked and unlocked remotely and this allows the homeowner to unlock the gate for a gardener and then lock it after the yard work is done. Pool temperature and pump systems can also be a part of home automation.

Smoke detectors are likely included in home automation equipment.
Smoke detectors are likely included in home automation equipment.

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Discussion Comments


@NathanG - I have a security system in my home. That’s as much automation as I can afford at the moment.

However, what I like about it is that it is wireless and transmits over the Internet. If I’m at a remote location, I can log in to a server and watch the images on my computer, knowing instantly the activity (if any) that is going on around my house.


I can think of no better example of smart home automation than the famous mansion of Bill Gates.

His home is a complete smart house that is totally computer controlled. I’ve read that the house automatically adjusts the thermostat settings to accommodate the preferences of each of the guests who enter in.

The visitors wear little devices which allow the computer system to track their every whereabouts and determine their location. Lighting and music are completely controlled by computers as well.

I wish I had a smart house. The closest that I’ve come is to have my lights turn on automatically when I’m away on vacation.

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