Home technology update

Home automation is no longer a fantasy played out in science fiction movies. It’s a reality and here in the Cayman Islands.

Most of us already have some sort of home automation from garage door openers to security systems. But there’s much more to home automation:

• Lights that turn off and on automatically when it’s light or getting dark.
• Curtains or blinds that open and close remotely.
• Timers can switch appliances on and off automatically.
• Motorised windows and garage doors that open and close at the flick of a switch.
• Fingerprint recognition door locks.
• Taps that turn themselves on remotely and then off before they overflow a sink or bath.
• Fridges that re-order food when you run out.
• Robotic vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers.
• Fire and carbon monoxide detectors that can set off sound or flashing alarms.

In this issue of InsideOut we decided to start with the basics of lighting, audio visual distribution and air conditioning. We turned to I-Systems and Automated Technologies.

Make a start
To begin to automate your home, you will need to think about installing an intelligent system. This normally consists of a main hub that is programmed to suit your requirements. It can be installed to control anything in your home from the lighting to entertainment systems, heating, appliances, and security and safety features.

These systems can also use remote access so you can dial in when you are away and get a TV programme recorded, or switch the oven or kettle on so it’s ready when you get home.

Depending on your budget, you can have a system like this that controls everything possible or you can have a system for each of the utilities, which you can add to over time.

Household lighting accounts for 12 per cent to 15 per cent of your household utility bill and studies suggest 20 per cent of all electricity produced is used for lighting. However, 50 per cent is wasted by inefficient lighting sources or careless consumers.

Lighting control systems can help.

Lighting can dramatically affect how the interior of your home looks and feels. Good lighting is a very cost effective way to decorate and accentuate the beauty of your home. A flexible lighting system allows you to create different moods as you change a room’s use.

Cost considerations
The initial outlay costs of a lighting control system can be quite a sobering proposition. When considering what fixtures to use the choices are obvious; do I like them? Can I justify the cost? Will my partner agree with my choice? But the benefits of lighting control are a little less obvious. Here are a few energy saving examples:

• An area’s lighting can be set to less than 60 per cent when not in use and turn off completely after a timed period.
• Dimming levels can be pre-set to create mood lighting for different activities.
• Late at night, outdoor lighting can turn off and switch over to motion sensing maintaining security and safety.

Any light or a combination of lights both inside and outside of your home can now be controlled. While you’re on vacation you can even make it look like you’re home by having your home automatically turn on the kitchen lights during dinner time and the porch lights at sunset. The possibilities are endless and these easy to use systems can be installed in a matter of hours or days on a budget that can suit many homeowners in Cayman.

Audio visual distribution
Multi-room audio visual systems are a popular way of distributing music and video throughout your home. You can listen to and control different sources in different rooms from one system.

Start with a basic system and as your desires and needs change simply upgrade at your own pace and budget.

A small keypad or touch panel allows full and independent control from each room. Speakers are chosen to match or blend in with your décor.

One of the main advantages of a multi-room system is that all the different A/V products are contained in a central place out of the way.

Using flat panel or ceiling speakers throughout your home, you can enjoy your music, your video and your décor in perfect harmony.

State of the art touch screen tablets give you full access to your music and movie files, playlists, local radio plus thousands of internet radio stations.

Security cameras can be viewed at the touch of a button from anywhere in the house.

If you don’t want to go the route of a keypad or touch panel, consider the MX-980.

The MX-980 is a powerful wand-style custom control designed to advance the state of the art of home theatre programming and integration. Achieving an apex of power, style and versatility, it enables professional installers to more quickly and efficiently customise and automate sophisticated home theatres and whole house A/V systems.

The wand is ideal for homes with more than one A/V system.

Air conditioning
You can now simplify life around you and control all your A/C needs with one simple control, conserving energy and keeping money in your pocket.

Air conditioning can be easily turned down or off based on whether the room is being occupied. There’s no need for regular A/C systems to be running 24/7, which helps reduce our carbon footprint in the Cayman Islands. There are local resorts and hotels that turn off their air conditioning based on windows or doors being opened or when no one is in the room saving them thousands of dollars a year.