Perhaps the most extreme version of home automation was watching Jarvis, Tony Stark's computer A.I., assist him with literally anything he needed. Unfortunately, the Jarvis-like automation systems of sci-fi dreams won't be making their way into anyone's home in the foreseeable future. The good news is that, even now, anything that is powered by electricity can be automated. So, how does one even begin to plan something like this? 

Planning is Perfection

The first thing you want to do is not get too caught up in all of the different gadgets you can buy. Instead, determine what you want to accomplish and focus on that first. This is going to help you figure out what kind of budget you'll need, determine what method will be the most efficient to use, and ultimately make the entire process take less time and be easier to set up. 

If you're already pretty handy with electrical things, the sky is really the limit. Otherwise, check out the list below for some quick ideas as to things commonly automated:

  • Lights - You can automate every light in your house to turn on, off, fade, or dim at any time you want. 
  • Smart Thermostats - Smart thermostats can help reduce cost and conserve energy by allowing you to control them remotely or programming them to go by a specified schedule.
  • Blinds - Open or close your blinds depending on the time of day or the temperature to help mitigate the heat or cold. 
  • Garage Door - Garage doors are usually controlled by remote, but you can have these voice activated or set to a schedule as well.
  • Coffee Makers - A lot of coffee makers come with this function already, but you can also teach ones that don't.

How to turn Dumb Devices into Smart Ones

A specific how-to guide goes well beyond the scope of this article, but here are some things to consider when you're getting started. The first thing you'll want to do is check with your devices and see if they're smarter than you think. With technology constantly evolving, automated features are rapidly finding their ways into devices more frequently. For most devices, simple home automation tasks can be guided with the use of timers and sensors. Others might need a slightly more complicated system. Some devices will connect to your home electronics and allow them to connect to your home's WiFi network for remote communication or smart automation.

For larger projects, you'll want to look at getting a central protocol. This is nothing more than a central hub that allows you to communicate and program all of your new smart devices in one place. There are several automation boxes that are specialized for different things, so again, it's very important that you know what you want to automate. After you pick the box that suits you best you're going to need to be able to program it, send/receive data, and obtain peripheral devices that will get the job done. 

You'll need to find software to program and communicate with your devices. A lot of free open-source software already exists for your desktop or smartphone, but there is more advanced software that sometimes requires subscriptions. A coordinator box is what you'll need to get the data transferred from your preferred software to the devices in order to actually work. These can vary in price, but you might not want to skimp out too much on this segment because you get what you pay for. And finally, the peripheral devices depend on what you're going to be doing. Wall switches, locks, or other things might need to be installed depending on how elaborate your set up is. 

Home automation projects are really fun to think up and act on, but without proper planning you might end up missing a vital piece or going overboard on your budget. Take the time to decide what you want to do, determine what parts you'll need, do your research, and you'll have your house greeting you warmly in no time.