Get Wired With Smart Technology
Ever thought of programming your stereo and alarm system from
your computer? It's not so far off in the future. Thanks to
technological development ten years in the making, "smart" or
programmable home technology is becoming more practical and
affordable. Many home builders are installing wiring to allow
security, heating and cooling, audio-visual, and other systems to
be controlled from a central location, says The Washington Post.
Let's say you're working at your computer while the baby sleeps
in another room. You hear the baby crying on the monitor. On
your way back from the nursery, you make a detour to the
thermostat to turn up the heat. While you're at it, better turn
down the stereo. Consider the same story using smart technology.
Junior's cries come over your computer's speakers. Using your
mouse, you lower the volume control on the stereo graphic equalizer
on your computer screen, and then tweak the thermostat on your
comfort control display. Pretty advanced, eh?
The good news is that what seemed out-of-this-world a few years
ago is becoming available. What has made Smart Home technology
impractical till now is the cost of wiring required to run it.
Today, the price of that wiring, called Category 5 data-
communications wiring, is down substantially. Category 5 wiring
consists of four pairs of wires that can transmit voice and data
signals quickly. Combine that with upgraded coaxial TV cable for
carrying video signals from your TV and computer monitor, and you
can wire your home for the smartest technology available.
The price of installing Category 5 wiring used to be exorbitant--
around 10,000 to 15,000 dollars. Nowadays, it's around 700 to
2,000 dollars, cheap enough for many builders to offer homes
compatible with smart technology.
What's currently available in home command and control systems?
In addition to centralized electronic controls for your home's
systems, how about integrated security systems that detect
intruders as they approach or enter the house, flick on
floodlights outdoors, and trigger an audible alarm both inside
and outside the home while notifying the police or security
monitoring services? These systems include fire protection
measures that detect smoke, shut off the furnace or A/C to
prevent spreading smoke throughout the house, wake you up, alert
the fire department, turn on the lights to aid your evacuation,
The bad news is that most existing homes are not compatible with
the technology, unless you're willing to tear out the walls. If
you're planning a major renovation anyway, installation could be
"wired in" to your construction plan. In the meantime, home
builders are taking advantage of smart wiring to attract buyers
concerned about home security and convenience.