Home automation (also called domotics) designates an emerging practice of increased automation of household appliances and features in residential dwellings, particularly through electronic means that allow for things impracticable, overly expensive or simply not possible in recent past decades. The term may be used in contrast to the more mainstream "building automation", which refers to industrial uses of similar technology, particularly the automatic or semi-automatic control of lighting, doors and windows, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, and security and surveillance systems.

The techniques employed in home automation include those in building automation as well as the control of home entertainment systems, houseplant watering, pet feeding, changing the ambiance "scenes" for different events (such as dinners or parties), and the use of domestic robots.

Typically, it is easier to more fully outfit a house during construction due to the accessibility of the walls, outlets, and storage rooms, and the ability to make design changes specifically to accommodate certain technologies. Wireless systems are commonly installed when outfitting a pre-existing house, as they obviate the need to make major structural changes. These communicate via radio or infrared signals with a central controller.

Home wiring historyEdit

File:Patch Panel.JPG

Traditionally, homes have been wired for four systems: electrical power, telephones, TV outlets (cable or antenna), and a doorbell. Typically, components and wiring for these are kept within a closet, power metering box or a patch panel.

A remote control for moving vessels and vehicles was first patented by Nikola Tesla in 1898[1], and he announced wireless control of boats in 1909[2]. With the invention of the electronic microcontroller and the widespread uptake of digital communication technology, the cost of electronic control fell rapidly and reliability improved. Remote and intelligent control technologies were adopted by the building services industry and appliance manufacturers worldwide, as they offer the end user easily accessible and/or greater control of their products.

Overview and Benefits Edit

As the amount of controllable fittings and domestic appliances in the home rises, the ability of these devices to interconnect and communicate with each other digitally becomes a useful and desirable feature. The consolidation of control or monitoring signals from appliances, fittings or basic services is an aim of Home automation.

In simple installations this may be as straightforward as turning on the lights when a person enters the room. In advanced installations, rooms can sense not only the presence of a person inside but know who that person is and perhaps set appropriate lighting, temperature, music levels or television channels, taking into account the day of the week, the time of day, and other factors.

Other automated tasks may include setting the air conditioning to an energy saving setting when the house is unoccupied, and restoring the normal setting when an occupant is about to return. More sophisticated systems can maintain an inventory of products, recording their usage through an RFID tag, and prepare a shopping list or even automatically order replacements.

Home automation can also provide a remote interface to home appliances or the automation system itself, via telephone line, wireless transmission or the internet, to provide control and monitoring via a Smart Phone or Web browser

An example of a remote monitoring implementation of home automation could be when a smoke detector detects a fire or smoke condition, then all lights in the house will blink to alert any occupants of the house to the possible fire. If the house is equipped with a home theatre, a home automation system can shut down all audio and video components to display the alert or make an audible announcement. The system could also call the home owner on their mobile phone to alert them, or call the fire brigade or alarm monitoring company to bring it to their attention.

Standards and bridgesEdit

There have been many attempts to standardise the forms of hardware, electronic and communication interfaces needed to construct a home automation system. Specific domestic wiring and communication standards include:

Some standards use additional communication and control wiring, some embed signals in the existing power circuit of the house, some use radio frequency (RF) signals, and some use a combination of several methods. Control wiring is hardest to retrofit into an existing house. Some appliances include USB that is used to control it and connect it to a domotics network. Bridges translate information from one standard to another (eg. from X10 to European Installation Bus).

Technology Transmission medium Transmission speed Maximum distance to the device
Ethernet {IEEE 802.3} Unshielded twisted pair 10 Mbit/s – 1 Gbit/s 100 m
Optical fiber 1 Gbit/s – 10 Gbit/s 2 km – 15 km
HomePlug {IEEE P1901} Electrical wiring 14 Mbit/s - 200 Mbit/s 200 m
Universal Powerline Association Electrical wiring 200 Mbit/s 200 m
ITU {G.9960} Electrical wiring / Telephone line / Coaxial cable up to 1 Gbit/s N/A
HomePNA {G.9951, G.9952, G.9953, and G.9954} Telephone line 10 Mbit/s 300 m
Wi-Fi {IEEE 802.11} Radio frequency 11 Mbit/s – 248 Mbit/s 30 m – 100 m
FireWire {IEEE 1394} Unshielded twisted pair / Optical fiber 400 Mbit/s – 3.2 Gbit/s 4.5 m – 70 m
Bluetooth {IEEE 802.15.1 (v1.1 only)} Radio frequency 1 Mbit/s – 10 Mbit/s 10 m – 100 m
IRDA Infrared 9600 bit/s – 4 Mbit/s 2 m
C-Bus Twisted pair / Electrical wiring / Radio frequency / Infrared / Ethernet / Wi-Fi 1200 bit/s – 9600 bit/s 1000 m
LonWorks {ISO/IEC 14908} Twisted pair / Electrical wiring / Radio frequency / Infrared / Coaxial / Optical fiber / IP tunneling 1.70 kbit/s – 1.28 Mbit/s 1500 m – 2700 m
INSTEON Electrical wiring / Radio frequency 1.2 kbit/s 1,000 m+ (Electrical wiring), 50 m+ (Wireless)
X10 Electrical wiring 50 bit/s – 60 bit/s
European Installation Bus / KNX {ISO/IEC 14543-3} Twisted pair / Electrical wiring / Radio frequency / Infrared / Ethernet 1200 bit/s – 9600 bit/s 300 m – 1000 m
EHS Twisted pair / Electrical wiring 2.4 kbit/s – 48 kbit/s
Batibus Twisted pair 4800 bit/s 200 m – 1500 m
ZigBee / ZigBee Pro{IEEE 802.15.4 (radio-layer only, not protocol)} Radio frequency 20 kbit/s – 250 kbit/s 10 m – 1500 m
Z-Wave Radio frequency 9.6 kbit/s – 40 kbit/s 1 m – 75 m
USB Twisted pair 12 Mbit/s – 480 Mbit/s 5 m
SCS BUS Twisted pair 9600 bit/s 200 m

System Edit

The elements of a domotics system are:

Architecture Edit

From the point of view of where the intelligence of the domotic system resides, there are three different architectures:

Centralized Architecture: a centralized controller receives information of multiple sensors and, once processed, generates the opportune orders for the actuators.

Distributed Architecture: all the intelligence of the system is distributed by all the modules that are sensors or actuators. Usually it is typical of the systems of wiring in bus.

Mixed Architecture: systems with decentralized architecture as far as which they have several small devices able to acquire and to process the information of multiple sensors and to transmit them to the rest of devices distributed by the house.

Interconnection Edit

By wire:

  1. optical fiber
  2. cable (coaxial and twisted pair), including:
  3. powerline, including:


  1. radio frequency, including:
    GPRS and UMTS
  2. infrared, including:
    Consumer IR

Both Wireless and Wire


Classifications of domestic network technologies Edit

Tasks Edit


Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) solutions include temperature and humidity control. This is generally one of the most important aspects to a homeowner. An Internet-controlled thermostat, for example, can both save money and help the environment, by allowing the homeowner to control the building's heating and air conditioning systems remotely.

Lighting Edit

Lighting control systems can be used to control household electric lights in a variety of ways:

  • Extinguish all the lights of the house
  • Replace manual switching with Automation of on and off signals for any or all lights
  • Regulation of electric illumination levels according to the level of ambient light available
  • Change the ambient colour of lighting via control of LEDs or electronic dimmers

Natural lighting Edit

Natural lighting control involves controlling window shades, LCD shades, draperies and awnings. Recent advances include use of RF technology to avoid wiring to switches and integration with third party home automation systems for centralized control.

Audio Edit

This category includes audio switching and distribution. Audio switching determines the selection of an audio source. Audio distribution allows an audio source to be heard in one or more rooms. This feature is often referred to as 'multi-zone' audio.

  • There are three major components that allow listen to audio throughout your home, or business:
    • CAT 5e/ CAT6 cable from a central audio unit.
    • A keypad to control volume and sources.
    • 2 sets of speaker cabling (4ply from amplifier, and 2 ply from key pad to the speakers).

Video Edit

This includes video switching and distribution, allowing a video source to be viewed on multiple TVs. This feature is often referred to as 'multi-zone' video.

Integration of the intercom to the telephone, or of the video door entry system to the television set, allowing the residents to view the door camera automatically.

Security Edit

Control and integration of security systems.

With Home Automation, the consumer can select and watch cameras live from an Internet source to their home or business. Security cameras can be controlled, allowing the user to observe activity around a house or business right from a Monitor or touch panel. Security systems can include motion sensors that will detect any kind of unauthorized movement and notify the user through the security system or via cell phone.

This category also includes control and distribution of security cameras (see surveillance).

Intercoms Edit

An intercom system allows communication via a microphone and loud speaker between multiple rooms.

  • Ubiquity in the external control as much internal, remote control from the Internet, PC, wireless controls (p.ej. PDA with WiFi), electrical equipment.
  • Transmission of alarms.
  • Intercommunications.

Robotics Edit

  • Control of home robots, using if necessary domotic electric beacon.
  • Home robot communication (i.e. using WiFi) with the domotic network and other home robots.

Other systems Edit

Cat feeder

A homemade Internet-enabled cat feeder.

Using special hardware, almost any device can be monitored and controlled automatically or remotely.



An automated home can be a very simple grouping of controls, or it can be heavily automated where any appliance that is plugged into electrical power is remotely controlled. Costs mainly include equipment, components, furniture, and custom installation.[3]

Smart Grid Edit

In 2009 President Barack Obama asked the United States Congress "to act without delay" to pass legislation that included doubling alternative energy production in the next three years and building a new electricity "smart grid". [4] On April 13, 2009, George W. Arnold was named the first National Coordinator for Smart Grid Interoperability.[5] In June 2009, the NIST announced a smart grid interoperability project via IEEE P2030.[6]

Home automation technologies like Zigbee, INSTEON and Zwave are viewed as integral additions to the Smart Grid. The ability to control lighting, appliances, HVAC as well as Smart Grid applications (load shedding, demand response, real-time power usage and price reporting) [7] will become vital as Smart Grid initiatives are rolled out.

Organizations Edit

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. "U.S. Patent 613809: Method of and apparatus for controlling mechanism of moving vessels and vehicles". United States Patent and Trademark Office. 1898-11-08. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  2. "Tesla pioneered wireless control". Popular Mechanics. 1909-10. Retrieved 2010-05-29. 
  3. "Home automation costs". Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  4. "Obama's Speech on the Economy". New York Times. 2009-01-09. 
  5. "NIST Announces Three Phase Plan for Smart Grid". National Institute for Standards and Technology. 2009-04-13. 
  6. "NIST announces smart grid interoperability project via IEEE P2030, June 2009". 2010-02-03. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  7. "About Us". Retrieved 2009-11-20. 
  8. "Smart home knows just how you like your breakfast. NewScientist, September 2009". 
  9. [1]
  10. Microsoft's "Grace"-system

External links Edit

  • Home Automation at the Open Directory Project
  • Home Automation Guides — Provides advice for DIY home automation projects, including weather sensing, furnace control, voice recognition, and surveillance

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