It’s eight am, the drapes open slowly. You head for a shower. The water’s at a perfect temperature. As you shower, the mirror TV tunes into your favourite channel. In the kitchen, there’s freshly brewed coffee in the machine. When you get back home in the evening, you swipe your smart card to unlock the door. Food has already been heated in the microwave. When it’s time for bed, you press a button on the wall-mounted console. The lights in the hall and kitchen go out. You get into bed, pick up your iPad and tap a command. The lights go off, except for the reading light. Half an hour later, the light switches off automatically and the system is reset for the next day.
This may seem right out of a Nat Geo documentary, but this is what in recent years has come to be known as an automated home, where all the gadgetry and appliances are connected through a network and controlled with a small touch screen or your mobile phone. Such homes were a rarity in India, but with costs coming down, a rapidly growing percentage of homeowners is automating their homes. Certain premium builders also provide some form of automation in a lot of their projects.
Why home automation?
The core elements of automation include mood lighting, audio-video integration, security and appliances. These are all connected to a central console, which controls all their functions, along with multiple remotes for individual rooms. One of the biggest advantages of such a system is convenience. “What I love most is that I can control all the lights, drapes and fans from anywhere,” says Lalit Gupta, a Mumbai-based entrepreneur. “It can really save a lot of time and effort.”
With pre-programmed functions and remote access, electronics can run on energy-saving modes. And the security element provides more safety than a lock and a watchman.
Mood lighting is the most popular form of home automation, as it is easy on the pockets – relatively. It is a combination of varied light sources like bulbs and neon lights programmed to give distinctly different forms of lighting, defined as moods. “The advantage here is that it can give different outputs for different times of day; this helps in enhancing the look of the interiors,” says Ameet Sarvaiya, MD, Intelligent Lifestyles.
Pune-based Bhavesh Purohit has synced his AV systems to the lighting system. “It seemed like a luxury, but I’ve realised what a difference it can make,” says Purohit. Many mood lighting packages also include automation of fans and drapes. Some popular brands are Legrand, Schneider and Dynalite. These systems can start from around Rs.15,000 and go into lakhs depending on house size and level of customisation.
Audio Video Integration
This connects all TVs, projectors, audio systems and computers in the house to a single server. This server, also connected to the Net, stores videos, movies and other media and allows each room to access it independently. “It lets users access all the media from an AV output in each room,” says Atharva Samant, CEO, Tisa Tech Secure Pvt Ltd.
“What I love most is that it lets me use my PS3 in any room,” says Purohit. While a bare-boned media centre can be created with the help of an expensive PC or Mac, for integration with a central control, an AV server is your best bet. The costs again range from Rs.30,000 to lakhs depending on personal preferences.
If you’re looking for a basic security solution, a biometric or smartcard access control device is a good option. But there is an array of other devices. “We automated a penthouse in Mumbai where we installed CCTVs, video door phones, 8 in 1 sensors that detect everything from motion to temperature, and video monitors that can also act as intercoms,” says Gaurav Arora, MD, Lifestyle Automation Products. Other solutions include IP cameras, Network Digital Video Recorder and access control devices based on fingerprints, retina scans and smartcards. These are connected to a server that can send out warning messages and also enables viewing of footage through mobiles and the Net.
Light it up
Mood lighting systems can enhance the look of your home
What to consider:
Do extensive research online on what you want and what is available.“The ideal time to automate your home is when it is under construction or being renovated, as most systems require extensive internal wiring,” says Arora. Wireless systems are also an option. It is also important to know which brands to trust and which to avoid. “To save costs, buyers opt for cheaper Chinese brands. Most of these systems work for a couple of months and then start giving trouble,” says Samant. Make sure the brand you select provides prompt and reliable servicing and maintenance. “The automation system controls a large part of, or your whole house. If it starts malfunctioning, the house can be rendered useless. Tech support should be available round the clock and technicians should be able to come over within hours,” says Samant.
It is also important to make sure that the system isn’t affected by electricity fluctuations. “We often face a problem in Delhi, as the power supply often fluctuates. It is very important to instal safeguards in order to avoid any damage to the actual system,” says Sarvaiya.
From HT Brunch, January 16
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