How to Automate Your Home From Your Mobile Phone

Let’s just start by saying that not every mobile phone is capable of handling the tasks associated with home automation. You’re going to need a smartphone (or a tablet) in order to remotely manage a home automation system from afar, or even from the comfort of your La-Z-Boy. That said, you might be surprised to learn just what you can do with the power of your handheld devices. Thanks to smart home software (and associated hardware), you may now be able to control all manner of electrical devices in your home wirelessly, including the thermostat, lighting, door locks, alarm system components, media centers, and even appliances.

If you forgot to set the alarm, turn off the lights, turn down the heat, or switch off the coffee pot when you left in a mad rush this morning, you could now complete these tasks with a few simple taps and swipes on your smartphone, from the office or a cross-country flight. And of course, you no longer need to set lights on timers when you’re away. These automated systems can make it easy to fake your presence, and many send alerts when systems are triggered by intruders or even when hazards like leaks occur. The only question you should have at this point is: how do I go about automating my home?

There are a couple of options to consider. The first, and probably the easiest for the average homeowner, is to go with a company that will set everything up for you. And currently, the best options seem to be home security systems that come with smart home extras. Vivint has led the charge thus far with automated systems that link up to your lighting, thermostat, and other electrical systems and sundry devices throughout the home. All you have to do is download the app in order to begin controlling your system remotely via your smartphone. ADT offers a similar (although slightly less comprehensive) setup, and others are beginning to follow suit. Although you’ll have to pay for the company to come out and hook everything up, not to mention the ongoing monthly fees for service, you won’t have to worry about setup or maintenance, which is a plus for the busy, modern homeowner.

However, the DIY types will be happy to hear that there are plenty of other options available in the consumer marketplace. The Insteon Hub is probably a good place to start. Insteon provides both hardware and software for your home, and the entire process of setup is made easy thanks to tutorial videos that walk you through the process with step-by-step instructions. And once the components are all in place, you can control devices with simple, on/off switches or sliders. You can add your thermostat, lights, IP cameras, and even your garage doors to the mix, schedule timers for usage, and receive alerts when systems are in use or when sensors are triggered.

But Insteon is just one of many such programs available, and when you opt to set one up on your own you can skip the many up-front and ongoing costs that come with having a third party do it for you. Since you’re not running a company, you won’t need all of the extras offered by anĀ industrial control direct type operation. So chances are you can probably manage the setup on your own if you’re at all handy and willing to give it a try. But you certainly don’t have to go it alone with companies like Vivint and ADT to lend a hand.

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