Home Automation Pays in Peace of Mind

By Special Guest
Daniel Browning, Business Development Coordinator at DO Supply Inc.
July 30, 2018

The “home of the future” is a concept that has continuously evolved with humanity’s collective tastes and technological advancements. When featured in the 1933 World’s Fair “Century of Progress” exhibition, the “home of tomorrow” represented the pinnacle of human comfort, energy efficiency, and enviable luxury. Today, thanks to the meteoric rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the proliferation of smart devices throughout the property, we are fast approaching the era of the smart home. Using data from the IoT, in combination with software-driven automation systems, homes can become more comfortable, environmentally friendly, and secure.

Six Subsystems for the Sustainable Home
A sustainable home automation solution is explored in a recently published paper, authored by Jaideep Saraswat, Nikhil Mall, Varima Agarwal, Sayali Rajale, and Mainak Mukherjee, all of the University of Petroleum & Energy Studies in Dehradun, India. Divided into six interconnected subsystems governed by a central programmable logic controller (PLC), the authors’ proposed home automation solution relies on data gathered from IoT capable smart devices. These six subsystems are:

  1. Lighting
  2. Perimeter Intrusion Detection System (PIDS)
  3. Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
  4. Fire and Gas Detection
  5. Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)
  6. Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Tracking

Though each of these subsystems has its own role to play in automating the home, all are tasked with contributing to the greater sustainability of the planet and the livability of the home. Peace of mind for the homeowner lies at the nexus of these two concepts. Understanding how these subsystems work individually, yet cohesively, will assist with optimizing the solution for a maximum return on investment.

By installing various connected sensors and manual input devices throughout the building, it will be possible for the PLC to optimize the amount of energy consumed by illumination and to give the person more control over the indoor and outdoor lighting systems. This can, effectively, cut costs and heighten security.

Risk, location, terrain, structure, and standards determine how the PIDS is installed, though its use of strategically placed sensors that feed data into the home automation system remains a constant. The property’s inhabitants can count on the PLC to notify them in the event an intrusion is detected and to assist them with reacting appropriately.

Optimal indoor air quality can be achieved via a combination of sensors and cooling/heating equipment, with home automation allowing for room-by-room control that can not only ensure comfort but can also significantly reduce energy usage. In addition to the automation system, the paper’s authors recommend using evaporative coolers over air conditioners, as they consume up to 75% less electricity.

Fire and Gas Detection
The fire and gas detection subsystem is deemed the most important in the home automation solution. By connecting a series of detectors to the PLC, signals can be sent to a responsible party’s mobile device, as well as in-house warning sirens, allowing for faster notification and evacuation.

Facilitating collection and storage of video from throughout the property, a CCTV system is a cost-effective way to deter potential criminals and bring peace of mind to the building’s occupants. Through a network of strategically placed cameras, video information is gathered and made available for review via mobile device or computer.

Solar PV Tracking
Solar panels are an environmentally friendly way to generate electricity, and automation can significantly increase their effectiveness. The paper’s authors recommend using a sensor-driven solar tracking system, which not only orients the panels for maximum exposure but also gathers data about daily energy generation.

Does Smart Equal Secure?
With any networked system, security is a multi-faceted concept. While more visibility into the data gathered by a home’s automation system can bring peace of mind and a greater sense of control, it is important for the homeowner to be aware of potential vulnerabilities to the system itself. David Nield, contributor to Gizmodo, provides a general overview of how to ensure your IoT capable devices can be secured against unwelcome access. Just as the home automation system cares for the people inside, the people inside must also care for it.

About the author: Daniel Browning is the Business Development Coordinator at DO Supply Inc. In his spare time, he writes about automation, AI, technology, and the IIoT. When Daniel isn’t working, you can find him on a golf course or reading a book.

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