Turn up the music, dim the lights, bump up the thermostat and scare off intruders — and do it all from a single easy-to-use interface. Do it from halfway across the country if you need to. Smart homes have turned that fantasy into a reality, and the wireless revolution has made installation affordable for many homeowners.
Smart-home components communicate with a central interface, whether it's a smartphone, a dedicated controller or a computer screen. They allow you to automate home functions and control them remotely. Many, such as smart thermostats, learn about your preferences from repeated use and adjust without your having to formally program them. Most systems are modular, meaning you can add functions down the road after you install the central brain.
Although smart homes often have extremely cool aesthetic and entertainment features, they’re also great for home security while you’re out of town. You don’t even have to subscribe to a traditional security service for the system to be effective. Instead, your installer can customize a combination of smart components to suit your needs.
"You can get really creative with security programming," says Bill Weingarten, owner of HomeTech, a smart-technology installation company in Evanston, Ill.
For example, one of Weingarten's customers had a big, loud German shepherd — so Weingarten sampled the dog's bark and had the smart system play it back over speakers whenever someone rang the doorbell. "The clients were away for the holidays and the dog was boarded in a kennel, but a person at the door would have no idea that was the case," he says.
These are some of the components you can use to create your own unique smart system:
"Smart-home technology means that anything you can do inside your house, you can now do from anywhere," Weingarten says. "You're limited only by your imagination."
From lighting and temperature control to security and media room must-haves, learn about the cool high-tech features in HGTV...
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