Home Automation and Wiring Your Home
Home automation is exploding and apparently is here to stay.
Want to switch your front porch lights on or off from your office computer or from a telephone in China? Want to check on the kids and the sitter using your tablet? Want to lower the temperature at home from your cell phone? Want to monitor investment property via the Internet? Want to be able to freely manipulate or grow your telephone system or home computer network without triggering a remodeling crisis?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes then you need to know more about home automation.
It still isn’t clear to us yet exactly what “home automation” really is. Each of the experts that we chatted with at the CES had a different definition. However, what we did learn was that home automation, to varying degrees, involves various combinations of the following primary systems:
- Your telephone system.
- Your cable TV or dish TV system.
- Your home computer (or home network).
- Your home electrical or lighting system.
- Your home security system.
- Your home theater.
- Your home heating system.
- Your home water heating and water supply system.
- Your home appliances.
- And anything else in your home that can be operated or monitored electronically or remotely.
How soon will it be before you will need to know something about home automation? Hard to say, but begin your research and preparation for the alternatives right now!
We’ve discovered that home automation does seem to have a single core element. It’s called “structured wiring” and it makes everything we just mentioned above a lot easier to manage and modify.
Your current electrical system is a type of “structured wiring.” An electric power line from the public utility terminates in a metal cabinet in your garage (or somewhere else in your home), where it is then sent through a series of breakers (or fuses) and cables (known as branch circuits) that power or light various parts of your home.
At some point, when a light or plug stops working, all you usually do is go to the power panel and flip a breaker (or replace a fuse). In any event, you pretty much know that you can count on the problem being managed from the power panel. Why not? That’s where all the wires meet up and where all the safety devices are. Structured wiring is a lot like having a “power or distribution” panel for the other elements of your home such as cable TV, telephone and your computer network. If you are looking for a network cable installation, you may want to visit the Treasure Valley IT homepage for more info.
With structured wiring, the various source wires and cables are brought into a single metal cabinet called the “structured wiring distribution panel” (SWDP or DP) where they are then delivered to the various parts of the house via a series of special cables. To enjoy computer control, your home computer also must become a source. Here, you simply run a wire from your main computer to your DP. With these three sources together in one place, you can now connect your telephone system to your computer and either of them to your television – and vice versa. Running wires “from” the DP to various rooms in your home allows you to connect the systems together at multiple locations. The possibilities are endless.
For example, here’s what can happen if you run a wire from your furnace’s thermostat to the DP:
You can hook up your thermostat to your computer.
Your computer can then be connected to the Internet via the phone line, thus providing a means of changing your home’s temperature setting via the Internet. (Yes, that software is available, as is the thermostat that can be controlled by computer.)
Here’s what can happen if you add a cable from a surveillance camera in your kitchen to the DP:
You can connect a surveillance camera to your computer. Your computer can then be connected to the Internet via the phone line, thus providing a means of monitoring your home via the Internet.
The cabling used for structured wiring is very special. It isn’t just wire for phone or TV. Actually, multiple twisted pairs of wire (that can be used for computers or telephones) are bundled together with multiple runs of coaxial cables (for video and other transmissions) creating a multipurpose, multifunction connection potential. Each structured wiring location consists of one or more of these multifunction cables that runs from the DP to each connection point (kitchen, or family room, or bedroom, etc.). Each and every location is basically a dedicated group of connections or “dedicated circuit,” allowing any type of equipment to be connected to and through the DP to any other piece of equipment. And that’s all there is to it.
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