Setting Up A Smart Home

Nandagopal Rajan | Print Edition: April 2013

Home automation has for long been the exclusive domain of the ultra-rich. But we are at a stage where anyone can afford to have automated homes, customised according to their needs and budgets. The concept of automated homes has evolved from pressing buttons to open a door or to bring out an owen, now it is more about securing your house and being able to remotely observe and control the space. As an add-on, automated homes tend to be much more energy efficient that conventional homes.

In India, with the boom in the realty sector many new home buyers are opting to add automated elements to their new properties. While some real estate companies give you options even as you buy a new home, many buyers just take the help of third-parties with complete solutions.

C P Singh, Founder and Chief Mentor of Smart Automation that offers complete solution for home buyers, says the first item on the wishlist here is security, followed by automated and energy efficient lighting systems. "The initial investment will turn into savings in a few years. An energy efficient home can reclaim the amount spent on automation within 2-3 years just from the reduced power consumption," he explains.

Smartphones and tablets are also changing the picture, letting home owners take charge of their homes wherever they are. No wonder, a smart home now is also a connected home.


From scene or mood lighting integrated for your entertainment hubs to sensor-based LEDs that switch off when there is no one in a room, the options are endless. ABB Ltd sells presence sensors priced between Rs 3,500 and Rs 7,000, while timers and switching units are cheaper at Rs 2,500. ABB i-bus EIB brightness sensors, that control lighting according to the ambient light in the room, cost Rs 3,000. Schneider Electric has solutions that control lighting from a mobile device.

Many home owners opt for full CCTV surveillance system with solutions like IR Bullet and Speed Dome covering a wider area and recording even in low-light conditions. However, a more practical solution for Indian homes is a video door phone. These can be linked to remote door mechanisms like the Trane electronic main door mortise lock. Both Zicom and Eureka Forbes have video door solutions priced under Rs 20,000. These two companies also offer fingerprint or biometric locks (Rs 12,000+).

Another automation option is to access the air-conditioning or heating in the home from a mobile device and set it according to your need even if you are not there. Use this to switch off an AC or to switch on the heater before you enter the house.

Companies like Smart Automation offer solutions that let you open or close curtains with the click of a button from anywhere in the house. You can also have a remote in the car to open the front gate or garage door. All home entertainment equipment can also be synced to be controlled by a single mobile application or remote. Automated systems can also be used to control owens, deep freezers and refrigerators in the kitchen. However, these are not so popular here.

Sandeep Singh, VP, LifeSpace BU at Schneider Electric India, says automation for a new house should be planned from the stage the electrical layout is prepared. This would enable a well designed solution meeting the home owner's expectations. While it is possible to automate an old house, the cost of retrofitting will be much more. Or opt for Schneider EZInstall3, a wireless home automation solution.


Rs 3,50,000:
Cost of basic automation, including lighting and security, in a three-bedroom house. Smaller houses cost lesser, so does taking fewer features.

The controller:
The crucial centralised controller receives information from multiple sensors or other devices and generates the orders for the devices concerned. Alternatively, there can be a distributed architecture where all intelligence is with sensor and actuators.

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