Read an Excerpt
IntroductionIntroductionSmart Homes for Everyone
Ever since I was a kid growing up in the 1960s watching TV shows like Hanna-Barbera's The Jetsons and reading stories such as Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains," the idea of a "smart house" has fascinated me. In some ways, the smart house of the future is already here for many of us:
TV screens are getting larger and larger.
Home theater systems combine digital surround sound and better-than-broadcast video.
Internet access enables us to work from home remotely.
However, in other ways, today's homes are often stuck in the past. In my youth I saw older homes with rotary light switches, relics of a retrofit from gaslight to electricity. Today's homes use toggle or decorator paddle switches, but you still have to walk across the room to turn off a lamp or an overhead light fixture.
Now, just as then, if you're not around to turn off the lights when your kids leave the room, the lights stay on, ripping a hole in the family utility budget. If you forget to turn down the thermostat when you head out for the day or go on vacation, you'll make your utility company very happy. If you're away from home and you don't have somebody keeping an eye on things for you, your vacation or business trip might be frittered away with worry about what might be happening while you're away.
If you're building a brand-new luxury home, many home builders can build-in "smart house" features that provide remote control of lights and appliances, remote control of heating and cooling, and security. But you don'tneed to be a millionaire to make your home a smart home.
Whether you want to reduce the drudgery of turning off the lights at bedtime, make your home look lived in when you're away, provide extra security for your home and family, or use your home PC as the PC that runs your home, this book is for you. This book shows you how to turn the dream of home automation into a practical reality at minimal cost. From controlling your lights with a wireless remote to equipping your home to call you when there's a problem, this book provides practical advice on buying, installing, and using the most popular home automation standard on the market today, X10. We chose to focus on X10 because of its popularity, low cost, and versatility. However, if you are using another home automation standard such as Z-Wave, UPB, or others, the home automation software programs discussed in Chapters 11 and 12 can be used to create a home automation solution that combines X10, X10-compatible, and non-X10 home automation products.
I have spent many hours in my own home experimenting with many of the products described in this book and countless time researching other products. My goal in writing this book is to make sure that you have a fast track to transforming your home into the smart home you want...today.
Although X10-compatible products have been on the market since 1978, the continued development of new features, new types of home automation products, and the ability to interconnect X10 with other types of whole-house or do-it-yourself home automation standards through computer control make X10 an evergreen technology.
As you'll learn in the following pages, the X10 standard offers a huge universe of home automation possibilities. But the X10 standard often hides behind various brand names. This book shows you how to choose the right home automation products from leading vendors to accomplish practical tasks. If you're looking for Rube Goldberg contraptions, this is not the book for you. But if you're looking for practical advice about how to make your home smarter, friendlier, more economical to run, and even more secure, keep reading!How This Book Is Organized
This book contains 12 chapters and two appendices. You don't need to read it cover to cover, but to make the most of it, take a moment and review its basic plan:
In Part I, "Home Technology Basics," you will learn about major uses for home automation and home automation standards (Chapter 1); the basics of X10, the world's most popular home automation standard (Chapter 2); and how to plan your future home automation projects (Chapter 3).
In Part II, "Using X10 for Basic Home Automation," you will learn how to use X10 to control home lighting (Chapter 4), appliances (Chapter 5), and how to upgrade your X10 home automation projects with more powerful controllers and timers (Chapter 6).
In Part III, "Using X10 for Advanced Home Control," you will learn how to use X10 to control central heating and cooling systems and portable fans, heaters, and window air conditioners in your home (Chapter 7); how to control exterior lights, garage lights and outlets, and other landscaping and exterior features (Chapter 8); and how to use X10 to provide home security through motion detectors, video cameras, and alarm systems (Chapter 9).
In Part IV, "Remote Access to Your X10 Home Control System," you'll learn how to control your home by telephone (Chapter 10), with your home computer (Chapter 11), and remotely via your home network or the Internet (Chapter 12).
To make sure that you're fully equipped to enter the wide (and sometimes wild) world of the X10 home automation standard, I've added two appendices:
In Appendix A, "Integrating X10 with Other Home Control Systems," you'll discover which whole-house and non-X10 systems can be added to an X10 installation. You'll also learn the many brand names used for X10-compatible hardware over the years.
In Appendix B, "Troubleshooting X10," you'll learn how to bridge X10 signals between different phases of your home wiring, how to boost X10 signal strength, and how to test your X10 installation.
You can read this book in two ways:
If you're truly an absolute beginner to home automation, start with the first chapter and keep reading. The early chapters provide essential grounding in home automation concepts, terms, and technology you'll need as you progress.
If you've already dipped your feet into the ocean of home automation, feel free to go straight to the chapters that interest you most. I've added a lot of cross-references when they're needed to make sure that you have the help you need when you need it.
Either way, I know you'll have as much fun using this book to help you create a smarter home as I had writing it.Conventions Used in This Book
Commands, directions, and explanations in this book are presented in the clearest format possible. The following items are some of the features that make this book easier for you to use:
Shortcut to SuccessI use this feature to provide tips that make a task easier to complete.
Cautions and WarningsI use this feature to keep you out of trouble when you're performing potentially dangerous or tricky tasks.
On the WebI use this feature to guide you to useful websites that provide more information on the topic or product being discussed.
The Big PictureI use this feature to bring you up to speed on major home automation concepts.
© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.