What is the trend in new or connected homes and offices today?

Being connected has taken on significantly different meanings in recent years. Technologies are constantly evolving and influencing many of the basic things we do each day. This rapid pace of change is not likely to slow down but rather speed up and become more complex, fortunately or unfortunately. No doubt, simplicity is not what it once was. Also inherent with this rapid change will come our ability to adapt, accept, and yes, evolve! Today we are accepting into our lives “smart” phones, “smart” toothbrushes, “smart” crockpots or coffee pots, “smart” clothes washers, “smart” door locks, low energy “smart” light bulbs, and the list goes on and on. More and more of our day-to-day life is “smart” driven, wirelessly connected, app driven, and when things do not connect correctly, increasingly frustrating. The evolving term “the internet of things” is an industry term coined in an attempt to describe how pervasive this connection really is. With only a few devices, we can determine how to get somewhere, what traffic or weather we will incur along the way, and provide an electronic notification indicating our “projected” time of arrival (if desired) to the person we intend to meet at the destination.

Residential Automation

Today it is estimated that statistically 100% of American households deploy at least one connected device or system in their homes. Further the analysis indicates today there are an average of 12 connected devices in over 80% of the homes within America. It is projected that in 5 years an average of 90 connected devices will be in over 95% of America’s homes. There is a huge battle brewing over the control and management of the growing pipe of data flowing into and out of a person’s home.

In our homes we have faced and repeated this evolution many times over. When the first TV with a remote came along we bought it because of the convenience to get up from the couch to change a television channel. Soon we had a basket full of incompatible remotes cluttering our lives when competing technologies elected to not talk to each other. As software improved, companies began to work together, and industries enforced standards, we were able to purchase one universal remote to do many functions; we were elated! This same analogy is playing out today in other sectors of technology. On the internet and sold within big box home improvement stores there are a host of “smart” home devices and technologies. Unfortunately, in many cases a number of these new technologies do not sync well or play nicely with other systems and/or competing technologies. Today we have transferred frustration from a basket full of remotes to a basket of applications on our phones, tablets, or computers. The same frustration is repeating itself because systems don’t talk well to each other. Overlooked is the simplistic desire to connect within a safe, stable and robust communication protocol.

For over 20 years Automated Environments has been helping technology savvy individuals, families, and business owners navigate through the ever changing world of system connectivity. We strongly believe there should be a basic, intuitive, and robust control system in each deployed system. This control system provides the “backbone” or “foundation” to further integration within a home or office automation system. When one purchases smart thermostats, lighting, switches, cameras, or any other subset of the smart building automation umbrella and these devices do not communicate appropriately with the other components or systems purchased, only added expense and frustration will occur. Having worked with many of the latest, greatest, and “flavor-of-the-day” technologies available we strongly recommend, install and support Control4, Savant, and Crestron systems. These manufacturers provide proven solutions and system components that sync, talk, and work together. When considering deploying the advancing automation technologies today Automated Environments can help you build a seamless “one remote” solution that will provide the benefits you seek. We look forward to working with you on your frustration free automation solution.

—From your friends at AE

Automate Your Lighting for Winter Solstice

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Winter requires big adjustments when it comes to your home’s interior and exterior lighting. In Phoenix, the average sunset time changes from 7:45 PM in June to 5:20 PM in December. With Daylight Savings Time ending at the beginning of November and yesterday’s Winter Solstice, you can optimize the energy efficiency you will need to monitor your lighting schemes.

Create an Automated Night Scene for Your Home

Many people create what they call a “goodnight” automation scene for their home, where all interior lights are turned off and doors are locked with just a click of a button. In the winter months, consider creating a similar “nighttime” scene for when you arrive home after work. You can create a schedule to turn on your porch lights, light up heavy traffic interior spaces, and warm up your home, all with one scene. These systems can be programmed to adjust to different sunset times, anticipated arrival times, known comings and goings, and whatever other timing criteria you desire. Devices today allow you to update your pre-programmed scene by accessing internet supplied sunset or sunrise times.

Proper lighting may further allow you to increase the safety of your home concerning winter-specific needs.

Keep Your Home Safe with Security Lighting

In general, increased lighting will add visibility and may improve your safety and security. Winter months can create dark, shadowy and uninviting environments.  Well-lit homes, walks and driveways create a far more inviting environment in which to live and enjoy safely. When installing exterior security lighting or cameras, it’s important to consult with a professional. Not only will they ensure that vulnerable areas have the visibility needed, but they will also design a system that avoids unnecessary light pollution and excessive energy costs. Automation systems, light or motion sensors, and other electronic equipment can provide added levels of safety to a home, garage, walkway or drive.

Don’t Forget about Early Morning Lighting Needs

Shorter days can also mean darker mornings. Automation systems can automatically remember, adjust, and update your morning lighting scenes. The sun rises in the Valley of the Sun as early as 5:20 AM in June, while December can bring sunrises as late as 7:30 AM. Just like the nighttime lighting scenes described above, you can create a morning scene to wake you up and start your day. In addition to interior and exterior lighting, consider using automation to set your desired temperature, play soft music, and even start your coffee maker.

As with any home automation project, Automated Environments is dedicated to perfecting solutions that work with you and your family. To learn more about the features and capabilities of the control systems mentioned above, please contact us.

Photo by Naomi King / CC BY

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Three Ways to Automate Your Holiday Decor

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Holidays are full of fun and festivities, but if you’re not careful, they can also come with a lot of added stress and expense. Current automation technologies available to you today can enhance the enjoyment of the holiday season and help you curb expense and planning.

Save Energy with Automated Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor Holiday Lighting often adds decor, ambiance, and a festive nature to the season.  However, these lights can also increase energy costs. Whole house automation systems can be programmed to enable your outdoor holiday lights to function according to a set schedule set by you.  You won’t have to worry about turning them off before bed, trudging out into the dark to disconnect a plug, or using unseen energy to keep the lights on through the night.  Automation systems can turn lights on or off based upon changing sunset times, a programmed lighting scene, or simply shut off after 4-5 hours according to your preferred timing.

Add to the Safety of Your Home with Automated Indoor Lighting

Sitting around a well-lit Christmas tree, a Menorah, or other festive holiday displays can be a magical experience for whole families. The heat generated from older incandescent holiday lights, lights not properly located, or lights not adequately powered can create unintended and uninvited hazards into your home. Automation systems will not protect against misuse of applied common sense which includes inappropriate overloading of electrical circuits. However, Automation Systems use standard switching protocols within installed home electrical systems, allow you to create and deploy settings for unique loads or decorations to shut off whenever you leave the home (GEO Fencing apps), enable devices to be actively turned off after certain periods of time (pre-programmed themes or scenes), and other protections that potentially decrease hazards and exposures.

Set the Mood for Holiday Party

Most people enjoy visiting, reacquainting, and spending time together during the Holidays. Hosting big events for friends and family can be very stressful. Automation eases this stress by creating pre-set “moods” or “scenes” for holiday events. These settings incorporate different levels of lighting, timing of device switches, music channels or levels, and/or temperature to help your home feel warm and inviting. Outdoor spas can be heated according to a schedule, window shades lowered when you sit down to watch a movie, or specific holiday-themed doorbell tones programmed when someone approaches your home.  There are countless options available to create your desired mood.

The functionality of a movie room or home theater, indoor or outdoor space, room or whole house automation system is only limited by your imagination. Systems are available to help you eliminate stress, add functionality, and make your home and life more enjoyable. The items presented above are simple but can truly make a BIG difference in achieving desired ambiance while reducing holiday stress.  Contact our team at Automated Environments to explore ways where automation can improve your holiday experience.

Photo by Joe Buckingham / CC BY

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Simplify Your Nightly Routine with Home Automation

Anyone with young children knows what a struggle bedtime can be.  Adding home automation solutions to your nightly routine can help the whole family wind down and sleep safely through the night.

For the Kids

From battles over brushing teeth to staying in bed, many kids can struggle with bedtime. Establishing a consistent nightly routine is important to help kids calm down and ensure they get the sleep they need. While tactics such as a warm bath or a bedtime story can go a long way, the following home automation features discussed below can simplify the process.9645037_17b2cbbfbd_b

Television, Electronics and Network Access

Many families like to wind down after dinner by watching a show or two. Problems can arise, though, when it’s time to turn the TV off and put various electronics away. With home automation, it’s easy to set a password-protected timer that removes the struggle. The system automatically turns the TV off, cuts off internet access to certain devices, or other administrator defined criteria at a programmed time. This can establish and enforce family rules and potentially reduce confrontations with children.

Additionally, it’s easy to control the power to your television, video game equipment or limit network access, so you can make sure the electronics stay turned off for the night.

Advanced Lighting Control

With an automated home, there are endless lighting options to help with bedtime. One option is to set a timed dimmer on the lights in your child’s room. When enabled bedroom lights will slowly dim for 15 minutes (or however long you choose), allowing kids to transition from evening activities to bedtime. This eliminates the argument of when it’s time for lights out.

There’s also the option to create preset moods or scenes that combine lighting, music, and temperature. Many in our industry call these pre-programmed settings “scenes.”  Using scenes on a regular basis will give your child several sensory indicators that it’s time to go to bed to sleep.

As your child becomes more independent, you can grant access to the lighting controls for their room. This may save trips to wake you up in the night if they can reach the lights for themselves.

For Parents

While adults don’t typically struggle with bedtime quite like their young children, an automated home can still make your evening more relaxing.

Lighting Scenes

As is mentioned above, it’s easy to create a variety of lighting scenes that incorporate lighting controls, music, and temperature. As you’re winding down for the evening and enjoying a couple of hours without young kids at your feet, just a click of a button can dim the lights and play some relaxing music. When you’re ready to go to sleep, you can turn off the lights right from your bed. No clap on, clap off lights here!

Check on the Kids

Ever wonder if your kids are really staying in bed? If your kids are prone to escape from their rooms at night, home automation can be a big help. Instead of walking to their bedroom, cracking the door, and taking the risk of waking them up, you can use your home’s automated video surveillance to your advantage to quickly pull up the stream from your baby or young child’s room.

Lock Doors and Windows

The most important part of a nightly routine is ensuring your family’s safety. Home automation options make it simple to double check that all doors and windows are locked without touring the whole house. It’s easy to create nighttime presets, so that with a click of a button, your interior lights turn off, your perimeter security system is enabled, and your windows and doors locked tight.  If there is anything amiss, it lets you know immediately and tells you exactly where you have an issue. More than anything, this is what will keep you sleeping soundly at night.

 

These solutions are admittedly simple solutions, but in reality that’s the intention. These small, everyday changes add up to giving you a simpler, more relaxing home. Customization could include turning on a light to 30% during the middle of the night when a sensor detects motion assuring visibility as needed. The options to integrate separate systems are only limited by your imagination.

Automated Environments has been designing, installing, and updating home and office automation systems for over 20 years.  We are experts in helping you create the environment you seek. To learn more about the features and capabilities of the control systems mentioned above, please contact us.

Photo by Pieter Vanhaecke / CC BY

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What is Automation? (And How Can It Help You?)

8427426570_d41069a947_zAutomation can mean different things to different people. Is a wireless door lock automation? Does a security system I can check in on from the internet count? What about wireless thermostats? First and foremost we are a company focused on being a resource to our customers. Towards that end, we are undertaking a new initiative- the Automated Environments blog! Here we hope to provide more information on specific technologies, solutions to common problems, and insight into our industry as a whole. To begin this effort, let’s answer an important question, “What is automation and what can it do for you?”

Modern homes are replete with different systems, many or all of which are used on a daily basis. When was the last day you didn’t use your thermostat, your television, your computer network or phone system? More importantly, when is the last time you didn’t use several or all of these at once? As the walls of our homes and businesses fill up with ever more technology, interacting and keeping up with all of these systems becomes a chore. The interaction points for these systems are frequently scattered around different locations and are protected by multiple, different passwords. Importantly, these systems do not communicate with one another. Why would your thermostat need to talk to your security system? Why would your television need to communicate with your lights? What about your phone with your audio system?

In reality, the only “hub” to which these systems all connect… is you. Your experience at home or the office is informed by all of these systems, and the interconnectivity and communication by them, on a daily basis. Being the “hub” however means that YOU must keep track of the passwords. YOU must keep track of the locations of structured panels. YOU must tell each system independently what you need from it at all times. In this age of future technology, wouldn’t it be nice to have some help?

This is automation. Simplifying how you control and interact with these various systems as well as empowering them to better fit and augment your lifestyle. There are system available today to help YOU. From a single app on the phone in your pocket or a single touchscreen on your bedroom wall, you can control all of the independent systems in your home. More importantly, unifying operation and control of these systems allows effective communication between them. You no longer need to manually set a thermostat, turn music on or off, and arm your security system before you leave. Now you can lock your front door and automatically have your thermostat set, your security system arm, and your audio or video system turn on to a preferred channel. Instead of hitting a light switch when you walk in a room, the motion detector from the security system or a geofence can turn the light on for you when it senses your presence in the room. Or perhaps instead of coming home and having to disarm the security system, turn on the lights, warm the spa or pool and turn on the family room television, have all of these systems activate when you open your garage door while pulling in to your driveway. No longer do five to ten remotes need to complicate your life. The possibilities are nearly infinite and limited more by your imagination than any technological roadblock!

Our goal at Automated Environments is to be the finest systems integrator in the world. We expect everything from the cleanliness of our pre-wires through the completeness of our programming to be top notch and beyond reproach. At Automated Environments we are happy and hopeful to assist in the implementation of the many systems demanded by modern life. However, we are also uniquely qualified to make these systems more powerful and more available to YOU- providing you more comfort, less frustration and a greater enjoyment of your own life. Let us be your partner, a trusted resource, in navigating the difficult terrain of the technological landscape.

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