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Home Automation System Prices
If you think a system that controls your home's lighting, entertainment, appliances, security, and HVAC via a wireless connection is out of a science fiction plot (or out of your price range), think again. While home automation systems were once available only on high-end homes, the smart technology is now affordable for the average homeowner. The future is now, in other words.
The Basics of Home Automation
The technical jargon of home automation can quickly become confusing as terms such as "Powerline," "X10," and "UPB" get tossed around. Here's what you really need to know during the early planning stages:
- Home automation systems can be wired, wireless, or hybrid (a combination of the two, also known as "dual mesh"). Those that are wired can utilize a home's existing power lines or the home can be hardwired for home automation. Wireless systems are now available and can be integrated with a WiFi network. Hardwiring a home can be expensive, although it's cheaper when the house is being constructed. Wireless technology is rapidly improving and is much cheaper up front.
- A home automation starter kit, which may simply control lighting and a couple of key appliances, is a good way to get your feet wet with the technology. Installing a system piecemeal can also help you meet budgetary constraints. Over time, subsystems can be integrated. Just make sure that system controllers are compatible (i.e. they use the same home automation technology).
- Unless you're extremely tech-savvy, you're bound to have many questions about home automation setup and execution. A local CEDIA member (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) will be able to provide answers and help you design a system that meets your needs.
The Benefits of Home Automation
An automated home is more than just a statement that you're up on the latest trends. It provides some real advantages, including the following:
- Control and Convenience: What the remote control did for televisions automation systems are now doing for entire home. You no longer have to press keypad buttons to activate your security system or change thermostat settings. In fact, you don't even have to be at home. Turn up the heat before you leave the office to ensure that you arrive to a warm, cozy home…switch off lights that were left as you rushed out the door…receive a text message on your phone when the kids unlock the door as they get home from school…the possibilities are almost endless.
- Peace of Mind: No matter where you go or how long you go away for, home automation allows you to know that your house and everything in it is secure. Get feedback from your security system when you're on the go, including real-time camera images and notification of a tripped alarm. You can even integrate biometrics (such as retinal or fingerprint scans) for home entry.
- Savings: You're obviously going to be spending some money to get the advanced functionality of home automation, but the cost can be more than worth it in improved energy efficiency. By having total control over your home's lighting, heating, and cooling, it's easy to achieve optimal energy usage. You may even be able to score a discount on your homeowner's insurance by installing a home automation system (contact your insurance provider to learn more).
Home Automation System Average Costs
- A home automation starter kit (one that controls lighting or deadbolts, for example) might cost $40 to $500.
- A wireless mesh system such as Z-Wave starts at $300 to $600.
- Some companies offer home automation on a monthly payment plan ($35 to $70 per month) plus an activation fee ($200 to $500).
- You can install a system that consists of transmitters and receivers ($20 to $120 each) and a controller ($150 to $1,500+).
- Cloud computing home automation starts as low as $299 for a starter kit (plus setup and user fees).
- A hardwired system is significantly more expensive, but reliability and response time tends to be better; it's often recommended for large-scale automation. Expect to pay $3,000 to $15,000 or more for hardwiring.
- With the expansion of Bluetooth technology and home-control apps, home automation is rapidly improving and coming down in price. The downside: your system might be vulnerable to hackers.