Home automation

Home automation

Home automation (also called smart homes or domotics) is a field within building automation, specializing in the specific automation requirements of private homes and in the application of automation techniques for the comfort and security of its residents. Although many techniques used in building automation (such as light and climate control, control of doors and window shutters, security and surveillance systems, etc.) are also used in home automation, additional functions in home automation can include the control of multi-media home entertainment systems, automatic plant watering and pet feeding, automatic scenes for dinners and parties, and a more user-friendly control interface.

When home automation is installed during construction of a new home, usually control wires are added before the interior walls are installed. These control wires run to a controller, which will then control the environment.

Standards and bridges

Specific domotic standards include INSTEON, X10, PLC BUS, KNX (standard), System Box, LonWorks, C-Bus, SCS BUS with OpenWebNet, Universal powerline bus (UPB), UPnP, ZigBee and Z-Wave that will allow for control of most applications. Some standards use communication and control wiring, some embed signals in the powerline, some use radio frequency (RF) signals, and some use a combination of several methods. Control wiring is hardest to retrofit into an existing house. Some appliances include USB that is used to control it and connect it to a domotics network. Bridges translate information from one standard to another (eg. from X10 to European Installation Bus).

Technology Transmission medium Transmission speed Maximum distance to the device
Ethernet Unshielded twisted pair / FO 10 Mbit/s – 1 Gbit/s 100 m – 15Km
HomePlug Electrical wiring 14 Mbit/s - 200Mbps 200 meters
HomePNA Telephone line 10 Mbit/s 300 m
Wi-Fi / IEEE 802.11 Radio frequency 11 Mbit/s – 248 Mbit/s 30 m – 100m

Technology Transmission medium Transmission speed Maximum distance to the device
FireWire / IEEE 1394 Unshielded twisted pair / FO 400 Mbit/s – 3.2 Gbit/s 4.5 m – 70m
USB Twisted pair 12 Mbit/s – 480 Mbit/s 5 m
Bluetooth Radio frequency 1 Mbit/s – 10 Mbit/s 10 m – 100m
IRDA Infrared 9600 bit/s – 4 Mbit/s 2 m

Technology Transmission medium Transmission speed Maximum distance to the device
Konnex Twisted pair / PL / Ethernet / Radio frequency 1200 bit/s – 9600 bit/s 4.5 m – 70m
LonWorks Twisted pair / Electrical wiring / Radio frequency / Coaxial 1.70 kbit/s – 1.28 Mbit/s 1500 m – 2700m
X10 Electrical wiring 50 bit/s – 60 bit/s
European Installation Bus / KNX Twisted pair / Electrical wiring / Radio frequency / Infrared 1200 bit/s – 9600 bit/s 300 m – 1000m
EHS Twisted pair / Electrical wiring 2.4 kbit/s – 48 kbit/s
Batibus Twisted pair 4800 bit/s 200 m – 1500m
Zigbee Radio frequency 20 kbit/s – 250 kbit/s 10 m – 75m


In extreme installations, rooms can sense not only the presence of a person but know who that person is and perhaps set appropriate lighting, temperature and music/TV taking into account day of week, time of day, and other factors.

Other automated tasks may include setting the air conditioning to an energy saving setting when the house is unoccupied, and restoring the normal setting when an occupant is about to return. More sophisticated systems can maintain an inventory of products, recording their usage through an RFID tag, and prepare a shopping list or even automatically order replacements.

Some practical implementations of home automation are for example when an alarm detects a fire or smoke condition, then all lights in the house will blink to alert occupants. If the house is equipped with a home theater, a home automation system can shut down all audio and video components to alert the user to a possible fire or a burglar.


The elements of a domotics system are:


From the point of view of where the intelligence of the domotic system resides, there are three different architectures:

Centralized Architecture: a centralized controller receives information of multiple sensors and, once processed, generates the opportune orders for the actuators.

Distributed Architecture: all the intelligence of the system is distributed by all the modules that are sensors or actuators. Usually it is typical of the systems of wiring in bus.

Mixed Architecture: systems with decentralized architecture as far as which they have several small devices able to acquire and to process the information of multiple sensors and to transmit them to the rest of devices distributed by the house.


By wire:

  1. xDSL
  2. optical fiber
  3. cable (coaxial and twisted pair)
  4. powerline
  5. Cresnet


  1. radio frequency, including:
  2. : Wi-Fi
  3. : GPRS and UMTS
  4. : Bluetooth
  5. : DECT
  6. : ZigBee
  7. : Z-Wave
  8. : ONE-NET
  9. : EnOcean
  10. infrared
  11. : Consumer IR


  1. Insteon

Classifications of Domestic Net Technologies



Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) solutions include temperature and humidity control (climotics).

This category also typically includes control of exhaust and ceiling fans.


Lighting control systems involves aspects related to controlling electric lights.

  • Extinguished general of all the lights of the house
  • Automation of switched off / ignition in every point of light
  • Regulation of the illumination according to the level of ambient luminosity.

Natural lighting

Natural lighting control involves controlling window shades, LCD shades, draperies and awnings. Recent advances include use of RF technology to avoid wiring to switches and integration with third party home automation systems for centralized control.


This category includes audio switching and distribution. Audio switching determines the selection of an audio source. Audio distribution allows an audio source to be heard in one or more rooms. This feature is often referred to as 'multi-zone' audio.


This includes video switching and distribution, allowing a video source to be viewed on multiple TVs. This feature is often referred to as 'multi-zone' video.

Integration of the intercom to the telephone, or of the video door entry system to the television set.


Control and integration of security systems.

This category also includes control and distribution of security cameras (see surveillance).


An intercom system allows communication via a microphone and loud speaker between multiple rooms.

  • Ubiquity in the external control as much internal, remote control from the Internet, PC, wireless controls (p.ej. PDA with WiFi), electrical equipment.
  • Transmission of alarms.
  • Intercommunications.


  • Control of home robots, using if necessary domotic electric beacon.
  • Home robot communication (i.e. using WiFi) with the domotic network and other home robots.

Other systems

Using special hardware, almost any device can be monitored and controlled automatically or remotely.


  • Coffee pot
  • Garage door(s)
  • Pet feeding and watering
  • Plant watering
  • Pool pump(s) and heater, Hot tub and Spa
  • Sump Pump (need info and links)


See also

External links

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