A basic home automation system design
Home automation is a method of controlling home appliances automatically for the convenience of users. This technology makes life easier for the user, and saves energy by utilizing devices according to strict requirements. Controls can be as basic as dimming lights with a remote or as complex as setting up a network of items in the home that can be programmed using a main controller or even via cell phone from anywhere in the world.
A home automation system can involve switching off electrical appliances like air-conditioners or refrigerators when a desired temperature has been reached, then switching on again when the temperature has crossed a certain value. A home automation system can also be used to secure a house from burglars by sending alerts to the nearest police station and the homeowner in case a trespasser is sensed.
Figure 1: A basic home automation system
Apart from algorithmic automation, devices can be controlled by the user to suit personal requirements using direct buttons, cell phones, the internet, or infrared remotes. A network of appliances and sensors can interact with each other and make decisions for operation.
This article provides a framework for designing a cost-effective and functional home automation system, first discussing the general design considerations that should be evaluated before starting, followed by a review of the trade-offs amongst various architectural approaches, and then how to implement that design using system-on-chip technology.
Figure 2: Control unit examples
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