26 Practical Home Automation Ideas

Home Security Tips

26 Practical Home Automation Ideas

Published 05/28/2019 by General Security

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Transforming your house into a full-scale smart home with all the associated comforts and conveniences is easier today than ever before. With a wide range of equipment options available for any home or project, one of the biggest obstacles to getting started is knowledge.

Below are 26 of today's best home automation ideas, ranging from simple setups requiring only a smart light bulb, to more complex home theater configurations. No matter where you are in your home improvement journey, this list contains something inspirational for your project.


Home Automation Basics

Many of the following automation ideas mention "triggers"—events and actions that initiate a chain of automations within a smart hub. These can include anything from the time of day to the flipping of a light switch.

Some systems even enable users to define multiple conditions for an automation. An example would be the command to turn on the thermostat if it's after 5 p.m. and the temperature is below 60 degrees. Exact setup procedures vary, but conditions and triggers are used in some manner within all hubs. Thus, the concepts outlined in this post can be adapted for nearly any system.

 

Lighting Automations

All automations in this section require smart lighting, in addition to other hardware mentioned. Lights can be connected via bulbs, switches, or outlets, depending on the type of fixture.

Bedtime: Dim household lights leading up to bedtime for the right slumber atmosphere.

Most smart bulbs include an app enabling users to schedule lighting with gradual dimming. If not, a smart hub can control this with time triggers, as long as the light fixture supports dimming and not just on and off functionality.

Turn Off All Lights: Use one command to turn the lights out in the entire house as you go to bed.

Connect all the lights in your home to a smart home hub, and assign a command to select via the main app or a voice-controlled assistant, such as Amazon's Alexa.

Sunrise Alarm: Simulate the sunrise and bring lights up gradually in the morning, to avoid being jolted awake by a loud alarm clock.

Again, some smart bulbs include an accompanying app with scheduling and dimming capabilities, but if unavailable, your smart home can control dimmable switches or bulbs.

Light The Way Home: Turn on entryway, exterior, or pathway lights right before you pull into the driveway using geofencing—a location-based trigger powered by your phone.

You’ll need a geofencing-compatible app, such as those by Alarm.com, to trigger the lights once you reach the appropriate distance from your home. One mile away is a solid starting point, although you’ll have to adjust for traffic and travel time.

Night Lights: Make all the lights in your hallway, kitchen and bathroom turn on to a comfortable dim when you get up at night.

A motion detector, in addition to smart lighting, is required. Some smart switches include the former, which makes setup easy. Otherwise, you’ll have to connect the sensor and lights to a smart hub.

Garage Doorbell: Flash the overhead lights in the garage or workshop when the doorbell rings.

A smart doorbell is necessary, connected to lighting in the garage via a smart home hub. Set the doorbell as the trigger to turn on all lights.

Garage Lights: When the garage door opens, turn on all lights in the garage, not just the garage door opener.

Use a connected garage door opener with a smart hub and the appropriate lights, then, use the garage door as a trigger to start the automation.

 

Entertainment Automations

Music Everywhere: Smart speakers can stream music to every room of your house, and be controlled from anywhere, without running wires.

Put smart speakers in every room you want music. In-wall options are also available, if you’re willing to spend more. Connect all speakers to the included app if applicable, or use your smart home hub.

The Movie Is Starting: Use a smart remote and lights to automatically darken a room when you press play, and turn lights up to a dim setting when the TV pauses.

This process is a bit more involved, but typically requires a smart remote with the ability to use “macros”—also called "routines"—to control other devices. The project's complexity depends on the remote you choose, with cheaper devices often requiring more work to set up.

Welcome Home: Turn on the TV when you’re pulling into your driveway.

Another geofencing-powered routine, a compatible hub, such as Alarm.com, and a smart TV, are necessary. Program the hub to turn on the lights once you reach the appropriate distance from your home. One mile away is a solid starting point, although you’ll have to adjust for traffic and travel time.

TV Bedtime: Turn off all TVs around the home at bedtime to conserve electricity and keep kids from sneaking shows in.

Simply hook up all TVs in your home to a compatible smart hub via smart outlets, or built-in connectivity, if applicable, and assign a command of your choice.

 

Lifestyle & Convenience Automations

Laundry’s Done: Get a notification every time your washer or dryer completes a cycle.

You can either use a smart appliance or add a vibration sensor to an existing washing machine. The latter can tell when the machine stops, and sends a signal to your smart home hub, which relays the information to you as a notification.

Trash Reminder: Turn on flashing lights in your garage the first time you open the garage door on trash day to remind you to take it to the curb.

Smart lights or switches with a smart hub are needed for this reminder. Define multiple conditions for the trigger so the garage lights flash when the date is Tuesday and the time is between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., and the garage door is opened, for example.

Location-Based Thermostat: Adjust your home's temperature based on the time and your location, to save money while you’re at work or sleeping.

Smart thermostats typically feature built-in time-based triggers, so you can lower the temperature at night, or from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can take savings to the next level, however, with geofencing. Just program multiple conditions to define your ideal day. For example: If the time is between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., or 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and your location is further than one mile from your home, set the thermostat to energy-saving mode.

Don’t Heat Or Cool The Neighborhood: If a window is open for more than 15 minutes, set the thermostat to energy-saving mode.

You’ll need window open-close sensors, a smart thermostat and compatible hub. Select the window sensor as a trigger, and when it opens, tell the hub to wait 15 minutes. Then, if the window is still open, program the hub to adjust the thermostat to energy-saving mode.

Garage Safety: If the carbon monoxide detector goes off in the garage, automatically open the garage door for maximum ventilation.

This requires a connected carbon monoxide detector and garage door. When the carbon monoxide detector is activated, it can trigger your smart home hub to open the latter.

Reduce Bathroom Humidity: If the bathroom gets humid, the fan will turn on until the moisture level normalizes. This way, it will clear out as quickly as possible, and you won’t need to worry about forgetting the fan all day.

You have several options: Either choose a smart ventilation fan that can connect to your hub with a separate humidity sensor, or a fan with a sensor already built in. The decision comes down to the fan selection, as some models don’t come with built-in humidity sensors but include other desirable features, such as speakers. If your model lacks a humidity sensor, install one separately in the bathroom and connect both to your hub. Then, use moisture levels in the air as triggers to turn the fan on and off.

Circulate Hot Air From The Fireplace: Whenever a fireplace makes one room too warm, the home ventilation system will turn on, to circulate and distribute hot air.

You’ll need a smart hub, indoor and outdoor temperature sensors, and a connected home ventilation system. First, place the temperature sensor in the same room as the fireplace. Then, program the indoor temperature as a trigger, and whenever it exceeds 80 degrees and the outdoor temperature is 50 degrees or less, set the ventilation system to activate for a set amount of time, or until the temperature decreases to a reasonable level.

Vacuum While You Sleep: Turn on your robot vacuum at night, so it will clean while you’re sleeping.

It's critical the automatic robot vacuum is quiet enough for you to sleep peacefully. Connect it to your smart home hub, and program a routine triggered by your ideal sleeping time.

Is The Fridge Open?: Get notifications whenever your fridge is left open for more than a few minutes.

This feature is built into many smart refrigerators, but you can recreate it with an open-close sensor connected to a standard appliance. Install this on the doors, and connect it to your smart home hub. Then, create a routine triggered by the sensor when open to send you a notification via your smart hub. With these settings, normal kitchen activities won’t cause alerts, but you’ll know if the appliance is left open unintentionally.

Don’t Water The Lawn When It Rains: Use smart sprinklers to only water your lawn in dry weather.

Many smart sprinkler controllers, such as the Rachio, can connect to your smart home hub and local weather services to adjust watering schedules, based on climate conditions. Installation can be a bit complicated, so professionals are recommended. You’ll only have to replace the control panel—not the sprinklers—so you may be surprised by the upgrade’s affordability.

 

Security Automations

Automatically Lock The Doors: Whenever you leave the house, set your doors to automatically lock behind you.

Another geofencing-reliant routine, program the automation to start when you get further than a mile from your home, and lock all doors connected to your hub.

Keep An Eye Out For Leaks: Get notified if you spring a leak from a sink or appliance, before any flooding occurs. This is especially useful for vacation homes, or other properties left vacant for extended periods.

Purchase several water sensors, connect them to your smart home hub, and place them in potentially problematic areas around your home. Program the hub to send notifications whenever moisture is detected.

Lights On For Fires: If the carbon monoxide detector or fire alarm goes off at night, turn on all the lights and unlock all the doors.

Connect your CO detector and fire alarms to your smart home hub, and create a schedule that turns on all available lights whenever detectors are activated during sleeping hours.

Alarm Automations: Automatically arm your home security system when everyone is in bed or no one is home.

Bedtime Routine: Create a smart home routine at a specific time each night that checks all motion sensors. If no interior sensors are triggered for 15 minutes, set the home alarm to the “on” position.

Everyone Gone: Set a routine triggered by geofencing, so whenever you get further than a mile from your home, the alarm moves to the “on” position. Don’t forget to create another routine to turn the alarm off when you return.

 

Stronger Together

While each of these home automation ideas can be useful alone, their utility multiplies exponentially when combined. One easy way to create groups of actions is with "Scenes" on the Alarm.com mobile app. Group any number of automations together and assign them a master trigger, such as a voice command, or your location. With just a few, you can automate your entire day.

 

Morning Scene

Reference Automation Ideas:

  • Sunrise Alarm
  • Reduce Bathroom Humidity
  • Trash Reminder

Master Trigger:

  • Time of Day


With this Scene, you’d wake up to a gradual increase in light, then after you shower, the bathroom fan stays on long enough to de-fog the room, and turns off automatically. As you leave for work, you open the garage door, but the lights in the garage flash, reminding you to take the trash to the curb. You run it out quickly, then head off to work.

 

Off To Work Scene

Reference Automation Ideas:

  • Location-Based Thermostat
  • Automatically Lock The Doors
  • Alarm Automations


Master Trigger:

  • Location


As you drive away from home, your location is tracked, with geofencing. A mile away, your doors automatically lock, the alarm arms, and your thermostat adjusts the temperature to energy-saving mode.

 
Home From Work Scene

Reference Automation Ideas:

  • Light The Way Home
  • Garage Lights
  • Music Everywhere
  • Welcome Home
  • Automatically Lock The Doors
  • Alarm Automations

Master Trigger:

  • Location


The moment you get further than a mile from your workplace, your home

thermostat adjusts to a comfortable level. Then, when you open the garage door, the lights, music and TV turn on, and your alarm and door locks disarm, so you walk into a warm, welcoming home.

 
Bedtime

Reference Automation Ideas:

  • Blackout
  • Night Lights
  • Bedtime For The TV
  • Vacuum While You Sleep


Master Trigger:

  • Voice Command


When you’re ready to get some sleep, simply activate one scene via Alexa or an Alarm.com app, and all lights and electronics turn off. Then, the robot vacuum turns on and cleans, while you sleep.

This list only scratches the surface of all the endless home automation routines available with a modern smart hub. If you’d like to learn more, or would like help getting your home fully automated with a state-of-the-art Alarm.com system, contact General Security, today. Our team is ready to serve all your security and home automation needs.


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