This post aims to answer the question: “What can home automation control?”
In my other post: “What Are IoT Sensors?” I describe the different types of electronic sensors that can be used in IoT, Home Automation and robotics.
These sensors can be described as input components.
But in this post I will cover output components as well as other methods of controlling home automation.
After understanding what components we can use in our projects we can begin to think about how we can use them to achieve what we want.
Control Home Automation Using Electronic Output Components
Using electronic components we can configure a home automation system to interact with the physical world.
Here is a list of electronic components that can be used as an output for our home automation projects.
Now let’s cover these components in more detail where I will give some real-world examples of how they can be used to control home automation.
1. Control A RELAY In Home Automation
A relay is an electronic component that allows us to control high voltage circuits from a low voltage circuit.
By incorporating relays into our IoT & home automation projects we can control circuits such as:
- Mains lighting
- Air conditioning
- High voltage motors
If you would like more information about relays then why not check out other post “Why Relays are used in home automation and IoT devices” .
The following YouTube video demonstrates a high voltage lighting circuit being controlled by a relay via an Arduino board.
If you would like more information on what an Arduino is then I also have a beginner’s guide on that here.
2. Controlling A MOTOR In Home Automation
There are many different types of motors that can be used in IoT and home automation.
Depending on what project you choose to build would determine what type of motor would be needed.
Here I will cover some common motor types and give a brief explanation as to where these motors may be used.
Servo motors are very common to see in robotics projects.
Usually when we think of motors we think of them as spinning fast in one direction.
But servo motors are much more controlled. We can control these motors from programming software code. It’s possible to spin the motor in a circular motion and in both directions at angles from 0 to 360 degrees.
Stepper motors can also be used in a more controlled manner similar to the servo motors that I mentioned above.
DC motors are usually cheaper and are not generally used in a controlled manner.
DC motors can be found in the form of brushed or brushless motors.
Motors can achieve many possibilities when it comes to controlling home automation projects.
Here are just some examples of possible projects that use one of the many types of motors:
- Garage door open and close
- Curtains/blinds open and close
3. LIGHT Control Home Automation
Controlling home lights is probably the most common feature I see in home automation.
We can control high voltage lighting with the use of relays as mentioned above but the use of LED lighting is more common to see today.
Here is a link to my post on How light automation works which is aimed at the beginner if you would like more information.
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4. Using A SWITCH In Home Automation
This one may seem to obvious to some but is don’t overlook the power of the common switch.
A switch can be used to simply turn something on or off.
There’s so many different types of switches that can be used to control IoT and home automation such as:
- Proximity switch (think of a door opening which triggers a switch)
- Pressure mat switch (under your doorstep welcome mat for example)
- Shock sensors along with many other sensors can be used as a simple switch.
5. AIR And WATER PUMP Control In Home Automation
Pumping air or water around the home can have many possible uses in an automation system.
Some of these uses could include:
- Fish tanks
- Watering plants and grass
- Water heating systems
- showers and baths
The following video demonstrates how it’s possible to control airflow from programming code:
6. LCD Readout Screens Controlled By Home Automation
Sometimes we can just get on with our daily lives and don’t need to know what our automation system is doing.
It’s automation for a reason after all right?
But other times we do need some information from our system.
IoT and home automation systems can read out valuable information through an LCD screen.
These can be used to let us know what state some of our features are in.
This could include things like:
- Volume levels such as home speaker sound
- Utility credit
7. Home Automation Controlled SOUND
Home automation systems can control loudspeakers which can be used to emit sound when a particular event occurs.
These speakers could be used to notify us of an up coming calendar event or when someone is at the door for example.
Other loudspeaker events could include:
- When the oven timer is activated
- The dish/clothes washer has finished
- Water temperature is reached for bathing/kettle
- Your favourite TV show is about to air
- Pets need feeding/cat or dog water bowl has run dry
- When a home delivery is due
- Extreme weather approaching
- Garden crops/flowers need watering
Another type of sound output used by home automation systems could include sirens and alarms for emergency events such as:
- Gas leak
- Water leak
8. SOLENOID Uses In Home Automation
A solenoid can be thought of as an electromagnetic lock although there are many other uses to solenoids than a simple physical lock.
To operate a solenoid we apply an electric current to it and the movable part (usually made of solid steel) will spring out.
If we stop the electric current flow to the solenoid then the movable part retracts back to it’s original position.
The following YouTube video shows a short introduction to how solenoids operate by using a solenoid from a pinball machine.
9. Controlling ACTUATORS In Home Automation
The Wikipedia quotes an actuator as:
“An actuator is a component of a machine that is responsible for moving and controlling a mechanism or system”.
An actuator works in a mechanical motion similar to the solenoid mentioned above.
These can be seen to operate an electric door for example.
Actuators can move in a straight line or in a circular motion. (The technical terms for these movements are linear or rotary respectively).
The following YouTube video demonstrates actuators to beginner’s:
Control Home Automation Using Virtual Presets
So far I’ve talked about how electronic output components can be used in home automation to interact with the real-world.
But we can make a smart home more smarter than this.
It’s possible to configure a smart home with presets.
Here are some examples:
If we wanted to study or work from home we may want our home automation system to be quiet for an hour or 2.
We could configure a preset that would hold off any notifications until the timer that you set expires.
Other possible reasons for virtual presets could include:
- Home visitors
- Going to sleep
- Set a mood including music and lights
- Leaving the house
How To Control Home Automation
I’ve covered what home automation can control and now it’s time to cover how we can control the home automation system.
There are many ways in which we can interact with our system and control it.
In my DIY home lighting automation post I talk about the many possible ways in which we can control home lighting using what I call “triggers”.
Many of these triggers apply to other automation systems too and I will list some of these possibilities below:
- Clap hands
- Voice commands
- Mobile app/Hub touchpad
- Passive infra-red
- Mobile phone connecting to home Wifi network
- Light sensors
- SMS text messaging
So, what can home automation control?
Well I guess it all depends on your imagination!
In this post I’ve covered three main topics for controlling home automation:
- Common electronics components that can be used in projects to control real-world applications in the home.
- Configuring virtual presets to make the smart home a little more smart.
- How we can control the system that controls our home.