Life is about choices.. not.
It’s a common belief that having choices is good – I mean, that is what capitalism is about, isn’t it? Yet, a study from the year 2000 already told us that more isn’t always better. Psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper studied 2 groups of shoppers in an upscale shopping mall – the first group saw 24 varieties of gourmet jam, while the second only saw 6 on display. At the end of the study, the results were remarkable – although the large display saw more interest, they were only 10% as likely to purchase anything. This is why it takes you forever to pick a show on Netflix, while you’d probably just sit down and watch whatever was playing on the TV.
The good news is, your first step to Home Automation doesn’t need to be difficult as long as you understand the constraints of each choice. It all boils down to a few factors:
Ask yourself the above 3 questions and you will know where to start.
1. State of your home
What is the state of your home? If you are currently living in it, then you may have to consider options that are less intrusive or requires less electrical works, such as re-laying or re-routing of wires. If you are like me, who just took possession of a completely empty flat, then things get a little more fun. Note that my guide is only applicable to homes that follows the British wiring standards or systems. I will cover more on this at a later date.
2. The extent of automation you would like to achieve
As you would have been in my previous post, you can automate pretty much your whole house, or you could simply automate selected areas.
My automation journey primarily started in my bathroom – it barely gets any sun at all, and I was concerned about damp conditions in the toilets. I therefore decided to install an exhaust fan to improve ventilation. However, a ventilation fan would need to continue working for, say a good 30 minutes, after a shower. I wasn’t going to remember to turn off the fan 30 minutes after my shower, let alone getting up in the middle of the night to turn it off if I were to shower just before bed time. That would be completely annoying. Also, most exhaust fans and directly wired to the lights, which effectively means that the lights are (unnecessarily) running when the fan is running.
Or, it could also be as simple as off the lights to a certain area of your home after 10 minutes of no motion.
3. Time and Effort you are willing to spend on it
The above 2 kind of immediately dictates the time and effort you need to invest anyway. Conversely, if you do not have the intention to spend a large amount of resources (including money), then I suggest you stay clear of this blog, because I can poison you!
DIY Home Automation is a fun process, but it is also a form of programming. Scheduling a robot to come on at certain hours is a form of programming – you are programming the robot to come on at certain times. Having the lights come on as you come home requires you to tell what lights to come on upon a specified trigger.
The good news is, it’s not difficult. It is easy to pick up even if you are not familiar with if-else statements. The tricky part is when you try to create fancy and complicated routines (like I have) – then it takes some thinking and logical approach to get what you want – but that’s moderately advanced stuff and you wouldn’t have to worry about that just yet.
In my next post, I will share in further examples of automation sequences that I have set up (and what I haven’t). This will give you a better idea of what you can achieve, and hopefully help you answer the 3 questions above! Meanwhile, how about a quick quiz?
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