Getting started with home lighting automation

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Hi.  I've been wanting to get started with home automation for a
while now, but in the limited time I have to spend (or am willing
to spend, I guess) I get overwhelmed with all of the information
out there.

I would greatly appreciate some help and pointers for my
situation.

I'm looking for a way to program 6-8 lights in my house for a
"lived in" look when we're out of town.  All of the lights are
switched, several of them use compact fluorescent bulbs.  (I
mention this because it sounds like you need a different/more
expensive unit to control these sometimes?)

For controlling them, it can be something fairly basic, but I
want to be able to set each light's on and off times for each
day.  I don't care if I have to program 1's and 0's at each
point, just so I have the control.  Don't need Internet, phone,
PDA, etc., access or control, although something that runs from a
computer would be nice.  I have a wired home network.  Not
necessarily looking in to wireless although might consider it for
a home automation solution.

I'm hoping to spend as little as possible (of course), but am
willing to go up to $200 - $350 for this.  (Would do more or less
lights to get in that range.)

So please, any suggestions or guidance would be greatly
appreciated!

Thanks,

JV

Re: Getting started with home lighting automation


Jules Verne wrote:
 
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When you think about this from a home-owner point of view, it sorta
makes sense that you'd want various lights to go off and on to make it
look like someone's inside.

But from the point of view of break-in prevention, unless someone is
casing your house and observing it (which is unlikely) then all the
effort you're putting in will not really be any more effective than
keeping one (or more) lights on all the time.

If it's night-time deterrence you're after, then keeping a bedroom
light on (and/or onsuite bathroom light) that's visible from street
(or the approach to the house) combined with a porch light (or
anything that lights the exterior during the night) will be all you
need.

Keep a radio going all the time as well.  That might spook anyone
expecting an empty house.

A TV going at night in a room that's visible from the street should
give enough visual distraction to indicate that maybe someone's home.

Re: Getting started with home lighting automation



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Always remember keys just keep your neighbors out.   Anyone else WILL
get in.   A burgler wants the easiest way in to get  the best and
fastest way OUT.

  



Re: Getting started with home lighting automation


thusly:

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Thanks for your comments.  I agree to a point, but I think it's
better, for example, if I have the exterior lights go on after
dark and go out around midnight.  If these lights are on all day
it definitely looks like you're gone.  Maybe I don't need to run
so many other lights, but a few going on and off I think will be
a good idea.

JV

Re: Getting started with home lighting automation


Jules Verne wrote:

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Sure, having exterior lights on a timer is good - there are small
electronic timers with LCD screens that are designed to replace a
single-gang wall switch that you can program to turn on and off at
different times of the week (and even add a 15 minute random window to
the set time).

But I wouldn't have them go off at midnight.  I think most residential
breakins occurr at something like 3 or 4 in the morning.  Also if you
keep cars parked outside near the house, keeping a light on until just
before sunrise is more of a deterrent to someone that might try to
break in than if it was completely dark.

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It sounds like you are more worried about your neighbors breaking into
your house than a roving teenage delinquent.

Lights that turn on or off in a sequence are effective if a potential
thief is approaching your house when the sequence is active.  If you
have a light change every hour or half hour during the night, what are
the chances that a potential thief will be approaching your house at
the exact instant that a change happens?  (and the thief wouldn't have
known that the lights were also on during the daytime - because he
wasn't there to notice).

Only your neighbors would notice a light change every so often.  Are
they the ones you're worred about?

PS:  Get yourself an alarm system panel that can call a phone number
when an intrusion is detected.  Have it call your cell phone or some
other land-line where you are.  No need to pay for a monitoring
service.  

PPS:  If a punk breaks into your house (which by the way is maybe more
likely to happen during the day when people are at work), the first
place they go is to the master bedroom and look for jewlery or money.
So don't keep your good shit there.  And they're not likely to take
your 40" big screen TV.  Sometimes they'll even raid your fridge for
any T-bones you might have.

Re: Getting started with home lighting automation



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Most residential brakeins occur in early afternoon, in broad daylight.

Re: Getting started with home lighting automation


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Switched where?  On the wall or in the lamps themselves?  If they're on the
wall then you can just replace the wall switches with ones that can be
remote controlled.  If you're talking table lamps without wall switches then
you'd have to leave the lamps 'on' and plug them into controllable modules.

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Some CF bulbs can be dimmed but many cheap ones can't.  As such you'd need
to make sure you don't use a dimmer switch to control them.

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A Basic X-10 starter kit would probably handle most of your basic needs.



Re: Getting started with home lighting automation


On Sun, 26 Jun 2005 23:27:14 -0400, "wkearney99"

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Wall switches.


I doubt these are dimmable.  So if it the light is used as a
normal light and I just get something simple that turns it on and
off, I don't have to worry about it?

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I'll look at these again -- so far it seems like I keep running
in to kits that try to do everything from brewing coffee to
running a rectal thermometer.

Thanks for your help,

JV

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