Concerns over excessive energy expenditures at home and wondering whether or not you closed the garage door are forever banished with home automation systems. These high-tech solutions help you to bring the “Home of the Future” from so many world fairs to your own residence, placing every light, appliance and device in your home at your command. With home automation software that allows you to create scripted events and macros, the possibilities for automated intelligent home control are quite nearly limitless. Take a look with us at our top performers in this relatively new industry: mControl, HomeSeer and PowerHome. For additional information, take a look at our articles on home automation systems.
This burgeoning industry has spawned a choice selection of products from several respected manufacturers. Here at TopTenREVIEWS, we’ve compiled a list of the best home automation systems available and ranked them based on their performance in a variety of categories. We looked at the feature sets offered by each system, including the performance of their triggers, the flexibility of their macros and additional features like voice recognition. The products were also rated on their level of compatibility with several popular applications—like iTunes and Windows Media Center—as well as home automation products like X10, INSTEON and Z-Wave devices. Finally, we rated each system on its respective ease of use as well as the customer support that each service offered.
In this section of the reviews, we looked at whether the system offered remote access and the ability to construct basic triggers and macros. The triggers are activated when certain programmed conditions are met. For example, you can set a trigger to turn your lights on at a certain time in the morning or to turn them all off at sunset. Macros—defined loosely—are combinations of multiple triggers or events. A macro could shut off all of your house lights at sunset, turn on the lights on the outside of the house and turn the radio on in your bedroom. We also looked for voice recognition capabilities in each system.
Another important category for these home automation systems is their compatibility. When you’re on the hunt for full-home automation, you need to be sure that the product you select will control the aspects of your house that you want. We examined whether these programs would work with popular media management applications like iTunes and Windows Media Player. We also checked to be sure that they supported the popular home automation device technologies like Z-Wave, X10 and INSTEON. Finally, we looked for multiple OS compatibility.
Ease of Use
This category, naturally, deals with the systems’ ease of use. We rated each product on its ability to produce an intuitive user interface with triggers and macros that are simple to implement. Overcomplicated processes and clunky interfaces caused systems to rank lower in this category.
Help & Support
In this criterion, we ranked each system on the customer service options that it provided, including telephone and email support, user manuals, tutorials and online documentation. Less common features like a live chat option and user forums were also included.
The best home automation systems compared will include all of the above features in ample measurements. A feature-filled system that is compatible with your needs is essential, as is an easily usable configuration with plenty of customer service. Take a look at some of our top-rated products and make an informed decision.
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