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Log Home Automation Revisited

By Tom Heatherington

Home automation is about making things easier and improving convenience; it is about what you want – and when you want it to happen. In addition, home automation is ‘green’ and good for global warming.

Last year I authored an article entitled, “Log home automation? Excuse me?“. The article was picked up by scores of blogs and syndicated services and since then I’ve received tons of email asking questions about home automation and the company whose products I mentioned, X-10.

First, I will discuss the company; X-10 was a pioneer of online ‘in-your-face’ marketing. Anyone who was aware of X-10 in the early days of the Internet can remember the mind-numbing garish ads this company seemed to have pinned to every website in the universe. Heaven forbid if you opted in to any of their newsletter or advertising solicitations, as you would get blasted daily with offers and eleventh-hour deals. That company, and the vast majority of regular Internet users learned the hard way how NOT to get involved with such marketing techniques.

Companies who practiced these tactics eventually lost the support of their customers, and prospective clients learned to avoid these businesses. I don’t blame X-10 for their unconventional approach to marketing. When the Internet was first made available to business, no one knew what would work or what was needed to attract customers. That was the ‘Wild West” of online marketing. Good companies made some bad mistakes, but eventually most learned that good products promoted properly will yield positive results.

X-10 is a survivor of the “dot-com meltdown” and the early marketing blunders of online promotion. Today, they are a 30+ year-old company offering quality products, with excellent warranties and free shipping to USA addresses (orders over $50). Today they are one of the world’s leading Web retailers and a manufacturer for several lines of best-selling consumer electronics products.

Revisiting Log Home Automation

Although my primary focus is log homes, what follows pertains to all houses whether they are constructed of log, brick or even manufactured. Home automation is about making things easier and improving convenience; it is about what you want and when you want it to happen. With X-10’s ActiveHome Pro, your imagination is all that is needed to make your home “your automated castle.” Using this system you can program your thermostat to turn on or off to suit your schedule and wake up to a hot pot of coffee, and have your lights turn on or off at preset times.

This electronic brain for your home is managed by a system-control package for Windows PCs, but your computer does not need to stay connected for the system to work after it has been programmed. Once you download your behaviors into the computer interface, you can plug it into almost any electrical outlet in the house and it will run unassisted. The software permits you to program the behavior of any number of devices in your house, and is quite robust, yet easy to use. Set-up of the hardware components is a breeze. Outfit lamps or appliances that you want to control with small inexpensive modules that allow the ActiveHome Pro computer interface to communicate via signals that are broadcast across your home’s electrical wires.

You can even program the system to do tricks using the ActiveHome Pro software. A download plug-in is available from X10 (for $50) that allows modules to be controlled on an “if-then” basis. For example: If it’s past dusk and the motion sensor module detects movement in the living room, then turn on the lights. Or, if you have some programming experience, you can download a free software development kit and write a control program that interfaces with your e-mail.

Your imagination is the only limitation with this home automation system. You can create the mood you want with a push of a button. Produce a romantic atmosphere with dimmed lights, soft music and your aroma lamp, and make it a night to remember. When you come home after dark the system will automatically turn on your lights providing you a safe and visible entry. Ensure a fun and worry free vacation by turning lights on and off at different times, making your house look occupied. When it comes to peace of mind, convenience and comfort are paramount.

Home Automation is ‘Green’

Now you can control your home, get control over your expenses and conserve energy. With a home automation system you can manage countless small tasks that will add up to huge savings of both money and energy. Your smart home can be programmed to turn lights off with the dawning of the day, your television to shut off at night after you fall asleep and your furnace to power down at night or when you are away at work. Managing lighting, heating and air conditioning components and appliances can make a significant impact on your household expenses and contribute to fuel conservation.

Will home automation solve the “global warming” problem? Doubtfully, but any measures we take to reduce energy consumption is good for everyone who inhabits this planet whether they live in a log home or a straw hut. Imagine the impact if fifty-million homes in America turned off their furnace and a couple lights for a few hours every day.

In summary, home automation is not just a toy for affluent geeks, but a reasonable consideration for anyone who owns a home and wants convenience, increased security and to save money and energy. If you are contemplating home automation or security improvements, I recommend you investigate X-10’s ActiveHome Pro system. A starter kit with the software, interface and several modules, remote controls and sensors costs just $100. Additional modules cost between $15 and $50 from X10 and other vendors. ActiveHome Pro was selected as the Editors’ Choice by PC Magazine making it their top pick among all home automation systems!  Check out X-10’s ActiveHome Pro

About The Author

Tom Heatherington is the founder and editor of the Log Furniture Directory and the Log Cabin Directory, “human edited” directories of log homes and rustic furniture and related information for the United States and Canada.