Smart House

Imagine your log home a few years from now. You’re on your way home after a long trip and decide you’d like things to be warm and cozy when you return. You connect to your house through the Internet, using a laptop or even a cell phone. You turn up the heat, lower the lights and direct the stereo system to start playing some vintage Johnny Cash.
    If this sounds a little too high tech—and expensive—keep in mind that these home-automation features are becoming more commonplace and less pricey. “In 10 years, if you come into a house and it doesn’t have some kind of automation, it’s going to be like dealing with an eight-track player,” says Richard Hollander, managing director of the home-automation division for IVCi, an audio-visual company based in Happauge, New York.

Tools for the Real World
Today’s home automation quietly harnesses the power of the Internet, digital electronics and sensor technology to help a house operate at maximum efficiency and convenience for its residents. This includes everything from remote-controlled lights and heating to multi-room audio and visual systems that would be the envy of any Hollywood mogul.
    For the owners of log homes, especially those that are second homes, it can provide added security and time savings that will make visits more about fun and less about getting everything up and running before you can relax. If you’re away on travel or have a second home, you can use one of the sophisticated camera and sensor systems that have entered the marketplace to keep track of your home.

The Bottom Line
But what’s it all cost? “The range is huge, anywhere from a couple thousand to a hundred thousand or more,” says Alpine Log Homes’ Chris Bishop. The most basic installations might involve a few built-in stereo speakers or centralized lighting controls on a touch screen. But the costs climb quickly for more sophisticated options, especially top-drawer audio and video systems.
    The “gateway technology” to home automation is high-speed Internet, which makes interconnectivity and remote control much easier, says Rawlson King, communications director for the Continental Automated Buildings Association, an Ottawa, Canada-based trade association. As broadband becomes commonplace and home computer networks proliferate, Rawlson predicts automation technologies will spread in the next five years.
    And more revolutionary changes are ahead. “I think the sky’s the limit,” says Chris. “Whatever can be imagined is going to be happening.”

Read the full story in the December 2006 issue of Log Home Living.


Illustration by Tim Foley


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