How much does it cost to install home automation?
While we all understand the capability of wireless devices and systems not many people are familiar with the use of existing electrical wiring for home automation purposes. Today there are X10 and Insteon devices (among several others) that use a home's wiring to support automation of many systems and devices. These products can allow the homeowner to create entirely automated functions within their lighting, home security, energy systems and more.
For the purpose of this discussion we will look at the costs and materials needed for creating effective home automation using the most common approaches. All of this work is easily considered to be a DIY project, but if wiring is out of date the use of a certified electrician is recommended for optimal results. The average cost for licensed services is around $85 per hour, though this might climb much higher if issues such as running wires, upgrading outlets and circuits, and large amounts of materials are used.
An X10 system will require:
- Compatible devices which communicate across 110 volt wiring - usually known as transmitters and receivers - these devices have an enormous range of functions and can cost from $15 to $105 each;
- A controller with numerous "addresses" that can be assigned to all products, and which allows remote or automated control - these can range from as low as $129 and go as high as $1700 depending upon the style selected;
- Noise filters which diminish or eliminate the appliance's ability to interfere with automated processes - these range from $40 to $50 each; and
- Couplers that bridge gaps between signals running across 110 volt lines and separate 220 volt lines - these cost from $30 for a single unit to $70 for the pair.
An Insteon system will require:
- Compatible devices which communicate using the distinctive dual-mesh network - this relies on RF signals and the existing wiring in order for transmitters and receivers to function. It also makes every device a "repeater" which speaks to all other compatible devices in the network too. This means that the more devices in the network the better the entire system functions - average prices range from $15 to $105 each;
- A controller can function with a few or all household systems, and will usually allow easy remote or automated control - these can range from as low as $129 and go as high as $1600 depending upon the style selected;
- Noise filter eliminates interference on the power lines and comes in a single 10 Amp version - these cost $30 each; and
- Couplers that bridge gaps between X10 installations and Insteon devices - these average around $70 for the pair.
Additional considerations and costs
There is no way to assign an "average" cost for home automation simply because each household will use a unique array of options and systems. The issues that can be controlled through automation include:
- Lighting - this is the most common issue that most homeowners address through automation and remote control. In fact, there are many "starter kits" with pricing as low as $60 which can provide the owner with several transmitters, a receiver and even options for dialing into the system through a cell phone or PDA;
- Security and access - this is the next most common way that automation is used in the modern home. The systems can allow the homeowner to remotely unlock doors, monitor water and heat in basements, or even close a garage door from miles away;
- Home theaters and entertainment - this is a way to eliminate all of the remote controls and create an entirely wireless way to enjoy TV;
- Phone systems - from call screening to voice controls, home automation can convert the most basic telephone into a remote control unit;
- Thermostats - this is another popular way to use automation and allows the owner to use a cell phone to turn on heating or cooling or send alerts if temperatures are too hot or cold; and
- Irrigation - sprinklers running on a rainy day is a total waste, and home automation can allow remote control of such functions through a cell phone or PDA too.