What are some examples of Home Automation Systems?

When I was getting started with Home Automation I knew some of the more basic things that were possible, but I really didn’t know how far it could go. I’m still on my journey with HomeKit, and am always excited to see what others do to make their life at home easier, and more responsive. In this article, I’ll go over six different examples of home automation systems. 3 beginner, & 3 intermediate.

3 Beginner Home Automation Examples

These are some of the easier, and more basic home automation ideas. Stuff that is easy to set up, works right out of the box, and is both fun and useful for just about everyone. Each of these is like a building block that can be used for creating scenes, controlling more advanced automations, and of course simplifying your life. Of course, there are lots more examples, I’m just starting with the first three that came to mind.

Controlling a Lightbulb with Home Automation

There are a number of ways to control a lightbulb with home automation. Is one of the easiest and most fun where are used to get started in home automation and has some satisfying results straight out of the box.

The first, and easiest way to control the lightbulb is to buy a HomeKit enabled lightbulb like the Nanoleaf Light bulbs. All you have to do is open the box scan the barcode and connect it in your HomeKit app. It just works by Siri voice control or pressing a button in your home app on your iPhone.

Another way to control the lightbulb with home automation it is a little bit more advanced is to install a HomeKit enabled light switch like Lutron Casita. This allows you to use your regular light bulbs and fixtures and still have a switch on the wall that can control it or it can be controlled by Siri or your Home app.

Using a Video Doorbell

Not only are Video DoorBells fun and easy to install, but they are also a great safety device.

Homekit iOS15 Multi Camera display in Apple TV
Homekit iOS15 Multi Camera display in Apple TV

Currently there is only one 100% Homekit Compatible Video Doorbell and that is the Logitech Circle View. With this doorbell you have package and face recognition, no subscription required (outside the regular iCloud subscription), and a cool Picture in Picture feature that shows up on your TV when someone is at your door (if you have an Apple TV 4K).

Video Doorbells come in two varieties – a hardwired version that replaces your current doorbell, and a remote version that doesn’t need to be connected. Most houses have a hardwired doorbell. You can easily check by unscrewing your current doorbell and seeing if there are 2 or more wires connected to the back of it.

If you are in an apartment, or are a renter, and can’t modify the place you are staying a remote doorbell is the way to go as it uses your WiFi. Someone comes to your door, and a signal is sent, wirelessly, to a second device in your home that sounds like a regular doorbell.

Both of these systems provide you with the capability to see who is at your door on your phone.

Smart Locks

At the end of 2021 Apple announced an update to HomeKit that affects Smart Locks and home automation. They started to provide compatibility for HomeKey, which allows you to use the near field chip in your iPhone to open the lock, much in the same way Apple Pay works or the magic band at Disneyworld does. Sadly at the current time of writing this article, there are no locks that are HomeKey compatible but they are coming.

Currently there are some smart locks that can open and close your door either with a keypad, or using some other home automation system like Alexa, or Google. With these systems I worry about security however. I’ll continue to use my keypad entry for now until the new ones come out later this year.

Bedtime Routine

For bedtime routines I like to use a verbal command to trigger an automation. Sure, I can set one up to go off every day at 10:00 or something, but sometimes I stay up later and I don’t want to be left on my couch in the dark listening to waves gently crashing.

Instead I have an automation that is triggered when I say “Hey Siri, Goodnight“. This is a relatively simple automation that controls four things – the thermostat, a ceiling fan, the lights in my bedroom, and an apple playlist. First the thermostat turns OFF. (I can override this if there are extreme temperatures happening of course). Then the automation turns ON the ceiling fan in my bedroom. It also turns OFF the lights in my bedroom, and finally it starts a Waves gently crashing playlist at a soft volume on the HomePod mini by my bed.

This entire routine took only minutes to create in the Home App, and can be easily changed or overridden if I need to change something.

Automatically opening Garage Door

Another automation I’ve set up is to open my garage Door, turn on the garage, and outdoor lights, and set the thermostat when I give a command to Siri.

The reason I have this as a voice command is for security. It is very possible to set up a geo fence such that when your iPhone is within the imaginary boundary the garage door opens. But this method has some issues and uncertainties. If your WiFi looses a connection to your cell the door to your garage could open and close unreliably. So instead I have set up a voice command via Siri.

I simply Say “Hey Siri, I’m Home”, and my Liftmaster Garage door Opens, the garage lights come on via a Caseta Lutron Switch, the outside lights around my house come on (also via Lutron Caseta switches). Then after 5 minutes everything reverses – the garage door closes, and all the lights turn off.

Having Siri Respond to each person in your Home differently

A relatively new feature is that Siri can tell different members of your household apart on the HomePod mini. Each member of your House, when added to the Home App, can have their own voice profile. There are a few steps to set this up on your iPhone, but they are relatively simple

  1. Go to Settings > Siri & Search. Turn on Listen for “Hey Siri
  2. Go to Settings > [your name] > Find My > and turn on Share My Location. Then set My Location to This Device.
  3. Open the Home app, tap Home in the top left-hand corner, then select Home Settings. Tap your user profile under People, and turn on:
    1. Recognise My Voice
    2. Personal Requests
    3. Update Listening History
    4. Control Accessories Remotely

Once these easy steps are done Siri will be able to customize her response depending on who is talking. For instance when I say play my favorite music, Siri will play some amazing 80’s music that I love. Between my 9 year old says to Siri to play his favorites, the room will be filled with a combination of video game playlists and the Hamilton soundtrack.

It goes further than that because Siri will only use the contact list for the user that is talking to her. So if my wife ask Siri to call grandma on the HomePod mini we will get her mom in Texas. And If I do it, My contact list is accessed and grandma in Arizona gets the call instead.

Final thoughts on examples of Home Automation

The more people that begin to use Homekit and create automations means that more companies will begin to develop and research different devices. I believe we are just at the very beginning of a very cool time as Home Automation begins to take off. I’m sure it won’t be long before grocery items start coming with NFC tags in the packaging, and smart Refrigerators keep track of how fresh your eggs are. Oh, wait – that product already exists -the Smart Egg tray on Amazon.