Turning your home into a smart home

May 15, 2013 8:55:04 AM PDT
New technology is making it easier than ever to transform your existing home into a smart home. That means you can control things like lighting, music, and security cameras, not just from any room, but even on the go!

"I can be anywhere in the world and I can open up my iPhone and click on my security cameras and see what's happening at the house," Kelly Pelletier's said.

Kelly's home was built in the 50s, but that didn't stop her from turning it into a high-tech smart home.

"Just with the push of the button to have a TV go on or off or music anywhere you want," Kelly said.

Kelly uses technology by a company called Control 4.

Control 4 can connect just about any of your homes' devices to a wireless network.

You can control your thermostats and set up different lighting scenes with just a click of the button.

And no need to worry if you leave something on.

"You can go on your iPad, you can go on your iPhone and turn it off," Kelly said.

And again, you don't even have to be home.

Control4 Certified Dealer Chris Allen, from HouseLogix, showed us a smart lock.

Great for a housekeeper or dogwalker, just give somebody a code and they can access your home during a time period that you designate.

"When that person uses that code you can get an email or text message notification that they showed up," Allen said.

Ambit architect, Sam Kim, says prices for home automation have come way down.

"And it's become now with technology and radio frequency, you don't have to rip anything apart," Kim said.

Plus, you can start small.

"You can just start in a couple areas that are important to you, maybe a bedroom and living room. The nice thing is you can continually add onto it," Kim said.

For instance, the Control 4 system is about $1,500 to get started.

That includes $750 for the controller plus installation.

Add a wireless dimmer or switch later for $129 each.

A wireless thermostat costs $249.

Smart locks start at $335.

The subscription for remote access capability via your mobile device is $100 a year.

"Going to bed at night I just simply hit the good night button and the whole house is completely turned off," Bernard Leonard of West Chester said.

Leonard made his home smart because he values being green as well as security and simplicity.

Leonard uses a system from a Lehigh Valley company called Lutron.

"Everything from light dimmers to thermostats we make motorized window treatments and occupancy sensors," Melissa Andresko of Lutron said.

The starting price for Lutron's RadioRA 2 system is about $1,190.

That includes the system's "brain," 4 dimmers, and 1 wall-mounted remote control.

The app that gives you control from any Apple or Android device is $19.99 and right now there's no maintenance fee.

Additional dimmers are $149, a Lutron thermostat is $450, and motorized shades start at $279.

AT&T just launched its own home automation and security system called AT&T Digital Life this past Friday.

Verizon and Xfinity offer systems, as well.