Wish you could control a light with your iPhone or iPad? How about adjusting the thermostat, checking a webcam, unlocking a door, or turning on your sprinkler system when you are out of town?

The newest trends in home automation technology allow you to do all this and more. Alerts by e-mail or text can also be sent to your mobile device when motion is detected in your home or maybe more importantly if a water leak occurs.

Devices that allow you to remotely control your home appliances typically require a wireless (Wi-Fi) network connection to the Internet. Each appliance also needs an interface to allow the mobile application (or app) to communicate with the device in your home. Good news: these interfaces and apps are easy to install and set up.

Home automation is not only fun and exciting but it also provides addedsecurity, energy savings, and convenience. Let’s look at some of the newest trends and leading products that make these capabilities a reality.

Heating and Cooling

Many thermostats now come with built-in Wi-Fi technology. At the touch of a button, you can remotely turn your system on and off and adjust the temperature through your tablet or smartphone. Designed to help reduce energy consumption and costs, these thermostats, when used properly, can help reduce your heating and cooling bills by up to 33 percent or more.

Some next generation thermostats, such as Nest, even learn your schedule and control the home temperature in case you forget when you leave the house. Other products, such as Filtrete from 3M, make easy-to-install, programmable remote-controlled thermostats.


Control the ambience in your home with a number of lighting options that give you remote access to light bulbs, wall switches, and outlets. The SmartLinc INSTEON Central Controller and the INSTEON app offer affordable and flexible web-based control systems for adjusting light bulbs, wall switches, lamps, and appliances.

Doors and Windows

Using your phone or tablet, you can now check to see if your door is locked when you are away, receive notifications when your child unlocks the door, lock or unlock any door in the house, and monitor if doors or windows, including your garage door, are left open. Lockitron makes devices to monitor and control your doors and to send e-mail and text alerts when doors are left open or unlocked. Most popular garage door companies such as Craftsman offer apps to monitor whether your garage door is left open.

Home Security

Almost all major home security companies, including ADT and xfinity, provide the ability to control and monitor your home security system from any mobile device. This includes video surveillance, motion detection, smoke alarms, and alerts when doors or windows have been opened. Arm and \disarm your system and call for help all with the push of a button.

You can also set up a simple, inexpensive wireless video surveillance system available at your local hardware or electronics store. An example is Logitech’s Video Security System.

Home Entertainment

The ability to control your home entertainment system from your mobile device has been around for a while. From your iPad or iPhone, you can control the audio and video in every room of the house. From a single console, you can manage a library of movies, TV shows, photographs, home videos, music, and TV channels. You can even control various features using voice commands.

Slingbox is a really exciting, remote-controlled home entertainment product. With your laptop, tablet, or smartphone, you can watch and control your home TV from virtually anywhere, any time.

Energy Consumption Monitoring

Monitor electricity use and trends in your home with products such as the GE Nucleus that brings energy use data to the palm of your hand.

Sprinkler Systems

Intelligent sprinkler systems are a surprisingly new technology. Cyber-Rain and similar products not only allow you to turn your sprinkler system on or off from your mobile device but also monitor rain patterns on your lawn andautomatically adjust your sprinkler system accordingly. A system like this even alerts you to broken sprinkler heads or problems with your sprinkler system.

Pools and Hot Tubs

Want your hot tub at the perfect temperature when you arrive home? Use your mobile device to create an ideal pool or hot tub experience. The Pool Remote Systems app allows you to control your pool or hot tub from anywhere using your iPhone.

Universal Control Systems

Several companies, including Control 4, offer a turnkey solution to remote home automation. Everything from hardware, network hubs, and apps for different types of mobile devices are available. Working with home automation companies can give you control of your home devices, including a single source for alerts. Some cable providers, such as XFINITY, also offer home automation solutions that include home security.