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Reinventing Home Automation: A Reliable, Cost Effective Approach

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Developing New Instrumentation

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1233.1 - 12.1233.10



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Paper Authors


Chad Lloyd Middle Tennessee State University

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Mr. Lloyd earned his Masters Degree in Engineering Technology from Middle Tennessee State University in 2006. The above paper is partially based on his thesis research. Mr. Lloyd has also earned an M.S. degree in Computer Science and a B.S. degree in Mass Communications from Middle Tennessee State University. He is currently working as a networking engineer for a large law firm in Nashville, Tennessee. His interests are wide spread in the technical field of embedded systems and PC-based control applications.

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Saleh Sbenaty Middle Tennessee State University

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Dr. Sbenaty is currently a Professor of Engineering Technology at Middle Tennessee State University. He received the BS degree in EE from Damascus University and the MS and Ph.D. degrees in EE from Tennessee Technological University. He is actively engaged in curriculum development for technology education. He has written and co-authored several industry-based case studies. He is also conducting research in the area of mass spectrometry, power electronics, lasers, and instrumentation.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Reinventing Home Automation: A Reliable, Cost Effective Approach


Home automation is an exciting area of technology that is gaining momentum every day. Current implementations of home automation systems often utilize devices that are designed for other uses. A common example of this includes the use of a lighting dimmer that has the capacity of a 1000 watt load while only driving one or two 100 watt light bulbs. Other examples include inferior wireless and power line communication products that result in unreliable automation systems. The current paper focuses on an implementation that features a modular design, allowing the planner to select only the modules needed to complete the installation. Furthermore, the system is completely hardwired and software configurable. Hence, making changes to the automation system is quick and simple. The paper includes design considerations, firmware listings, and schematics related to its modules as well as a discussion related to the client software that is resident on the host PC. The entire system is open-source, allowing for the home automation development community to make improvements and changes at will.


Many home automation systems rely on wireless techniques and others use devices that were intended for other purposes. Examples of this include the use of X10 series of lamp modules and switches that communicate by “piggybacking” over AC wiring. Another example involves the use of dimmers in residential dwellings. This is an oversize usage when 1000 watts or more per channel designed for theatrical environments is used in residential settings. Besides, home automation is much too critical to depend on wireless technology for lighting control. It is also not necessary to size a single circuit for 1000 watts when the lighting device is rated much less.

This paper offers an alternative technique that includes a centralized point at which all high voltage lighting circuit lines terminate. All remaining lines used for light switches, sensors, and other devices are low voltage and are routed through a computer system.

A few of the benefits of this approach include:

1. Configuration by Software: The connections of light switches to lighting circuits are configured by a point and click interface. This allows for quick and easy configuration.

2. Automatic, Pre-emptive Lighting: Sensors can detect the presence of someone in the room and automatically turn on the light to the appropriate level. Sensors can also light up the path when someone walks throughout the house.

3. Soft On, Soft Off: Depending on the program, by turning on the light switch at night, the light will illuminate slowly. During daytime, however, the light will immediately illuminate.

Lloyd, C., & Sbenaty, S. (2007, June), Reinventing Home Automation: A Reliable, Cost Effective Approach Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2778

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