Home-security systems with cameras and sensors at all entry points, along with automated exterior lighting, are becoming a must for many families. These systems record and archive when packages are delivered or when family and contractors enter and leave the house.
“Nanny cams have become popular for parents who can’t be with their kids all day,” Wilson says. “And as we look at the aging population, we also want to ensure that our older family members are being well cared for by caregivers.”
Those who want an affordable DIY security system might check out the Vera2 Z-Wave controller by Mi Casa Verde. It manages energy consumption, home-theater equipment, and electronics, including security gadgets, from the convenience of a smartphone or computer—with no monthly monitoring fee.
When your child gets home from school and unlocks the door, Vera will send you an email. You can view a still image or live footage from your computer or smartphone to be certain that your kids are home safe. To automate these security features, you’ll need the Vera2, which costs $238, along with a Z-Wave door lock ($244), Z-Wave motion detector ($80), and an IP camera ($169).
“Any house should have sensors at every opening, and at least one camera at your exit and entry points,” Wilson says. “You can install cameras in your doorways. That way you can see who’s at your door whether you’re at work or away on vacation.”
Control4’s new Door Station (available beginning May 2012) offers a video intercom system for the front door, enabling homeowners to see who’s outside from the safety and convenience of their home or office. The stations come in colors (satin nickel, satin black, and Venetian bronze) and retails for $799.
If you’re setting up cameras in the home, however, there are privacy factors to consider. “Homeowners who set up their own systems must respect the privacy of their family and friends,” Wilson says. “Although you might want to place cameras in every room of the home, legally you shouldn’t install cameras in the guest bathrooms or bedrooms. You don’t need a record of people showering or changing clothes. Experts will tell you what you can or cannot do, but if you set up the system yourself, just use common sense.”
Eichler and other MCM homeowners can successfully install more complicated home-automation installations during a major remodel. “The difficulty level is high to retrofit a mid-century modern if you expect to hard wire a lot of the components or systems,” Christian says. “With traditional architecture, we can utilize crawlspaces and attics to route wires. Almost every mid-century modern we run into is built on slab and has a flat roof, so therefore there are no places to hide wires unless you are willing to open up walls.”
Christian recommends that MCM homeowners consult with their electronic systems contractor early in the design phase, ideally two to three months prior to the completion of the construction documents. By inviting these contractors into the project early, they can guide you to selecting the best systems and layout, with fewer mistakes and better overall quality. Once installed, changes can be very cost prohibitive.
That being said, wireless technology has come a long way, and there are a lot of devices that you can deploy without having to run new wires. “Our clients love to automate climate and lighting, and these are two systems that you can easily add to any home without having to run any wires,” Christian says. “On the other hand, wireless technology is not quite there yet for speakers, home-theater systems, security systems, and pool or spa control.”< /p>
Sean Smith, owner of Smith Electric in Los Gatos, has developed an entire area division of his business devoted to home-automation installation. “I’m using a system that’s not complicated at all and doesn’t require you to run any new wiring. It all runs off of existing infrastructure and a keypad or computer-processor,” he says.
Most of Smith’s clients dip their toe into home automation with basics like automated dimmer switches and security keypads, which, he indicates, start at around $150 per unit for the cost of the product and installation.