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Home Monitoring Systems

A home monitoring system is really a home management system that is far more capable than simply monitoring home security. Home monitors allow you to track and control other aspects, such as lighting, heating, and cooling, while you are away. Not only do they allow you better control of the systems in your home and provide more opportunities for conservation, home monitors also allow you the convenience of remotely preparing the appearance and comfort of your home for your return.

A home monitor system typically consists of:

  • door and window sensors to detect intrusion
  • water and temperature sensors to monitor the health of your home while away
  • motion detectors that detect activity in or around your home,
  • video cameras that provide live images or time lapse summaries, along with sound
  • electrical device controls for lights or appliances and even temperature control of your furnace or air conditioning
  • a central control box that ties all the pieces together and provide a means to control them by your personal computer, by phone, or over the Internet.

Until recently, home monitoring systems were complex, unfriendly, and pricey. But that is true no more: a good home monitoring system starts at a hundred dollars or so and can be fully fitted out for only a few hundred dollars more.

Since the systems usually come as a control unit that accepts a number of different remote sensors or controllers, you can pick just the features you want. In addition to controlling your home systems, some home monitors offer a calendar based reminder system for regular home maintenance tasks like changing filters or checking consumables.

The important features to compare when buying a home monitoring system are:

  • whether the system is a self-contained, standalone unit, or a collection of add on devices for your home computer, which then requires you to dedicate your computer for this purpose
  • the maximum number and types of monitoring equipment that can be connected at one time compared to your anticipated needs
  • whether it uses wired or wireless connection to monitoring devices
  • capabilities to alert you to problems with a telephone call, page, or email message
  • remote control and access to information through the telephone, the Internet, or directly by cell phone or PDA
  • Find out how to use the control interface,

    often called a dashboard, and determine not only whether it will be easy for you to use but whether it will do all the things you want.

Finally, keep an eye on prices: the costs of these systems are falling fast.

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