What You’ll Need
Getting started with a home automation system is easier than you might think—and it’s not terribly expensive. The most spendy part is the Mac that serves as the brains of the outfit, and you probably already have one of those. Here’s the lowdown on what you’ll need for a basic system:
- A Mac running Mac OS X (it doesn’t have to be on all the time, but it helps)
- Home automation software for your Mac (there are several options here)
- X10 interface (connects your Mac to your home via a wall outlet)
- X10 controllers or modules (control individual things such as lights, appliances, fish tanks, or wall switches)
And although not strictly necessary, you should probably consider an X10 transceiver, which allows you to use a wireless remote to control devices in your home, as well as a motion sensor or two.
You can buy X10 devices from a huge number of sources, including X10, Smarthome, asiHome, or Fun For Geeks. My personal favorite right now is Fun For Geeks because it’s focused and Mac-friendly. You can also find lots of these devices on eBay or even at your local Radio Shack. Prices vary from $10–150 per item, depending on what you’re buying. Perceptive Automation has a nice list of hardware to consider here.