Also, wireless Internet providers have gotten into this market but the service comes at an extra cost. Both Verizon and Comcast, two of the largest Washington area Internet providers, now sell home automation products.
Comcast offers basic and preferred packages that will cost you $199 for installation and equipment, such as cameras, motion detectors and door sensors, as well as $29.95 or $39.95 per month, respectively, for monitoring services, according to the company’s Web site. The service will be available in the D.C. region starting this summer.
Meanwhile, the price for Verizon’s home automation packages ranges from $69.99 to $219.99 for equipment and a $9.99 monthly fee for monitoring, according to its Web site. These kits are typically installed by the homeowner or a third-party contractor.
Vienna-based Alarm.com provides home automation software that many customers use to log onto the Web or a mobile phone and control their home systems. The company has 800,000 subscribers to its services today, an increase of more than 100 percent in just 18 months.
“We’ve been delivering this service for seven or eight years and really [in] the last one or two years it’s exploded in terms of consumer demand and awareness,” said Jay Kenny, vice president of marketing.
Of course, downsides exist to hooking up everything to your wireless router. If your wireless Internet service goes out, all of your connected systems go with it. Also, some wireless systems are limited in how much home automation they can support. For example, adding multiple cameras or sensors could overload your Internet service.
The setup can also be a challenge. Some people might find that connecting individual security cameras, for example, is fairly easy; but more sophisticated home automation systems might need the help of a professional, said Jonathan Gaw, a research manager at IDC, a global research firm.
“For something like home automation that is very new and fairly complex, that hand-holding is really important,” Gaw said.
Just for fun
The way you watch movies or listen to music in your home is also changing.
Ryan Lampel, owner of Gaithersburg-based Innovative Multimedia, summed up tech-savvy homeowners succinctly: “No one is grabbing a physical disk and putting it in a player, whether it’s a movie or music.”
That’s due in part to the growing number of homeowners who stream movies and shows directly from the Internet through their televisions. Using a videogame console or Internet TV box, your television can be connected to the home’s wireless Internet.