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Blog: Smart Homes Technology and Training

By Brooke C. Stoddard

This is part three on tedmag.com’s series on smart home technology.
To read part one on how it can be useful to you, click here.
To read part two on how smart homes use green technology, click here.

Getting up to speed with Smart Home technology can be a bit spotty. Manufacturers often offer their own training, but generally in their own equipment or systems. A good way to start may be with books. Some useful ones might be: Home Automation and Wiring by James Gerhart (McGraw-Hill Professional, 1999); Inside the Smart Home by Richard Harper (Springer, 2003); Smart Technology for Aging Disability and Independence by William Mann (John Wiley & Sons, 2005); Smart Home Automation with Linux and Raspberry Pi by Steven Goodwin (Apress, 2013); and Home Automation Application Guide by Nicholas Kemp (Amazon Digital Services, 2011).

Some of the big names in home automation companies may offer training in their own systems and products, and they are as follows: Savant, which favors Apple technology and has training facilities at Hyannis, MA; Vantage Controls, which specializes in luxury homes; ADT, specializing in security; Leviton with a specialty in lighting; Magnolia, an upscale designer that has showrooms in Best Buy stores; plus companies Vivint and Control4.

The following are institutions that offer courses, degrees, or certificates in home automation technology: Cleveland Institute of Technology offers a course online; AC/C Tech (headquarters in Indianapolis) offers a technical certificate program in Smart Home Technology; C-Tech (in Sparta, N. J.) offers a course on installation concentrating in home entertainment; Western Iowa Tech Community College offers certification as a Smart Home Technology Specialist; Nicolet College in Rhinelander, Wisc., offers a year-long on-site certificate program; and Brazosport College in Lake Jackson, Texas, offers a Smart Home Technology training program. Other community colleges and technical schools may offer training for installers if not designers.

Associations also offer training and education. The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) headquartered in Indianapolis runs what it calls CEDIA University. It offers more than 200 courses onsite or online. Various tracks are available, including Basic Residential Boot Camp, Home Theater Boot Camp, Advanced Networking and Systems Integration Boot Camp and others. Some education elements are available at the CEDIA annual Expo, which is being held this year in Denver during late September.  

The Continental Automated Building Association (CABA) steers interested parties to a variety of education and training resources, including Georgia Institute of Technology, which offers various education tracks and Centennial College (in Toronto) which offers coursework in Advanced Manufacturing and Automated Technology. The International Society of Automation (ISA, located in Research Triangle Park, NC) offers vendor-neutral education and training for automation professionals at regional centers (many are lab-intensive) or online. The ISA trains persons to Certified Automation Professional (CAP) and Certified Control Systems Technician (CCST).

Persons interested in Smart Home should become familiar with the following technologies: Insteon, a system for connecting switches and loads by sending radio signals along existing home 120-volt wiring cables and thus not requiring new wiring; X10, a protocol using the same basic technology as that of Insteon; UPB, built up after X10 and claiming improved transmission rate and better reliability; Zigbee, a wireless open-source system; and Z-Wave, a wireless non-open-source system.

Editor’s note: Be sure to check back next week for our last part in the smart homes series, where Brooke examines staying ahead of the technology curve.

Brooke C. Stoddard is an Alexandria, Virginia-based writer covering business, manufacturing, energy, and technology.

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