Home Automation Safety

Keith R. Zanchi

HTINews Article

Home Automation Safety
By Keith R. Zanchi
Member Easy Life Automation LLC

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X-10 Home Automation is very adaptable to the "Do it Yourselfer", and all of the products are UL listed and simple to install. However as the enthusiast attempts to expand the home automation system, more complex interface techniques may become necessary. Much information is available on products and these applications, but not much is mentioned about safety. Promotion of the technology should also include safety awareness. It's one thing to make an application work, yet is it safe under varying circumstances? If your goal is to have a complete home automation system, it may be sensible to let a professional, licensed and insured dealer perform the design and installation of your system. This allows you to create the type of home you want and not worry about the insurance, warranties or technical ramifications of such project changes to your home. Despite these cautions most DIY's will persist, so with that in mind and the lack of available documents on the subject I have included parts from our company safety policy. Legal details have been omitted and amended with generic references to highlight some areas of concern. - Think about safety!

Safety Policy Copyright -1996 Take safety very seriously so you can enjoy the benefits of an automated home. Each item automated and the controlling program logic should pass several safety and performance tests, in an effort to prevent any harm to persons or properties. Additionally escapes, overrides and disconnection procedures and controls need to be included where necessary in an attempt to allow you to cancel undesired results. If unexpected or unusual results occur that could result in unsafe conditions you should discontinue using the system.

In addition to following the National Electric Code, local codes and using UL Listed components for all electrical device installations, it should be the intent of the installer & programmer to test each item for the intended use. Variations that could occur in the following: including but not limited to; the surroundings, time frame, situation (i.e., Emergencies, stress, etc.), unexpected failure of associated device/s or power, misuse by children, pets or persons unfamiliar with system and combinations of the preceding. Each event scenario should successfully pass or allow a safe outcome if any of the following conditions occurs affecting the logic or hardware of the system.

  1. A. Hardware:
  2. Surroundings & Conditions
  3. Time frame
  4. Situation
  5. Unexpected failure of a device or associated device/s
  6. Unexpected power failure
  7. Misuse by children, pets or persons unfamiliar with system
  1. B. Program Logic:
  2. Program logic kept clear and uncomplicated.
  3. Formatted and structured logic techniques.
  4. Contain (redundant) or fail-safe verification
  5. Follow up confirmations.
  6. Fail-safe programming
  7. Safe return of controlled devices after power up.
  1. C. System:
  2. Three failure combinations
  3. Same logical time frame
  4. Combinations of the preceding.

A label such as the one shown below should be attached in a location visible to anyone attempting to service, or modify devices controlled directly or indirectly by the automation system. The automation company should be prepared to supply the interface diagrams and any corresponding information, for cost of reproduction, protection of proprietary circuits, etc.

ATTENTION:
THIS DEVICE IS ATTACHED TO A CENTRAL HOME AUTOMATION SYSTEM AND SHOULD BE SERVICED ONLY BY AUTHORIZED SERVICE PERSONNEL FAMILIAR WITH SUCH SYSTEMS.

NAME & ADDRESS OF PERSON/COMPANY INSTALLING LABEL

This demonstrates the type of efforts you or your automation company should use to safely install and program your home automation system. Although this may not be enough to prevent unexpected and/or dangerous circumstances from occurring due to some unforeseen reason, it is certainly a step in the right direction.


The author of this item has been involved in the design , construction and maintenance of prototype electronic equipment for eighteen years. Associate Degree in Electronic Engineering Technology


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