The promise of home automation has been long in coming. For many years, the dreams of engineers and designers have been limited by implementation issues, predominately by a less than attractive cost / benefit analysis of home automation products and systems.

With the advent of powerful, open protocol control networking, these facts are changing very quickly. The power, flexibility and wide spread acceptance of LonWorks® technology is creating a multitude of revolutionary applications. The ubiquity of the devices portends an impact far greater than that of today’s internet applications. Recent announcements in Scandinavia, Italy and elsewhere confirm the value of LonWorks® powered home networks.

Applications of Today!

Home Control – A More Comfortable Environment – Can I remotely start the proverbial hot tub. Can I control a individual room’s humidity and temperature remotely? The answer to both questions is YES!

Home Messaging – Did a visitor leave a message through the front door intercom? What’s today’s schedule? Junior’s soccer practice? Dad’s business trip are all now easily accessible through a range of interoperable devices. New data can be entered and retrieved locally or remotely via browser, phone or other user interface.

Home Security – Did I lock the house? Modular security systems are available that employ a building block approach to creating and installing a security and monitoring system.

Home Safety – Did I turn off the coffee pot? Networked switches and receptacles are now off-the-shelf items. Simply query the device and change it’s state.

Home Care – Is Mom being cared for? How’s she feeling? Mom’s real-time status is now available remotely.

All the above possess two critical issues. They are require (1) interoperability of network devices and (2) remote data collection and manipulation.

What Devices Enable These New Features?

The wide range of commercially available devices that employ LonWorks® technology can be grouped into the following areas.


A range of thermostat, humidistat and related HVAC control systems hardware, based upon LonWorks® technology is available from a wide range of vendors. These devices can signal a flood in the basement, an overflowing bathtub or just an air conditioner that’s not doing its job. Similarly these intelligent devices can be commanded remotely to prepare the vacation house by opening the storm blinds, setting humidity and temperature to optimal conditions and communicating exterior weather conditions.


Similarly LonWorks® technology is used to control door and window actuators to allow the repairman access to an appliance, and also to allow the parcel delivery to be placed in the mud room. Access can be time based, password based, based on input from a web cam or a combination. LonWorks® enabled devices – from front door intercoms to light switches and receptacles are widely available.


Using existing LonWorks® hardware, sophisticated scenes can be created to accomplish the dual objectives of energy management and creation of the appropriate entertainment lifestyle. Not only will you know whether you left the lights on remotely, you can preset the mood of the home as you arrive in the driveway.

Emergency Power

Emergency power backup systems utilizing battery, solar, wind and generator power can also be employed and remotely managed. Back up power systems can be used off-grid or on-grid. They’re often used to power important home subsystems such as emergency heating and lighting, security systems, computer systems as well as well water pumps and kitchen appliances.

AirVac Pers 2400a
Energy Management

Networked digital load shed modules currently allow creation of sophisticated energy management systems which include a multitude of utility pricing and service models.

White Goods

White goods manufacturers, have announced smart appliances that use LonWorks® technology to communicate both locally with other appliances and remotely for service and special offers. An in- house power line network can also be expected to remotely monitor the appliances and inform the manufacturer if an appliance is near its failure point. Management of the dwelling’s power usage is also easily accomplished.

Remote Access

The Power of Home Networking lies not only with local control, but as we’ve seen above, also in the added value of remote monitoring. Remote monitoring can be achieved through a variety of user interfaces, technologies and architectures. A few examples follow:

Internet gateways

Are LonTalk® to TCP/IP gateways which can include web servers. Products with a variety of futures and functions are available from Echelon®, Coactive Networks and CTI Products. Other LonWorks® technology to internet interfacing scenarios include using a PC to accomplishing the objective. These internet gateways can be easily configured to serve data to a PC’s web browser or even to a wireless phone or GUI appliance. Similarly the browser on the end user device can be used to scroll through menus or enter specific commands.

Modem Connections

When internet access is not available or cost-prohibitive, direct connect via modem is typically employed. Modem connections can be very cost effective, particularly when employed in conjunction with a pre-existing personal computer. Remote systems can dial out in response to a emergency or other alarm condition.

Voice Prompted Telephone User Interfaces

A variety of modem to network interfaces are available some of which include voice prompting. This voice prompting, driven by DTMF tones, is available from any touchtone telephone, and allows the status of your home network can be queried and modified.

Cordless phone interfaces

Other telephone interfaces allow communication with the home network through a standard 900Mhz cordless phone – minimizing the need for complicated internet connections. Addition of internet capabilities allows introduction of digital content to the inexpensive personal handset.

Learn more!

A variety of manufacturers have created online demos of LonWorks® based home automation systems. Using your browser you can connect to homes in North America and Europe as well as to a yacht circumnavigating the earth!

The power of a home network is not solely the system intelligence experienced by the home owner while at home. It is the aggregate value of the cost, and time savings coupled with the value of new, revolutionary features experienced both inside and outside the home.

For more information, please visit the links below:



Amerilon Home & Building Automation – Telephone interface, home power management, thermostats & humidistats, weather station, doorphone, powerline nodes

Axlon Inc. – LonWorks® enabled wireless telephone systems

Coactive Networks, Inc. – internet gateways

CTI Products, Inc. – cellular, satellite, telephone & internet gateways

Echelon Corporation – internet gateways & LonWorks® infrastructure components

Leviton Manufacturing Inc. – light switches and receptacles

Online Demonstration Sites


Echelon Corporation’s Palo Alto Home Automation Demo

Echelon Corporation’s Integer House Demo

The Navilon Circumnavigation

Online Slide Presentations


Home Networking – The Little Market that Could

Home Power Management Systems

LonWorks in the Home

Amerilon is a trademark of Surf Networks Inc. Echelon, LON, LONWORKS, LonBuilder, LonManager, LonTalk, LonUsers, Neuron, 3120, 3150, NodeBuilder, LonPoint, LONMARK, Digital Home, the LONMARK Logo, and the Echelon logo are trademarks of Echelon Corporation registered in the United States and other countries. LNS, LonWorld99, LonLink, LonResponse, LONews, LonSupport, and LonMaker are trademarks of Echelon Corporation. Other marks and words belong to their respective companies. Copyright © 2000 Surf Networks Inc.