How do you start with home automation? Just about everyone who has been intrigued by all the hype and media attention on smart devices have asked this question. The EMS3 is the answer supplied by Leviton, and for many it may actually be the “right” solution. It’s a complete package, called the Leviton EMS3 Automation System with CFL/LED Lighting and ZigBee Energy Management Controls.

With this automation system, you have a good foundation for automating your entire house and outfitting it with different types of smart devices. You will see for yourself just how easy and convenient it is to use, and you can verify for yourself just how much money you can shave off your energy bills.

This home automation package gives you the devices and the control interface you need so that you can start automating your house. This bundle starts you off with an automated lighting system as well as total control over your temperature settings in your home.

What’s in the Package?

The Leviton EMS3 Automation System with CFL/LED Lighting and ZigBee Energy Management Controls offers the following components:

1. A Leviton energy management automation controller. This is the central hub for all the other devices. It’s a UL-listed energy management system, and that’s a big deal. This device offers you total control over your smart devices, and that’s not limited to what’s included in this bundle. You can add more smart devices to your home automation network and the EMS3 can accommodate them for you.

2. A wireless RC-1000WHZB ZigBee thermostat in white. With this, you can have absolute control over your home temperature settings. That it uses ZigBee is quite promising, as it signals that other ZigBee devices can be just as easily be integrated into your home automation network. This allows you to set a schedule for the thermostat, to automatically adjust settings depending on whether you’re home or away, and to control the temperature manually through a web interface or through your smartphone.

3. 4 dimming switches. You can use these to control your LED or CFL loads, and it can even handle high-efficiency incandescent or halogen lights up to 600 W. These offer “true rocker action”. You press up to turn the light on, and you press down to turn the light off. Press and hold and you can brighten up or dim your light. There’s an LED light at the top of the switch so you don’t have to grope along the wall to find the switch. You can even program this LED light to glow red, magenta or blue, or you can just turn it off completely.

These dimming switches can be used for quite a few models of LED and CFL bulbs. There’s a list of these models online, so you should consult tis list before you buy your dimmable lights.

4. A Powerline Interface Module. This allows you to install a new light switch without having to put in new wires.

5. A signal booster. The EMS3 connects with your smart devices wirelessly, but you still need to have your devices within the range of the EMS3. This signal booster helps make sure that you have firm communications between the controller and the controlled smart devices.

6. Web interface. You can also download a program so that you can manage your EMS3 automation system with your PC.

7. App. You don’t have to limit yourself with PC control over your home automation network. You can also download an app that you can use with your Android or iOS smartphone. There’s even an app for your Kindle Fire device.

Features of the Leviton EMS3

The Leviton EMS3 with its dimmable switches and lights is a great way for you to understand just what home automation can do for you and for your home.

1. You get on-site control over your thermostat and lights with the keypad control. You even have a web interface so you can just use your home PC to control it. But it is the app that offers the best way for you manage your system of smart devices. The app enables you to monitor the state of your home automation system even when you’re in the office, so you know if your lights are on or if your thermostat is heating your home even when you’re not there. Then you can use your smartphone to turn off your lights and adjust the setting on your thermostat. There’s no need to rush home or to endure having to pay for all that wasted energy.

2. Through the app, you can set a definite schedule for your lights and thermostat. So you can have your lights outside your door turn on in the evening, and then turn off when the morning comes. If you have a regular time for leaving the home for work and for arriving from the office, your thermostat can operate along the same schedule. You can also have a different schedule for weekends.

3. Even the keypad has special buttons for certain “scenes”. A scene is a specific situation, such as when you’re home, you’re away at work, you’re asleep, or when you’re on vacation. You can have different settings for each particular scene. And when you begin to add other smart devices to your system, you can just add them to your home automation network.

  • Away. With this, your lights are off and your thermostat is set for an empty home, so that it doesn’t warm up the place unnecessarily during the winter. If you have security video cameras, you can have them armed with their motion sensors on high alert.
  • Home. With this setting, your lights are on and your thermostat can start setting your home temperature to the level you prefer.
  • Sleep. In this mode, you can have your lights off while you don’t have to set the temperature all that high because you have your blankets. But you can also program your system to change in the morning when you wake up. The lights can turn on gradually, so that it seems like you’re waking to a sunrise. And the thermostat can start heating up your home in preparation for your usual waking time.
  • Vacation. Again, this is like when you’re away, and you don’t want to waste energy. But at the same time, you don’t want it obvious for burglars to realize that your home is empty. That’s why with this scene you can have your lights turning on and off as if you’re home too. And your thermostat can still work so that your pipes don’t freeze up while you’re basking in the Florida sun.

4. Event programming. You don’t have to rely on a fixed schedule for your lights and thermostat to turn on automatically. They can also activate depending on specific events, such as when your windows or doors are opened or when arrive at home. So your lights can turn on when it senses that you’ve opened the door to come in a room, or if its motion detectors notice you moving around. And the lights can turn off when you leave the room.
The same goes for your thermostat. With its locations sensors (which can include using the GPS on your smartphone to pinpoint your location), the EMS3 can start warming up or cooling down the place when it senses that you’re away or home.

5. Expandable. The EMS3 can act as the foundation on which you can build your expanding home automation network. The controller can accommodate up to 64 lights and up to 4 thermostats. It can also control 64 wireless security sensors as well as manage 8 audio zones. It can even accommodate 5 more connectivity partner products.

The EMS3 is compatible with a lot of devices that use different protocols. These protocols include ZigBee, Z-Wave, X10, and UPB. It can also integrate products that use TCP/IP, KNX, DALI, and RS-232/485. These are by no means the complete list. It can also control many other 3rd party proprietary systems. These include Nuvo, Russound, Lutron RadioRA and RadioRA2. You can also use Centralite, Dynalite, Clipsal, and Coolmaster.

6. Audio zones. Having a party? You can use the Hi-Fi 2 audio system from Leviton, and then with Bluetooth you can pipe in your music through every room in the house. But you can also define up to audio zones, so you can define each room as an audio zone, or categorize the whole ground floor as one audio zone.

Pros

The Leviton EMS3 can do a lot of things for you, and you can use it without too much difficulty. What’s more, it is very reliable, and you don’t encounter the may frustrating hiccups you often find on other systems. It works as advertised, and that’s not true of every home automation system out there.

What’s really great about the EMS3 is that it’s not disposable. You don’t have to get rid of it when you decide you’re ready to upgrade your system. You can just add more and more devices it, and in all likelihood it can be accommodated. And with more systems, the advantages of home automation become more obvious.

Start with energy management, for example. The thermostat that comes with this system can already start giving you savings on your utility bills, compared to the use of a regular thermostat. But you can integrate many other devices that use up a lot of energy to the system so that you can really minimize energy waste. You can integrate your water heaters, pool pumps, and irrigation units and you can really see the difference.

Then you can also enhance your home security as well. The Leviton EMS3 can get various security devices to work seamlessly. So you can put in various sensors for intruders, smoke, and even for water leaks, and your system can warn you over your smartphone or through email. Your home security system can include security cameras, alarms, lights, door locks, and window sensors.

The EMS3 can get your devices to work together, so that if someone breaks in through your front door, the video camera records the intruder, your alarms blare out, your lights flash or illuminate the area, and you’re sent an alarm. You can then see what’s going on at home, and you can call the police when you see the intruder.

Cons

There are two intrinsic problems with the Leviton EMS3: you pay for so much, and you can’t help but think that you get so little in return. While there are many good things about the Leviton EMS3, these benefits and advantages are also present on more affordable systems out there.

It may help, however, if you remind yourself that you’re paying for reliability and quality. There’s no doubt that this system works admirably well. It may be worth your while to pay extra, just to avoid all the headaches that come with using inferior systems that don’t work as reliably as this one.

Conclusion

If you want to know more about how to use home automation, then the Leviton EMS3 offers a great intro. It is very simple to use, so you can overcome any feeling that using smart devices is a complicated business. You’ll understand all about using schedules and event triggers, and this can then lead you to more imaginative use of smart devices in the future.

You’ll also understand how it can contribute to your comfort and safety. The energy savings may also help you realize that the initial cost of the system is an investment—the dollars you shave off your utility bills will eventually pay for the cost of the Leviton EMS3.

Just keep in mind that this is an introductory course—the more smart devices you connect to the Leviton EMS3 Automation System with CFL/LED Lighting and ZigBee Energy Management Controls, the more useful the system becomes for you.