A Home Automation System Decades in the Making

A Home Automation System Decades in the Making

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It was released three decades ago as one of the first home automation systems in a market where the smart home was simply an idea.

The Unity Home Manager was incredibly ahead of its time and has helped shape the home automation marketplace we see today. It boasted touchscreen displays and full control over HVAC, irrigation, security and electrical when it was released in 1985. Over 8,000 systems were installed.

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Nevertheless, just over a decade later, Unity Systems closed its doors and stopped production of the manager. But that hasn’t been the end of the system. Thirty years later, dealers are still working on the system, with an updated version currently available.

Harvey LaForge of HouseWide System Design has repaired dozens of Unity Home Managers, from Connecticut to California, and now offers an upgraded system with a color touchscreen.

“There will never ever be a product like this again that will go in the home and operate for twenty years or more,” says LaForge.  

Smart Home Architect with IBM from 1974 to 2005, Randall Ray, has had the system in his home since the late ninteies, and the best part is it still works.

“I keep mine running because it does things that I can’t find out there in current systems, like the individual damper control for rooms,” says Ray.

Damper controls are used to control the flow of air in HVAC systems, creating zones based on location. This allows for greater efficiency of the system.

Unity Home Manager’s Evolution for Builders to Consider

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At the time, Unity Home Manager was far ahead of its time.
At the time, Unity Home Manager was far ahead of its time.

One of The First

According to LaForge, Unity Systems encouraged builders to include the system as a standard in new homes. Early adopters created communities in California and Florida that ran entirely on the Unity Home Manager.

The only thing that did not come with the system was remote monitoring from outside the home because the technology did not exist in the mainstream.

Technology not being readily available to homebuyers was an issue when Unity was released. According to Ray, unlike today, automation took a significant amount of planning and design to make devices work together long before Bluetooth and Wi-Fi was the norm.

The updated Unity Home Manager, The Series II Home Manager, does include remote monitoring in a modern and colorful touchscreen.

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About The Author

Michael Black is a staff writer and content coordinator at TecHome Builder. He has a particular interest in new solar developments and smart energy systems and is always looking for the next smart home trend to cover. As the youngest member of the TecHome team, Michael brings a passion that keeps the team energized. He also is instrumental in leading our social media efforts.

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