The first “remote control” I ever saw for a television was a wire that ran out from the t.v. with an on/off switch attached at the other end. You could turn the t.v. on and off while laying in bed. This was once high-tech.
Things have obviously changed significantly since the early 1970s and remote technology is a standard feature of electronics. But it is now possible to set up your entertainment components in ways which simplify both the controls and the way your components are placed in the home.
With IR and RF technology, we are able to tuck away the electronic equipment and have only the television screen or speakers visible. With this technology you can wire your house so that everything is controlled by a single mechanism.
IR and RF technology can be as complicated as you want it to be. Like everything else today, the complexity of the systems is profound, but thankfully you never need to bother with this level of difficulty.
Here is the simple breakdown of how it all works.
IR (Infrared Technology)
The basic t.v. remote is an IR device. It utilizes an infrared beam of light which carries the signal from the remote (on and off, channel, volume, etc.) to a sensor on the television and converts that message into an actual operation on the device.
The problem with IR is that it is limited by proximity. You basically need to be able to point the IR at the sensor. It will not go around obstructions and even opaque objects can block the signal. There are now ways around this.
IR sensors, repeaters, and blasters
Using the same technology, repeaters and blasters operate like simple carriers of the IR signal and multiply the means of access to the sensor.
These systems use either a central sensor, or you can set up multiple sensors around the house. The device itself is a simple and small plastic box that can be largely hidden.
If you have hidden your electronic devices inside cabinetry, for example, small “blasters” will be mounted just inside the cabinetry. These pick up the IR signal and repeat the signal to the device. This simple set up will retain the same IR technology that comes with a television or other electronic entertainment system and multiply the way in which the remote can access the devices.
RF (Radio Frequency) technology:
RF can step up the game and the ways in which you can utilize remote technology. With RF, rather than installing the system of repeaters and blasters, you can control all of your electronics with one simple system.
Essentially, RF systems work like a mini-cell phone with your IR equipped devices. By sending a radio frequency message to an RF equipped sensor, the system transfers the message from RF to an IR signal which can then be read by your electronic device.
With RF you will need to purchase an RF antenna and the system which transfers the signals. These come in a variety of models. Like everything else in electronics, you can spend a fortune on these things or you can simply evaluate what you really need get a reasonable system for about 100 bucks.
IR systems are the more affordable, but if you need to control multiple devices from all points in and around your home, the RF systems are going to be your best bet.
We have obviously come along way from that little wire running out from my parents’s black and white t.v. IR and RF technology allow you to place all of the electronics out of sight and control everything from literally any part of your home.
If you have questions about these types of electronics, come see us at Artisan Electric. Serving the greater Portsmouth NH area, Artisan Electric can help you with these types of electrical questions and issues. Give us a call at 603-743-4005.