“Home automation” can be a phrase that makes builders nervous. It unleashes a wave of questions, such as “how much will it cost?” and “will buyers like the results?” But these days home automation is becoming easier to implement and understand, thanks in part to a multitude of new products flooding the market with options.

For a custom homebuilder faced with integrating home automation, the thermostat is often a good starting point. Lutron Electronics, www.lutron.com, Coopersburg, Pa., recently announced a new connected thermostat co-branded with Honeywell, www.honeywell.com, Morris Township, N.J. Called TouchPRO, the programmable thermostat allows homeowners to control heating and cooling systems throughout the house.

In addition, the touchscreen device can communicate with other Lutron systems in the home, such as ones that control lights, shades, and stand-by power from small appliances. Lutron’s home control systems operate using its Clear Connect wireless RF technology, and the thermostat is designed to integrate into those systems.

Another big name in home automation recently announced some new products that should provide custom builders with more tools. Control4, www.control4.com, Salt Lake City, Utah, introduced a portable touchscreen device for homeowners that works with Control4 home automation systems.

Using the 7-inch tablet-style device, users can access any of their home’s systems just by tapping the display to access the controls. A homeowners would have the flexibility to access the home’s subsystems from anywhere in the house, including lighting, security, surveillance, music, plus Flash-based control apps for energy monitoring, streaming radio services, parental movie controls, door locks, and setting vacation or wake-up scenes. The touchscreen features four programmable buttons for quick access to favorite control features.

The tablet also doubles as an intercom portal so a user can talk to another person at a different portal in the house. If a homeowner wants insight into the home’s systems from any room, the tablet presents a great option as an addition to a home automation system.

The world of home automation is no longer confined to only a few homeowners, with new products and services making the technology more accessible. For builders, it’s just a question of deciding which system makes the most sense for them and clients.