The Right Way to Customize Keypads

July 31, 2014

This post comes to us from Lisa Montgomery, Senior Editor at Electronic House and freelance home technology writer.

Being able to press one button to control multiple devices is one of the most appealing features of home automation. Creating these one-button “scenes” requires programming of the keypad’s companion home automation system, which is a fairly simple task for a trained custom electronics (CE) professional.  Surprisingly, what’s often the most challenging part of a keypad design is deciding what to name each button.

Keypad buttons should be labeled in a way that makes sense to all members of the household and that best reflects the family’s personality. This can be difficult to determine right off the bat, which is why many CE pros recommend leaving the buttons blank—at least for a while. Engraving keypad buttons costs money, so why not wait until you’re absolutely sure what to inscribe before laying down the cash? Why not live with the system and the settings for a few weeks or even a month or two? You might find that the setting you thought you’d call “Morning” makes more sense as “Breakfast,” or that you’d actually like to add a few completely new scenes and buttons to the setup. Or, perhaps there are buttons that you never even touched during this introductory period. There’s no harm in this, as the only thing wasted are the cheat sheets your CE pro taped to the wall by the keypads to help you remember the function of each button.

As you begin to nail down what you like, what you don’t and what you’d change, take notes. Try out these new settings and labels for a bit, and when you’re absolutely certain, have them beautifully engraved. It’s a great way to personalize your automation system and mold it into something that’s uniquely yours. And don’t fret if a year later you’re ready for a change. Buttons can be popped off and replaced for newly engraved pieces.