By Joel Craig, NEWS 9 Contributor

Turning on your lights with the flip of a switch may soon be old hat.

Installing a remote system is easier than you can imagine.

The two common home automation types are x-10 and z-wave. They basically do the same thing and best of all, most uses for your home are simple plug-in modules like these. They plug into the wall when you plug a lamp into them. It's that easy and now the module can turn the light on and off. I know, right now you're thinking a $5 timer can do that too. But, can a time let you control the light from anywhere in the house, whenever you want?

Both systems have remote control ability. It can look like a TV remote control or a control station. Simply select the bottom corresponding to the module you want to operate and press on or off. You can even dim the light to whatever brightness you desire. Plus, you can control several lights individually or set some to the same control number and operate them all at the same time with one command. This is perfect if you're going to watch a movie and want to dim all the lights in the room.

There are other modules that will replace light switches and control appliances like a fan, TV, radio, etc. There are controllers that go on your key ring and let you turn on lights before you enter your home - no more entering a dark house. Here's another controller that looks like an alarm clock but is used to have things go on and off at times you've set. No more forgetting about the backyard light or running around the house turning off lights the kids left on - which by the way allows these devices to help lower energy costs. Both the X-10 and Z-wave systems can do much more. They can be operated by your computer, you can phone home to control them and there is even an Internet option if you want to control things from anywhere in the world.