When people hear the term “Home Automation” they tend to wonder what it is. Also, it is a general belief that it is a complicated, unaffordable option. Only partially true, because until a few years back the only available choice was the fully wired KNX system which is still being used for high-end options.
WHAT HAS CHANGED: The rising adoption of smartphones, phenomenal growth of the internet, and the development of dedicated wireless home automation protocols such as Z-Wave and Zigbee have opened up many new possibilities. The Smart-Home automation system consists of a Hub which is connected to the internet either through WiFi or through the Ethernet connection. Z-wave or Zigbee wireless devices installed across the home communicate back & forth with the Hub to form their own mesh network independent of the home wifi network.
NOTABLE ADVANTAGES: Firstly these Smart-Home solutions are scalable. One could install a Hub with just a few devices that cover one room, to begin with, and add other devices later as one gains confidence. Secondly, the entire system can be installed by the homeowner on a DIY basis without help from a technician as no wiring changes are involved; unless in the case of wired devices such as the thermostat for AC. Thirdly, the system is programmable; routines can be set up for automating operations such as exterior lights, lawn watering as examples. Finally, they can be used in existing homes and not necessary that it has to be planned and installed during the construction of the home; unlike the wired system.
WIFI vs Z-WAVE / ZIGBEE: Currently one may find smart plugs and lamps that work with the home WiFi and without a Hub. The WiFi devices present major disadvantages; firstly it is hard to integrate them under one unified control App if they are from different manufacturers. Secondly, WiFi devices are power-intensive and therefore battery life is low. Thirdly, WiFi devices are limited by their range. The Z-wave and Zigbee are well-established protocols dedicated to home automation applications that are designed to form mesh networks that are stable over a longer range. There is a wide range of devices to choose from and their battery life ranges from one to three years. The entire Smart-Home can be monitored from one single App and through the browser on any PC. Notifications are sent directly to the App in case of deviations from user-set requirements. For example, detection of motion when no one is at home, water-flooding, smoke alarm. Most Hubs in the market today integrate well with Google Home and Amazon Echo voice assistance devices making control through voice commands as an additional option.
AFFORDABLE SMART-HOME: This system described above significantly enhances the comfort, ambiance, safety, and security of your home and its occupants. It is not an expensive proposition that only the elite could afford to own; not any longer. There is a much wider choice of Hubs and devices now. Besides, help is available online so one can try out a DIY installation option. Read the blogpost Five Aspects of Smart Homes and How to Convert for additional guidance. We would like to hear your experiences with Smart-Home solutions, Hubs, devices, and any new devices you may have tried out. If you need help making the right choices we would be happy to extend our assistance; please contact us with your specific queries.