We all know that home automation isn’t anything new, however, recent growth in the tech we use in our home has opened up new and exciting opportunities. In the world of home automation, you now have gadgets and sensors that were never dreamed of before.
Of course, we all know the big players in the industry: Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other devices worth considering. Overall, you can connect these components to one another to create an automated home.
The sheer number of devices might be a little overwhelming at first, but it’s easier to get started than you think. First, you’ll want to determine your home automation goals, then you can jump into how it works and what you’ll need.
Home Automation Objective
You’ll want to begin by identifying what you want out of your automated home. Take a moment to walk through your home and think about scenarios and situations in which automation or smart devices would come in handy. For example, when you leave home, when the children get home, when you go to bed, or securing certain areas.
One goal might be to add security. You might consider smart smoke alarms, motion sensors, or any of the security kits we address in our smart home security getting started guide. Or maybe you want to have a safer home. You could consider devices like carbon monoxide sensors, water sensors, or other devices that can help avoid or prevent accidents in your home.
Another objective could be more control of your home. This might include appliances like ovens or refrigerators. With smart gadgets and devices, you can control and monitor these objects on your smartphone even while you’re away from home.
You might also want to consider the convenience of home automation. You can have your living room lights turned on or the thermostat set to a certain temperature when you get to within a few blocks of your home. In the same vein, you can save on energy by using a learning thermostat or installing smart light bulbs.
So before you get too far down the path of home automation, think about exactly what your objectives and goals are. That way, when you’re ready to move forward, you know just what you need.
When you think of home automation, you might think of the cool functionality you saw on the Jetsons when you were a kid. The idea is fun, however, things won’t quite be so simple as it appears with the futuristic family. Your best bet is to pick a few devices you’d like to use and build your way up from there.
You’ve thought about the vision and goals you have for your automated home, so now you need to consider your options and narrow them down to the one you think will work best for you. For instance, if you’re thinking about a smart home hub (which we’ll talk more about later), you can check out our list of the best ones available.
However, if you’re still unsure of which direction to go, don’t fret. You have plenty of options available. There are affordable smart devices that offer a lot of functionality. This makes it easy for you to determine exactly what you want from your smart home.
What to Automate?
A smart home is a broad term to use that covers many connected devices, appliances, systems, and a myriad of other components. Home automation, on the other hand, is not quite as broad, as it applies specifically to devices in your home that can be automated.
When home automating first came onto the scene, the options were fairly basic. You could use a programmable thermostat or maybe a lamp timer. However, recent advancements in home automation technology have made it possible to have a connected home that performs a wide variety of tasks.
There is no limit to how you can automate your home. You can connect smart cameras, locks, coffee makers, and lights. The thinking behind these devices is to provide automation and the promise of saving your time or money. As a whole, the goal is to make your life easier.
Popular categories contained within home automation include lighting, security, and climate control. If you’re looking for more information on any of those topics, go ahead and check out the links. Of course, these topics are not exhaustive but will give you a good idea of where you can start and how to move forward with your home automation plans.
Home Automation: How Does it Work?
Home automation behaves in a way similar to the human body. It has to be able to sense activities around it, process the gathered information, and make an appropriate reaction. Of course, different devices perform different functions, however, all can be categorized according to one of these three functions.
Sense, the first function, is perhaps the most important of the three. As a result, you’ll see many smart home devices that have built-in sensors and detectors for identifying motion and movement.
Keeping the comparison to the human body in mind, these devices are the nervous system of your smart home. These gadgets can sense the surrounding environment, which helps to provide context for the decisions your smart home will make moving forward.
Next are the devices that respond to the decisions made by the ones that sense activity. These are the gadgets that actually perform functions – think of them as the muscle group of your smart home. Your motion detector might sense an intruder, but it’s the alarm that actually responds to the data.
However, what good are the nerves and muscles in your body if you don’t have something with which to process and manage that information. You might need a way for your different devices to communicate and work with one another. Your smart home needs a brain. This is where your smart hub comes into play.
At the center of your smart home (not literally) if you smart hub. To build a seamless smart home, you’ll have to be able to manage multiple devices. The problem is that these devices may have their own protocols, requirements, technologies, and applications.
Your smart hub is the brain of your connected home. This is the central location where your intelligent and automated network comes together to perform the tasks you dictate. This hub allows all the gadgets in your home to play with one another in harmony.
As new technology and devices are released for smart homes, it’s beginning to be clear that the trend is moving toward one centralized smart hub. This centralized hub will direct traffic, monitor the network, and ensure that everything is working smoothly and efficiently for your smart home.
So Then, What is a Smart Hub?
At its most basic, your smart hub is a piece of hardware which serves as the gatekeeper to which all your smart home gadgets, devices, and appliances connect. If it’s connected to your wifi network, your smart hub is accessible by devices which also reside on your wireless network. It’s also accessible by any type of control interface, like your tablet or smartphone.
Ultimately, the goal of your smart hub is to make connecting and controlling the devices in your smart home simpler and easier. Oftentimes, when you connect your smartphone or tablet to a hub, you can control other devices on the network. So if both the device and smartphone are paired with the hub, you’re ready to roll.
Having said that, there can be a world of difference between smart hubs. Some only support certain technologies and device, while some only allow for certain types of access and control. We’ll explore smart hubs further, but be sure you’re choosing one that works with the devices you have in your home.
In several instances, however, you’ll have the ability to consolidate a wide range of devices down to a single control point. This is a huge deal since we all know it’s much easier to control and manage one device. Additionally, as the technology behind smart hubs becomes more sophisticated, the level of capability and functionality increases.
If, for instance, your smart home has several different types of smart light bulbs, you can use a smart hub to bring them all together and control them with one device. Now, instead of trying to manage two or three different apps and protocols, you now only have to worry about a single control pint.
Once you have your hub set up and connected to your wifi network, your options for home automation expand exponentially. But what kind of smart hubs are there? Let’s take a look.
Smart Hub Options
As your various smart devices go about doing their thing throughout your home on a daily basis, the idea behind a smart hub is to unite them all under a single component. This lets you command and control your home without logging into several different apps.
Setting up your smart hub is very easy, however, there are a few things you need to think about before selecting which one you want. When it comes to choosing a smart hub, there are several technologies from which you can choose. Whichever format you choose, you’ll want it to be able to work with the gadgets in our home.
The VeraLite, for instance, is a smart hub that will work Z-Wave as does the VeraEdge, the Zipabox, and the Nexia. If you’re looking for a smart hub that uses wifi as its primary form of communication, then you should consider the Lutron Smart Bridge Pro. And if you want a smart hub that can handle both Z-Wave and Zigbee technologies, then the Securifi hub is the one for you.
If you want to use a smart hub that supports Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth, and wifi, then look no further than the Wink Home Automation Hub. Like the SmartThings smart home hub, the Wink smart hub supports a wide variety of protocols currently on the market, which means it can support more devices and gadgets.
Since most hubs are going to need to connect to your other devices via your wifi network, you’ll want to be sure that you position the hub in an open area. This helps to ensure that your hub has optimal signal strength and reception. Since the layout and setup of your home might impact where you can place your hub, you might have to consider the physical aspects of the device as well.
Give Voice Control a Try
When it comes to smart hubs, some people forget about devices like the Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomeKit. These devices are a great option when it comes to buildng a voice-controlled smart home. It’s been just recently that Apple has jumped into the market with its HomeKit, but all three are great choices for smart home management.
As more and more people join the smart assistant bandwagon, the capabilities of these devices continue to amaze. These voice capable smart hubs are offering new features and tricks on a daily basis. If the general population continues to invest in these devices, it’s a safe bet they’ll stick around. That means if you want to make one the center of your smart home, you should go for it.
Do Something Different
You’ve settled on a smart hub that works for you and your needs. Whether it’s a voice-controlled device or a hub that supports multiple protocols, you’re up and running. Now it’s time to start adding hardware to your system. Just be sure that you’re purchasing a device that will play well with the hub you’ve selected.
That might mean buying something specific to your hub to begin with. For instance, Google’s smart assistant is compatible with the Nest learning thermostat. Maybe you can start by connecting the two and controlling your thermostat with the sound of your voice. You don’t have to go that route, but if you’re not comfortable with the technology at first, it might be a good place to start.
There’s also the option to experiment with an app before you purchase it. Some devices will provide a demo mode within their smartphone apps. These demos allow you to get an idea of what the device is capable of before you make a purchase. It’s sort of like taking a car for a test drive before you purchase it. You can get determine whether or not the product will fit with your smart home needs.
You Can Do It!
Getting started with smart home automation can be a little intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many options to get started, so jump right in! Don’t be afraid. The technology behind today’s smart home devices and gadgets are quickly joining the mainstream. They’re easy to use and set up, and with additional competition, prices are lower than ever. It’s an awesome time to give it a shot.
That’s not to say there won’t be bumps in the road along the way. But with some trial and error, you’ll be able to build a comprehensive smart home that will leave visitors in awe. Of course, if you want to stick to just a handful of devices, there’s nothing wrong with that.
For some smart home users, a simple, straightforward approach makes more sense than a larger-scale setup. Take time to understand exactly what you want from your smart home, then find the right devices to make that happen. You’ll discover that your automated home has all the smart you need.
Do you ever find yourself wondering what we’ll see in the future from home automation? Find here the latest home automation products and ideas!
Smart Hub Guides
Smart Hub Reviews
- VeraEdge Review
- Nexia Review
- VeraLite Review
- Amazon Echo Review
- Lutron Smart Bridge Pro Review
- SmartThings Hub Review
- Insteon Hub Review
- Zipabox Review
- Wink Hub Review
- Securifi Almond Review
Smart Hub Comparisons
- SmartThings Hub vs VeraLite Home Controller
- Homeseer vs. VeraLite
- VeraLite vs. Vera Edge
- WeMo vs. Wink
- Iris vs. Wink
- Iris vs. SmartThings
- SmartThings Hub vs. Revolv