What is it?
Home or business automation provides control of your Lighting, Appliance, Thermostat, Home Theater, Drapes, Pool & Spa, you name it. You can control everything through a single user interface, set schedules and program automatic notifications.
How Does it Work?
There are a few different technologies out there from which to choose. They all work a little bit differently but ultimately accomplish the same thing. Devices can be hardwired or wirelessly connected to a controller or hub that provides a software interface. The interface provides the tools for control of connected equipment.
Devices & Functions
The controller is the brain of the automation system. The brain is the central location through which every connected device communicates. Most of the new automation system devices connect with wireless technology, but there are still hardwired options available. Controllers and Hubs can be used to create excellent stand-alone automation system solutions. However, opportunities continue to grow with the technology. Many of the latest security systems have automation controllers built-in and offer “connected home” solutions as an extension of electronic security.
Just about everyone has heard of Bluetooth. Since its invention in 1994 Bluetooth has exploded and become the personal wireless network standard of the smartphone generation. It just makes sense that it can be put to good use as a wireless technology for automation.
Apple develops the Homekit framework. As of 2017 the platform is still just getting started but growing firm. Everyone knows that Apple can build a dedicated following.
Insteon boasts an unlimited theoretical network size. But, realistically you can connect about 1,000 devices. The technology allows each device to communicate with the others through a mesh topology. The devices transmit data wirelessly with radio frequency or hard wired through the power lines in a home or building.
X10 is the Granddaddy of automation. Initially developed in the 1970’s it still has a strong presence in the market and continues to offer new solutions. It communicates over the power cables by distributing short bursts of radio frequencies. The bursts are translated into digital information by the device at the other end of the wire.
What would we do without Wi-Fi? Without it, modern life would come to a screeching halt while we all race to the nearest hard wired internet connection to download a hot new movie or album. Wi-Fi is a way of life. So, of course, you can use it for home automation. The most familiar example is the Nest Thermostat. Plug it in, get it connected to Wi-Fi and log-in through the app or web browser. There are many other companies out there that get things to the internet. The movement is called “The Internet of Things” or IoT.
ZigBee got its name from the funny dance that honeybees perform when they return to the hive. It’s a wireless communication protocol designed to be easier to use and less expensive than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The ZigBee Alliance has an impressive roster of promoters, participants, and adopters.
As the market leader in wireless control, Z-Wave has sold over 50 million products worldwide. It uses a low powered radio frequency that is immune to other wireless technologies like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or ZigBee. Every new Z-Wave product is backward compatible with all previous versions, and with over 1500 interoperable devices it should be easy to build the solution you need.