Smart Home Technology

Lately, we have been nerding out with new smart home technology and think it’s very cool stuff!! In case anyone reading this is not quite sure what the term “smart home” means, this post should help. Here’s what we have learned about smart home technology…  so far...

 

 

A smart home refers to the ability to connect devices such as outlets, light bulbs, and security cameras together to a central hub (aka control system). This central hub is a small device which is connected to your home internet. This internet connection extends the ability to communicate with the hub using a smartphone. Now you can control or monitor a myriad of devices from your smartphone - no matter where you are in the world.

List of devices to control:

  • Window Blinds

  • Open/Closed Door/Mailbox Sensors

  • Security Cameras

  • Smoke/Monoxide Detectors

  • Leak Detectors

  • Doorbell Cameras

  • Presence Indicators (so things can happen automatically when you leave/arrive)

  • Thermostats (Nest, Ecobee, etc.)

  • Lights - Including Dim and

  • Appliances

  • Door Locks

  • Motion Sensors

  • Coffee Makers

  • Garage Doors

  • Irrigation Systems

 

 

 

Are some hubs more universal than others?  

Yes!  It seems like there are many product manufacturers rushing to hop on the smart home band wagon or quickly hook you into their proprietary ecosystems.  Be careful not to fall into this trap by choosing a hub which uses multiple communication protocols and is capable of working with many products from different manufacturers, not just a single manufacturer's devices.  

Pay attention to communication protocols!  Between the hub and your home devices listed above, there are three common wireless communication protocols used. These vary in data rate which is synonymous with their power requirements.  The hub is always plugged in, but devices can vary from battery powered, to in-wall hard wired, to external wire plug-ins.  For many devices, such as a door open/closed indicator or deadbolt, there isn’t much data to transfer - so the low power usage protocols of Z-Wave and Zigbee combined with a button cell battery is adequate. For other devices, such as a security camera, the higher data rate may require frequent battery changes or a permanent power source.

Communication Protocols:

  • Zigbee
  • Z-Wave

  • Wireless IP

This is something to consider because some devices use batteries which require maintenance. Other devices like smart light bulbs or smart in-wall receptacles stay connected using a low amount of power through the socket - so virtually maintenance free.

Would you rather see this?                                 Or this?

 

On the left is a conventional outlet with smart outlet plugged in.    Pictured right is a smart in-wall receptacle.

On the left is a conventional outlet with smart outlet plugged in.    Pictured right is a smart in-wall receptacle.

 

Smart Home Hubs:  We recommend these two hubs for their compatibility combined with a user friendly mobile app. 

Samsung SmartThings    https://www.smartthings.com/

logo-smartthings.png

Input Devices:  Although some devices can communicate directly with Google Home and Amazon Echo, these devices don't use all 3 communication protocols, so for now, we only recommend them as an input device.  You can connect either of these to the Smart Home Hubs listed above and extend your system to respond to voice activation.

Google Home "OK Google"     https://madeby.google.com/home

Amazon Echo "Alexa"     https://www.amazon.com/echo

 

Smart home technology is the future of our homes.  It's fun to imagine all of the possibilities and see new smart applications people are developing.  Maybe an ice bucket alarm clock is right around the corner....   Whether you are considering a home remodel, building a new residence, or even an ADU, we think you should consider smart home technology and we'd love to help you incorporate this into your project.