When you’re not home, nagging little doubts can start to crowd your mind. Did I turn the coffee maker off? Did I set the security alarm? Are the kids doing their homework or watching television? With a smart home, you could quiet all of these worries with a quick glance at your smartphone or tablet. You could connect the devices and appliances in your home so they can communicate with each other and with you.
All the appliances and devices are receivers, and the means of controlling the system, such as remote controls or keypads, are transmitters. If you want to turn off a lamp in another room, the transmitter will issue a message in numerical code that includes the following:
An alert to the system that it’s issuing a command.
An identifying unit number for the device that should receive the command and
A code that contains the actual command, such as “turn off.”
Two of the most prominent radio networks in home automation are ZigBee and Z-Wave. Both of these technologies are mesh networks, meaning there’s more than one way for the message to get to its destination. Z-Wave uses a Source Routing Algorithm to determine the fastest route for messages. Each Z-Wave device is embedded with a code, and when the device is plugged into the system, the network controller recognizes the code, determines its location and adds it to the network.
ZigBee’s name illustrates the mesh networking concept because messages from the transmitter zigzag like bees, looking for the best path to the receiver. While Z-Wave uses a proprietary technology for operating its system, ZigBee’s platform is based on the standard set by the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for wireless personal networks.
Using a wireless network provides more flexibility for placing devices, but like electrical lines, they might have interference. Insteon offers a way for your home network to communicate over both electrical wires and radio waves, making it a dual-mesh network.
Here are some examples of smart home products and their functions:
Cameras will track your home’s exterior even if it’s pitch-black outside.
LED lights let you program color and brightness right from your smartphone.
Motion sensors will send an alert when there’s motion around your house, and they can even tell the difference between pets and burglars.
Door locks and garage doors can open automatically as your smartphone approaches.
Smartphone integration lets you turn lights and appliances on or off from your mobile device.
Security and efficiency are the main reasons behind the increase in smart home technology use.
Installing a smart home technology system provides homeowners with convenience. Rather than controlling appliances, thermostats, lighting, and other features using different devices, homeowners can control them all using one device—usually a smartphone or tablet.