The House Whisperer
Automating Your Home
Modern home automation began in the mid-70’s based on a communications protocol, x10. It primarily uses power line wiring for signaling and control, where the signals involve brief radio frequency bursts representing digital information. Early on the systems were very expensive and plagued with reliability issues. Other protocols started to come online to address these issues such as UPB and INSTEON. UPB was another power line only system which was also expensive. Insteon was developed to work with both x10 and wireless protocols with a wide range of Insteon devices available today.
Automation devices don’t use the same means of communication as you may be use to in a traditional Wi-Fi network. With a Wi-Fi network, devices send data to one another through a router which directs the data transmissions to the appropriate device or the internet through the modem. Modern automation devices are designed to use mesh networking. Mesh networking allows the devices themselves to receive and relay small data reliably to one another. This is important because it requires much less energy to transmit the data and you are not reliant upon an internet connection or network to relay data.
Z-Wave vs. Zigbee
With the advent of mesh networking devices in the last few years, the Zigbee and Z-Wave protocols have come to the forefront. Zigbee is based on low-energy radio transmissions and can be found in a relatively large number of devices. Zigbee devices, however, have been noted having difficulty communicating with devices made by different manaufacturers. Z-wave is the new kid on the block and has grown to offer over 1,000 different compatible devices. Both, being based on mesh networking, offer great range and speed while requiring very little energy. Most mesh devices can operate for years on a watch battery.
And the Winner Is…
All of them, depending. X10, UPB, and Insteon can still be applicable especially is commercial or complicated automation designs. On the other hand, with mesh networking protocols such as Zigbee and Z-Wave you gain range and speed at a fraction of the cost. The drawback to mesh systems, however, is that they are currently incompatible with internet devices thus requiring some sort of hub interface in order for your iPhone to control your mesh network device. More and more manufacturers are offering automation devices that work over Wi-Fi but you quickly run into bandwidth issues and slow responses because of the competition among devices on the network. Thankfully, with the wide variety of devices available that are compatible with one another it is often easy to come up with cost-effective, hybrid solutions that are adaptable to your future needs.
Home Insurance Savings
A Longer Light
- A light bulb can last 2.28 years (or 20 times) longer when dimmed 50%.
Join the Crowd
- 12 million home automation systems are expected to be installed in the US by 2016.
Peace of Mind
- Along with security comes greater peace-of-mind and flexibility, for parents in particular. Live video feed into the home and automate home functions, such as lights, locks and TV allows you to ease your mind.
- Homes with Smart Tech 28%
- More likely to by home with Smart Tech 81%
- Smart Tech makes my life easier 87%
- Smart Tech makes home more secure 50%
What Homeowners are saying
Automating your home is fun and exciting, and the possibilities are limited only by your imagination! Here are some of the options available for customizing your own connected smart home. Start out slowly, build onto your current system, or incorporate all these systems into a new construction project! The choice is yours!