Tired of solving everyday tasks? Your Smart Home System will guess all your desires and adapt to your mood, providing comfort and safety. This article will help you learn how to choose a smart system for your home.
More and more people around the world want to turn their home smart. According to ABI Research, by 2022, sales of smart home systems will grow more than twice compared to 2018. Modern wireless technologies have dramatically simplified the installation and configuration of smart devices. Home automation scenarios are created according to the “if … then …” principle in simple applications on a smartphone or tablet. Therefore, if previously, only techno-enthusiasts have had the ability to create a smart home, now a person without advanced technical skills can cope with this task, using different smart home things and home care products. This article will provide you detailed information on different kinds of smart home systems. Stay tuned to learn more.
Types of smart home systems
Of course, it is wrong to call a home automation system “smart home” in every case. In most cases, this is precisely the home automation system that helps to save time for controlling all other engineering and entertainment systems. And the more systems you have, the more it will be necessary to use the automation system in your home.
Wired Automation Systems
The wired system’s essence is that all control devices – sensors, switches, climate control, various control panels are connected by a single wire arrangement, along which signals go to the executive devices located in the switchboard (mostly). As a wired data bus, special cables are used, and in some cases, ordinary twisted pairs. The wired system has its advantages and features; let’s consider them.
- Reliability. The signal going through specific wires is reliable.
- Response speed. The smart home is about comfort, so if after pressing the script start button you have a significant delay, then it causes discomfort and the desire to press the button again and again, thereby the information bus is “clogged with commands” and hangs. If the signal is wired, then the response rate is high, since this system (properly designed) is anti-jamming and reliable.
- Control design. Most of these systems offer a more extensive range of control elements (smart switches) than a wireless network. They are equipped with many features and capabilities.
- A variety of integrated systems. Wired systems are more accessible to integrate with climate, audio, and video than wireless ones.
- Long service life. The system does not have battery-powered devices that require regular replacement.
- Fire safety. All switches are low current, electrical, and fireproof.
- The locations of the switches (control panels must be selected in advance.)
- High-quality installation. It is necessary to use the services of qualified electricians and builders in general. If the information wire is interrupted, the system will not be able to work, and you will have to search and restore the connection.
- In most cases, a project is required – it requires time and resources.
- In the case of wooden houses, it is necessary to develop and agree on a project in advance so that cuts for wiring and control panels are made in advance.
- The special topology of cable routing. For implementing the plan, it is necessary to lay cables from all controlled devices to the panel. As a result, a rather impressive bundle of wires is formed in the area. It can surprise, however, after the shield is mounted, the cables become invisible, and the panel board takes on a finished and neat appearance, naturally, in the case of qualified installation.
- It can be installed only at the beginning of the repair until the main wiring is done according to the classical scheme. In the finished renovation, alas, it will not work to make a wired smart home.
- A sufficiently large shield is required (width about 60 cm and height from 80 cm to 150 cm, depending on the size of the object to be automated.)
Wireless automation systems
In these systems, unlike wired ones, the signal from the control devices to the actuators goes through a radio channel, and not through wires. It reduces the number of cables, as well as the time for installing the system. These systems can be installed on finished objects with classic wiring. Each wireless “switch” is also a radio transmitter that communicates with all other “switches.” This allows you to create various light scenarios (night mode, turn off everything, etc.) and reprograms the keys’ functionality.
- It can be installed in apartments and houses with ready-made repairs with classic wiring. Suppose you use a completely wireless switch that runs on batteries and sends a signal to an actuator (for example, a radio relay located near a luminaire or light group). In that case, such a switch can be found anywhere. There can be both surface-mounted and built-in installation.
- It has fewer wires than a wired system. This is the reason for the popularity of such systems in wooden houses.
- No project required. In most cases, the design of a smart home automation system is not required.
- Cost. There are many low-cost systems on the market.
- Radio channel. The radio system depends on the quality of the radio. Interference from microwave ovens, construction equipment, and DECT phones can negatively impact the signal flow. Again, the wall material, the string stretched over the wall can have a critical impact on signal strength.
- Batteries. If the system is running on batteries, then they must be replaced regularly. If this is not done, then at the most crucial moment, something will not work.
- The need for a neutral wire. Some systems use AC powered radio transmitters. They require a neutral wire. In classic wiring, one core (phase) fits the switch, and it goes to the light group. Therefore, it is better to immediately lay an additional neutral wire in the box under the switch.
- Limited functionality. It is challenging to create a stable, fully functional system on a radio channel that would control everything, not just light and warm floors.
- Safety. If, in the case of a wired system, we can cut off all external connections and the system continues to work, then in the absence of a wired information bus, we will not be able to make this disconnection. Jamming the signal, transferring sensors to high power consumption mode, etc. can quickly damage it.
Centralized automation systems
The essence of centralized smart home control is that programming is carried out by one central logic module. It is usually a freely programmable controller with a large number of outputs. A program specially created for the object is put into the controller, based on which the executive devices and engineering systems are controlled. It allows for a wide variety of equipment and sophisticated scenarios, from a smart home lighting system to a home security smart system. Centralized systems can be both wired and wireless.
- The ability to manage all engineering systems in a single interface.
- The ability to create complex scenarios tied to the time of day, temperature, lunar cycle, etc.
- The ability to virtually connect any equipment.
- Human factor. The programmer who wrote the program is the leading figure. If the contact with the programmer is lost, then, if necessary, reprogram the central controller, you will have to rewrite the entire program. Programming such systems costs quite a bit.
- Reliability. If the controller fails, then the entire system ceases to function completely. Usually, controllers are made very reliable, but this centralization is considered to be the main drawback. However, the failure of the power supply of a distributed system also disables the entire system. Still, after replacing the power supply, the operability is fully restored, the program does not “crash.”
- Cost. Great opportunities come at relatively high prices.
Decentralized automation systems
In decentralized systems of smart home technology, each executive device carries a microprocessor with non-volatile memory. It explains the reliability of such systems. If one machine fails, the entire system works properly, except for the machines connected to this device. An example of a decentralized system is “smart houses” built based on the KNX protocol.
- Reliability. All devices are independent of each other and have non-volatile memory.
- Popularity. For example, the KNX standard is prevalent, and you will not have any difficulties with maintenance.
- The ability to use an additional block of logic that will be responsible for specific scenarios.
- A large selection of control panels, both in design and in functionality.
- The number of devices in the shield is quite large, so when choosing a dubious manufacturer (and there are such since everyone has high hopes for the smart home market), you run the risk of facing the failure of one or another device needs to be replaced.
Automation systems with an open protocol
A protocol is a language in which all smart home devices communicate. If we take the KNX protocol, then it is open. Many manufacturers make devices that work in this language. The KNX Association checks and tests them for compatibility. The KNX EIB logo on the device guarantees higher quality.
- Large selection of manufacturers. It means that there is a large selection of devices in terms of design, price, and characteristics.
- Renewal and competition. Manufacturers compete in the same segment, which forces them to develop and come up with new devices.
- The cost is slightly higher than that of systems with a closed protocol due to increased quality control and the promotion of a single standard.
- Low flexibility when creating new devices. Compliance with standards leaves its mark.
Closed-protocol automation systems
To simplify the programming process and reduce the cost of manufacturing equipment, some manufacturers produce equipment that works on their proprietary protocol. Except for them, no one provides such devices.
- Availability of exciting solutions at a lower price.
- Cost is generally lower than open protocol systems.
- Faster response to market demand.
- Dependence on one manufacturer.
- Complicated functions.
Heating, lighting, plumbing, smart home alarm systems can be subordinate to centralized control by installing the smart home system.
Do you want the overhead light in the living room to turn on in the evenings, and only the desk lamp in the study during the day? Do you prefer to warm your feet in an armchair in winter, and do not want to freeze in the bedroom? Do you want to turn on the heater in the country house via the Internet so that the room warms up for your arrival?
Or, say, you want to be notified via SMS about sudden power outages or triggered alarms? Nowadays, this does not require hiring a whole expensive staff – the smart home system will do all this.
At the same time, one should not think that such a system is not available to a person who does not have a villa but simply wants to have confidence in the apartment’s safety when it is left unattended by the owner. The smart home system’s basic functionality is comparable in cost to the installation of a conventional intercom. Besides, an already installed system can be further developed by adding new communications or expanding the interactions of those already connected.
Have you already used a smart home system? What functions do you like most? Please share your experience with us.
Kevin is a content writer for about 3 years. He studied Design and Arts at College in Pennsylvania. A fan of home interior design and, he has taken it upon himself to spread his love for decorating homes by informing people on some of his ideas through his articles.