What is home automation and how do I get started?

by Intern
home automation

Our homes have been automated for decades, from flipping a light switch to opening your garage door with a remote control. The concept dates back to the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair, when the “house of the future” was unveiled.

However, because to the Internet, sensors, and connection, the automated home has evolved into the smart home during the last 80 years. The modern automated home can do more than just turn on the lights and heat; it can think for us.

In this guide, we’ll explain what smart home automation is, how it can help you, and explore the latest and greatest technologies, products and services in the Home Automation field.

The terms “Home Automation,” “Connected Devices” and “Internet of Things” are often used interchangeably, but they are distinct parts of the Smart Home concept

This is where a home’s electrical devices are connected to a central system that automates those devices based on user input. For example, you push a button and your shades go up, or you give a voice command and your lights turn on.

best home automation

These are electrical devices that are intelligent, courtesy of a connection to the Internet and sensors. These devices know or are able to anticipate what a user needs. At first, this intelligence comes from user programing, but with time the device can learn and adapt to patterns and interact with its users.

Smart Home Automation

Internet of Things

IoT is the magic dust that turns the automated home into the smart home. With a combination of sensors, smarts and systems, IoT connects everyday objects to a network, enabling those objects to complete tasks and communicate with each other, with no user input.

internet of things

When you combine home automation, connected devices and IoT you get a Smart Home. And a modern smart home can be easily controlled through a smartphone, tablet or computer.

What are the benefits of a smart home?

  • Savings: Connected devices such as learning thermostats, smart sprinklers, Wi-Fi enabled lights, electricity monitoring outlets and water heater modules cut down on energy and water use.
  • Control: Many things inside the home, from ovens and fridges to deadbolts and garage doors, can be controlled remotely via apps on smartphones and tablets. 
  • Convenience: Having your living room lights turn on as you arrive home, the stereo playing your favorite song and the door opening as you approach with a bagful of groceries is perhaps the ultimate luxury of the smart home.  Likewise, a sensor can tell you when your fridge is out of milk, and a Wi-Fi enabled doorbell can let you “answer” your door from anywhere in the world.
  • Security: There are many simple, connected security solutions for the smart home that are inexpensive alternatives to 24/7 monitored security systems. 
  • Safety: Smart sensors that can detect water leaks, humidity levels, carbon monoxide, motion, heat and every environmental concern imaginable help prevent accidents from turning into disasters because they can communicate with you directly, wherever you are.
  • Senior independence: Automated audible reminders and voice activated alert systems are just a few of the features of home automation that can help seniors lead independent lives for longer. 

What to look for in a smart home controller

Home Automation
  • Wireless connectivity: A Wi-Fi enabled hub that doesn’t need to be physically connected to your router is a good bet, as this gives you more options as to where you place it in your home.
  • Expansion capability: The higher the number of products/devices it can support, the better.
  • Protocol compatibility: A hub that can communicate with the major home automation protocols—Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE—is important, but what’s more important is making sure it communicates with the devices you already have in your home, so check for compatibility.
  • App control: While a website interface is nice to have, make sure your hub has an app that is compatible with your smartphone. An automated home works far more smoothly from the palm of your hand than from behind a computer screen.
  • Scheduling /Automation System: The hub’s software should be able to set up schedules for your devices and create actions to connect different devices, such as an action that turns your lights off when you leave the house.
  • Alerts/Messaging: The software should be able to send you alerts when chosen actions are completed, such as an alert when your daughter opens your front door with her unique code.

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