Beginner Home Automation Guide
What is Home Automation?
Home automation is automating your home through various types of automation products. They could be any type of smart products. These products help make your home more easy to manage and allow you to have time to do other things.
What Technology should I use?
There are multiple kinds of home automation hubs which have different technologies. These are Z-Wave, ZigBee, X-10, Bluetooth or WiFi.
X-10 is an old and unreliable. It’s not based on a mesh network and you cannot confirm that a device has received a message. The range is also much less because it’s not a mesh network. The security of these devices is also very poor as there is no encryption available for the signal. Any X-10 device can send a signal request to it to turn it on or off.
Wifi only home automation products are just hitting the market now but once power consumption has been addressed it has a big chance of being our only type of smart product. Most of these devices have a stand alone app and aren’t easy to integrate into your home automation hubs. That said, there are lots that have made this transition more easy and more will come all the time.
Bluetooth products need a hub anyway and also don’t boost the signal when you add more devices we will focus on Z-Wave and ZigBee.
Z-Wave VS Zigbee
We have always favoured Z-Wave over Zigbee for the following reasons:
- There are more Z-Wave products available to purchase.
- Zigbee products appear to be more expensive because of number 1.
They both do pretty much the same thing and are quite reliable and both strengthen the network with every device that is included in its network.
Now that you’ve read through the article comparing the different types of home automation hubs you can decide what types of smart tasks you’d like to perform in your house.
- Smart Home Automation Tasks
- Types of Devices
- How do I set it up?
- Create your First Scene
- Start getting more advanced
- Turn on lights remotely from your phone.
- Turn on lights based on a trigger (motion sensor).
- Create a scene based on a schedule.
- Create lighting based scenes that create a mood at a certain time or when something happens (a motion sensor trips).
Medium Difficulty Tasks
- Unlock the door when I approach.
- Associate a lightswitch to multiple lights.
- Unlock the power of IFTTT.
- Get all your infrared (IR) products integrated with your system.
- Integrate some Tasker tasks with your system.
- Voice control with the web and your home.
- Have your led IR lights change color based on something happening.
- Integrate your Google Calendar with warnings where YOU are.
- Get an iBeacon system going in your house.
- Create a map of your house and all the lights in it.
- Have your house respond to your current activity and nutritional needs.
- Get your house to talk back to you when things happen.
- Unlock the power of Zapier with JSON and KimonoLabs.com
Types of Smart Products
There are a ton of different types of smart products to choose from. Below is a list of products that you can buy in the smart product category that will help you make your house more intelligent.
- Lighting (Strips or Bulbs)
- Switches and Dimmers
- Music (per room or whole house)
- Door Locks
- Motion Sensors
- Wall Controllers
- Garage Door Controllers
- Smoke Detectors
- Windows PCs
- Mac OS
- Apple Phones
- Aquariums (a self-cleaning one)
- Media Center (Video)
- Video Cameras
- Air Conditioning
- Opening Windows
So now that you’ve purchased the devices you need to start automating you need to learn how to control them.
Most of the major hubs are very intuitive to figure out how to begin and have a lot of tutorials on how to get started.
1. Setup a Z-Wave Network
Lets say you have a bunch of Z-wave devices around your house that you want to use. First you would bring your master device (the hub) around with you and put it in to ADD mode. For users that are going with the USB stick route you can bring that around with you and then you would put each device into the ADD mode as well that you want it to control.
Make sure you always add your z-wave devices to the MASTER controller first. If you pair it with a wall remote first you’re going to have to redo it. You need to make sure they are all paired with a MASTER. The wall controllers or remotes act as SECONDARY devices (see manual).
Create a Scene
Now that you’ve paired your device you can go into the main control panel on the computer via the website. If you don’t know where to look see your manual. Once you’re there you’ll see options to start setting up scenes. With USB sticks you’ll have to install your software and then create a new scene within the application you’re choosing to use.
Now that you’ve created your first scene and got your feet wet you can move on to more difficult tasks.
There are so many to choose from but keep learning and you won’t stop improving your house. There are always new products coming out and new things to do.