We grew up watching the Jetsons and Star Trek and wondering what our world would be like if we had the capabilities that they had to make
life easier. From Rosie the robot maid to getting beamed from place to place,
the technology of the future has an incredible allure. But, perhaps it is
not all dreams. In recent years, many of the concepts and features that you would see on the Jetsons are now becoming possible.
Home automation, smart homes, and the internet of things (or whatever you want to call it) have made many futuristic sounding notions realistic. When done correctly, a smart home has the opportunity to elevate our terrestrial existence to something futuristic and advanced, just like those imagined families in outer space in our childhood cartoons.
Join us as we explore home automation.
For those of you just learning what home automation is, you may be wondering what exactly we're talking about. In short, it is things like:
Yes, these things are all very convenient. But, they also
You may be wondering where do you start to get all of these great things. Well, we are not going to cover every device available to today's home automation market, but we will suggest some of what we use and feel is the best equipment available.
First, you will need a smart hub to control all of the smart devices in your home. Granted, the new Apple Homekit technology and product lines like the Belkin WeMo use
only WiFi and Bluetooth so that you can use your phones, but those technologies are brand new, and the numbers of devices supporting them are still very small.
In the meantime, you will have to put together a smart home with things you can actually find and are relatively future proof. That means using established home automation protocols and devices like Z-Wave, Zigbee, or Insteon devices. One hub that supports all of those as well as Bluetooth is the SmartThings hub. It has great functionality but can be pretty intimidating to get set up due to the level of detailed control that is available.
Another option that we would recommend for entry level home automation is the Wink hub. The Wink has a simple app that is easy to use. We believe for most consumers and needs, the Wink is the best home automation hub for those reasons. And, the Wink has one additional feature that is huge. It works directly with the new Amazon Echo, a personal digital assistant that sits in your house and listens for voice commands. Now, you don't have to bother walking over to a wall panel or pulling out your phone to dim the lights in your house, you can just tell the Echo to do it for you.
What types of devices that you choose to purchase will, of course, depend on what you would like your smart home to do for you. If you stick with the hubs that we recommend above, then you will have some flexibility in the types of devices that you buy and can choose the cheaper options of Zigbee or Z-Wave. Just keep in mind, that these are networked mesh technologies, and the quality and reliability of the communication between devices in the home is directly correlated with the number of devices that you have. So, you will be better off to buy a 4th Z-Wave device to add to your home than to save $5 on a Zigbee switch when you don't have any other Zigbee devices. Some devices that you may need are:
Given the items above, you can build just about anything that your mind could dream up! So, get started today and be sure to check back here for more detailed write-ups on how to set up the home automation features that we've found most useful.