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Selecting the home automation system for your home

Fermín Díaz
11 min read
Selecting the home automation system for your home – Technology – WebMediums
Home automation system for smart home

The networks part behind and that controls a home automation system is very important. For this reason, we must select very well how we are going to do it.

A home automation system for a smart home can be made up of thermostats, heating, blinds, etc. Such a home automation system needs to always be connected to the current, so that when we give the order to Siri, Alexa, Google or from the mobile application, we tell it to lower the blind or turn on the light.

Obviously, it must be electrically connected to the device. Then, as everything is controlled by voice or through a mobile app so that the home automation device is always powered, what is done is bypassing the switch so that the bulb will always be powered.

Importance of a good selection of the home automation system

The user can turn on and off by means of voice commands, and it does not present any problem. The problem would be when it comes time that you do not have an internet connection, because all these assistants work through a reverse connection.

When the user gives the order to turn on the light, what happens is that the voice command goes to the servers of Amazon, Google, Apple or the assistant that we have and returns the instruction. Therefore, if you don't have internet, the wizard won't work at all.

Selecting the home automation system for your home – Technology – WebMediums
Amazon home automation system to open doors without keys

Then it could also happen that for some reason the home automation system may fail, such as a bad configuration, because the system goes crazy, due to misconfiguration, because there is a firmware update, and it fails for a thousand reasons.

This causes all the lights to be on or off, or the blinds to be lowered, any problem we have with the home automation system.

It is advisable to use a mixed system, that is, to use a manual system with switches, but such switches or any home automation element you have, is capable of working intelligently with the various voice assistants or with the different mobile applications.

This guarantees that in the event of a system failure, you will always be able to turn the light on and off manually and whenever you want to do it, either by voice, mobile application or by generating a routine that can be done using a program that gives you conditions to carry out different actions.

You have the disadvantage of having all the lights and all the elements by voice. If one day you have visitors in your house, they will not know how to turn on or off a light, because they do not know the commands.

The visitor may know the assistant Alexa, but he will not know if it has been called a dining room light, a living room light or a bedroom light. So, he won't know that to turn on the living room light you have to say "Alexa turns on the living room light". Therefore, in these cases it is always good to have a traditional system.

How to install a home automation system

A home automation system for a smart home can be installed in various ways. One way that can be ruled out is through a cabling system. Previously, it was done through a central, where all the home automation elements such as blinds, lights or whatever were wired, and that central turned on and off.

Nowadays, thanks to technology, it is no longer necessary to wire anything since everything comes wirelessly. Once the wiring has been discarded, we can basically do it in two ways:

1. Through Wi-Fi, that is, the device or home automation element is connected to the router and this gives the order to turn on or off whatever. In this way it is not recommended, since it generates many problems.

How does it work over Wi-Fi? The first thing is to buy the home automation element, like a light bulb or anything else. This element with the application itself coupled with the manufacturer, the home automation element is paired with the router through the Wi-Fi key and thus the router connects with the light bulb.

In this way we can tell it to turn on, turn off, lower the brightness and the order is executed.

When you have many domotic elements, such as 50 or more, this will cause a saturation of the router. If you have many elements in a network, this will cause a slowdown of all the elements of the network.

So if you have 15 bulbs that are not designed to turn on or off, they don't have to have fast Wi-Fi, and they don't have to be elements with a fast chip. The result will be that the computer will then start to run slowly.

The type of router we have is very important, so if we keep an operator router it will be much worse. This happens to many people who have several domotic elements at home, and although in general domotic elements go in the 2-4 GHz frequency more than anything because of the scope.

Selecting the home automation system for your home – Technology – WebMediums
Home automation system via Wi-Fi

It often happens that many people have a light bulb or an element in a remote part of the house, where it has worse Wi-Fi coverage and gives the order to turn it on and off in any order and does not respond because the coverage does not reach it.

So it is very important not to use Wi-Fi so as not to saturate the router, although if it can be done, you must have a special configuration and have a special router to avoid saturating it.

2. Another way would be to pass through a switchboard, a bridge, a bridge or something similar. This element can be connected to the router via ethernet, so instead of making a connection in the router and the home automation elements, the one that would make the connection would be this intermediate element, which is connected to the home automation elements.

Zigbee and Z-Wave protocols

Another advantage of this second option is the protocols it uses, these bridges have two protocols, although generally there are more, the two most important are zigbee and Z-Wave. I am both very good and stable, but the most recommended is zigbee because it is the most preferred in the market.

It does not matter if the system is better or worse, the one indicated will always be the one decided by the market. Amazon has opted for zigbee, its bulbs, its elements are zigbee.

The Amazon eco plus, an assistant that incorporates a zigbee central. Then, Apple's Siri assistant also has zigbee, trust free, which is the Ikea home automation range, has also opted for zigbee, also all its elements and bulbs are of the Zigbee protocol.

The same goes for Google home, so Z-Wave is a very good protocol.

The advantages of these protocols, zigbee and Z-Wave, is that they are a meshed network. With regard to Wi-Fi, it has the advantage that all the home automation elements are linked together, they create a meshed network in such a way that the coverage within a house will be very good.

Selecting the home automation system for your home – Technology – WebMediums
Z-Wave wireless protocol for home automation systems

If we have a home automation element in a room that is far away, and in the middle of that element we put a light bulb, there are two other light bulbs at home. Well, the order to that bulb is to turn it on and off or change color, the order will jump from one bulb to another. In such a way, that it will perfectly reach the last bulb.

In the event that the internet goes out, or you have a problem, instead of reconfiguring to give internet to 50 domotic elements, by giving it to the bridge, you already have it.

You just have to connect it to the internet in any way, with another router, with a 3G or whatever, and you would have access again to the 50 domotic elements. You don't have to go one by one reconfiguring them.

Zigbee version 3.0 is recommended as it is a more modern version. It is supported by all elements that you may have at home, be it light bulbs or switches.

This gives you a lot of versatility, because you can use whatever bridge you want. It is recommended to use the one from Phillips, because it counts as many updates and is very well done.

You can also access it in a very simple way from outside the home, so that all the elements you have regardless of whether they are from Phillips or not are connected to this bridge.

It does not matter whether they are the Ikea light bulbs, or whether they are the switches of another brand. They all connect with a single bridge that controls everything, with Alexa you control everything and with a single application you control everything.

There are people who buy Wi-Fi elements or Wi-Fi bulbs like any other protocol that have their own application. Then they see another offer for another type of light bulb and buy another light bulb that has another application, and you end up with a mobile full of applications.

Selecting the home automation system for your home – Technology – WebMediums
Zigbee's protocol for home automation systems

Many of these applications have a skill for Alexa or for Google, in such a way that you can make it work through this skill or through this mini application that runs on Alexa.

But it already depends on third parties or that this skill works. Sometimes they work well, and sometimes they work poorly, but the main thing about a home automation element is that it is comfortable and that when you tell it to turn on a light to turn on, if you have to give an order three times and in the end you have to get up and use the switch, then you would gain nothing.

Dual function switches

All switches must have a double function at home, they must have a mechanical part and an electrical part. In such a way, that you can turn on and off any switch in the house manually (by means of the push button).

But these switches are also home automation, since they work through the zigbee protocol, also through Alexa or the Eco plus. This is advantageous, because if you have visitors or if something is misconfigured, you can always turn the light on and off, raise or lower the blind directly with a switch.

Similarly, you can lean towards voice commands and say "Alexa turns the light on, turn it off, turn it up bright." In such a way that you have the best of both worlds.

We must be very careful when choosing a home automation system for a smart home because if you buy a light bulb or two nothing happens, you connect them to your router, you turn them on and off by voice command or with the application and that would be it.

Factors to consider when automating a house

But when you want to domotize the house you like, it is important that before you start buying things, plan how you are going to do it, what protocol you are going to use, what bridge you are going to use in case it is a Z-Wave or a zigbee, what elements are you going to domotise, the switches if you are going to tap them or not, and what types of bulbs are you going to use.

It is not recommended that you start blindly, without planning anything. Because you can stay one day with the lights off or on, or you can't leave the house because you have the blinds down.

"Home automation elements can be reset by turning them on and off three or four times a day."

It is also not advisable to bypass the electrical system, because in case you have any problem you will be stuck. It is best to use switches.

Installation of a home automation system.