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How Smart Homes Work?



  marthome home automation symbol on the motherboard, future technology remote control concept for home
Alexander Kirch / Shutterstock

Smarthomes are like any other home, with only additional control options for light, plugs, thermostats and more. However, these additional controls add complexity. If you know how they work, you can create a better Smarthome.

In the past we've explained what a smarthome is, and even given hubs, language assistants like Alexa and Google Assitant advice. and how to set up a smarthome on a budget. However, if you're setting up your first smart home or upgrading an existing smart home, it's important to understand how it works when deciding what to add. And Smarthomes is all about radios and the brain.

Your smart gadgets are powered by radio

  Zigbee vs zwave

When it comes to the devices that power your smarthome, they all have something in them: a radio. Whether it's Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth or proprietary, the big difference between your smart device and a non-smart version is a radio.

But this radio gives you no lights, plugs and doorbell no intelligence. It's there for communication. You may think your devices communicate directly with your phone or tablet and vice versa, but this is not usually the case. And even in cases where this is the case with Bluetooth, this is always the end of the story. Almost all your smart devices communicate with a broker, the heads of your smarthome, if you like.

RELATED: ZigBee Vs. Z-Wave: Choosing Between Two Great Smarthome Standards

Your Smarthome requires a brain, sometimes more than one

  A Nest Thermostat, a Wink, a Google Home Hub, Eero, Echo and Beat Lock.
This image contains five "brains" for smarthome communication.

Meanwhile, you should know when talking to your echo or Google Home device; You transfer your voice to Amazon and Google servers for interpretation. Without this process, the language assistants will not understand a word you say. The truth is that almost all (if not all) your smart devices work similarly. Before your intelligent doorbell video reaches your phone, it is transmitted through the doorbell manufacturer's servers. Pressing the Off button on the Philips Hue app will send that signal from your smartphone to your wireless router and the Philips hub. This hub then communicates with your hue lamps to turn them off.

Think of the servers or hubs (and sometimes both) as the brain of your smart home. Here is the intelligence. Not in the gadgets themselves, not in the apps or physical remotes they interact with. These servers and hubs provide additional functionality that goes beyond powering on and off. They offer routines, facial recognition, automation, voice control and much more.

However, keep in mind that your smarthome may contain more than one brain group. Your Google homepage connects to Google servers. Your Philips Hue lights are connected to a Philips hub, Lutron to its hub, and so on.

Some manufacturers develop devices for communication with universal hubs, such as B. Z-Wave devices connected to a SmartThings or Hubitat hub. However, you may need to include other enterprise servers and hubs to interact between all your devices. For example, Philips Hue bulbs can be used with a SmartThings hub but still use the Philips Hub.

RELATED: Alexa, Siri and Google Understand A Word They Say Not [19659011] More brain means more equipment, more complication and possibly delay

  Businessman on blurred background with smart home Remote Device 3D
sdecoret / Shutterstock

Knowing that your smart device communicates with something (a hub, a server, etc.) is essential because smarthomes work best when everything works together. If you prefer to talk to your house to control it, but your light does not work with Alexa, it may not be an intelligent light either.

Fortunately, the device manufacturers understand this and usually try to work with as many different services as possible. So if you've already opted for a specific light bulb brand when adding motion sensors, you'll need to check that they're communicating with your light bulbs. However, it is important that you pay attention to how they influence each other.

Every extra "brain" in the chain leads to failures and delay chances. For example, imagine creating a routine that turns on the lighting in your living room when you arrive home and unlock the door. If your Smart Lock works with Wi-Fi and your lights with Z-Wave, the data you've brought home from your lock to your router, to the Smart Lock's cloud, back to your router, to your hub, then to your lights. On the way, the cloud and the hub see the data and decide what to do with it.

These extra trips cause delays. This can be minor or very noticeable, depending on the speed of your Internet, the devices involved, and the servers and hubs. A fully locally controlled system (all Z waves through a cloudless hub such as Hubitat or HomeSeer) almost always works faster than a system using the cloud. However, giving up the cloud can limit the number of devices you can use, and even exclude voice control, whose function depends entirely on cloud servers.

Aside from misinterpreted data, another cause of multi-brained home device failure is that a device manufacturer is leaving the store or changing access rights. Your hub may stop working, or the service you are using (such as Nest) may completely block access. And your smarthome could be broken.

Add additional devices thoughtfully.

  Alexa app with lights, plugs and switches.
Choose a place where you control your devices and stick with them.

That's not true To say that your home can not work well with a range and mix of radio types and manufacturers. Sometimes, the best solution is to move away from your current mix. You will not (at least not yet) find Ecobee bulbs, but that does not mean that you should not use smart bulbs in conjunction with your Ecobee thermostat. Hubs and servers, the better your home. And if it is unavoidable, try to pick a "dominant" or "controlled" brain. Send your devices through a "hub" as often as possible, whether it's a Smarthome hub or a voice assistant. Leaving control over a service can at least limit the hopping of apps when you need to create routines, automations, and even basic controls.

It's best to keep control of the interaction of your smart home gadgets with a good understanding of how they interact and what controls those interactions.


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