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Home / Tips and Tricks / Smart Hubs, Z-Wave and Zigbee: Getting started with home automation

Smart Hubs, Z-Wave and Zigbee: Getting started with home automation



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Josh Miller / CNET

So you want a smart home. Great! But where do you start With so many platforms, wizards, hubs, and protocols, it can get confusing quickly. Here̵

7;s what you need to know when you’re ready to dip your toes in smart home automation.

ZigBee and Z-Wave

Zigbee and Z-Wave are low-energy mesh networks that allow devices without Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to communicate with each other. However, both the Z-Wave and Zigbee protocols require a separate receiver somewhere on your WiFi network in order to be able to send and receive signals between devices.

You can find hundreds of ZigBee or Z-Wave devices from big brands like nest, GIVE, and Philips Hue. If you are unsure which one is right for you, or what smart home products you might buy in the future, don’t worry. Invest in a hub like SmartThings Hub or Wink Hub 2 this works with both Zigbee and Z-Wave.

Some smart displays like that Amazon Echo Show 10 and smart speakers like the latest Amazon Echo They act as Z-Wave or ZigBee hubs so you don’t have to buy a separate hub to add new devices to your home. You will also find a built-in ZigBee hub there the upcoming Eero 6 mesh router, scheduled for retail on November 2nd this year.


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Introduction to home automation


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Not every smart home device needs ZigBee or Z-Wave. Some products, such as Smart plugs, for example, can connect to your home’s 2.4 GHz WiFi network via their companion app. Others use Bluetooth device-to-device connections.

Products like previous entries in August’s range of smart locks However, you can connect to your wireless network when purchasing a Wi-Fi bridge or directly through the devices the newest August castle With an integrated Wi-Fi transmitter, no separate bridge or hub is required. The Wi-Fi connection enables remote access from anywhere in the world where you have an internet connection.

While deleting a hub is certainly more convenient and inexpensive, connecting your WiFi and devices connected to it can affect the performance of dozens of devices connected this way. If you connect to Wi-Fi through the device itself rather than through a Wi-Fi bridge, it can also affect battery life.

Like other products Philips Hue and Lutron require their own proprietary hubs, often called bridges, to be connected to your router. If you are interested in smart lighting but want to be hubless, Lifx has covered you. Your lightbulbs connect directly to your home WiFi.

No matter how you automate your home, investing in good WiFi is important, whether it means upgrading your service provider or buying a device better router, how Eero starter kit.

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The new fourth generation Echo Smart Speaker looks brand new.

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Smart speakers and voice assistants

When your network is sorted, a voice assistant should act as the interface between you and your smart home. Choosing which smart speaker is right for you depends largely on your personal preferences, and chances are you already have a favorite in mind.

If you’ve been Apple all day, that’s what you’ll want Apple HomePod or HomePod Mini as your smart home automation center. Do you love everything Google does? There are several smart speakers and displays to choose from. The same goes for Amazon Alexa fans. If you’re an Amazon Prime enthusiast, this is it Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot are two great options. Google and Amazon have affordable options for around $ 50 (often less on sale), so adding smarts to your home won’t break your bank.

All three platforms have their pros and cons, but all three can manage your smart home devices as well. If you have it on Amazon vs. Google have narrowed it down, take ours quiz to find out which smart speaker is right for you.

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Taylor Martin / CNET

Raspberry Pi

If you want to go the DIY route and delve deep into the minds of home automation, Raspberry Pi is a unique option with almost endless possibilities.

This tiny computer chip can be equipped with kits that can be used to create computer programs that can perform all kinds of tasks and devices in your home. However, it will take time to find additional accessories and technical know-how.

If you’re into programming and want to tinker with smart home technology, there are kits available to help you create smart speakers, cameras, and more. Google AIY (“Artificial Intelligence Yourself”) Raspberry Pi-friendly kits will help you with this. Check out other cool stuff to work with Raspberry Pi Computer here.

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Taylor Martin / CNET

IFTTT

IFTTT (If This, Then That) is a free online automation service that enables intelligent devices and web-based platforms to interact with each other. The big plus with IFTTT is that it isn’t limited to physical devices. For example, you can create an IFTTT recipe (the term for “program”) that will automatically save attachments from your email to a specific Dropbox folder.

In the smart home, this means recipes that connect devices that would otherwise not work together. For example, when your Nest thermostat goes into Away mode, turn off all Philips Hue indicators. You can also create recipes that are triggered when you arrive with your mobile phone or leave your home. One of the more useful (and fun) features of IFTTT is the ability to create custom commands for Google assistant and Amazon Alexa.

While IFTTT isn’t all you need to build a smart home, it’s a great addition to a smart home, especially if you want to tie product promotions together to create a greater automated experience.

There are many ways to beautify your home. It may take some trial and error to figure out what works for you, or what products and services you prefer, but stick with it. Once you’ve got things going, you have a home that makes life smarter and easier.


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