The many faces of Home Automation…

“The din of beeping overcomes me. I am lost in a fog of noise. Help my home automation project has gone off the tracks.”

clip_image002 “I took on too much. The project became overwhelming. I mean all I was doing was trying to connect a few things together and now I have this. It’s worse than the Christmas lights in the attic.”

First off there is a lot of confusion in the home automation space. As I’ve talked about from the beginning of this series the most important thing is to make consistent good decisions. There is a way of simplifying everything. It is to take the systems view of what you are doing. For a home project or for that matter any other project you break the project down into the three distinct components. The inputs, the processes that run and the outputs.

clip_image004For home automation that is pretty straight forward. The area you get tripped up is as I mentioned at the end of my last blog (here) the various protocols you have available. The reality is however that you end up with a system design view such as the one on the left. A systems view of what you are doing should be very simple. Again touching on the three things you are doing.

Let’s break that down.

1. Inputs – the inputs represent all of the connected devices you are considering part of your home automation project.

2. The processes are the protocols and expected information taken from the device and delivered to the action hub.

3. The outputs are the resulting expected automated actions.

Lights, status of light (on or off) process (turn light on or off) output (light turns on or off) the system view (simple) is always the best.

clip_image006So why do projects get complex? First off as I talked about in my first blog and second blog in this series. The “what” of automation alone can be overwhelming? I started in the home automation world with X-10 many years ago. The complexity of device communication can be the first issue. As I talked about in the previous blogs make sure whatever you decide as your action hub that it can talk to the devices you are deploying. This brings us to the many home automation protocols available on the market. List of the protocols is below – and I’ve included a few links to blogs that I feel like really have a good explanation of the protocols.

· Zigbe

· X-10


· Z-Wave

· Insteon

· Wi-Fi

· Smart Wi-Fi

Now the other side of the automation puzzle is the number of routers that offer various components and gateways for these protocols. Choosing the right router and protocol will be the focus of an upcoming blog.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.