Part 6 of home automation–talking home automation hubs…

clip_image002To get ready for your home automation project you just spent time and money fixing your home network. You can now sit in any corner of your house and get a solid Wi-Fi signal. You can watch Netflix in any part of your house. With the new extenders two people can watch Netflix at the same time (and different movies/shows)! Your network is now rock solid. It’s time to embark on that first home automation project. Except you still have that protocol problem.

Yeah it’s still there. So many protocols, so many bridges and not a single one of them willing to acknowledge it works with the others. There are a number of productions out there but there are many more IoT devices and you need to be careful. X-10, Smarthings, Wink, Control4, Staples Connect and the NEST system (Nest because they bought Revolv, they will no longer sell the product but I suspect they are integrating it into something new). Today I use the Control4 system but that is after years of playing with the X-10 system. I wanted a closed box system that had a company developing connections behind it.

clip_image004Starting simple, get a hub for the short run that will control your first project. Also, once you head down a path, assume your next project and make sure you don’t have to buy a second hub. I recommend starting out with the cheaper hubs to see if you are in fact committed to home automation. I’ve seen many people start these projects and in the end stop. If your home automation system is buggy and doesn’t work or requires you to do extra work to use it, you will eventually stop using it.

So start out as I said in my first blog of this series, simple. The devices are coming. Controlling, connecting and communicating with them is the critical part. If you have made it past fixing your home network then bridges come next. That means where you place that smart hub is important. It needs to be able to connect to both your wired and wireless network. Even if you don’t have a wired network in your home, you at least have wires from the Internet device you are using. So you to have a way to have your hub connected to the wired and wireless network.

clip_image006By the way one factor in picking your hub is the device you intend to use it with. IE if you intend to install panels permanently connected in your home then it impacts what you use. If you intend to use your cellular device or tablet than it also impacts what you choose.

The further confusing factor is the explosion of home IoT devices that are not automaton devices. This would include weather stations, both sides of the personal presence equation, home theater equipment and a myriad of other devices. Just connecting all of those with your cellular device can add 10 applications to your home screen. You can consider separating your security video from the rest of your automation project as you can operate those separately easily (I recommend the amazing Canary home security system for that). That buys you one less thing to connect later.

 

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.