The combination of home networking and home automation (HA) offer the opportunity to turn your residence into a 21st Century digital smarthome, where you can control lighting, thermostats, outdoor cameras, and more from the convenience of your smartphone, tablet computer, or a web browser on your desktop. You are able to build a DIY home automation system or pay a vendor to install a turnkey solution; the latter option makes sense if you are technically challenged.
The era of the Internet of Things continues to bring additional innovations into the home automation space, with kitchen appliances now including Internet access as an option. Even if you don’t want to get that elaborate, a simple HA system adds useful functionality to your existing wireless network. Let’s take a closer look.
A Wireless Network is the Key to your Home Automation System
Nearly all of today’s home automation setups contain some form of hub that connects directly to your wireless router. Apple’s HomeKit is one notable difference, as it doesn’t use a hub, opting for something similar to a peer-to-peer network model. Any device in your system — lights, cameras, door locks, etc. — communicates with the hub and allows you to control the system using a smartphone or computer also on the same network — or even from a remote location.
To optimize performance of your home automation system, invest in a top of the line dual band router. This improves antenna coverage, especially if you live in a large house. Some HA systems allow for multiple hubs, which help in extending the range of the system. Spending extra on your wireless router is a must to get the most out of your smarthome.
If going with a single vendor for your system, they usually perform an initial site survey to see if your residence needs anything beyond a single hub. They can also advise you on the quality of your router and whether its antenna is powerful enough to operate devices spread out all over your house.
DIY or Use a Home Automation Vendor
You need to decide early whether to go with an established vendor for your home automation system or to build one by yourself. Both options have their own advantages.
Home security is one possible function of any HA system, so it makes sense that many traditional security companies offer their own solutions. Most provide 24-7 professional monitoring which adds peace of mind, but their monthly fees make the ultimate cost much more expensive than a DIY solution. You also tend to be limited on the choice of device vendors, as many of the systems feature closed architectures.
If you are technically adept and looking for a more flexible home automation solution, consider going the DIY route. SmartThings is a vendor garnering buzz in the HA industry, leading them to be acquired by Samsung. Their open system architecture means you are able to use devices from a variety of vendors in your system.
While the DIY option lets you put together a unique and functional digital smarthome without breaking the bank, you won’t get the additional benefit of 24-7 monitoring. It works well if you live in an apartment and only want to control a few devices. Ultimately, your desire for a home security option may drive your final decision on choosing an established vendor and the added monthly cost.
Today’s smarthome becomes possible with home networking and home automation, made possible using a wireless hub. Make it a point to fully research the myriad of available options, with your decision between an established vendor and a DIY solution being the most important question to answer. Soon you will enjoy the convenience provided by the wireless control of your house.