Home automation systems might truly be the best way to make your house work for you. These systems can do work for you, anticipate your needs, entertain you, warn you of problems, keep you safe, and so much more. Best of all, there’s so many options out there that make home automation incredibly simple and allow you to manage everything from your phone.
So how do these systems work? Well, it depends. Devices are usually hub or internet based.
Hub based systems have a device, the hub, which manages all of the devices in the system. This is very useful when you need devices to communicate with each other, or just want to go to one place when managing your system. Common examples of Hub are SmartThings, Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Wink.
When setting up a hub based system, you start out with just a hub. Then as needed you install new devices in the house and configure the hub to communicate with the device. This allows your system to grow as needed, and it is completely configurable to meet your needs. Unfortunately there are limitations. Depending on the way your hub communicates with the devices, there might be a limit on the maximum number of devices. For example there’s a wireless communication method known as Z-Wave, which has a maximum limit of 231 devices.
Internet based devices, on the other hand, generally each have their own smartphone app or website and don’t communicate well with other devices. Some examples of these include Wemo, Ring, and Nest. All of these devices connect to the internet through your home’s Wi-Fi, and can be controlled from anywhere you can access the internet.
As I said earlier these devices are generally separate all the other devices on your system, however some hubs, such as SmartThings, have the ability to communicate with them. Be sure to research your hub and make sure that it supports your internet based devices, since not all do. For example a SmartThings hub that controls a Wemo light switch cannot directly communicate. It sends commands and requests information from the Wemo’s servers. Wemo then sends the information through the internet to your switch. If the switch needs to send information to the hub, then it must send the info through the internet to Wemo’s servers which then relays it back to your hub. There’s a lot more moving parts here, so there’s more than can go wrong.