Home Automation, Best Time to Explore Smart Homes!

Home Automation is also termed Domotics and the home with applied home automation is known as a Smart Home. Information technology has transformed the way we use to interact with machines. Automation has greatly enhanced the utility of machines and also added a lot more convenience and comfort to our lives.

Introduction

Home automation is the electronic management and control of household activities, utilities, and appliances. Through Home Automation, you can operate and control your home appliances/devices remotely through Smart Phone or Voice commands or based on certain senses/inputs/Actions.

You can also schedule the appliances for automatic operations later. You can also extract Smart Diagnostics for real-time status updates and hence efficient management of household tasks and home appliances.

Home Automation Applications

Home Appliances: You can automate and control remotely your various home appliances from your Kitchen, Living Room, Bedroom, bathroom, etc. like lighting, fan, AC, TV, Refrigerator, Music system, Geyser, Robotic Vacuum cleaners, dishwasher, Air Purifiers, water pump, curtains, etc…

Home Safety: You can ensure home safety by installing a fire alarm system, gas leak alarm system, etc..

Home Security: To secure your home against any physical intrusion, you can install smart devices like video door phones, smart door locks, intrusion alarms, CCTV, etc… These systems work on action & response or sensing & actuation phenomena and add Specialized Home automation to your lives.

To make yourself realize the next level of experience and luxury, you can install various sensors and actuator systems like Light sensors, temperature sensors, motion sensors, etc. to trigger certain actions automatically. For example, consider the use cases of turning lights ON automatically at your entry to your home, switching off the lights automatically when you go out of a room, or transitioning lights from dim to dark while you go into your bed to sleep in the night…

To achieve customized automation and to experience the best form of Home Automation, a central hub would be more efficient to manage all/most of the above-stated appliances.

Stepping into Smart Home

You can purchase new appliances such as Smart Wifi AC, Smart Refrigerator, Smart Air purifier, Smart Bulb, etc. which have inbuilt smart features and Smart Diagnostics capabilities. These smart appliances can be added to Smart Home IoT Network easily and configured with the help of a suitable mobile app. After initial setup, the appliances can be operated manually using the SmartPhone or through voice commands to voice assistants from Google or Amazon, or Apple.

You can also convert your existing non-smart appliances to smart appliances using add-on devices like smart plugs or universal remotes etc… You can also add special electrical automation modules like Lighting Module, Light Fan Module, or Power modules which can be installed into your electric circuitry to control the lights, fans, and other power equipment in a room using a smartphone or your voice commands. However, you should realize that a limited level of automation can be achieved while upgrading non-smart appliances to smart ones.

Benefits of Home Automation

  • Cost Savings
  • Convenience
  • Home Safety
  • Home Security

Smart Home Technology

Smart Home or Home automation works on a variety of technologies, ranging from Wi-Fi to Z-Wave & Zigbee. Wi-Fi technology is the most common for home automation devices. However, there may be limitations to the number of devices you can add to a Wi-Fi network. Z-Wave & Zigbee are other wireless technologies that also use Radio Frequencies to communicate between different devices.

Smart Home Network

Home automation is achieved via the internet through a networked system of communication, hardware & software; electronic devices, and mobile apps. This network of home appliances constitutes a small-scale Internet of things (IoT).

A typical Smart Home automation network has the following constituents:

  • Central Hub: Central Hub or smart home hub or Home Automation Console is the master home, automation controller. This is required for an integrated and customized automation of all/most home appliances. The hub is the hardware or software that connects devices on a home automation network and controls communications among them. It can also divert traffic off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to help ease network congestion. Hubs generally use Wi-Fi, Zigbee, LoRa, and Bluetooth technologies to make local mesh networks for communication.
  • Gateway/Router: The internet is fed into the home network through the Gateway/router. The gateway device is externally connected to the Broadband network and internally connected to the hub through a wire/wireless connection.
  • Smart Phone: Smartphone is also connected to a home gateway device through an external internet connection or within the home and may use a Wi-Fi connection to connect with the router and access the internet.
  • Mobile Apps: Mobile apps or manufacturers’ companion apps are required to be installed on smartphones and the appliances need to be configured within the app. These smartphone apps can be single-tasking or multitasking. Single-tasking apps are dedicated to one device only which is compatible with the app and multi-tasking apps can manage multiple smart devices. Multi-tasking apps can help you to control the entire IoT system you have installed in your home. These apps have features and functionalities to control and command any appliance; schedule it for automatic operations in the future; Diagnostics and report to gather intelligence on appliances’ performance and health status.
  • Sensors and Actuators: Sensors and actuators provide the next level of Home Automation, where certain actions trigger corresponding responses. Sensors take the input and actuators generate a response automatically.
  • Home Appliances: Appliances perform tasks and make our life easier, however, the convenience is greatly enhanced after home automation.

Type of Appliances Controls

As stated above, you can control the appliances through your smartphone manually, your voice commands to Voice Assistants, and Auto control by scheduling.

  • Smart-Phone Control: Through your smartphone, you can control the devices at your Fingertips. You can turn on your lights; change your AC temperature settings at the tap of your smartphone.
  • Voice Control: You can talk to your home or make it talk. Simply talk to your virtual voice assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant and request to do many tasks for you eg. playing an impossible Bollywood quiz or a song on Spotify or the latest news on Aajtak.
  • Auto Control: You can auto-control your devices by installing a system of sensors and actuators in your home or by setting personalized schedules in smart apps. You can get your lights to turn off automatically when you leave for work. You can make your water pump turn ON automatically daily at a prescheduled time for a predefined period to fill your overhead water tank.

Installation of  Smart Home Automation System

Smart home automation systems are designed with user-friendly interfaces that make them easier to install, configure and operate. The basic steps to installing a home automation system are as follows:

  • Connect to the power source: Connect your hub to a power source via the AC adaptor (unless it runs on batteries in which case all you have to do is insert the batteries and switch on the device).
  • Connect to the internet: If it is wireless, connect it to your Wi-Fi router with the password. If it requires a cable connection, then do so with the Ethernet cable.
  • Download the app: This can be done through your smartphone or on your computer, depending on your device.
  • Set up your account: You will be prompted to create an account with a secure password.
  • Add your devices: You will be prompted to add your smart home devices one by one.
  • Set up your schedules, triggers, or scenes: These are the actions that you want your smart hub to set up at pre-scheduled times.
  • Set up alerts: Notifications will be sent to you by text or email if there is any breach of security.

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