Whether you are looking to transform your existing property into a smart home or intend on building one from scratch, smart home technology is now more accessible and affordable than ever before.
In most cases creating a smart home can even be completed using the existing wiring available in your home, with minimum disruption to your domestic life throughout the installation.
Here’s our in-depth guide into smart home technology and what you need to know.
How smart home technology works
Smart homes work on a simple premise: products, sensors and activators all communicate with each other using wireless technology. The sensors allow these items to understand their environment such as whether they are on or off, what the temperature is, how dark it is etc, while activators or modules allow them to take action.
All information is relayed back to a central Hub that can be controlled to take action automatically or on demand via an app on a smart phone or tablet, or via voice command.
The upshot is fixtures and products within the home can then do things as part of a scene or in response to your command.
The smart home in action
All this connectivity enables the smart home occupant to program their home to do things on their behalf, and this happens through a series of ways:
A scene sees a series of actions occur at one time.
For example, you might create a “coming home” scene that sees your house lights come on, the garage open, heating activates, and doors unlock as you approach the house. Using smart phones and their inbuilt GPS, scenes can be established to gauge your distance from the property and begin undertaking these tasks depending on your proximity to the house.
Sensors mean a smart home can respond to its environment and conditions automatically. Say for example, it starts to rain, and you have left the skylight open. Smart home technology allows this to automatically close when the sensor has information that it’s raining.
Changing your smart home on command is as simple as instructing a voice activator or using your smart home app to tell your home to do something, even if your miles away.
For example, you’re on your way home from the shops with meat for a roast dinner. You can command your oven to pre-heat at the push of a button on your phone or by voice command.
With all these sensors at play, the smart home can also alert you when the environment changes or something goes wrong.
Say you’re at work, when someone comes to the front door of your home. The smart home will send an alert to the app on your phone. With the right smart home technology installed at your property, you can then even see who that person is via camera, talk to them using an intercom and grant them access to the house if you choose by unlocking your door’s smart lock.
All these scenes, automatic responses, commands, and alerts rely on a series of sensors, modules, and compatible appliances installed and networked together within the smart home.
And it works using the following components:
The first element of a Smart Home involves the use of sensors. These allow you to obtain information about what state your appliances, fixture or fittings are in.
Often equipped with extras like temperature readings, they tell you things like whether a door is open or locked, whether curtains are open or closed and what the internal temperature of your house may be. They can alert you to things like a fire, security breach or a light that has been left on.
Next in the chain are modules. These are the mechanisms that allow items to operate via switches, dimmers and controls.
Modules can turn lights on or off, shut off power to a power point or switch on an appliance. The Fibaro modules that Lera uses also have the capability of power metering so you have real-time information at your fingertips about how much electricity your home is using, where.
The hub is the hardware that your switches, sensors and modules all wirelessly connect to. This is the communication centre.
It then relays information to a device like a smartphone or tablet where you can set and control functions via an app. While the hub is located in your home, the app can be used anywhere, allowing you remote management and monitoring of what your home can do.
In addition to an app, there are also a host of other ways to control items in your home, including remotes, voice activation, smart speakers and centralised buttons. That means you have complete control over your smart home wherever you are.
You can command your home to do things by button or voice using a smart phone or tablet, and you can also tell it to perform functions using a smart speaker.
There are several ways that smart appliances, sensors and modules can communicate. These include Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee.
Basically, these are smart home languages that allow items to understand each other. At Lera, we use Z-Wave and it works like this…
Z-Wave is a mesh system that allows devices to communicate easily at a low frequency. Instead of information being relayed back to a central router or point, it “hops” device to device across the mesh network. This means there are endless communication routes available.
Effectively this means if one device drops out, the system can remain online by finding an alternative route. In the smart home this is particularly beneficial, eliminating lag and congestion, and the system becomes stronger as more devices are added, with more information paths available.
We use Z-Wave because it offers:
- A mesh network
- Impervious to interference from Wi-Fi and BlueTooth
- Low communication latency
- Ultra-low power consumption
Installation of smart home technology is simple and can often be undertaken using the existing wiring in your home.
For example, light switches and power points can be easily converted to smart fixtures by a certified electrician, while sensors, including motion sensors and camera are often wireless.
The art of an effective installation, however, is all about creating an ecosystem that enables your home to seamlessly communicate and undertake tasks.
The best way of ensuring your home offers this effortless communication and efficiency is to use a certified smart home installer.
The Lera smart home installation process
Lera Smart Home Solutions are experts in the design and installation of smart home technology. We are also accredited Z-Wave installers, which means we inherently understand the technology and its best practice.
Here’s how we operate…
Step 1 – Design
Th design phase is all about working with you to understand what you want your home to be able to do. Then we look to the layout of your home, and work with existing wiring to create a plan of what goes where.
This plan factors in a range of variables including the speed of your internet, the construction materials of your property and the positioning of sensors.
We also consider the design of the Z-Wave mesh network that underpins the operation of all devices.
- Devices are positioned at the right intervals to maximise communication capability and network strength
- Devices are optimised and programmed to enact scenes
- Set-up can be tailored to suit your home, taking into account building materials, and eliminating signal interference
- Diagnostic tools allow for the identification of optimum device position
- Your system is designed and implemented effectively to undertake the specific tasks you want
Step 2 – Programming and products
Once we know what you need, what you want your home to do and what will go where, we set about creating the right programming and sourcing any required products.
Step 3 – Installation
The installation process is actually quite simple and can takes as little as a few hours or a few days. Once items are installed, we then test their operation and complete the set-up of the hub, while demonstrating exactly how the system operates.
We can program simple functions for you and walk you through how you can tailor your new smart home to suit your needs.
After your home has been turned in to a smart home, if you have any questions regarding your solution or want to add more features Lera Smart Home Solutions will be able to assist and provide support.
Lera Smart Home Solutions is a leading installer of smart home technology in the greater Sydney region. Our team boasts over 20 years’ experience in IT networking, programming and the electrical industry.
We have sourced the most reliable and cost-efficient solutions from around the world to provide the very best in smart home solutions, and work with our clients to understand their needs.