You’ve probably heard about the smart home network hype and wondering what it can do for your home. Maybe, you’re considering turning your home into a tech-savvy nest but you have no idea where to begin- then this is the right guide for you.
Below are the foundations of creating a smart home network so you can navigate through smart terminology, basic smart home building, and numerous setups. If this is right up your alley, continue reading.
Table of Contents
Understanding the Smart Home
Picture yourself waking up to the aroma of fresh coffee, lights switching off whenever someone steps out of a room, or your home at the perfect temperature when you get home. “Smart home” means that various gadgets, appliances, and systems around the home are interconnected.
What’s more, all of them seamlessly communicate with each other and you. On the other hand, a “smart network” offers you control over the operation, programming and automating of the connected devices depending on your needs.
Understanding Home Automation
This term is used to refer to items around your home that are programmable to work automatically, without requiring your input. Some of these include simple gadgets like auto light dimmers and fan timers.
Recent updates like the best home security IP cameras and laundry appliances offer more home automation capabilities. While the main aim is for practical use, entertainment, don’t forget that you have many reasons to think about home security too. In fact, the recent home tech boom has virtually increased the possibilities to near endless. Other appliances that you can include in your smart home network and control via a smartphone include:
· Kitchen appliances
· Bulbs, doors, and switches
· Video, audio appliances
How Devices Communicate
At the heart of building your own smart home ecosystem is ensuring that all devices use the same communication protocol. In other words, all your devices need to speak the same language. Common home automation communication protocols are:
The commonest communication protocol used by most wireless devices and requires minimal power to operate. It’s best used in a single room due to its limited range.
One of the most popular protocols where you use your wireless router to connect to devices through mobile apps. However, if you have many devices connected to a router – tablets, phones, laptop and TV – you may suffer bandwidth issues.
Offers you one-way communication between remote controls and devices like your TV, home theater system or air-conditioner.
· Z-wave, Zigbee
Alternatives to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi with longer range and less power consumption. However, these protocols require a central hub for connecting to the Internet.
Networking Devices Required
Understanding home networking is most often difficult because most of the happenings are not visible. In addition, it’s harder to understand how Wi-Fi works when you cannot physically see what happens. Which is why you should start by looking at the part of your network you can see – networking devices.
Home networking devices include physical boxes and cables required for setting up and running your network. The collective name for these physical devices is hardware.
The networking hardware is available in various sizes, shapes, and varying functionalities. Here are the most common network devices you’ll need to create a smart home network:
This device acts as a bridge that connects two separate networks. For example, in your home, the router is the gateway that offers a connection between your broadband provider’s network and your own personal network.
· Wireless Access Point (WAP)
The device used for creating a Wi-Fi network from a wired network.
· Network Switch
This is used for connecting multiple wired devices to your network. However, you are less likely to find it in a home due to the popularity of wireless Internet. Nevertheless, it’s still used in complex smart home network setups and business environments.
· Ethernet Cables
These are the staple for wired networks and are used for connecting your router to your Internet connection.
This device is the heart of your home’s network that passes traffic back and forth between your devices and the Internet.
If you live in a big house or have Wi-Fi blackouts, an extender can be used to expand the range covered by your wireless network.
· Firewall Device
This is a piece of hardware that’s plugged into the router and blocks malicious traffic like malware from accessing your home network.
Putting Together Your Smart Home Network
Now that you have a grasp of how smart home appliances communicate and the devices required to put together your home network, you still need a critical component. You need a means that brings together all your smart devices for easier, seamless communication. Fortunately, here are two alternatives the tech world has to offer.
1. Smart hubs
The smart hub is a gateway that accepts connections from all devices in the smart home network, even from different manufacturers and using different communication protocols. Integrating the different signals from your smart devices together allows easy control over each device from a single interface.
With a smart home hub, you can go beyond just mere manual interactions. The hub allows you to configure your devices so they detect and react to specific situations. For instance, a light sensor will draw your curtains or switch off lights once it detects strong sunlight.
2. Virtual home assistants
You will find numerous smart speakers on the market with voice-activation control. Such voice-controlled modules can perform simple tasks like reading the news, playing music, answering phone calls and even checking the weather.
Once integrated into your smart home network, virtual home assistants make smart home automation a reality. Some third-party devices available on the market include:
· Amazon Alexa
· Google Home
· Apple Home kit
· Belkin WeMo
Where Do You Start?
Fortunately, setting up your own smart home network doesn’t mean you need to overhaul all your current gadgets completely. Instead, start small by choosing a common area so the tech is easily accessible to all members of your family. Next, look at devices you use daily and see how they can complement your daily routine.