A Simple Home Automation Guide for Beginners

The idea of home automation is growing in popularity across the globe. Smart homes are getting smarter, and that is happening very fast. From light to temperature, everything in the home is getting automated. Smart home products are becoming popular. In the United States, nearly 30% of homeowners own at least one such product.

Home automation is already in the mainstream, but there are still many people who do not have enough idea about the technology. Many people are interested in this technology but do not know how to get started. If you are one of them, hopefully this home automation beginner’s guide will help you.

What is a smart home?

There is no unanimously accepted definition of a smart home. But what makes smart homes stand out is that it is equipped with smart devices such as security cameras, lighting, thermostats etc. A smart home provides more security and convenience, and helps you save energy and money.

You can manage your smart home devices remotely, using a smartphone. In fact, you can give voice commands to those devices. For this purpose, you can use digital assistants such as Alexa and Siri. To create a network of home automation, you can use protocols such as ZigBee and Z-Wave.

Before you purchase home automation devices, you should have some ideas of what a smart home looks like. In this home automation beginner’s guide, we will show you what  a smart home really is.

How to get started

You may be interested in home automation, but you are still wondering where to begin. There are numerous start devices out there, and so your confusion is understandable. You will have to make an informed decision, because all the companies out there claim to be the best.

To get started, first of all, you have to make sure that you know a bit about the technology you are going to use. You have to know how smart home devices work. The main goal of this home automation beginner’s guide is to help you get started.

Another important thing to consider is your budget. How much do you want to spend? While some devices are quite affordable, some are expensive. So you will have to determine how much you can spend.

You have to invest in home automation devices according to your particular needs. Do not purchase a device just because your neighbor is using it. You may not find it helpful at all. The smart devices you purchase should be in line with your lifestyle. For example, a smart doorbell is a good choice for you if you are a parent and you have to spend a lot of time at home. Keep reading this home automation beginner’s guide to know more about these devices.

Before you purchase a product, do your own research. It is a good idea to read customer reviews, independent reviews and buyer’s guides.

Understanding home automation

Many smart devices work together in a smart home. In fact, when a home is automated, it is like a complex machine. Any home automation beginner’s guide should help you thoroughly understand home automation. Smart devices provide security, entertainment, heating and lighting etc. Although different devices carry out different roles, they all perform some basic roles.

  1. They sense or detect sound, light, temperature and movement.
  2. They receive information and process it.
  3. They respond to commands.

Sensors can play an important role in saving your home by receiving information from the surrounding environment and passing it on to other devices. In some cases, the devices are interdependent. When you are away from home, your thermostats will send signals to your lights, and the lights will turn off automatically. Automatic functioning of devices is the main advantage of home automation.

Home automation protocols

If you are thinking of automating your home, the first thing you will have to focus on is the compatibility between smart devices. You will have to tackle the concept of home automation protocols. A home automation beginner’s guide is incomplete without shedding some light on home automation protocols.

Smart products utilize a variety of protocols, and you have to choose the correct devices. May be you are planning to purchase Z-Wave compatible security systems, ZigBee based light bulbs, Bluetooth-centric sound systems or WiFi-enabled smart thermostats; but it is important to consider that there are plenty of choices out there. The devices in your home may use any of these protocols.

But knowing the names of these protocols is not enough; you also have to understand the differences between all these devices. You will be able to automate your home satisfactorily only when you have enough knowledge about these protocols. This home automation beginner’s guide will introduce you to some home automation protocols.

The protocols used by smart devices are like languages. To understand other devices, a device needs to communicate in a common language. Ideally, you have to make sure that all the smart devices in your home use the same protocol. However, there are some devices that use more than one protocol. Here are some common home automation protocols:

Bluetooth LE

Many wireless devices use Bluetooth LE protocol. When operating, this protocol uses very little power, and that is obviously a major advantage. A home automation beginner’s guide will be incomplete without discussing this protocol. Although a lot of products utilize this protocol, it has some drawbacks. The main drawback is that the range of this protocol is limited. If you want to use this protocol, you must make sure that operating distance is not a problem in your case.

Insteon

Insteon is one of the most popular home automation protocols. It offers a hybrid of wireless-based protocol and powerline connectivity between the devices within the same product line.

Lutron Clear Connect

Lutron utilizes a proprietary signal in its range of devices. To use this protocol, you need a dedicated Lutron bridge. Before translating the signals for use, Lutron Bridge pulls the signals together. However, there are some exceptions. For example, Wink Hub 2 utilizes native support.

WiFi

WiFi is one of the most commonplace protocols. Many home automation manufactures are incorporating WiFi into a host of devices. WiFi-enabled devices have a lot of advantages. In every home automation beginner’s guide, you will come across the advantages and disadvantages of this protocol.

One of the advantages is that you can use a router to connect to your devices. To translate signals, you do not need a dedicated smart hub. However, there are some drawbacks of this protocol. WiFi uses more power than most other home automation protocols.

Z-Wave

In recent years, the growth of Z-Wave has been significant. This protocol has more than 10000 compatible devices. If you are not really tech-savvy, Z-Wave can be a great option for you. Z-Wave uses a mesh network, and this is a major advantage over other protocols. In this system, the products act as signals. It extends the range of the system, and boosts relay for the last.

What devices can be automated?

With the advancement of the idea of home automation, people are now trying to automate numerous devices in the house. Gone are the days when you had really limited options of home automation. In the past, we could only think of automated lamps and the VCR with auto record feature. But now, things are different.

Today, common people are using home automation technology, and there are numerous home automation devices to choose from. Any home automation beginner’s guide should give you some idea regarding what kind of devices you can automate. You can now automate devices that could only be operated manually in the past. Now you can just set things, forget and relax.

If you have an automated thermostat, it will know the temperature you need, and set the right temperature accordingly.Automated lights will turn on and off automatically. You can even install smart coffee makers that will learn when you need a cup of coffee and work accordingly. These are just a few examples of smart devices. There are many more smart devices that may amaze you, and we will not be able to discuss all of them in this home automation beginner’s guide.

If you have no idea about smart homes, you have to think creatively to figure out what you need to buy. The devices you need depend on what tasks you are currently doing manually.

Do you spend a lot of time in your home? What do you focus on when you are at home? And when do you need to perform a particular task? What do your routines look like? What are you up to at the weekends? Before diving deep into a home automation beginner’s guide, ask yourself these basic questions. Try to find out answers to all these questions before you purchase smart devices for automating your home.

These questions will help you find out your most important tasks and whether you can automate them. They will help you explore the target areas for home automation.

Devices to use first

When it comes to home automation, you can automate numerous devices and appliances. Here are a few things people get started with, before going for more fancy items.

  • Smart bulbs
  • Smart outlets
  • Smart thermostats
  • Smart coffee makers
  • Smart locks
  • Smart security cameras
  • Robotic vacuums
  • Smart blinds
  • Smart alarm clocks
  • Smart kitchen tech
  • Smart bathroom tech

In this home automation beginner’s guide, we are not going to focus on all the devices that can be automated, because to a great extent it depends on your unique needs. Be inventive, and figure out how you would like to use technology to make your life a bit more comfortable.

Home automation controllers

In a smart home, there is a smart hub that controls all or most of the devices and appliances. In this home automation beginner’s guide, we will give you some important information regarding home automation controllers such as smart hubs. These hubs are also known as controllers or bridges. A smart hub controls the connected devices in your home. Whatever the protocol or manufacturer, your smart hub will control every device.

A smart hub works like the brain of a home automation system. You can control all the devices in your home via a smart hub. Using the smart hub, you can control any device, whether it performs the task of alerting, entertaining, locking, heating or lighting. The hub brings all the elements together. A smart hub can do a host of things and we can not cover all of them in this home automation beginner’s guide.

A wide range of smart devices can be connected to a smart hub. Also, using a smart plug, your existing devices can be transformed into connected devices. Numerous devices can be transformed this way.

No matter how you approach a home automation beginner’s guide, you should know enough about smart hubs. Usually, a smart hub sits at the core of your home automation system. For every connected device, the hub acts as the command center. A modern smart hub has many advantages. For example, if some of your devices use different wireless protocols, you can bring together the signals and unify them.

The smart hub then processes the protocols and your router understands the format as a WiFi signal. As a result, you do not need multiple apps to control different devices.

Smart hubs can interact with your devices in a host of ways. They detect specific events and react to them, and you can easily program event scenarios by setting the alarm, adjusting the thermostat etc. This home automation beginner’s guide will also show you how these things can make your life more comfortable.

If you have a dedicated smart hub such as Wink Hub 2, it will bring all your devices under one control panel, making it easier for you to control all your devices. But now there are many alternative options that offer advanced features such as cross-device control.

You can also handle home automation by uniting all your devices under one software platform. Apple’s HomeKit is such a platform. Using this platform, you can give your devices voice commands. These methods reduce complexity by bringing all your devices together. But most home automation experts believe that a dedicated hub is a better option, because it connects your automation devices more efficiently. In this home automation beginner’s guide, we are going to cover some more topics regarding home automation.

Controlling the system

In this home automation beginner’s guide, we are going to provide some important information regarding how you can control the system. There are a couple of ways to control a smart home automation system. Most smart hubs use a partner app. The app is interfaced through a tablet or smartphone. You can also use a remote and pair it with your smart home controller.

In most cases, homeowners install an app on the smartphone. You can also install the app on a laptop or tablet. Thus you can control the devices in myriad ways. To bring your smart devices together, hubs are not the only way, though. There are other ways of addressing the task.

A good iOS centered solution is Apple’s HomeKit. Using this app, you can manage your devices through iPhone or iPad. For voice control, you can use Siri on Apple’s HomePod. Any home automation beginner’s guide will give you some ideas about how you can controls your smart devices and appliances.

There is another way to control your smart home devices. Some home automation controllers are no longer using app-based interface. To get the job done quickly, they are just using spoken commands. For this purpose, you can use Google’s Home device or Amazon Alexa enabled Echo. These devices and speakers have transformed the way people control their smart home devices.

Security and safety

Safety and security should be taken seriously when you are thinking of home automation. In recent years, home automation has rapidly grown in popularity, and the main reason of this popularity is that it provides added layers of safety and security. Homeowners who look for a home automation beginner’s guide in fact look for ways to ensure safety and security for their homes.  It is true that these security setups are still a bit expensive, but the advanced security systems justify this cost.

When it comes to installing smart home devices, once you have settled on some guiding principles, you will enjoy a lot of flexibility. There is no strict boundary for budget, individual specifications, and protocols.

Automated vigilance

Whether your goal is to ensure safety for your home by preventing carbon monoxide poisoning or break-ins, there are numerous home automation devices to choose from. Once you have installed a home automation system, you will find it easier to monitor the quality of air inside the home and secure entryways.

The system can recognize your face and unlocks the door when you arrive home. The level of home automation you can implement now was confined to science fiction just a decade ago. In this home automation beginner’s guide, we have already shown you what you can do with this technology, and you can explore more on your own.

When someone knocks at the door, you can see the person and speak to him or her without opening the door. Outdoor cameras, smart doorbells and speakers make it possible. When you are not home, you can remotely unlock the door and let your guests enter your home.

These days, automated smart homes have smart smoke alarms and air quality monitors that can almost eliminate the risks of fire hazards. For every homeowner, fire safety is a primary consideration. If you install Nest Protect, a smoke alarm, it will send you notification when something is wrong. Your will receive the alerts on your tablet or smartphone.

Hopefully this home automation beginner’s guide have given you some insights into what home automation really is. The way we interact with the devices and appliances in our homes is changing rapidly, thanks to smart home automation. Now your smart devices allow you to multitask efficiently, and they take care of a lot of chores.

Immediately after setting up your smart home, you will notice an increase in your productivity. Now if you have a business far away from the place you are living, you can take care of your business. You can simply give your devices voice commands. Just tell your light bulbs to increase or decrease the brightness and they will act accordingly. Before you arrive home in the evening, you can have your home prepare automatically.

Home automation is undergoing a major transformation, and we all can be benefited from the amazing technology. Hopefully this home automation beginner’s guide has helped you know enough about home automation.