As the Internet of Things (IOT) gains momentum we are bombarded with new terms like “smart home“, “home control” “connected home“, “home automation” and others. It all seems confusing and intimidating at first, as most exposure to new technology normally does, but there are many advantages to having a smart home or business that are worth investigating.
Smart control means being able to operate locks, security systems, gates, doors etc. remotely, from a single device like your smartphone. Home automation is the process of programming devices like geysers to switch on and off and lights to come on, so that they operate automatically by creating rules, in ways that best suit your lifestyle.
This technology adds significant value to homes or businesses, as management of security, access, energy consumption and essentially all aspects of risk, becomes possible remotely. Think of a homeowner who lives in Gauteng being able to open the driveway gate, unlock the front door, de-activate the alarm and switch on lights and geysers for cleaning or repair services at his holiday home in Plett! A business owner who has several people coming and going into a depot after hours, now has the ability to know who arrived when and who left when by looking at his cell phone! If someone forgot to arm the alarm – this can be done from the comfort of his current location, or be set up to happen automatically… and get push notification as each event occurs.
Some common questions regarding smart buildings:
Can I add smart home technology to my existing security system without having to tear down walls and add new wiring?
Absolutely! Global secure technologies like Z-wave work wirelessly. Whilst you may need to fit localized Z-wave switches or sensors to your existing devices you want to control i.e. lights, plugs, pumps, gates, or doors, you won’t need any additional wiring.
What does it all entail?
You need a gateway that is connected to the internet. A mobile app sends commands to the automation gateway, which in turn forwards your commands to the relevant Z-wave devices. Z-wave includes the 2-way confirmation back to your mobile device to confirm that your command was successfully executed.
Will this make my devices accessible for anybody on the internet?
No, Z-wave technology has 128-bit encryption and an advanced security framework, making a Z-wave enabled smart home system more secure than your Wi-Fi network. A managed gateway on a secure platform with adequate login credentials provides secure web and app access for any authorized user, same as your banking app.
This still sounds scary. Isn’t this how the machines eventually take over and create Skynet?
Not a chance. While we talk a lot about “smart” home technology, a Z-wave system isn’t really that intelligent. The “smarts” come from the very simple programming you do: for example, “unlock the front door, turn on the foyer light.” Beyond that, the system can’t make its own decisions. You can use it to freak out your friends, though!
What if I only want to control certain devices?
A Z-wave controller allows you to control more than 200 individual switches or sensors, but you don’t have to install them all at once. You can add more devices as your budget and lifestyle requires. Connecting them happens wirelessly and takes less than a minute with the aid of a mobile app.
What if I want to still retain manual control too?
Z-wave technology serves as an add-on to your existing functionality and does not take away any existing ways of controlling devices. You will still be able to operate your lights, plus or garage doors the way you used to with the added ability to schedule or control on demand from your mobile device.
How do I know which smart home devices work together?
The easiest way is to look for products with the Z-wave logo. Z-wave products are built to be interoperable globally, though they do need to run on a regulated country specific frequency. Your best bet is to check with your gateway supplier and see which products it supports.
Will smart home technology affect my internet speed?
Not at all. While most smart home systems rely on your home network for some functions (like remote access and communications between your smartphone and smart hub), the bulk of the home control action takes place on a separate wireless network that doesn’t interfere with Wi-Fi at all.
Still have questions? We have more answers. Call us today.
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