Protocols101

Protocols101. What you need to know.

Compatibility  

Whether you are just beginning your journey into home automation. or you’re an old hand who’s been at it for some time. the number one issue that plagues all Smart Home consumers is compatibility issues.

Smart devices are compatible when they speak the same language (use the same protocol). for example, my cell phone is compatible with my wireless headphones because each device has a built-in chip that uses the Bluetooth protocol. on the other hand, my cell phone which uses Bluetooth protocol is not compatible with my Smart Switch which uses Z-Wave protocol. it’s that simple and it becomes clearer as you become familiar with the different protocols.

There are up to 10 different protocols in use today. these protocols are lumped into two categories wired and wireless or some combination. for this post, we will focus primarily on wireless protocols.

The four major Wireless protocols are Wi-Fi. Bluetooth, Z-Wave, and Zigbee. Each one of these standards has its strengths and weaknesses but what’s most important is that nearly every smart home device will almost certainly use one of these protocols. and getting familiar with these standards now will save you a lot of time and money down the road.

Wi-Fi

We are all familiar with Wi-Fi, it’s the engine that drives our cell phones laptops video games. We enjoy its power and range. So it would seem the perfect protocol to connect all your smart devices. and in most cases it is. but unfortunately, when it comes to smart devices no one protocol fits all. While Wi-Fi might be perfect for your home entertainment system, it might not be so great for your smart thermostat and smart locks. One of the issues with Wi-Fi is that your smart device must share the same crowded single with every other device on the network. This can cause interference. Another issue is that Wi-Fi operates on a 2.4ghz frequency, which is high compared to Zigbee and Z-Wave. and since higher frequencies require higher power consumption Wi-Fi will drain battery-operated devices at twice the rate of the other protocols. These and other issues like dead spots are 

why so many companies still cling to old standards like Z-Wave and ZigBee

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that operates on a short radio wavelength. It operates on a 2.4 GHz band. and all Bluetooth devices contain a computer chip with Bluetooth software that allows it to communicate with other devices that have the chip.

Bluetooth is popular because it can send a lot of data over short distances. but its biggest flaw has been his lack of range. but that’s changing, the newest version of the protocol Bluetooth LE. can create a mesh network similar to that of ZigBee Z-Wave. therefore increasing its range significantly.

Z-Wave.

Z-Wave is a popular Wireless protocol that uses radio waves to communicate with other smart devices. Z-Wave runs on the 908. 42MHz frequency. this is lower than the 2,4 GHz frequency that Wi-Fi use.. the lower frequency means less power consumption. which extends battery life significantly

Another great advantage of the Z-Wave protocol is interoperability. this means that a device with the current version of the Z-Wave protocol will still be compatible with a device that has a new or updated version of the protocol.

 Since Z-Wave devices don’t compete with other signals from other devices for bandwidth. there is a lower chance of interference which improves efficiency and speed

Z-Wave, like its twin Zigbee, uses a mesh network. A mesh Network uses each smart device in the network to boost the single. Thereby extending the network’s range.

Z-Wave it’s easy to set up. and is compatible with over 1500 devices and the list is growing.  

Zigbee

Zigbee is very similar to Z-Wave. it operates on an 802.15.4 radiofrequency. and like Z-Wave it employs mesh Network Technology. unfortunately unlike Z-Wave, Zigbee does not have interoperability. this means that your ZigBee device will not be compatible with devices that use updated versions of the Zigbee protocol. Still, with over 1200 devices using the protocol. Zigbee is an essential part of the home automated system.

When it comes to home automation there is no standardized protocol that will control all of your smart devices. But with a little bit of knowledge and some tweaking here and there, anyone can put together an efficient home ecosystem.

Smart Plugs Home Automation on a Budget

Smart Plugs are an easy and inexpensive way to automate your home. They plug into your existing outlets and control the lamp or appliance that is plugged into it. So unlike say a smart switch which requires some wiring. Smart plugs installation is a breeze. Just link them to your Wi-Fi network and plug and play (no pun intended).

Smart Plugs are also inexpensive. You can buy a plug for low as $10, however, a plug with a dimmer may cost $20 to $30. That’s is still a lot less than the cost of a smart bulb

Versatility

Smart Plugs can be used anywhere there is a power outlet. and since some plugs are water resistant they can be used outdoors as well as indoors.
Smart Plugs can have a single outlet or dual outlets or power strips. So you can control as many devices as you wish.

Useful Things Smart Plugs Can Do

Turning the lights on and off is not all smart plugs can do. Since it can turn on or off any dumb appliance that is plugged into it, Smart Plugs can provide you with an automated hands-free environment on the cheap.

Here is a small list of the useful appliances that smart plugs can control
  • Air Conditioners
  • Fans
  • Space Heaters
  • Coffee Makers
  • Slow Cookers
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Air Purifiers
  • Pet Feeder
  • Radio
  • Christmas Lights
  • Party Lights
Shop Smart Plugs with Dimmers

Another useful thing that the Smart Plug can do is set timers through the app…So if your if you are away from home for an extended of amount time. The plug can periodically turn the lights on and off and give the impression that someone is home. You can also set the timer to start the coffee before you get out of bed, or start the slow cooker at a predetermined time.

Peace of Mind

Smart Plugs that are Alexa or Google Home enabled can also control your dumb appliance while you’re away home. If you`ve ever experienced the feeling of dread and panic that you get when in the middle of your morning commute, you realize that you left the iron on. Then you can appreciate how valuable this feature is.

If you don’t have a smart plug that can be controlled outside of your home. You can still set timers to switch off unnecessary appliances when you’re away from home.

Low Set-Up cost

The best thing about Smart Plugs is that they don’t cost a lot of money to set up. You can set up your first pair of plugs for about $25, and since digital assistance like Alexa are free to download. There is no additional cost. So start-up can cost less than a pizza.

You Got This

If you’re new to home automation and would like to try one or two plugs. Or you have been at it for some time and would like to add a new plug here and there. Smart Plugs are an easy and inexpensive way to automate your home. Just do it.

Increase Your kitchen’s IQ

Increase Your kitchen’s IQ With These Essential Smart Appliances

When it comes to the automated home. most of us think, smart lights, smart locks, and smart thermostats. But it just so happens that some of the most useful smart devices are your kitchen appliances.

The Smart Kitchen is continually evolving. From smart ovens to smart coffee makers to smart faucets (no really, that’s a thing. smart faucets). Your kitchen has the potential to be the smartest room in your home. Though not quite the Jetsons, today’s automated kitchen is chock-full of smart devices that make your life a lot easier.

We compiled a list of some of the most useful smart kitchen appliances.

The Assistant

Though technical, not a kitchen appliance. The Assistant is one of the most important components of the automated kitchen. It not only controls other smart devices but it interacts with the user in a variety of useful ways. Want to try a new dish for dinner?. The assistant can get you the recipe or even a YouTube video on how to prepare the meaL. The assistant can also compile the grocery list, make video calls, and even answer the front door. All from the comfort of the kitchen counter.

Shop Amazon for Smart Speakers

Smart Assistants with Display

Smart Oven

The Smart Oven is designed for precision cooking. Most smart ovens employ some sort of sensors, such as temperature probes, scanners, and cameras. These sensors eliminate the need for constant monitoring and take the guesswork out of cooking. Smart ovens can also have any number of preset functions. With all this help it will be hard to screw up dinner.

In addition to all these to all of these great features. Most smart ovens are multi-functional devices, that can cook in several different modes, air frying, broiling, baking… Having one device that can cook in these different modes is both practical and cost-efficient. But best of all it clears up space and lets your beautiful counter shine.

Smart Lights

Smart Switches

If you live in a new or renovated home or apartment. Chances are you have Smart Switches that can control your lights. But if it just so happens you don’t have a smart switch. no worries, you can buy one for $30, and DIY installation is quick and easy.

Smart Blubs

Not the do-it-yourself type, Smart Bulbs are a great alternative to smart switches. The bulb is flexible and easy to install and can be controlled by a phone app or smart assistant.

The downside for the smart bulb is that they are expensive and the cumulative cost can be staggering. A single bulb can cost $25 or more.

Smart Plugs

Smart Plugs are an inexpensive way to control the kitchen lights. The cost of a smart plug is about $5 a lot less than the cost of a smart bulb. So you can use as many as you please. The plugs work with any lamp. But I found them to be extremely useful for controlling under cabinet light strips.

Now that you have the essentials, you can begin to add other appliances like Smart Coffee Makers, Smart Scales, or maybe that Smart Faucet

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Protocols101. What you need to know.

Compatibility  

Whether you are just beginning your journey into home automation. or you’re an old hand who’s been at it for some time. the number one issue that plagues all Smart Home consumers is compatibility issues.

Smart devices are compatible when they speak the same language (use the same protocol). for example, my cell phone is compatible with my wireless headphones because each device has a built-in chip that uses the Bluetooth protocol. on the other hand, my cell phone which uses Bluetooth protocol is not compatible with my Smart Switch which uses Z-Wave protocol. it’s that simple and it becomes clearer as you become familiar with the different protocols.

There are up to 10 different protocols in use today. these protocols are lumped into two categories wired and wireless or some combination. for this post, we will focus primarily on wireless protocols.

The four major Wireless protocols are Wi-Fi. Bluetooth, Z-Wave, and Zigbee. Each one of these standards has its strengths and weaknesses but what’s most important is that nearly every smart home device will almost certainly use one of these protocols. and getting familiar with these standards now will save you a lot of time and money down the road.

Wi-Fi

We are all familiar with Wi-Fi, it’s the engine that drives our cell phones laptops video games. We enjoy its power and range. So it would seem the perfect protocol to connect all your smart devices. and in most cases it is. but unfortunately, when it comes to smart devices no one protocol fits all. While Wi-Fi might be perfect for your home entertainment system, it might not be so great for your smart thermostat and smart locks. One of the issues with Wi-Fi is that your smart device must share the same crowded single with every other device on the network. This can cause interference. Another issue is that Wi-Fi operates on a 2.4ghz frequency, which is high compared to Zigbee and Z-Wave. and since higher frequencies require higher power consumption Wi-Fi will drain battery-operated devices at twice the rate of the other protocols. These and other issues like dead spots are 

why so many companies still cling to old standards like Z-Wave and ZigBee

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is a wireless technology that operates on a short radio wavelength. It operates on a 2.4 GHz band. and all Bluetooth devices contain a computer chip with Bluetooth software that allows it to communicate with other devices that have the chip.

Bluetooth is popular because it can send a lot of data over short distances. but its biggest flaw has been his lack of range. but that’s changing, the newest version of the protocol Bluetooth LE. can create a mesh network similar to that of ZigBee Z-Wave. therefore increasing its range significantly.

Z-Wave.

Z-Wave is a popular Wireless protocol that uses radio waves to communicate with other smart devices. Z-Wave runs on the 908. 42MHz frequency. this is lower than the 2,4 GHz frequency that Wi-Fi use.. the lower frequency means less power consumption. which extends battery life significantly

Another great advantage of the Z-Wave protocol is interoperability. this means that a device with the current version of the Z-Wave protocol will still be compatible with a device that has a new or updated version of the protocol.

 Since Z-Wave devices don’t compete with other signals from other devices for bandwidth. there is a lower chance of interference which improves efficiency and speed

Z-Wave, like its twin Zigbee, uses a mesh network. A mesh Network uses each smart device in the network to boost the single. Thereby extending the network’s range.

Z-Wave it’s easy to set up. and is compatible with over 1500 devices and the list is growing.  

Zigbee

Zigbee is very similar to Z-Wave. it operates on an 802.15.4 radiofrequency. and like Z-Wave it employs mesh Network Technology. unfortunately unlike Z-Wave, Zigbee does not have interoperability. this means that your ZigBee device will not be compatible with devices that use updated versions of the Zigbee protocol. Still, with over 1200 devices using the protocol. Zigbee is an essential part of the home automated system.

When it comes to home automation there is no standardized protocol that will control all of your smart devices. But with a little bit of knowledge and some tweaking here and there, anyone can put together an efficient home ecosystem.