But first, a few words about protocols and standards, and then about manufacturers and specific models.
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave
At the moment, the most popular smart home devices use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee and Z-Wave technologies. Each of the technologies has its pros and cons, and no one forbids using them together, compensating for the shortcomings of each. But for different tasks and different types of smart devices, different technologies are used.
For example, in household appliances (TV, refrigerator and coffee maker) they usually use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, which is also available on any phone. The reason is that they use this technique without even having a full-fledged smart home system. For automation of lighting and climate, ZigBee or Z-Wave built-in modules are more suitable, as they are specially designed for integration with existing lighting and climatic equipment. But for their full work you need a special hub.
Wi-Fi is indispensable in IP cameras, televisions, audio / media players and other equipment for transmitting video signals. Of course, Wi-Fi can also be used in light switches, sensors, thermostats, but the lack of a signal relay and high power consumption do not allow sensors to work on it for years. Each manufacturer for their Wi-Fi device, whether it is a smart light bulb, a kettle, a refrigerator or a robot vacuum cleaner, releases its own application, and there is no single standard to control all equipment from one application. This does not allow to make a smart home only on Wi-Fi truly convenient.
The current version of Bluetooth Low Energy 4.2 has low power consumption, thanks to this tiny wireless headphones, speakers and various sensors on batteries work. The problems here are the same as with Wi-Fi: the lack of a common management standard forces each manufacturer to make their own application, which is inconvenient for the user. Mesh technology (mesh network), which is very important for a smart home, appeared only in version 5.0, which is still not widely used, but perhaps the future of smart homes is for Bluetooth LE 5.
ZigBee was originally developed for use in networks of sensors, such as electricity, water, gas, temperature sensors. The network topology can be different, including mesh. This means that any sensor sees all other sensors and can transmit a signal through them, i.e. use relaying, which greatly increases the reliability of transmission. In 2007, a standard for smart home control teams appeared, the so-called “Home Automation” profile. With ZigBee, almost all devices for creating home automation are released: relays, dimmers, lamps, thermostats, locks, sensors. But you will not find household appliances such as refrigerators and televisions with ZigBee. Compared to other smart home protocols, ZigBee devices have the most attractive prices, however, the lack of 100% compatibility between devices and hubs from different manufacturers does not allow building a smart home only on ZigBee.
A wireless protocol developed since 2001 specifically for home automation. Its main advantage is full compatibility between devices from different manufacturers. So the motion sensor from Fibaro can control the Qubino dimmer, and all automation at the same time is based on the RaZberry controller from Z-Wave.Me. At the moment, more than 3,000 different Z-Wave devices are sold that cover all the needs of a smart home. This is the most popular protocol for objects ranging in size from 10 to 500 m². Z-Wave, like ZigBee, uses a mesh topology with support for signal relay and automatically finding the best route. The main minus is the price. On average, the cost of the device is 60-80 euros, which is approximately twice as high as that of analogues with ZigBee.
Every year, smart home technology is gaining more and more fans. The assortment is growing rapidly, and there really is something to choose from, it is not even necessary to order abroad. When you start planning to build a smart home, the question usually arises, what manufacturers are there in the market? Whose decision to choose? How is one different from the other?
One of the most popular manufacturers of smart devices is Xiaomi. Almost all household appliances connected to a smart home are present in their assortment, as well as specialized IP camerassockets and light bulbs, various sensors (temperature, humidity, CO2) and many other devices.
Xiaomi does not use any one wireless technology for its devices, but chooses the optimal one for each type. For example, ZigBee is used to control lighting, outlets and curtains, and to connect them, you definitely need a Xiaomi hub with support for this protocol. TVs, vacuum cleaners and IP cameras are connected via Wi-Fi via a router, because not everyone needs a full-fledged smart home, and almost everyone has Wi-Fi.
Temperature, humidity, air quality sensors and locks work via Bluetooth. Such devices can be connected directly to the phone and only view the readings, or you can connect to the Xiaomi hub with Bluetooth support, then it becomes possible to use the sensor in climate control scenarios.
It would seem that Xiaomi’s smart home is an excellent solution, because the company offers many good devices for creating a smart home and convenient automation settings. But the Xiaomi hub does not allow you to configure complex automation and use scripts. Only ZigBee devices can be controlled from a phone without the Internet (via the hub), but Wi-Fi lamps and sockets only work via the Internet. ZigBe hubs from other manufacturers allow these restrictions to be removed.
Apple doesn’t make smart home devices, but it has created a protocol Homekitthat other manufacturers use to create compatible devices. HomeKit devices work via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. With HomeKit support, locks, thermostats, lighting control modules, RGBW lamps, cameras and many sensors are available. In addition to devices, there are also gateways that convert commands from ZigBee and Z-Wave devices to HomeKit commands. Xiaomi, Ikea, Philips and many others have such gateways. Thanks to this, the range of devices for smart home from Apple is expanding. So far, Apple’s automation capabilities are very modest and do not allow creating a completely arbitrary scenario. However, the big advantage is the integration of HomeKit with Siri’s voice assistant. Also, HomeKit, for obvious reasons, is not suitable for Android users.
Fibaro is the manufacturer of the most popular Z-Wave devices and home automation centers. All Fibaro devices have many settings and additional features. The equipment range includes opening, movement, leakage, smoke sensors, micro-relay modules, dimmers, rgbw, etc. The Home Center 2 home automation controller has a pleasant and intuitive user interface and allows you to configure scripts of any complexity. Because Since the Z-Wave protocol provides compatibility between devices of different manufacturers, Fibaro can work with any other Z-Wave devices.
Choice of devices: personal experience
Vadim Eremin, Head of the Gadgets and Innovation Department at M. Video Eldorado
Before choosing devices, you need to decide on the tasks that the smart home will solve. I needed to basically secure and partially automate the country house. Here are the devices on which I settled:
The simplest gadget I’ve started with is smart light bulb. Since ceiling lights are directly connected to the mains, just screw the lamp into the socket.
Smart lamps allow you to adjust the brightness of light, color and color temperature. Thanks to the LEDs, they are incredibly energy efficient, and the service life can exceed 10 years.
Of course, lamps can be made even smarter. For example, by inserting a motion sensor into the circuit.
Smart Light Rubetek RL-3103 1990 rub.
Temperature and humidity sensors. Leaving for the country, I check the temperature in the house and, if necessary, I can set the necessary parameters. Remote control is especially convenient for maintaining minimal heat so that pipes do not freeze in winter.
By including this sensor in the smart home circuit, it is also possible to automate the start of an air humidifier, air conditioner, heater, air wash and other climate equipment.
Door and window opening sensor. Of course, safety is paramount. Contact sensor mounted on window frames and door. Although its main task is to report unauthorized entry, the sensor is useful, for example, to give a command to turn off the air conditioner when the window is opened.
We have several sensors on each floor in the country. If someone tries to enter the house, I will receive a notification on the smartphone. It is also convenient to connect to a security camera and activate an alarm system to frighten off thieves and signal to neighbors.
Smart home Perenio Door / Window Open Sensor (PECWS01) 1690 RUR
Smoke detector. Installed in the living room with fireplace. I use paired with a temperature sensor. It provides fire safety by registering smoke. In stand-alone mode, it can act as a fire siren and, in addition, give a command to turn off electrical appliances during a fire.
Smart home Perenio Smoke Sensor (PECSS01) 2990 rub.
Water leakage sensor. He has a place in the bathroom, under the sink in the kitchen, by the washing machine or heating battery – in a word, wherever there may be a leak. Flood is a serious matter, and these sensors are best installed with electromagnetic cranes. In case of trouble, the sensor will command the tap to shut off the water.
Motion Sensor. Records the movement of people and animals along the heat waves. Does not respond to dogs and cats. The device can be screwed on one self-tapping screw or glued to the wall on a double-sided adhesive tape. One battery lasts for about 2-3 years, depending on the frequency of operation. The sensor is so compact that it is almost invisible in the corridor and bathroom.
Smart home Hommyn Motion Sensor (MS-20-Z) 2390 RUR
The tasks of a “smart home” often boil down to turning on or off electrical appliances – without smart sockets there is not enough. They play the role of an adapter from a normal room power outlet to the device and do not require installation.
Smart socket TP-Link HS100
The functionality of such outlets is quite wide. So, Hommyn pl-20-w, Rubetek RE-3301 and TP-Link HS100 may include electrical appliances by timer, for example, during the validity of the best rate. And, of course, energy statistics are collected.
You can also use a smart relay. Rubetek RE-3312 – You can connect anything to it, from the oven to the underfloor heating.
There are also devices built into the system without smart sockets. In the kitchen, we have several devices from the Redmond ecosystem on the Ready For Sky platform, in particular, a smart kettle and slow cooker. To cook porridge without getting out of bed, or to boil a kettle without breaking away from a lawn mower – is as easy as shelling pears.
And now the most important thing
There are many manufacturers, sensors, sockets and bulbs – even more. They all use different technologies, and to combine them into one system, you will need an additional device – a gateway. It plays the role of a network center, collects data from all sensors, sends it to the cloud for access via a smartphone, redirects commands between devices.
But there is a problem. There is no single standard for combining different devices into one system. Therefore, you will either have to dwell on one manufacturer with its ecosystem, or build a smart home using an IoT router that supports several protocols at once: Wi Fi, Z-wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth – for example, Rubetek CC1.
Voice control devices. It’s enough to say “turn on the light” and the light will turn on even if you are on the other side of the Earth
In order not to fool yourself with protocols and gateways, the easiest way is to buy a ready-made set of solutions for a smart home. For example, a kit Perenio PEKIT01 includes a gateway, smoke sensor, door open sensor, motion sensor and leakage sensor. In set Rubetek RK-3515 the same thing comes in except for the motion sensor. Hommyn Anti-Leak Pro KS-32-WZ – These are leakage sensors, electric taps, relays and airlock.
I also plan to test several smart devices, perhaps the most promising ones will appear in our assortment.
I began the selection of a simple option to easily install without upgrading the door itself. Model Danalock v3 instead of a lamb, i.e. there is an ordinary grub on the back of the door, with such an installation no one will guess that you have a smart lock. The lock supports Z-Wave and Bluetooth control. This allows you to give temporary access to the castle to your relatives or friends. In addition to Danalock V3, I would install a Fibaro Door Sensor 2 door open sensor, now when the door is closed, the lock automatically closes after five seconds.
To control the motor of curtains or blinds, there are micromodules from Fibaro, Zipato and Qubino. I am considering a conventional phase-controlled motor and would choose a module Qubino shutterbecause it has the most functions. The module measures energy consumption and can automatically determine the extreme positions of the blinds. Bonus – I synchronize with alarms in my smartphone to immediately wake up and sing).