Technologies Used In Home Automation

Written by: Bipasha Basu

Home Automation, also referred to as ‘Smart Home Technology’ automates your home allowing you to control every section of your home through the Internet of Things (IoT). It is also referred to as Domotics. Over the years, technology has developed a lot and has got very high demands in the market. The system enhances the quality of life by providing different services. When it comes to its target audience, some home automation system provides services for those adopting a luxurious life while some for the disabled and elderly people. It has got different benefits for different users which changes the way they live. It helps you in controlling appliances, home security, like personal assistance, monitoring energy use and many more.

People nowadays have become very selective with the advancement in the technologies. The system, like home automation, makes their use of technology very convenient. It provides them with a controllable network which in turn makes their work easier. Not every smart device are the same. They have different compatibility. A specific type of protocol is selected for the specific product. Protocols like Z-Wave, ZIGBEE, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are used in a particular type of products in which these are suitable and works in their way.

What are they? How do they work? And which one is better.

1. Z- Wave

It is a communication protocol used in home automation and remote control applications. It is the new type of wireless technology where smart devices using low-energy radio waves communicates with each other.

Z-Wave supports mesh networks. Mesh network is the group of devices which acts as a single Wi-Fi network. It is comprised of nodes. The smart home devices used in your home automation acts as nodes. These nodes are connected to a router and are linked to the central hub where they mesh together. Using the Z-Wave protocol, communication is done with the hub. When the command is given, it is sent from the controller to a hub. From the hub, the command goes on the route of the destination device.

The Z-Wave functions on the three layers. Radio, Network and Application. All the communication between the devices takes place in the Application layer. If you get the new Z-Wave device, you need to add that into your network which is known as inclusion. The entire network has a network Id, and the devices connected to the network has the Node Id that ensures there is no conflict with other systems.

Z-Wave uses significantly less power to operate and supports nearly 232 devices. Devices like Smart Phone, Tablet and Computers operates on Z-Wave network.

2. ZIGBEE

Zigbee is the protocol used for communication among devices in home automation. It is a two- way communication between the sensor and the control system. This protocol uses Radio Frequency (RF) for control and signaling. ZigBee is based on IEEE’s 802.15.4 personal-area network standard. It allows the devices to communicate in a variety of network. Initially, it was used for commercial purposes and later on, it started gaining its popularity in residential usages also. It is considered as an alternative to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and for those devices which don’t require more bandwidth.

ZigBee operates on the mesh network. Here, it provides stability and boost’s data transmission of the network. Just like the Z-Wave, ZigBee also works with a network hub where all the nodes are connected. If one node fails to communicate with the second node, then the master node and the second node communicates by linking to a third node within the range. Every node helps and cooperates in the distribution of the data, and hence it is called a mesh network. ZigBee supports nearly 65,000 nodes on a single network. It uses lesser power for operation and doesn’t use a battery.

So, when you have a light bulb, and light switch which is ZigBee enabled and you want the switch to control the light bulb. With the help of ZigBee, the devices communicate with the common language even if they are from different manufacturers.

ZigBee costs significantly less and can run for years. It is mainly used in low data rate applications. Some of the significant users of ZigBee are Philips, Amazon, Bosch, Comcast, Huawei, Nokia and many others.

3. Wi-Fi

With the growth of demand for home automation system, manufacturers are pressurised to bring the system that is easy to install with the low cost. Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) is one such protocol which is very easy to install and are also maintenance-free system. You can control the smart devices that are connected to the Wi-Fi through mobile phones which are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Wi-Fi is used everywhere around the world in homes and offices to get connected to the internet. It has got multiplexing technology, and therefore, it is used in the connection of smart devices. It uses batteries to operate.

Wi-Fi network cannot handle the high load of data and thus becomes slow. If many devices are connected to Wi-Fi and connecting the automated device for the same network would result in getting slow responses from these devices.

4. BLE

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is also one of the popular protocol used in home automation. BLE is most popular, low-cost and energy-efficient. It also supports the mesh networks. BLE is appropriate for heating, lighting and ventilation systems. It ensures that digital electricity meters run accurately. These digital electricity meters can be used in heating devices, AC systems, and electric cookers and to control power consumption. Bluetooth Low Energy has many befits, just like other protocols and can be operated through smartphones. It consumes less power. BLE devices communicate with the android apps that have strict power requirements like proximity sensors, heart rate monitors and fitness devices.

5. Is technology Z-Wave better over other protocols 

It is considered as very reliable since it has more range as compared to other protocols. When Z-Wave is compared to Bluetooth, the signal strength of Z-Wave is extreme. The signal gets more power if there are more devices in Z-Wave and gets the ability to bypass any obstacles. Just like the Bluetooth, Wi-Fi devices also compete with each other, and hence the strength of the signals reduces. However, Z-Wave can send and receive more data that requires the larger capacity of the Wi-Fi network. When it comes to the ZigBee network, it also helps to strengthen its signal like Z-Wave. The only difference is ZigBee is open-source software, and Z-Wave is proprietary software. Z-Wave has undergone many upgrades and improvements.

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