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What is Home Automation?

Understand home automation and the different types of systems that are available in the connected home arena, such as security, safety, energy and care monitoring.

House lit at dusk with home automation.

Understanding Home Automation

Programmable thermostat installed in a smart home.

Home automation marries devices, utilities and home features with your smart phone or tablet - sometimes through a central hub with an internet connection, sometimes through an app.

This connectivity allows you to use your phone to communicate with your home. Forget to turn off the curling iron? Switch off the outlet remotely. Want to water the lawn? The irrigation timer will do it for you. Want to adjust the temperature before coming home? Done.

Some home automation packages allow homeowners to create custom programs so the home automatically knows what to do in response to work and school schedules. This means the lights and temperature will adjust when you’re home and away.

Why Would I Want Home Automation?

Interior camera in a smart home network for care monitoring.

Security
Automated anti-theft systems allow you to protect your family and property with window and door sensors, cameras, motion sensors, smart locks, panic buttons and anti-theft devices that attach to valuables. Each piece creates an alert so you can take appropriate action.

Safety
A smart home makes safety monitoring easy - link smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home to create a united front against household dangers.

As an added benefit, fire protection in an automated home means you can shut off a false alarm from your phone – instead of frantically waving a kitchen towel because of burnt bacon.

Energy Savings
Manage your energy costs and consumption with home automation. Programmable lights and thermostats mean you can reduce energy usage when you’re not home. Smart bulbs can also be controlled remotely to help you reduce wasteful use.

Care monitoring
An automated home lets you look in on your loved ones. Cameras, wearable fobs, keypads, automated timers, smart pet doors and associated alerts help you create a cradle of care for both people and pets.

How Do the Pieces Communicate?

Automated home with smart door locks and the app that controls them.

When you decide to create a home network, you’ll need to decide if you want a system that connects through a hub or a system that works through an app on your phone or tablet. 

App-based products have individual control icon(s) on your smart device to allow communication with various home features.

Hub-based products connect through a central source (the hub) in the home. The hub connects to a power source and the internet and is responsible for communicating to the other home automation devices, such as thermostats, lighting and other appliances. It’s essential to know how your hub communicates and to buy only devices that “talk” on the same wavelength.

Look for labels like Z-Wave or ZigBee on the packaging of such devices. Also check for wording such as “Works with Iris," ”Works with Nest," "Works with Google Home," or “Works with Apple HomeKit.” Buying devices in the same family ensures device communication and home automation success.

The world of Z-Wave, ZigBee and other protocols can be confusing or intimidating.  At its most basic, these are names for different wavelengths that allow your home automation devices to communicate without interruption. One advantage to Z-Wave systems is that the network becomes tighter and more secure the more devices you have connected.

Home automation can seem a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. The beauty of these networks is that you can start with as much or little as you like – and add products at any time. A smart home lets you build your network your way.

Ready to get started? Take our quiz to find out which system might be right for your home.