Wireless home automation now has a foothold in technology-driven America. Homeowners are more likely than ever before to have at least one automated device, and nearly every household is expected to embrace the automation revolution at some point in the next decade. That means there will be a lot of consumers installing DIY systems – whether piecemeal or fully integrated – in the years to come.
Home automation is not especially complicated for people who understand wi-fi networks and electronics. For everyone else, setting up a system can present some challenges. Below are the top five questions wireless home automation novices ask when they start looking for a system in earnest. Knowing the answers to these questions certainly makes a difference in purchasing decisions.
1. How are wireless devices powered?
Wireless home automation devices are designated as such because they communicate wirelessly over a wi-fi network. That does not necessarily mean devices are powered without wires. They can be, but they don’t necessarily have to be. This is an important difference that consumers need to consider when making a purchase.
Manufacturers make devices that run on household power, batteries, or a combination of both. Obviously, the third choice is best for property owners looking for redundancy. Having devices that can plug into standard electrical outlets and use battery backup in the event of a power failure is optimal.
2. What is the range of wireless devices?
Consumers need to know the range of their wireless devices in order to design a package that gives them maximum coverage. Unfortunately, there are no industry standards we can rely on. Manufacturers all design and build their equipment as they see fit. That said, the rule of thumb is to assume an average range of about 100 feet. Consumers should obviously read specifications before purchasing individual devices or complete systems.
3. How do devices communicate?
Wireless home automation is based on communicating across a local wi-fi network. Any home with a wi-fi router and a broadband internet connection should be able to use wireless devices without a problem. All devices in a system connect locally through the wi-fi network; the home’s internet connection serves as a communication channel outside the home.
Some systems rely on cellular signals for external communications instead of, or in addition to, an internet connection. These are an excellent choice for people who do not have broadband internet or who want redundancy in case their internet connection goes out.
4. Is home automation more than just thermostats and lighting?
Home automation absolutely goes above and beyond just lighting and thermostats. Virtually any electrically-powered device can be controlled automatically, at least in terms of turning it on and off. People automate their exterior lighting, landscaping features, blinds, and more.
5. Are home automation systems scalable?
In theory, home automation is designed to be scalable. But that depends on the components that make up the system. A prepackaged system offered by a single provider is more easily scaled because that provider chooses equipment known to work with its systems. A piecemeal system built by the consumer may be more difficult to scale.
Home automation is expanding and growing across America. If you are not yet on board, you likely will sooner or later. So know this: the more you know and understand about home automation before you purchase, the easier it will be for you to make a wise purchase decision. Before you buy, make sure you shop around and ask plenty of questions. You should have no trouble finding devices or a complete system to meet your needs.