How to choose a kit for Smart Home

smart House Dec 02, 2019

A smart home can save you from routine tasks and make everyday life easier for its owners. It consists of various devices that are easy to configure - this does not require special programming knowledge. However, you need to immediately understand what kind of devices in such a house should be.

Manufacturers offer turnkey solutions: kits with pre-designed usage scenarios.

These starter kits have helped me understand how smart devices work and what they are capable of. I used some of them when I was building my house. For example, I did not lay extra wires in the living room, because I knew that I would use wireless switches. I’ll tell you about them and other solutions for a smart home.

Starter Kits - for exploring devices

Starter kits usually include the most commonly used smart home devices. There are many of them, and it is easy to get confused how to use them correctly. Prior to installation, many do not think at all about another important feature - the compatibility of devices with each other. For example, a temperature sensor that works on ZigBee technology, most likely, will not work with a regular Wi-Fi router, but will require a separate gateway.

I did not know exactly what I needed to automate, so I chose a starter trial kit from a Chinese company.

In my set there was a gateway, a motion sensor, a door opener and a socket. The gateway was compatible with energy-saving devices running the Zigbee protocol, so I didn’t have to buy anything else. Detailed instructions were not required, as the device configuration interface was intuitive.

I wanted to know how stable the system is and what its potential capabilities are. After some time, it became clear that this depends on the quality of the Internet connection, since all teams go through the "cloud". If it is good, then there are no errors and no signal delays.

Gateway is a communication center. It can receive signals from sensors via the ZigBee protocol, and then transmit to the phone using Wi-Fi

Designated kits - for one task

The main areas that smart home is designed to automate are safety, lighting, climate control and household appliance management.

Security includes elements of burglar alarms, fire alarms and leakage protection, as well as a video surveillance system that will record what is happening. Such kits cover the basic needs for protecting an apartment or a house, and with the help of a single control center it is possible to expand the system in the future. For example, motion sensors or opening doors / windows.

Some devices can work in several modes. The motion sensor can act as a security sensor when no one is in the house, and in case of penetration, send an alarm to the owner and call the guard. When the owner returns home and disarms, the smart device enters the normal motion sensor mode and can turn on / off the light.

Lighting is the most popular trend in smart home systems. Manufacturers select kits so that they can equip a small room with bulbs and even an entire apartment. Typically, such kits include control panels or smart switches - as an addition to the control from a smartphone.

Another set option may consist of a motion sensor, a smart lamp and a smart relay - you can organize lighting in the passage rooms or on the driveway. A smart lamp replaces an ordinary one, a motion sensor is installed where it is required to “catch” a person, and the relay can be hidden behind an ordinary switch.

To control the climate, you definitely need a temperature and humidity sensor, a smart relay or a smart socket. The temperature sensors themselves are usually wireless - they can be installed in any place convenient for the user. This is especially true for a children's room.

For example, a set that consists of two smart sockets and one temperature and humidity sensor will allow you to connect a heater and a humidifier. Each outlet in this case is responsible for one electrical appliance, turns on and off the heating and humidity. The scheme of work is simple: the humidity and temperature thresholds are set in the program, the sensor transfers data to the program and it decides whether to turn on the appliance or turn it off.

Extended sets - for a complete arrangement of one room

Expanded sets usually include several types of devices that solve various problems in a particular room or in the whole house.

For example, in a bedroom suite there will be a temperature sensor, several wireless switches, a motion sensor, an air conditioning control device and a switch to replace the usual one. With this set, you can set the required temperature in the room and turn off the light without getting out of bed, and the motion sensor will make sure that the light and air conditioning do not work in your absence.

The kit for the kitchen will include devices that monitor the safety of the house: smoke, gas and leakage sensors with electromechanical taps. Smoke and gas sensors will warn of a possible danger that may arise in the kitchen, and a leakage sensor will close the taps if the dishwasher fails or the faucet for the tap breaks.

Larger sets are designed for an entire apartment or house. Such kits may include a different assortment of devices. In an apartment, it is more important to prevent water leakage to neighbors, while in a private house it is better to first establish perimeter security.

Additions to the kit - to expand the functionality

The starter kits will necessarily include all devices and auxiliary elements, including gateways for synchronizing devices with each other so that they can be controlled via the Internet. That’s how I started building my smart home, and with the help of a complete set, right after the purchase I started exploring all the possibilities.

Additions to the starter kit most often work in the existing system, but I recommend clarifying whether you need to buy a gateway. Sometimes you can find out about device compatibility through the smart home mobile app. If you already have a gateway, then there is no point in acquiring a set with another gateway. It is better to buy all the necessary devices separately.

In my case, the application has a complete list of devices that can be added to an existing smart home, and not necessarily from the same manufacturer.

After buying the starter kit, I realized that the ready-made solutions do not suit me, since some have more smart sockets, while others have a gateway that I do not need. For example, for the bedroom, I did not take the standard kit, as I used buttons and a smart LED strip as the lighting instead of the wireless switches.

What you need to know when buying smart home starter kits

  1. Starter kits are an ideal solution for exploring a smart home and for starting building automation of an apartment or home.
  2. You need to understand where a smart home can help, and pay attention to the kits for the intended purpose.
  3. Smart home kits at the installation site consist of the most suitable devices for a particular room. It is advisable to study the composition of the kit before purchase in order to understand whether it is suitable for specific purposes.
  4. Starter kits are ready to use “out of the box”, while other kits may require additional equipment.