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TechTuesday

Tech Tuesday

Wireless Home Automation using WiFi Technology

Hey everybody, we are back for another Tech Tuesday!

This week, we continue to look at wireless automation and will add how this works using WiFi technology.

 

What is WiFi?

WiFi is the networking protocol we are all used to sharing for an Internet connection among laptops, game consoles, and so much more. It’s super-fast and ubiquitous. It’s inevitable that some vendors would make home automation products to take advantage of it. The other wireless protocols (BlueTooth, Z-Wave, Zigbee) use less power and bandwidth but WiFi’s reach can’t be understated, even if it is overkill to use it to turn a lamp on and off.

 
WiFi is an “open protocol” platform that lets different products talk with each other even if they are not from the same company. Some of the first devices that were introduced and are hugely popular in this area were thermostats. Just about every person has heard of NEST, but they are just one of literally hundreds of manufacturers that are using WiFi to create a Smart Home. Lights, dimmers, security cameras, locks and just about everything else in your home is available in WiFi for home automation. Plus these products can be found just about everywhere for the DIYer. The entry cost into a WiFi Smart Home is very low and, like most wireless systems, expandable as your needs and budget grows.

 

What’s needed for a WiFi system? What are the potential problems?

Every WiFi system requires a WiFi network in order to work. Many rely on the existing home network while some create their own using a hub connected to a power source and the router. This is where WiFi for home automation shows its Achilles heel. I don’t know about your house, but in our house the WiFi is constantly going down. And when the WiFi is down, control of your WiFi devices is down. Some manufacturers have fail-safe products that will continue to work in the traditional way like your lights and thermostat, but many do not.

 

The more products using the WiFi, the more bandwidth is needed. In today’s modern home between smart phones, tablets, iPads, laptops, gaming systems and a host of other products, bandwidth becomes a valuable commodity.

 
The other problem with some of these manufacturers that have made their way into the home automation market is that they are already out of business. One big box store (not to be named) was selling product from a manufacturer that was out of business for over a year. How frustrating! Many small companies also get bought out by larger companies and the support of the product disappears.

 
Is WiFi a good option for a Smart Home? I believe it can be. With some research, a DIY attitude and open mind, WiFi could be your solution.

 
I look forward to seeing you again next week. As always drop us an email with any questions or if you would like more information on how to make your home smarter.

Dan Byers
CES Santa Barbara