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Smart Home Automation

Automate Anything

Smart Home Protocols and Their Compatibility

Before going through some of the protocols available in the smart devices world. There are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing home automation. One being which devices will work with each other or how difficult it is to integrate them together.

Protocols That Work Together

Some manufacturers do use their own type of protocol that is proprietary. So, it’s important to keep in mind different smart devices can use different protocols. For instance Philip Hues smart light bulbs will only work within their own system, even though they use ZigBee for communication. Although some other smart bulbs have copied the commands of the Hues bulbs in order to send commands with Hues system.

In other instances, a third-party app or device would be needed to integrate them into your smart home. This could be through IFTTT applets, hubs with multiple protocol support, or apps that have integration for multiple brands. Such as with Google Home you can link multiple brands to control, although this is more so for control from a single location using voice or one app.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a universal protocol that is used, although there are strides being made to make multiple products compatible through the use of certain hubs or bridges. The Wink hub and Amazon Echo are examples of this. With both supporting multiple protocols and can control a wide range of devices on the market. More of which can be read in our hub article.

Below is a couple of tables that layout some comparisons of different brands/protocols.

Bluetooth LE, WiFi, & Thread Protocol

ProtocolBluetooth LEWiFiThread
Nominal Range300 Ft.>300 Ft.100 Ft.
Band Frequency2.4 Hz2.4 & 5 Ghz2.4 Ghz
Data Rate 100 kbps54 Mb/s250 Kb/s
Max Devices32K | 1K stable250250
Hub RequiredNoNoYes
Used By Multiple BrandsYesYesYes
2.4 Ghz
AES encryption
**See post for details
Router Based
AES encryption
Battery ConsumptionLow

Z-wave, ZigBee, and KNX protocol comparison table

Nominal Range150 Ft. +/-300 Ft.100 Ft.
Band Frequency858 Mhz2.4 GHz110 KHz / 868.3 MHz
Data Rate9.6 Kb/s 250 Kb/s up to 9600 bit/s
TopologyMesh 4 Hops Max**MeshWired / Star
Max Devices23265K Nodes 57,375
Hub RequiredYesYesYes
Used By Multiple BrandsYesYesYes
Z-Wave Known As S2
128 AES
Battery ConsumptionMidLow

More Brand Specific Protocols

Nominal Range400 Ft – line of sightup to 300 Ft100 Ft.
Band Frequency 915 MHz 433.92
2.4 Ghz
Data Rateup to 4500 bit/sOver Router250 Kb/s
TopologyMesh/Daul Band/P2PMeshMesh
Max Devices65KHub Dependent – 100256
Hub RequiredNo *See belowYesNo
Used By Multiple BrandsNoNoNo
2.4 Ghz
Must know device address
Router & Hub BasedHigh
AES encryption
Battery ConsumptionLow
2-3 yrs

There are a few less known protocols that are used as well. For instance UDP, which is more so for industrial and commercial applications. Usually with full building automation systems. For example, locking doors, monitoring sprinkler and fire alarm systems, RFID swipe stations, lighting, or HVAC systems.

There are also older smart device protocols that are still used today, such as X10. This protocol uses existing or new wiring in your home to transmit signals. I have installed a few of these systems before wireless technology took prevalence. They have quite a few limitations but also gave an easy way to automate existing devices that were already hardwired. The new Insteon devices can even communicate with these legacy X10 devices as well.

One protocol that some seem to forget about, mainly because it’s not used extensively in smart devices is GSM. GSM or essentially cellular communication is another type of signal. The advantage of this type is obviously the distance because of the multitude of cell towers throughout the world. The disadvantage would be the cost to obtain access to said towers, usually through a data plan.

One item of the top of my head would be to do with automobiles. For instance, a remote car starter that works off of GSM in order to receive a signal. In return, you can remote start your vehicle and in return see it has been started from anywhere.

Topology Terminology and Quick Definetion

Although I’m by no means a network engineer, I will dive into some basics of what all this topology talks is about.

Star Type Network

A star type topology is one where all devices are connected to a central point. For example, with a home network, each device is connected to the router itself. All information is sent back and forth from the router and the device connected.

Although there are a couple of routers out there that can simulate a mesh network, it also comes to, whether or not the end device can repeat the signal as well. For this reason, WiFi does have it’s limitations. Especially when used in larger homes or buildings.

Mesh networks

Mesh networking/topology work on the principle of one device able to communicate with another device. Essentially all the devices in the network work in conjunction to help send data.

For example, WiFi simply blasts out a signal and all the separate devices try and grab that signal and connect it. Whereas a mesh type of network, one a signal is sent and can use devices in the network relay the message. This can create a longer range and is why mesh-type networks are preferable with smart home and IoT devices.

Also, because the signal is relayed by the devices in the network, the signal power does not have to be large in order to transmit data to further away devices. Because of this less power consumption is used.

For this reason, a mesh device could essentially communicate with devices in a building and turn off all the lights throughout. This can be done by one device communicating with another acting almost like a signal repeater.

Point to Point Network

Point-to-point or P2P type of topology is a more simplistic type that is uni/bi-directional. Meaning they create a tunnel that goes from one device to another.

This isn’t a very practical system for IoT / Smart devices but has it has its advantages for other uses. Such as radios, traffic signaling devices, and SCADA systems (used in conjunction with PLC’s and RTU’s).

More on Connecting Smart Devices Together

Most wouldn’t want to have to buy multiple hubs and use a ton of different apps just to control different devices. This is why it can be important to plan ahead and decide what your end goal would be with smart devices.

Meaning how many items would you like to control and what areas. Are you planning on installing home audio or smart lighting throughout your home? Perhaps you’d like to add a DIY home security system, it may need cameras as well.

Once you have a general idea of what you would like to eventual install you can start looking at the multitude of devices and whether they are going to work together without buying a ton of different hubs, bridges, or using different apps.

Below are some of the main areas to implement automated smart devices.

  • Multi-Room or other home audio systems.
  • Home security systems.
  • Smart home lighting and outlet devices. It can include, wired and wireless switches, relays, outlets, bulbs, and more.
  • Security cameras and PVR units.
  • Smart door locks and doorbell devices.

The above are some of the main devices you could install throughout your home. There are of course other more unique smart devices. Such as smoke detectors, irrigation systems, coffee makers, blinds, and more. But with the above list in mind, we can start by seeing which protocols and brands we can get that could work together or through a third party, be integrated.

One More Thing.
Keep in mind if you would like to control all these devices through a central system. For instance if you want to control your devices through voice commands we just need to make sure our devices have that capability. If they do work with Google Home, Siri, Amazon Echo, or Cortana they will almost always advertise this. Also, keep in mind that even some devices that don’t work through voice assistants may work through IFTTT which we could then operate with voice commands. Again you will just have to see if that device is IFTTT compable.

The Good and Bad on These Protocols

Below we’ll take a look at each protocol and see the good, bad, and ugly. Each protocol will have its advantages and disadvantages. But we can see that there are a few main protocols that manufacturers seem to use overall.

Bluetooth LE Advantages and Disadvantages for Smart Devices

Bluetooth LE, also previously know as Bluetooth Smart is a protocol that works on the 2.4 GHz frequency. It should be noted that it is not backward compatible with the original Bluetooth protocol used before.

BLE devices use a mesh style network to relay to each other commands. For example, with smart devices, this can mean a device can bounce a signal to turn off all the lights in a building.

Because of the new mesh topology, BLE can connect up to 32K nodes. Although in practice it seems to be reported that at around 1000 nodes it continues to be stable.

The other huge advantage of BLE is that it is on almost every phone and tablet, making connecting to Bluetooth ready devices a snap. The technology can scan for devices and pair without much hassle and usually without any additional apps.

Also, BLE uses a lot less energy than it’s predecessor. Hence the name Bluetooth Low Energy. For example, with a basic on/off sensor it’s reported on average to last approximately 2 years. This obviously can change from device to device and how many times it is used and the capacity of the battery being used.

BLE doesn’t come without its downfalls though. For example, competition such as ZigBee, Z-Wav, WiFi, and other manufacturers have a lot of choices. It seems there are fewer smart home devices with BLE although there are some to choose from.

Most automated door locks have Bluetooth connectivity, in order to connect at short ranges. But it should be noted that most lock developers don’t implement the proper encryptions and security. As discussed before, most locks can be hacked using a simple Bluetooth sniffer or tricking the connection into thinking it’s the authorized user. This wouldn’t be a particularly BLE’s fault but rather the manufactures implementation of how a device connects and how data is transmitted to an app. It’s been found that some door lock apps even transmit the password of an app non-encrypted, unbelievable.

It seems most smart devices that use BLE are in the medical and fitness world. For example heart rate monitors, blood pressures measuring devices, and smartwatches.

Uses a more secure encryption of 128 AES.

Implements a mesh network in which one BLE device can communicate with another BLE device.

Implements low energy consumption, making most connected devices last longer.

Because BLE is readily available on almost any device it is easy to connect devices. In addition no hub is required because of this.

Not many smart devices utilize this protocl, when compared with the others on the market.

Manufactures not utilizing the proper encryption methods can leave bluetooth open to attacks/hacks.

Being on a 2.4 GHz, even with a different channel there is still issues with interference.

Although mesh is now impletmented, bluetooth works on short ranges and seems to have a harder time connecting past walls or obstructing objects.

BLE works on short burst of signals, so it won’t function properly with continuous signals. For example using bluetooth speakers, BLE would not work.

Because of the low energy consumption BLE cannot send larger packets of data, such as voice commands. This is because it transfers at a rate of 100 kbps.

WiFi Advantages and Disadvantages for Smart Devices

The biggest advantage of wireless WiFi devices is convenience. WiFi is almost everywhere and I’m guessing that it’s installed in your home right now. Because most people already have WiFi going through their homes, they don’t require a hub in order to communicate with devices.

For example, with the WeMo device you simply install the device, download the free app, and connect on your network. Also, newer routers use high encryption methods with options for implementing AES+ and WPA. Most of the time when someones home network gets hacked it isn’t the fault of the router but rather the password used.

This commonplace almost everywhere from web applications, emails, even banking logins. You need to use complex passwords that contain capitals, numbers, and special characters. Now I’m not saying there aren’t people out there that don’t deploy fake networks and broadcast them to people, but this is usually done in more public areas where it is more likely to connect to someone. Although for the most part most of us are pretty safe using our own home network.

It should be noted that WiFi has a large power consumption. Wifi smart devices use much higher power consumption, for this reason, it’s better to buy devices that connect with your house wiring in order to not go through batteries constantly.

Also, your WiFi working distance is only as good as your router and extenders. There are a few routers that create mesh networks. But for the most part, WiFi is a star type network and doesn’t go from device to device, unlike ZigBee or Z-Wave.

Although the distance may be working within a home. For a building, you would need WiFi extenders in order to get far-reaching devices to talk to the network.

WiFi won’t require a hub, just that you have your wireless network/router set up.

Uses high encryption depending on the router.

Cost is low for most smart devices.

Setup is relatively easy as you are simply pairing a device in an app. There are no hubs to setup.

WiFi has high power consumption.

Distance can be lacking, needing WiFi extanders.

Limited devices can connect using most routers, although more indepth configuring you can essentially connect many devices.

Uses star type connection, where each device is connected to the network itself.

Thread Advantages and Disadvantages for Smart Devices

Thread has been around for a few years, to be more precise since 2014. In July 2014 the Thread Group was announced and is a group of companies. Some companies include Google’s Nest, Apple, Samsung Electronics, Big Ass Fans (I’ve installed a few of these too), and ARM. The group currently has 300+ companies.

One way to think of Thread in simple terms is by thinking of it as the same as a WiFi protocol without many of the disadvantages. The biggest being high power consumption. Thread works by using IP addresses as well and can, therefore, connect with many other devices in the IoT world.

The idea is that Thread could unite a lot of existing and future devices seamlessly. Through a software upgrade, any device that operates on the 802.15.4 protocol could behave Thread support added.

Thread doesn’t require proprietary gateways or hubs in order to communicate either. Because it works on an IP system it is able to talk with other IoT devices that work with an IP. Anything from ethernet, wifi, or LTE (cellular) communication can effectively talk with Thread devices.

And because Thread works on low power consumption, it uses a lot less energy than smart WiFi devices. The kicker is there aren’t that many devices that are Thread certified just yet. Although the Thread group does consist of some of the largest smart home manufacturers including Google’s Nest, Apple, and Samsung.

As of now there are a few Thread certified products on the market, one the most well know, being the Google Nest devices. Such as their cameras.

And although there is strong competition from the likes of ZigBee and Z-wave there could be make some strong waves in the IoT world. The reason being is it offers all the aspects of other protocols but also creates simpler setups, more secure connections between devices, and is able to set a standard across the devices. This may be why a lot of companies are joining.

There seems to be a huge mess of different protocols being used and devices with incompatibility issues everywhere. With Thread, it seems to try to standardize this and create a protocol that can be used across the board, although this is just a sentiment and probably not going to happen any time soon.

Thread, unlike other protocols, is not defined in the application layer. It has generic ways to handle messages sent to it and because of this it quite future proof and capable of evolving with new standards, devices, and protocols.

Thread uses 6LoWPAN to connect to devices by use of an IP. Due to Thread being IP based devices can connect with the cloud as well as other IoT devices.

Also on another note, as Google does make most of its software open for development they have done so with Thread as well. They have released an open-source version of thread, it’s called OpenThread. This is always another nice plus as any DIY person or developers out there can utilize thread as well.

Uses IEEE 802.15.4 radio standard which is supported everywhere

Forces AES encryption for device communication

Uses mesh style network as other smart devices.

Low power consumption, wireless devices won’t use large amounts of power when transmitting signals.

No single point of failure – Easily add or remove devices as the system will still function when devices changed. This means there is no failure when a device is compromised.

Future proof due to being IP based and having no application layer. This means Thread will always have support and can be updated.

The actual protocol is not very DIY friendly

Fairly new to the market, so not a ton of devices support it just yet.

Limited number of devices of 250 due to IP and router setup. To ad more you would require configuring sub addresses and networking admin abilities.

Z-Wave Advantages and Disadvantages for Smart Devices

Z-wave is a powerhouse in the smart home industry. It is essentially a system on a chip, meaning it is a system built onto a chipset that is used with multitudes of smart automation devices.

The first series was released in 2003 and the latest release was in 2013, called series 500. It is known as Z-wave Plus and with its release came longer battery, further working distances, and lower cost.

A couple of differences from Z-wave and other protocols are how it works. Unlike WiFi or other IEEE 802.11 devices, Z-wave works on the less busy 900 MHz bandwidth and sends smaller packets.

A big factor with Z-Wave devices is if the device is Z-Wave Alliance certified it will work with other Z-Wave products. It is one of the basis that makes Z-Wave an attractive option, because of it’s strong interoperability.

That and the fact that that it uses a less busy frequency for communication. There is no waiting 5 seconds for a device to trigger. And the network works on a mesh style topology and commands are sent via high encryption, more of which are talked about below.

One thing to note about Z-wave is even though it is a mesh type network it has limitations in how far the data can actually reach. Z-wave protocols will only jump 4 times from device to device. With a working distance of about 50 -100 ft, this means that there are limitations in how far a signal can reach. Although this is fine for most homes it may be an issue for larger facilities.

The security of Z-wave is based on the companies own development. It is known as S2 and they have said it is one the most advanced security on the market today. Like Thread all connections to and from devices are managed by Z-wave. This ensures all the data is encrypted and coming from the proper device. Pairing is also done securely as it is done through a unique code.

It requires that any certified Z-wave device use AES 128 encryption as well as their own S2 security design.

Low Interference as it operates at lesser known 908.42 MHz.

250 memebers and over 900 products compared to ZigBees 400 companies and 600 products.

OpenHab (DIY smart home software) support.

High interoperability , meaning alot of devices that are Z-Wave certified from different companies will work together.

Cheaper then other similar products from other protocols and companies.

Known for quick response rates between devices.

Secure as Z-wave mandates AES and S2 encryption from devices using Z-wave certification

Closed system and upgrades can only be done by Z-wave

Hub is required to be purchase in order to connect devices.

When comparing to Thread or ZigBee, Z-wave is known to be more battery intensive. Although compared to WiFi it is a alot better.

Limitied to 232 devices able to connect together and limited to the use of 4 hubs. Afterwhich, connections seem to drop.

Limited to 4 hops and approx 50-100 ft between devices.

ZigBee Advantages and Disadvantages for Smart Devices

Another big player in the IoT market is ZigBee. Working on a common 2.4 GHz bandwidth, ZigBee has a few pros as well as cons. As mentioned it works on the busy 2.4 GHz bandwidth like WiFi. This can end up putting interference on any information sent. Although it can operate at 900 MHz most devices operate at the latter.

Data rates for the 2.4 GHz are at 250 Kbps. And the coverage of most devices is around 10 meters. But being a mesh-style network, like the others, ZigBee devices can relay messages from another. Essentially creating a much longer working distance.

Connecting a ZigBee device will require a hub or coordinating device as well. This device will ensure devices can talk over the internet and can be controlled from outside the ZigBee network.

A pro of ZigBee is the ability for devices to last long on batteries. This is due to the low power consumption and low data rates sent.

One of the major flaws that are continually spoken about is the security of ZigBee. I am by no means a security expert but when multiple sources confirm that security is an issue it’s something you’d have to look into at the very least. The main flaw is said to be the fact that they use a known fallback security key that cannot be changed.

Long battery life – ZigBee is known for it’s low power consumption, making batteries last longer.

Support for upto 65K nodes, making it capable of running huge number of devices.

One of the lowest cost for devices with ZigBee implemented, when compared to other protocols.

Low data transfer rates making it reliable for sending only smaller amounts of information.

Not as secure as other protcols and unsafe for private information.

Messy interpolarity – Although devices can work together there seems to be confusion with ZigBee Ready and ZigBee compatable devices.

KNX Advantages and Disadvantages for Smart Devices

KNX is an open standard that is unrestricted and can be easily found in order to implement it. This system is used in commercial as well as home applications. Although there are a few things different from this and other systems.

KNX uses wired connections although it is possible to use RF and a type of IP protocol called KNX/IP to communicate which isn’t as common. Most installations use twisted-pair cabling to connect devices to a bus. The message is then sent over the cabling and triggers an action. The action could be anything from opening dampeners on an HVAC system to turning off lights in a room.

Although the system is used primarily in building automation systems it does have smart home devices that could be used in residential applications. It should be noted though that there are a few drawbacks with KNX when it comes to DIY smart home automation.

One is the smaller community, especially in the western world. There does seem to be a larger presence in Europe, as far as smart home automation systems. Another issue is the data is not encrypted. As long a the cabling is physically protected than it is difficult for someone to hack the bus, but it does need to be noted.

In order to control devices, a basic hook up would consist of a KNX module where the connections could be terminated to and signals sent out. Since KNX can work with anything from an 8-bit controller to a PC, you could connect KNX module to a PC loaded with appropriate software to control and setup triggers/configurations.

Open source protocol, so custom configuration and designs are not prohibited.

Great for interconnecting large building systems with large array of devices. From HVAC control to the fire suppresion system or door locks and lighting throughout.

Low energy consumption.

Non-encrypted data transmissions by default, so precautions should be taken.

Less known protcol, with far less DIY devices on the market compared to other protocols.

The setup and configuration can be more complex than most other DIY solutions.

Insteon Advantages and Disadvantages for Smart Devices

Next, we move on to some brand-specific protocols used by manufactures. Although WeMo uses WiFi, which everyone has it is its own brand. To start, well dive into Insteon smart home devices.

Insteon devices were first developed back in 2005. One of the bonuses for Insteon is that they work on wirelessly as well can use X10 protocol.

X10 protocol is an old technology developed in the 1970s. It works by sending a signal through wiring. In this case through one’s home wiring. Before wireless technology was prevalent, X10 was used quite a bit even a decade ago.

The issue with X10, besides being older technology that isn’t wireless, is the fact that many of the devices look clunky and outdated.

Another bonus for Insteon is the fact that the devices can actually work without the need for a hub. They can be used as a relay point, communicator, or trigger device. So if you want to connect a new 3-way switch for a light. You can simply install 2 Insteon 3 way switches and link them and they will work to control the light fixture.

On another note, Insteon has decided to opt to use their own hub. So if you did want to have control from a device such as a phone, you would have to install an Insteon hub.

Insteon devices do link up to Google Home quite easily and can be controlled through voice assistance. It should be noted, you would need an Insteon Hub for this functionality to work properly. Insteon to date can work with Cortana, Apples Homekit, and Alexa as well. In addition, Insteon Hub can interact with Google’s Nest thermostat.

Quick response rate, at 0.05 seconds.

Works without hub for smaller local applications.

Backwards compatable with X10 protocol to work over existing wiring.

Has ramp up settings for dimming adjustments, to shift lighting from on to off at certain rates. As well can setup triggers for action within the Insteon app.

The switches from Insteon have a sleek look to match your existing decor.

To use outside of a local setup, need to use Insteon hub. If you happen to have other device protcols this could mean having multiple hubs to connect and using a medium to interconnect the devices.

Does not work with IFTTT directly, making it harder to setup triggers for actions on other brand devices. Can minipulate say through Google Routines though.

Some devices can be higher priced when compared with similar products from other protocols/brands.

SkyLinkNet Advantages and Disadvantages for Smart Devices

Skylink is another proprietary protocol, that works wirelessly. The devices are known for the easy DIY setup.

Skylink devices are more targeted towards DIY wireless home security systems. Which they have a large selection of products for. Although they do have a garage door opener, switches, and plug-in devices as well.

Skylink offers sensors for an array of applications such as doors, windows, motion, outside, and water leaks. They also offer indoor and outdoor sirens, lighting relays, garage keypads, and annunciator extenders.

Where they lack, is with smoke/co2 detectors (although they supposedly have a sensor that detects the sound of an existing smoke detector).

Since this system is proprietary it requires its own hub to work through its app. The system will stay functional locally though even when the power goes out because of the battery backup. Also, Skylink doesn’t have direct support currently for voice compatibility. This could be accomplished through IFTTT as it does support it.

With IFTTT you can have the system do a number of premade actions as well create your own. For instance, you can arm or disarm when you are a certain distance from your home. You could trigger lights, garage door, or other conditions to start when you’re within close proximity as well.

As far as battery consumption, the sensors seem to last fairly long. With personally use I have found that my one sensor to last about 2.5 years with a double aa 1750 mAh battery. Of course, this will depend how often the sensor is triggered, for this case it was used pretty regular at a front door.

Easy DIY solution for a wireless home security setup with notifications.

Able to setup IFTTT commands with SKylink and other devices or web actions.

Sensors seem to have a good battery life, with low power consumption.

Lacking in Smart Home devices, as it focuses more so on home security functions.

Requires hub for interaction, communication, and notifications. This can also make it nessasary to have multiple hubs if using different protocols/brands.

Cameras are lacking, as far as motion detection and recording.

Reportedly hub needs to be reset do to lost communication in the app.

WeMo Advantages and Disadvantages for Smart Devices

With the WeMo brand of home automation, we are able to have a device that simply connects to our existing WiFi network. WeMo works off of an IP protocol, making it a quick and easy solution for home automation and IoT devices.

WeMo home automation devices make a great entry-level to get into home automation. No need to purchase a hub and the ability to simply plug or connect a device and set up the app and you are good to go.

WeMo offers a few devices, such as a couple of different plug-in outlets to monitor and control a plugged-in an electronic device. A lighting switch to control your lighting. A motion sensor that plugs into an outlet to trigger and control actions.

Inside the app there a good amount of options to set up as well. A couple of key features to note are, you can setup randomizer, where lights will simulate as if someone is home. You can also set up timers for the smart plugins.

Belkin, the company that makes WeMo, offers a camera as well. Although for recording features a subscription service is required, but they offer a 30-day trial. There is also a water sensor and water shut off that works with the WeMo system.

WeMo works with Google Home and Alexa as well as IFTTT, so there are a number of options and interconnecting WeMo devices with others is fairly easy. One thing to note is, in order to connect with Apply Home Kit / Siri you would need to purchase the WeMo bridge.

No hub is required as WeMo devices work over your existing WiFi.

WeMo devices and the app setup are quite easy and self explanitory.

Able to use voice control through Google Home and Alexa, as well WeMo works with IFTTT setups.

High battery consumption due to using high demand WiFi protocol.

Devices seem to be slightly higher price than others, but this could be offset by the fact you won’t require a hub.

Limited amount of products available.

A few reports of loss of signal occasionally and a reset is required. This could be due to internet signal being lost or weak WiFi signals.

Our Picks for mart Home Devices

Quick Entry Into Smart Home

This can depend on a couple of factors. For instance, how much you want to spend, how much research you want to do, and what your entry goal is.

That being said, for a quick start, we’d suggest just grabbing a couple of WiFi compatible devices. Such as a WeMo plugin or switch. You won’t need to purchase a hub and them easy to install and setup.

Basically you install the device, download the app, and add the new device to the app (of course your wifi will need to be active).

Overall Pick for Open Source, Battery Life, Range, and Device Availability

Overall the current protocol that has the best attributes of all of them would be Z-Wave (Just an opinion). It has a ton of products from major brands that use it. Also, it uses fairly low battery consumption, mandates integration between Z-Wave certified products, and communicates quickly between devices.

Although there’s a few disadvantages, the more important aspects seem to outweigh them. For these reasons a good place to build your system around could be Z-Wave products. But you can keep in mind devices that operate on different protocols can communicate in a sense together. It may require a 3rd party app, additional bridge, or hub that supports multiple protocols.

Conclusion and Closing Comments

In conclusion, when deciding where to start, it’s always a good idea to decide what functions you would like right now. And what functions you would like to add in the future. And how easy would it be to add other devices to your existing system?

One protocol that we will have to wait and see in anticipation is from the Thread Group. Although currently there is a huge market of certified devices, that could change. The fact that it is trying to offer a solution where seamless integration between IP devices. Devices are able to talk with each other, work over a low power internet protocol, don’t require a proprietary hub, and have a high encryption rate, making it an ideal option.

Although almost always you will be able to interconnect different systems and protocols together, You may need an additional hub, bridge, link to Google Home or SmartLife app, or make use of IFTTT applets though.

For some of my installations, I use Google Home as a basis and look for devices that can connect with Google Home and the ability to use IFTTT. Next, I like to see if a hub is required and decide on devices where I can keep my hub count down to one. We go over a complete system setup and the capabilities of the system in another article.

If you want to feel free to share your setups and systems you’ve implemented. Which protocols or brands you prefer to use. Or if you prefer to go the full nine yards and create a completely custom system using software such as OpenHab?

Thanks for reading and best of luck with choosing your home automation system. As previously mention feel free to check out a couple of our other articles and guides on setting up a system and its functions. And if you liked the article you can use the social buttons to give it a share, we’d appreciate it.

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