How Do Smart Homes Work? Explaining Wifi, Z-Wave, Zigbee & Bluetooth: #003
One Hour Smart Home Podcast Episode #003: Hosted by-James Both
"What you need to know about control to choose the right devices for your home."-James Both
Did you know that most hardwired smart home devices can be controlled by Wifi? Do you know what Z-Wave, Zigbee & bluetooth are and how they integrate into your smart home? We teach you about the most popular smart home control protocols in this method so you can make the right decisions when you are purchasing devices for your smart home.
In this episode we cover the technology and protocols that make smart homes work. We talk about each smart home protocol (Wifi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth) the applications of each and how they work with smart home devices. If you want to learn the differences between these popular smart home protocols this is a great start so you can know what to look for when buying smart home devices so you can ensure they work in your home. We also cover the advantages and disadvantages of each smart home protocol and what the best smart home protocol is for your particular use case. Your smart home can be a combination of all of these protocols but you should understand how they work so you can make the right choices. www.onehoursmarthome.com. Subscribe to our podcast for future smart home episodes or join our email list by Click Here
This Episode Features:
On this episode of the One Hour Smart Home podcast, we discuss how smart homes work, specifically: WiFi, Z-wave, Zigbee, and Bluetooth devices and connectivity.
- WiFi: Is the #1 protocol and it has been used for the longest time
- Has a track record of working well
- Great for devices that have power or are hard-wired
- Functionality and connectivity dependent on the network connection
- The difference between 5.0 or 2.4 GHZ
- 2.4 ghz is actually more powerful for passing through walls, but its bandwidth has historically been more crowded due to its popularity. You should use 2.4GHZ when connecting to wifi devices because it has the best range inside homes. The speed limitation of 2.4GHS is over 300MB/s which is 80x more than any internet of things device on the market currently uses.
- Manufacturers began making 5.0 ghz devices to reduce interference experienced by users
- Typical devices: light switches, plug-in or hardwired outlets, hardwired fans
- best for devices with a consistent power source
- Disadvantage: uses a lot of power, so not the best option for battery-operated devices (like sensors)
- Consistent standard across devices all Z-Wave chips are made by one manufacturer
- Devices can repeat the signals of other Z-wave devices
- Allows the devices to create a mesh network
- Requires little data: usually on/off and status signal
- Typical devices: light switches, motion detectors, locks
- Recommended hub: SmartThings
- Disadvantage: some hubs might not be as reliable as the Z-wave mesh signal
- Chips are manufactured by different companies based on a standard vs all chips are from one manufacturer with Z-Wave.
- Results in slight variations between manufacturers
- Not always compatible across manufacturers
- Devices manufactured by the same company will create a mesh network
- Signals can travel up to 100 feet in unobstructed environments
- Reception can be improved by installing a repeater
- Typical devices: Phillips Hue light bulbs, Amazon Echo Plus, Nest Weave/Thread
- smoke detectors, locks, security system, sensors
- Disadvantage: potential incompatibility between manufacturers
- Requires little data & low power great for long life battery powered devices
- Communicates with phone or hub
- Typical devices: smart locks, Flic smart button, sensors, speakers
- Disadvantage: use of different standards across manufacturers/devices
How Do Smart Homes Work? Explaining Wifi, Z-Wave, Zigbee & Bluetooth: #003
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Scroll below for links, show notes & full transcripts...
Links from the episode
- Wifi Devices:
- Smart Plugs that work with Alexa-One Hour Smart Home
- Smart Wifi On/Off Switches That Work With Alexa & Google Home-One Hour Smart Home
- Smart Wifi Dimmer Switches-Leviton
- Smart Wifi On/Off Switches-Leviton
- Best Wifi system for smart homes-Eero
- Amazon Alexa Dot-Lowest cost voice controller
- Amazon Alexa Spot-Has screen and my favorite echo device.
- Amazon Alexa Show-Has a large screen
- Amazon Echo-Medium sized echo, has the most finish choices
- Amazon Tap-Portable Amazon Echo
- Smart Home Hubs With Z-Wave & Zigbee:
- Smartthings - Smart Home Hub
- Wink - Smart Home Hub
- Z-Wave Devices:
- Schlage Z-Wave Century Connect -Smart Z-Wave Lock (Requires smart hub like smartthings)
- Z-Wave Light Switch On/Off-By Leviton
- Z-Wave Dimmer Switch-By Leviton
- Z-Wave Plug - By Leviton(This can be used to repeat a Z-Wave signals for better connectivity)
- Z-Wave Motion Sensors
- Zigbee Devices:
- Philips Hue Light Bulbs & Smart Bridge
- Amazon Alexa Echo Plus
- Bluetooth Devices:
- Flic-Smart bluetooth Buttons
- Amazon Alexa Dot-Lowest cost voice controller
- Amazon Alexa Spot-Has screen & my favorite echo device
- Amazon Alexa Show-Has a large screen
- Amazon Echo-Medium sized echo, has the most finish choices
- Amazon Tap-Portable Amazon Echo
- Other Topics Links:
- Sigma Designs-Manufacturer of Z-Wave devices
- Z-Wave Alliance-The governing body of Z-Wave devices
- Zigbee Alliance-Governing body of Zigbee devices and manufacturers
- Nest Thread-Nest’s Home Communication Protocol
Show Notes (Time Stamped)
How Do Smart Homes WorK? Wifi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth Podcast Episode #003
1:30 Wifi has been around for 20 plus years and the the largest number of devices work on wifi.
1:45 Wifi is very reliability if you have a strong wifi network in your home and for devices that have a continuous power source.
2:28 The disadvantage of wifi is that it uses a lot of power. but is great for devices that are hardwired.
3:01 Many of the devices that work with Alexa and google home are wifi.
3:25 2.4 Gigahertz VS 5 GHZ, most new networks have both.
3:30 2.4 GHZ has a better range thatn 5GHZ and 2.4GHZ is better for penetrating interior walls. 5GHZ can be faster for devices close to the router without any obstructions by 2.4GHZ is the best for in home communication where the wifi network my penetrate walls and floors.
3:35 Since internet of things devices are using relatively low amounts of Data you should connect them to 2.4GHZ networks because typically 2.4GHZ networks have the strongest signal and the most range.
5:35 The majority of smart home wifi devices connect to 2.4GHZ network. If you are having device connection issue make sure you are connecting to the 2.4GHZ network and not the 5GHZ network.
6:31 Wifi is great for compatibility and ease of set up.
6:50 Anything that is hardwired that has a consistent power connection should be connected to wifi.
7:30 We recommend wifi for devices with constant power.
8:03 Z-Wave is a mesh networking protocol that uses lower power. Devices mesh and work with each other to create repeating mesh network.
9:01 Z-Wave uses very low amount of data, and creates very strong and reliable mesh networks for you home.
9:49 Z-wave battery powered devices such as motion detectors can last 2 years on one set of batteries. Z-wave locks can last 1-2 years.
10:15 The more Z-Wave devices that you have the stronger your network is.
10:30 Z-Wave devices require a smart home hub to work. My favorite Z-Wave hub is smartthings.
10:57 Z-Wave is very reliable, the issue is that not all smart home hubs are as reliable as smart home hubs. There are some hubs that have battery backup and 4g backup but if the webservice fails then your system will not work properly.
11:45 Z-Wave or Zigbee, both require smart hubs.
12:06 Most wifi routers don’t have Z-Wave functiolity built in.
12:15 What is Zigbee.
12:28 Zigbee is used for more than just home home automation. Z-Wave is made just for home automation. Zigbee is used for multiple different applications based on set of standards but different manufactures can make their own Zigbee chips. Z-Wave chips are all made by one standard manufacturer Sigma Designs.
13:10 The single source manufacturing of the Z-Wave chips make Z-wave devices work with each other.
14:08 Zigbee is used for healthcare, home automation and industrial uses.
14:35 The Phillips Hue Lightbulb devices work on Zigbee
15:06 Zigbee also works on the Amazon Echo Plus hub.
16:58 Some Zigbee devices work as Zigbee repeaters some do not.
17:30 Phillips Hue Bulbs talk to each other in a Zigbee network.
18:00 Nest Wave & Nest Thread Protocol. Proprietary Zigbee communication protocol used for nest devices.
18:45 Nest Thread & Weave does work well for nest devices. Nest Locks, Smoke Detectors & The Nest Security system all work with the nest thread & nest weave protocol
19:00 Nest Thread/Weave is a low energy Zigbee communication protocol.
20:00 Nest connect repeats nest thread protocol.
20:45 Bluetooth is long standing home automation protocol.
21:45 Smart speakers use bluetooth & the flic buttons work on bluetooth protocols.
22:10 Bluetooth uses low amount of energy.
22:32 Amazon Alexa speakers use bluetooth.
23:15 Bluetooth typically gets used in smart speakers, smart locks and devices that are battery powered.
23:51 For your home use wifi smart home devices when possible because it is the most reliable and eliminates the hub as a point of failure.
24:30 For battery powered devices, Z-Wave & Zigbee devices will work. Z-Wave device devices repeats signals well with other Z-Wave devices.
25:40 How smart devices work and connect.
26:36 Devices connect to wifi network then to the cloud. Commands from the cloud then are sent to the smart device to turn it on or off or control it.
30:45 Think wifi centric first when selecting smart home devices.
31:00 You can use a Mesh network like Eero to connect to upgrade your wifi network.
32:00 Bluetooth is great for smart speakers
33:06 Sign up for our email list or visit us at www.onehoursmarthome.com
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Transcript: How Do Smart Homes Work? Explaining Wifi, Z-Wave, Zigbee & Bluetooth: Podcast Episode #003
July 8th, 2018
Hosted By: James Both
Are you ready to get smart? How smart home works. Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Z-wave, Bluetooth, explained. Learn it now. This is episode number 3. Welcome to the one hour smart home podcast. Helping you make your life better using automation and technology with your host James Bow.
Hello and welcome, this is your host James Bow. with the onehoursmarthome.com, bringing you everything you need to know to automate your home, your life, as well as smart home product reviews, the latest smart home industry news, in-exclusive interviews with smart home industry experts and smart home company founders.
Ladies and gentlemen welcome to episode number 3 of the one-hour smart home podcast. Today we are going to be covering how a smart home works and the different smart home protocols that are used to control smart devices within your home. So we're going to cover Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Z-Wave and Bluetooth. We’re going to talk about the number one protocol which has been used for a long time, which is Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi, you're familiar with it. It’s been around for 20 plus years. You have your phone connected to it, your computer connected to it. You can get streaming music on streaming speakers through it. There are a lot of Internet of Things connected smart home devices that work on Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is a great platform for Internet of Things connected devices that have a power source. So Wi-Fi is very reliable, if you have a home network. It is easy to program connections in between devices with Wi-Fi and it's got a track record that works. so if you have an Internet of Things smart home product that you're going to place in your home and you know you've got Wi-Fi coverage throughout your house, it's going to work. There’s no questions about if there's a connection, not a connection as long as you have a strong network. Now the disadvantage of Wi-Fi is that it uses a lot of power. So Wi-Fi is not great for battery-powered devices such as smart locks, sensors that need to be remain on for years at a time or tracking data. Really Wi-Fi is good for devices that are going to be plugged in or hardwired in for a long period of time. So that they have the power they need to communicate with your home Wi-Fi network. A lot of the devices that work with Alexa and Google home are Wi-Fi devices and the devices that we sell are Wi-Fi devices and they work great with Wi-Fi networks.
Now another part of this is 2.4 GHz versus 5 GHz WI-Fi networks. 2.4 gigahertz is the standard that is utilized for smart home devices for Wi-Fi networks. A lot of Wi-Fi routers these days have both a 5 gigahertz Network and a 2.4 gigahertz network. It actually doesn't mean that the 5 gigahertz network is twice as strong or twice as good as a 2.4 gigahertz Network. It’s actually the exact opposite. The reason that Wi-Fi router manufacturers made these 2 different bandwidths is because there's a lot of stuff crowded on to 2.4 gigahertz and on the bandwidth of 5 gigahertz, there's less crowding. However 2.4 gigahertz comes in just as strong as a 5 gigahertz Network if not stronger. The reason that the networks were made different bandwidth was to split up traffic on network, so that Wi-Fi systems could be more reliable and have less interference. Now with that being said, the Wi-Fi routers of today are very good they have different channels, they work really well. So you don't have the interference issues that you might have had five years ago with Wi-Fi. We’ve got recommendations on our website for what is the best Wi-Fi router for your home. I personally use an Eero system. It’s great because it repeats throughout the home and it's very easy to expand. We’ve used these when we're building homes, designing homes or installing smart home products in huge houses that are castles that have tunnels and garages that are you know a hundred feet away or 200 feet away, Eero has worked great for that. So if you're looking to upgrade your Wi-Fi system, that's an excellent option. But getting back to Wi-Fi, 2.4 gigahertz, 5 gigahertz it doesn't make a huge difference in terms of capacity and stuff going through the network. What it is important to remember is that the majority of smart home devices connect to 2.4 gigahertz. Which is the standard Wi-Fi bandwidth. So if you're having problems with a Wi-Fi device connecting to your network, make sure that you're connecting to the 2.4 gigahertz network and all Wi-Fi routers that have been made in the last 10 years have a 2.4 gigahertz network. So it's not something that you need to look for on the side of the package or make sure that it has it. They all have it if they remain in the last 10 years. If you haven't upgraded your Wi-Fi router in 10 years, I'm worried for you. I wonder if this podcast is even streaming to you right now inside your house.
So Wi-Fi is great in terms of compatibility, its ease of setup and for you to know that a product is going to work consistently on your smart home network. So for light switches, Wi-Fi devices are great. For plug-in outlets, Wi-Fi connection to your smart home is great. For hard wired outlets also really good. Hard wired fans, smart Wi-Fi fans, that's great as well. So anything that is hardwired that has a consistent power source, Wi-Fi is the way to go. A couple years ago I used to recommend z-wave devices over Wi-Fi and the reason was is that the app development in the development side of Wi-Fi wasn't as good back then as it is now. But Wi-Fi in terms of the standards for smart home protocol and the security aspects that are being built into applications have far surpassed what z-wave was in terms of functionality and usability for the smart home. So Wi-Fi is the number one thing I would recommend if you have a device that can utilize it, that has constant power that is the way to go. But if you have a battery-powered device, Wi-Fi is not what you want to use. So let's move on to z-wave. Z-wave is a mesh networking protocol that uses very low energy, is very consistent has a standard across all z-wave devices and each z-wave device can repeat the signal of another z-wave device. So if you have a z-wave light switch and a z-wave plug, those are going to be interoperable. Z-wave is great as a mesh network. Because each node in the home or each device can repeat the signals of other z-wave devices. So the more devices you add to your home, the stronger the z-wave signal is throughout your home. It’s a mesh now repeating the z-wave signal and for a smart home device, like a light switch it uses very low amounts of data. It’s really just an on-off signal and a status signal. So z-wave is great for routing little bits of data throughout your home and creating a very strong reliable Mesh network for your home. Z-wave common devices are light switches, plug-in outlets, there are smart z-wave locks which work really well. Motion detectors and sound detectors, glass break sensors. There are a lot of opportunities for z-wave devices to be implemented in the home. The other great thing about z-wave that Wi-Fi doesn't have is that z-wave, because it uses such a small amount of data; it is very low energy. So you can put z-wave battery-powered devices on a network and they will last very long. For example I've had a z-wave motion detector, the batteries on that lasts two to three years. For z-wave batteries lasts anywhere from a year to two years based on how cold it is, how much use you have on the lock and they consistently work in every z-wave device makes the network stronger. Now the shortcoming with a z-wave device or z-wave network is that z-wave requires a hub. So the common hubs out there are home seer, wink, smart things, control 4 I believe has some. There’s a variety of different smart hubs out there on the market. My favorite z-wave hub is smart things. But what that means is that you need to have a device that converts Internet signals into this z-wave mesh network signal and then that network signal is repeated throughout your home. I really like z-wave and it is very reliable. The issue is that not all smart home hubs are as reliable as z-wave is. So if the Internet service or the cloud service of that smart home hub goes out, your z-wave network won't work. That’s what's really important to understand. There are some hubs that have battery backup, that have internal programming for your z-wave network. So you'll have limited functionality and limited command and controllability. But the reality is if it's not up and running at the web service level, it's just not as good as what you wanted and what you intended it for. So that is the downfall of z-wave or ZigBee or any of the other protocols that we talked about that aren't Wi-Fi is that they for the most part require a hub to communicate that to the devices. Because Wi-Fi routers for the most part don't have z-wave functionality built into them.
ZigBee, ZigBee is very similar to z-wave. It’s a great protocol. It’s used in a lot of devices. ZigBee though is not used just for home automation though. Z-wave is a more standard home automation protocol primarily used only for home automation. There’s a couple other applications. But it's primarily in the home space. ZigBee is a chip that is manufactured based on a standard and there are multiple manufacturers of ZigBee chips and each one of those chips can have a slight different variation in it. ZigBee is supposed to work like a mesh network like z-wave does. But the difference is z-wave has total control of the chip manufacturing. There is only one manufacturer who manufactures z-wave chips. Which makes it very easy to make sure all z-wave devices connect and communicate together properly with each other. As you can imagine since the ZigBee chips are manufactured based on a standard with a lot of different manufacturers, there are slight variations in the chips and chip architecture, which makes ZigBee devices not always compatible with each other. On top of that with ZigBee you have manufacturers adding their own firmware into the ZigBee chips and the ZigBee protocols that make it so certain devices on a ZB network can't contact other ZigBee network devices without a hub or if they're different manufacturers, they won't work. So ZigBee is great. There’s a ton of applications for it and ZigBee is also used outside of home automation. There’s healthcare applications for it. There’s a lot of wireless monitoring applications and industrial applications for ZigBee. But all those applications have different chips, different architectures and they're all meant to do something different. So the standardization for ZigBee is not there. The two most common devices you probably know that have ZigBee in them are the Philips hue device. So the Philips hue bridge has a ZigBee hub in it and that turns a signal from the internet and cloud on Phillips's server into a ZigBee signal and the ZigBee signal will then transmit to the Philips hue light bulbs. Those Philips you light bulbs are then controlled with the ZigBee signal to turn on or turn off. ZigBee is also available on the new Amazon echo plus and what that does is provide a hub like functionality for the Amazon echo plus. Where it can communicate directly with Philips hue light bulbs.
Now like we said there are a lot of different standards on the ZigBee platform. so in order for future devices to connect to amazon Alexa’s Plus hub, the manufacturer manufacturing the device whether it be a smart light switch, a smart light bulb or a smart plug; they need to put in the work, the effort and the programming to make sure that it would be compatible with the Amazon Alexa Plus smart home hub. That doesn't always happen. So the other home automation hubs that we mentioned before, smart things and wink. Those hubs have a z-wave chip. They also have a ZigBee chip in them. In terms of distance, both z-wave and ZigBee are fairly comparable in terms of how far the signals will travel. ZigBee might have a little bit of an edge. But both of them I would say about a hundred feet unobstructed work pretty well. Now if you've got concrete walls or brick walls, ZigBee and Z Wave is going to decline very rapidly. So you need to create extenders for your network. Whether that's a z-wave repeater by adding another device. Such as a light switch or plug in device or a specific repeater and ZigBee is the same way. So all of these items typically in a z-wave network will work as a mesh. ZigBee, it will sometimes work as a mesh. It depends on if you have the same manufacturers. Which means that a Philips hue bulb can communicate to another Philips hue bulb with the ZigBee protocol. However you can't have another ZigBee manufacturer right now communicate with the Philips hue bulbs and then back to the hub. So you are limited by distance with the hub to the device you are trying to control. It’s just something to keep in mind there. That not all ZigBee devices repeat like z-wave devices do. So that's an important caveat for you to understand.
Now there's another protocol. It’s the biggest you know smart home device player out there. Nest and that's called nest weave and nest thread and that is how nests advertise it as their own proprietary system. But really nest thread and nest weave are a ZigBee protocol or ZigBee chipset. The difference is is that nest has created their own proprietary way of creating the ZigBee network. So that all their devices connect and communicate with each other very well. The downside of this is that those devices right now aren't opened up to communicate with other non-nest devices and there are a lot of developers who don't necessarily want to commit to a standard that is owned and operated by Google. Because if they want to make changes or it doesn't work for their specific device, they have to deal with Google to do that and Google would be under no obligation to make those changes. However it does work very well for devices within the nest system. So devices that use thread and weave right now are the nest smoke detectors, the nest locks. If you see the nest connect that is used for a lock, that little device basically turns Wi-Fi into the ZigBee weave thread protocol for nest and then communicates with the lock. Because ZigBee is so much lower energy than Wi-Fi, it allows those lock batteries to last a very long time. So ZigBee and z-wave in terms of a smart lock, the batteries last about the same. Because they're both low energy standards for communication. The nest security system also works on the thread protocol. So the actual hub for the nest security system is outputting this thread, weave ZigBee protocol to the other sensors within the network and those sensors are window or door sensors and you just paste them on a wall and then they work. So the range for that we've seen is about a 100 to a 150 feet for the thread weave protocol. It could go longer than that maybe if you're an open field. but if you were to need to repeat this thread-weave nest protocol, you either need to have a device inside your house that is repeating it already or you get a nest connect, which basically converts Wi-Fi into this thread protocol as well as repeats thread commands throughout the network.
Now the last protocol that we're going to talk about is Bluetooth Low Energy or Bluetooth mesh networking. So Bluetooth has been around a long time just like Wi-Fi has. Bluetooth is really good for low energy devices. You probably have used or have a Bluetooth speaker or Jam box or Bluetooth in your car. So you are very familiar with how it works. You turn the Bluetooth radio on on your phone and you can control devices. There are some devices right now they're using Bluetooth. Such as smart locks. Another one that is using Bluetooth is the flick smart button and that connects directly to your phone and then your phone interfaces with the internet and web servers to be able to control other devices that are connected through the web or through the Internet. Bluetooth is good. But once again there are a fair amount of different device standards. So there's not a lot of devices that have mesh networking capabilities built in. however Bluetooth is a low energy protocol. So you can have devices like flick buttons controlling other devices and that device will last a year or two years. Because the battery usage is so low. Bluetooth is great for sensors and things that you want to run on batteries. But the overall market hasn't created a standardized mesh Bluetooth networking protocol that is widely adopted by a lot of other people. So typically what you see with a Bluetooth device is that Bluetooth device will communicate directly with your home or in some cases, it will communicate with a home hub. Bluetooth is also used in popular devices like the Sonos speaker. Where you can communicate directly to the hub via Bluetooth. So you could stream music from your phone if you didn't want to go through the web services. If you had music stored directly on your phone and you can also use it on the majority of Amazon Alexa devices. Where you can stream directly from your phone to the Amazon device without the need to be connected to an Internet network. You’re just making a direct connection between one device to the Amazon echo and you are streaming music through there. So Bluetooth can do that. In terms of using it for home automation in light switches, I haven't seen that yet. Where it's primarily been used is in smart speakers. Buttons or sensors that need battery power for a long period of time and smart locks that interface with your phone and you walk up and it's getting the Bluetooth signal and you connect to it and you can open your door with Bluetooth. In terms of what I would recommend for devices going forward in what protocols you should pick your devices around, I would say focus on Wi-Fi devices. Because they will have the most interoperability with platforms and the ease of connection to an app into the web service does not have a hub in between the Wi-Fi device and the cloud that you're trying to communicate to. Whereas if you have a ZigBee, z-wave or Bluetooth, not always with Bluetooth; you have those protocols. They need a hub that translates from z-wave or ZigBee into the cloud protocols and into the internet. Which introduces another point of failure. So if you have something that is going to use power, go with Wi-Fi. If you have something that is going to use a battery option, you can go with one of those other protocols, such as z-wave or ZigBee. My personal preference is z-wave. Because of the reliability of the z-wave mesh network in the standardization of the chipset design and the fact that the majority of z-wave devices will work together and repeat the signal flawlessly. Which you don't always have with the ZigBee. Now that's not to say that ZigBee doesn't work and doesn't have its place. Because it does. But primarily with ZigBee, you're looking at a device that is going to connect to a hub, then go to the cloud and web service and then it's going to do its thing. Now with all of these different protocols, we haven't really covered it yet. But we'll kind of just draw you a picture in words on how devices work and interface with the Internet.
So for the example here, we're going to use is let's say you have a Wi-Fi smart plug. For a Wi-Fi smart plug, you're going to plug it in to a device. A power device, a power outlet and then you are going to put it in pairing mode. Usually you press the button on the side of the device for five or ten seconds, it puts it in the pairing mode. Every manufacturer is different. That device is then sending out a Wi-Fi signal that your phone will pick up on the app. your phone connects to the device with the Wi-Fi signal and your phone is also connected to the Wi-Fi network in your home. it recognizes the device is trying to connect and it recognizes your home network and your phone, the app basically acts as a bridge to give the Wi-Fi information to that smart outlet or a smart plug, so that then that smart plug internally is able to save your home Wi-Fi network. Once that smart plug has the Wi-Fi network saved in it internally in that information, it will then be able to communicate directly to your Wi-Fi router without the need of you being to be in the middle with a phone. So that smart plug now has a connection to your Wi-Fi router and that Wi-Fi router has a connection to the cloud. Where all the smart device commands are stored and executed. So let's say you have a Wi-Fi plug-smart switch that you want to turn on and off installed now. It is connected to your network. You would go in your app and you press on or you press off. that command goes to a cloud server in the internet and then that cloud server relays that information back down to your router in your home and then that router takes that command, converts it into Wi-Fi and it sends it to your smart switch to turn it on or off and likewise that device will be sending information about its status. When you have a functionality such as a timer or additional functions, those functions are really just cloud service protocols which are running up in the cloud that will then send a signal after one minute. If you set a timer for one minute to turn on or off a device. So the smarts aren't necessarily in the device itself. The smarts and all the different functionality and changes you can make are actually in the cloud itself. Which is what's nice about Wi-Fi. developers can make a lot of changes in the cloud to add additional functionality to devices, based on your routines, what you're doing and how the use cases for a particular device are and then they're able to implement that smart piece of things and just turn on and off the device without having to make a lot of device level changes. So that's pretty much how any of these different protocols work. Where a device will send a signal to the cloud and the cloud will then send that signal back to your smart home device. So cellphone command, cloud and then from the cloud to your router and from your router to the device that you have installed in your home.
Now if you have a Wi-Fi smart plug that is installed or works with Amazon Alexa, what happens there? Well then you say to Amazon Alexa, "Alexa I would like to turn on or off, whatever light switch you want to turn on or off." Alexa takes that cloud command after you've connected your device as a skill in the Amazon Alexa app and that cloud command then communicates with a specific manufacturers cloud and it says, "I'm Alexa, I would like to turn off your light switch." that manufacturers cloud then says, "yes ok. You have access to us. We will let you control our device." the Alexa command is converted from Alexa voice into the manufacturer’s language of on and off. the manufacturer of the device that you have installed, then sends that cloud command to your router and then to the device in your home and all of these devices regardless if they work on different protocols, the only difference in the step there is that you might have a hub in between such as smart things or wink. so I think that's a good tutorial, a good basis on the different smart home technologies and what you need to take away from this is I would be Wi-Fi centric first for the devices that will work with Wi-Fi. That’s where I would start. Because of the reliability in the adaptability and future proofing of the Wi-Fi devices and I didn't always agree with that like I've said before. but the other part of this equation is pretty much everyone now has a strong Wi-Fi network in their home and if you don't, you can upgrade that Wi-Fi network using a device like Ero or mesh Wi-Fi network that is going to allow you to have really strong Wi-Fi signal throughout your home. So I'm not as concerned anymore about not having Wi-Fi reaching parts of your home. Which actually used to be an issue a couple years ago on top of some of the other Wi-Fi issues. So if you have a strong Wi-Fi network that's blasting out into your neighbor's yard and across the street, you really don't need to worry about connectivity of Wi-Fi devices anymore. so Wi-Fi first, then ZigBee or z-wave second, depending on what use case you have and then Bluetooth for one-off devices that are connecting to your phone. There are a few devices that connect to hubs on Bluetooth. But very few and far between. Also Bluetooth is a nice communication protocol between phones and smart speakers.
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