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Central Units for Smart Home Systems

A SmartHome system allows you to control the lights, thermostats, alarms, as well as wiring and other devices remotely using a smartphone, tablet, PC, or TV. Want to create a comprehensive SmartHome controlled by a single app and with no extra hassle? Read on to find out more.

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What is the central unit, how does it work, and why do you need it?

The central unit is the heart of the SmartHome system and serves as an intermediary between the user and the individual elements of the SmartHome. While the user usually communicates with the central unit via WiFi or network cable, the central unit is connected to the rest of the household via specific communication protocols - for example via ZigBee or Z-Wave. The main goal of these protocols is to unify communication between hundreds of SmartHome devices from different manufacturers.

Why can't everything communicate via WiFi?

ZigBee and Z-Wave protocols are based on a Mesh network topology. The signal thus "hops" from one device to another until it reaches the central unit - this allows for significantly longer distances than WiFi, although the device consumes very little energy. This means you can build a really complex home system with up to several dozen smart devices.

  • ZigBee uses 2.4 GHz and 128-bit encryption.
  • Z-Wave uses 868 MHz in Europe, 908 MHz in the US and Canada, and 128-bit encryption.

When deciding between ZigBee and Z-Wave, consider whether all the devices you want to purchase use the same communication protocol (it's important because a ZigBee-compatible thermostat, for instance, may not communicate with Z-Wave devices and vice versa).

Controlling your SmartHome

You can control your SmartHome via:

  • WiFi is the best control option when you are at home.
  •  You can also connect to the Internet and control your home remotely. This is useful if you want to remotely turn off an appliance that you forgot when leaving, switch off the thermostat, or simply want to pretend the house is still occupied by turning on the lights while you are away on vacation. You can also watch the security cam footage, monitor power consumption etc.

You can use:

  • Mobile devices - smartphones or tablets with Android or iOS OS.
  • Web browser - a computer or laptop with any operating system will do.
  • SmartTV - for some units, your SmartTV acts as the central controller.

How the central units differ

There are several types of central units on the market, ranging from budget to notably high-end and expensive. They differ mainly in the following areas:

  • Hardware equipment - processor performance, RAM capacity, USB ports and the like.
  • Communication protocol - you will usually encounter Zigbee or Z-Wave.
  • Design:
    • integrated into the touch screen,
    • freestanding - resembles a router,
    • in a USB adapter designed for smart data storage (NAS),
    • part of the Starter Kit - it also contains the basic SmartHome devices.

Central unit installation

SmartHome is designed to be as user-friendly as possible, so even technically less proficient users should be able to handle the installation after studying the manual. All you need to do is plug the central unit into an electrical outlet and connect it to your router with a network cable. Then just confirm the basic settings through your web browser or download the right app for your smartphone or tablet.

Installation of individual SmartHome devices

Installing additional SmartHome devices, such as smart light bulbs, alarm motion sensors, or thermostatic radiator heads is usually intuitive and requires minimal effort. You don't have to drill and break down the walls - all the accessories can be easily attached, for example, with a double-sided adhesive tape or a few screws.

After installing the device and putting the smart unit into operation, each system allows you to search the surroundings and pair new additions. Then all you have to do is name them in the app, assign them to individual rooms, or incorporate them into automated scenes or profiles.

SmartHome scenes and profiles

Perhaps the biggest advantage of SmartHome systems are scenes and profiles. As soon as you activate the profile you have selected, the central unit starts a sequence of commands that control several devices at once. Let's take a look what these profiles can look like:

  • The "Morning" profile switches on the kettle, opens the blinds, raises the thermostat temperature and switches on the lights.
  • The "Homecoming" profile unlocks the front door, turns on the lights, and turns on the thermostat.
  • The "Go to sleep" profile turns off the lights in the home, except for the bedside lamps, closes the blinds, locks the door and lowers the thermostat temperature.

In addition, profiles can be started automatically based on your time or location settings. You can easily set the time when the thermostat is supposed to lower the temperature or what should happen in the house when you leave.

Most common SmartHome products

  • lighting
  • wiring
  • thermostats
  • security
  • cameras
  • weather stations
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Central Units for Smart Home Systems

smart homeHow to Set up a Smart Home In the era of smartphones and the Internet of Things, a smart home is no longer science-fiction or a tech...

Central Units for Smart Home Systems

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