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The key to a well set up smart home is the integration between devices and the technology that you have purchased. Being able to control multiple devices without having to switch apps on your phone or download various speciality software is what makes this so appealing. Integration between technology adds the convenience factor and will help you to achieve more with your home.

 

As the Smart Home technology evolves there are many different protocols that are developing and as yet none has become the dominant player. It is very important to understand the compatibility between devices when choosing what to buy.

 

Whether we’re talking about WiFi-enabled smart thermostats like Tado, Netatmo or even the stylish Elgato or Zigbee controlled LED bulbs, there’s definitely a variety of choices out there.

If you have a Smart wireless device, the chances are that it utilizes at least one of the communications mentioned above.

Understanding the differences between each one can be incredibly useful when it comes to designing an smart home ecosystem, or even choosing to buy a single device, that works efficiently and reliably no matter the situation.

Individual smart devices use different languages – each needing to communicate in the same or a common language in order to understand and be understood by the others.

The best situation when planning your Smart Home system is to go for devices that speak the same language or protocol, however there are a number of products that can work across different protocols and with the right gateway or hub in place, you can often get around needing to always pick the same protocol. We think that in time, most Smart Home devices will find a universal language similar to the adoption of USB.

A few of the most common protocols are:

WiFi - This is one of the most common ways that devices communicate already and it is already being incorporated into devices by Smart Home manufacturers. One of the advantages is that all homes have a WiFi router already installed for their broadband connection and WiFi-enabled devices can simply use an existing wireless router to connect up to everything without the need for a separate hub. There are a few drawbacks to WiFi. Firstly, there are so many devices already hooked up through WiFi that most routers are struggling to cope with the additional devices. Virgin, Sky and BT hubs can accommodate up to 20 devices. If you install 10 WiFi lightbulbs and your oven, Amazon Echo, Printer and doorbell are connected then this will max out the limit. The other drawback is that WiFi radio is relatively power hungry so it is not the best choice for a Smart device that runs on batteries.

Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) - Bluetooth is used a lot in wireless devices and has a big advantage of using minimal power when it is operating. The main drawback is it has limited range. It is a preferable option if operating distance isn't an issue.

Zigbee - This is the protocol that is fairly ubiquitous amongst smart home automation devices. It has a good range, low power consumption and is pretty fast. It is possible that Zigbee will become the standard going forward and is now being incorporated into voice assistant hubs like Amazon's Echo