Smart Homes: An Educational Guide

Elizabeth Frank09 Mar 2022

Smart homes are homes that provide comfort, energy efficiency, and security regardless whether the user is home. It is a term that's used to define a residence where the electrical appliances that can communicate with one another. These appliances are also able to be controlled by a schedule. It can be controlled in any room at home, as well as remotely in any area from the internet or the phone. Because of this, smart homes are innovative and help you have more control over your home. Installing smart products in your home grants the home user a multitude of benefits. There are the same benefits that personal computing and technology have given us over the past three decades – Saving you money, energy, and time.

One emerging feature of a smart home is its energy conservation. More people are becoming aware of how to make their homes fully green and energy efficient. By using home controllers integrated with the home sub systems, people can control and monitor their devices and save energy costs. Smart homes come with home controllers that logs and calculates the usage of all electrical appliances and connected devices. This gives the home owner the ability to monitor what appliance is using the most energy and make the correct choices on it.

Smart Home Technology

Smart home products were made during 1975. A Scottish company developed the X10. The X10 had compatible products talk and worked with each other over the existing wires at home. The appliances were the receivers and were operated by a keypad, transmitter, or a remote control.

If you wanted to turn off the lights, the X10 would send a message to do the following:

  • Alerts the system that it's making a command
  • Identifying number for the device that receives the command
  • A line of code containing the command such as "lights on"

All of this was made to occur in less than a second. But, the X10 has a few issues. Communicating through electrical devices isn't the most reliable because the lines will make noises when its connected to other devices.

While there are still X10 products available, smart home systems now use radio waves to transmit commands. Cellphones, Wi-Fi and BlueTooth signals operate using the radio wave system. This is faster than electrical devices because it doesn't require a wire for the energy to be transferred.

The most popular radio wave networks are Z-Wave and Zig Bee. They are both mesh networks, meaning that the message has multiple ways to be distributed throughout the network.

Z-Wave uses Source Routing Algorithm to find the fastest route to send messages. Each of the Z-Wave devices have a code embedded, and once the device is plugged, your network device will recognize and decipher the code. Then it finds the location then adds it to the existing smart home network.

When the command is transmitted, it uses the algorithm to show how the message would be sent. This routing takes up a lot of memory on home networks. Z Wave decided to create a hierarchy of different electrical devices. Some controllers send out the messages, and some are "slaves" where they can only receive messages.

ZigBee has a different mesh concept. Messages come from a transmitter and move in a zig zag pattern like bees. It searches for the best locational path to the receiver. While Z-Wave has a proprietary technology to utilize its system, the ZigBee is a platform that's verified by the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

This means that any company can use and build a ZigBee product without paying extra licensing fees. Like the Z-Wave, ZigBee has fully compatible and high-quality devices (or those that send the message) use them to transmit messages amongst multiple appliances.

Having a Wi-Fi only network is more flexible for installing multiple devices. But, like electrical devices, they sometimes fall under interference. Insteon is one way for your house network to communicate via radio waves and electrical wallet. Thus, making it a dual mesh network.

Dual mesh networks have the advantage of obtaining feedback faster. For instance, if one platform cannot transmit the message, then it will try through the other platform. First, an Insteon device broadcasts the message. Then, all of the devices find the message and proceed to broadcast it until a command is created.

Your devices will begin to like peers in its network. This means that more Insteon devices you have, the better and stronger your devices will interact with each other. They will send stronger messages, making it easier to get operate more smoothly.

How To Set Up A Smart Home

Z-Wave, ZigBee, Insteon, and X10 provide only the basics (fundamentals) of technology needed for smart homes. They've built partnerships with electronic manufacturers who make the end-user devices.

Here are some example of some smart home devices and their overall function.

  • You can moderate and adjust your temperature from anywhere as long as you have a signal.
  • Some devices come with built in web servers that let you access information via the internet.

Garage doors and door locks will open automatically once your smartphone

  • Auto alert messages are immediately sent to your smartphone. So you'll know if there is an issue at home.

Cameras track the exterior of your house even when its pitch black outside.

  • Motion sensors alert unknown movements around your house. They can tell the difference between residents and burglars.

You can find these products at electronic stores and home improvement stores, online, and from installation technicians. Before you buy, see what technology comes with the product.

Products with similar technology will work despite being made from different manufacturers. However, an X10 and a ZigBee device will need a bridge to work together. This can take time to install, so a lot of patience and expertise is required.

When making a smart home, you can have simple or complex home automation system. To start off, it might be best to think of the things you do daily. Then, find a smart home device to find a way to automate your daily tasks.

You can start with a basic lighting kit and then add security devices afterward. If you want a have a more advanced system with multiple features, you'll have to decide and design how the house will work under these conditions. Also, you must strategically install the wireless network nodes so that they can have the best routing range.

Benefits Of Smart Homes

Smart homes make life more convenient and comfortable. Who wouldn't want to control the temperature, lighting, and entertainment from the comfort of their bed?

Whether you're out on vacation or at work, your smart home can tell you what's going on. Security systems are made to provide a substantial amount of support in the event of an emergency.

For instance, not only would a homeowner be woken up by a fire alarm, the smart home could call the fire safety department and escort users to safety.

Here are some smart home tricks that you can include in your home:

  • Feed your pets on a schedule with a certain amount of food
  • Create mood lighting
  • Program your television so your children can watch at specific times
  • Set on the coffee maker while laying in bed

Energy Savings

Smart homes provide a lot of energy efficiency savings. Because devices like ZigBee and Z-Wave place some devices at a lowered functionality, they can turn off and on when commands are made. The electric bill is reduced when the lights are automatically shut off in empty rooms.

When using smart home devices, home owners use at least 50% less electricity than usual. Some of these devices can monitor and record how much energy every appliance is using and command energy wasters to use less.

Smart home devices provide a lot of benefits for the elderly. They can notify the user when to take their medicine and alert the hospitals if they injure themselves. This ensures that they remain safe and uses the technology to aid in their daily health schedules.

If an elderly person is forgetful, the smart home device can perform tasks such as turning off the water before it overflows or setting off the oven before it overheats. Getting a smart home helps the elderly take care of themselves and protect them if unwanted mistakes occur.


Smart homes consist of motion sensors, security systems, and a link to a private company or a local police station. Also, smart homes can have fingerprint identification or ID cards instead of traditional locks; making it harder for burglars to enter your home.

With smart homes, you can place detectors on the doors and windows. So you'll know what has been opened without your knowledge or which ones that are smashed in.

With smart homes, you can place detectors on the doors and windows. If you plan on installing smart fire alarms, you'll receive alarms and notifications about potential fires while you're away from home. If you know that it's a false alarm, you can set it off with a press of a button. This is faster than getting a ladder, and positioning yourself and stretching to turn off the fire alarm.

Also, you can send burglary and fire notifications to a family member or a neighbor. This helps keep your home safe while you are out on vacation and saves you money on repairs and damages. We suggest having at least one smart security camera to protect your home from these threats.


Smart homes are becoming better at helping people with different disabilities. People who can't see have voice activated devices to control their lighting, heating, TV, and anything that's related to electricity.

Due to their accessibility, smart homes are popular amongst the elderly. Like we've stated earlier, the devices allow them to monitor their medicine and protect them from leaving on unwanted appliances. For instance, a "Panic" button can be created if there is an issue. A caretaker or an ambulance will be notified instead of the user having to use a phone.

Easy To Control

The best part of a smart home is that every part can be accessed by a screen. It can be used with a tablet, a smartphone, or an interface placed on your walls. When you go to bed, you can turn off the lights with a single button.

If your device has smart locks, you can check the screen and see that every window and door is locked. This saves you time, and you don't have to waste time checking them. If you have any smart sockets then you can shut off any electrical appliance within a matter of seconds.


Smart homes have become popular because they can be personalized to the user's needs. You can have the light set at the correct level of brightness. Additionally, you can program the smart home to slowly turn on the lights instead of a sudden blinding flash that traditional lights make.

People like smart home devices because they make household living more comfortable. You can control the air conditioning and the heat of the room before you arrive home. This makes your home more relaxing once you arrive and saves you money on heating and energy bills.


Following security and energy efficiency, convenience is an important factor to consider when creating your smart home. According to a 2015 survey by CNET and Coldwell Banker:

  • 72% of smart home owners feel protected and safe when using these devices.
  • 45% of smart home owners state their devices save them hundreds of dollars.
  • 57% of smart device owners believe their smart devices help optimize their time.

Most customers install smart hub devices to control their heat, lighting, and water with their voice. Some come with apps that lets users control the temperature through one commamd. Get a smart hub that can be operated by the phone if you want the most convenience.


Here are the the best manufacturers when we are talking about the smart hub devices:

Started in 1996, TP Link is the number one provider of useful networking accessories and devices. TP Link is ranked by the top analyst firm IDC as the best broadband CPE and WLAN devices. It does this through supplying quality devices to millions of people worldwide.

With a proven record of value, stability, TP Link has created a portfolio of products that meet their consumers' and individuals networking needs. Now that the smart hub technology tends to grow, this company plans on expanding to exceed tomorrow's demands.


WeMo is a product line of high-quality smart hub devices owned by Belkin. The company specializes in creating Wi-Fi operated cameras, dimmers, and smart plugs. You should use your WeMo devices if you want a simple piece of equipment to use in your home.


Etekcity is an e-commerce manufacturer that sells consumer electronics, outdoor equipment, and home improvement devices. They offer the correct smart devices to help create a better living for homeowners.

From sophisticated home essentials to unique gadgets, they give their customers the best shopping experience by delivering their products as fast as possible and giving great customer support on their quality products.


GE leads the world with the most advanced and cleanest energy and technological solutions. To smart grids to help optimize electrical demand, to gas engines running on natural waste, their technology produces up to 25% of the world's electricity.

GE works at more than 120 countries across the world. The company plans on making the most reliable, cost-efficient, and safest innovations in the field.


Since its beginning, Nyrius has been a trendsetter and leader in making innovative connectivity solutions. Their products have been made to enhance the user's experience and utility of their home. Nyrius takes pride in providing valuable customer service, good product design, and exceptional performance.

Smart Home Maintenance

The moment you moved into your new home was filled with excitement and joy. Beginner users often overlook maintaining their devices properly. As homeowners settle in, it can become more difficult to keep your devices to stay on top of its maintenance challenges.

If you forget to charge the batteries and oil of your car, it won't work correctly. This concept also applies to your home. Overlooking small details can lead to expensive repairs or even worse. Understanding and working with your home maintenance tasks will prevent disasters, extends your systems lifespan, and keep your home safe.

Read this section to learn more about how to maintain your smart home. Each tip will help your home stay in good condition and saves you money on repairs and replacements.

How To Make Your House Safer

Each year, the United States reports up to 300,000 total house fires. That's why you'll need to install carbon monoxide and smoke alarms in almost every location in the home. We also suggest obtaining a multipurpose fire extinguisher nearby. It should be placed in the kitchen since that's where the majority of home fires occur.

During the fall, you should get your chimney and fireplace inspected by a professional chimney sweep. This ensures that it's drawing correctly and that the creosote hasn't built up unnatural levels. Prevent a fire by checking and taking care of the heating of your home.

Besides fires, electrical issues is another major cause of damages in your home. Electrical fires result up to 1,400 injuries, 500 deaths, and 50,00 fires yearly. You'll want to have a few smart devices to prevent your home from catching on fire.

System Longevity

The better you take care of your major appliances and systems, the longer it will last and will perform more effectively. Changing your furnace and air conditioner filters will ensure that your cleaning areas will keep your systems running at an operational level.

Check Your Cleaning Areas

One of the least used and overlooked areas at home is the laundry area. Having unclean fire vents is a huge risk. It's hard to get into areas that are between or behind washers and dryers. Debris and moisture lead to the growth of mold and could lead to a destroyed home.

If a fire occurs, it's important that your fire extinguishers and smoking detectors work properly. Check the batteries on your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors on a monthly basis. And make sure that your batteries are replaced annually.

Working With Home Maintenance

Creating a regular maintenance schedule helps you utilize your home maintenance tasks. There are a few smartphone apps around that will prevent you from forgetting important events and keep your memory refreshed.

It can be tempting to do everything by yourself to save money. While you can do a few home maintenance products on your own, hiring a professional will ensure that the job is being done correctly. This helps you save your time on house chores and result in a more efficient smart home.

Closing Remarks

Investing in a few smart home devices is important. They will make your house operate faster than traditional networks and use modern technology to run faster.

That being said, we'll invite you to look into our buying guide. You already know everything about having a good smart home but need to know which devices are great for you. Make sure to take a look into our buying guide to find affordable smart home products that are worth your money.

Resources: SFGate NewHomeSource​​ CRTLabs​ HowStuffWorks​ LifeHacker​

Elizabeth Frank

Elizabeth Frank

Hope you enjoyed my post. I'm Liz, an interior designer that found her calling with smart gadgets.

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