- Types Of Automation Systems
Types Of Automation Systems
To those who are unfamiliar with what Home Automation refers to, here is a brief overview to get you started.
Home Automation is a term used to described, either making a task (turning on/off your bedroom light) automatic, or more convenient.
By making a task automatic, you can eliminate the need to interact with that object. Such as, using a light sensor to judge when it is getting dark, and using it to automatically turn your outside front door light on until 9 o'clock. Or maybe turn all your lights off at midnight, just in case you left that shed light on.
What about a water or gas leak. These disasters can be costly and life threatening. Install a water/gas sensor and when the sensor has a reading above your nominated level, it can switch a water/gas valve off automatically, and alert you of the event.
By making tasks convenient, you can apply several tasks at once through the use of timers or remotes. Such as, turning off your lights when you go to bed. No need to travel back downstairs to turn the kitchen light off. Use your phone to monitor what lights are on where and turn them on or off wherever you may be. And I mean wherever.
Now imagine this.
You have a water leak in the bathroom. Your sensor alerts you via your mobile phone while you are at work, that there is a water level of 2mm in the bathroom. You decide to wait and see if there is a change before panicking too much. 20 minutes later you are alerted that the water level is now 5mm. You open your app on your phone and turn the water valve off. You then call the plumber asking him to check out the problem. He will be there in 1 hour (I know, highly unlikely). When he arrives you are notified by your front door camera. You access you app and open the front door for him, open the valve for him to check the problem. When he is finished he calls you to notify you of the situation, and you lock the door behind him on your phone. When you arrive home it is as if nothing happened.
For people with rentals properties the convenience of scenarios like this are immense. Turn water and power and lights on before tenants arrive. Allow temporary access with keycodes you can change remotely. Monitor the energy usage and learn how to save on your power bill.
Now the different types of Automation
The two main types of automating are hardwired (Cbus, KNX, etc) or RF Radio Frequency (Z Wave, Zigbee, 433mhz, etc) and of course a combination of the two.
Most Commercial Buildings use a hardwired systems as do many of the leading automation companies in Australia. This system is totally dependable and fast acting. But the drawback is the expense to install. For this system to operate you need a different type of wiring system than your house currently has, it is called Cat 5 or 6 cabling. Also new switches are needed. These systems are also not DIY friendly. Meaning you need a specialist to install and setup the software and features. But when fully setup, these systems provide a stable and user friendly system.
Next is the RF type system. Although some of the above companies may have a RF system intermingled with their hardwired system, they are totally company dependant. Usually these systems are either in 433mhz or Zigbee standards. Meaning if you buy one product from then, you will have to buy, and be limited to, their products and designs only.
Then there is Zwave and Zigbee HA1.2 and Zigbee Light Link. These systems are a universal protocol enabling different manufactures to produce products that can inter-operate with each other. Z wave with any Zwave certified device, and Zigbee with any Zigbee HA1.2, Light Link or 3.0 certified device.
Both systems have their own merit and I will not be drawn into a debate on either, but suffice to say do you own research as to what available products suit you best.
Another protocol gaining public support is called Enocean. This is a self powered RF system, meaning it needs no direct link to power to operate. A totally self sufficient, maintenance free product. A perfect design for sensors. Imagine not needing power cables in your wall for switches, but being able to place your switch wherever, whenever you want. Or sensors that are to high up to get to replace batteries or run new cabling.
Now Enocean and Zigbee have agreed to work together, thus producing the Zigbee Green energy products. A combination of Enocean energy harvesting working on the Zigbee 3.0 protocol.
In summation, there are many alternatives out there to the costly hardwired or company based Automation Systems. And with technology changing at such a rapid rate, who knows what will be next. And with companies like Apple, Google, Nest, Samsung and Control4 all developing their own systems why pick a controller that will limit your choices.
Zigbee has now announced the new Zigbee 3.0 standard. All modules will carry this protocol enabling all Zigbee Certified products to interoperate with each other. And Zigbees Green Power devices are similar to Enoceans battery free, maintenance free, self energising modules. Perfect for sensors, door locks, and out of reach places.
For those of you interested in Apple's Homekit protocol, it is rumoured to run on Bluetooth. When this system is up and running properly, the Zipabox will develop a bluetooth expansion module, just plug in an additional Bluetooth module and away you go.
Zipabox from Zipato is a continually evolving product from a team of highly specialised technicians, who are constantly on the edge of technical advancement. Already covering protocols like Zwave, Zigbee HA, KNX, 433mhz, Enocean and more, the Zipabox is your future proof controller.