The most popular way of networking your devices is by using what is called “Z-Wave” technology. Which in simple terms is low strength Wi-Fi that simply connects your devices together and allows them to talk to a “Bridge” or “Gateway” that connects to your router or internet connection connecting your devices to the web.
There are several different manufacturers of bridges that all make their own components and applications and each has some pros and cons.
Through Amazon you can get the Revolv smart home gateway, which networks with most of the major component manufactures, Insteon, Schlage, Kwikset, Philips, Nest, Honeywell and others. It comes with an iPhone app and no monthly subscription fee which is a huge bonus.
Insteon will connect with it’s own devices and sync with a cloud server, it also has no monthly service or subscription fees which really helps in the long term. It wouldn’t be much help to be stuck with a contract or subscription service when you are trying to upgrade or change things out in the future.
Lowes sells their own brand “Iris” which is pretty cheap at $99 and a pretty good way to get started.
Doing some research and checking out these different products will give you a good idea whether or not the gateway will meet your requirements, mesh with the systems you want to change out in your house and let you check out some components and their prices. A good gateway price should be around 100-220 dollars and you want to make sure it will either network with multiple brands like Revolv or has enough different components to cover your home automation needs. In the future things like Refrigerators and Coffee pots will be controllable directly over the network, but for now you could connect them through z-wave outlets to turn them off and on at a moments notice.
The Revolv system and with its iPhone app and soon the android app is the easiest way to get started. By being compatible with so many manufacturers and devices it will make it easier to get set up and allow you to shop around for the best value on the components you want to install in your house. The proprietary systems will make it harder to find a good value on some items.
Check out a few of the systems yourself and see if you can find a good fit. We’ll address some of the components soon as well as the challenges and practicalities of getting these systems set up.