Interface & Control Buying Guide

We’ve separated products into two main categories. Firstly hubs or controllers, which are used to directly control and interface with smart devices. Secondly are interfaces, which assist you in interacting with your hubs and devices, but do not have a direct connection. Some devices can connect directly with an interface, negating the need for a hub; if that is the case we include the technology as a hub. We’ve also added a section on the different technologies that are used to communicate between systems

For controllers you must decide if you want it to be a locally hosted device, or a cloud based device. Locally hosted devices don’t require an internet connection (may not even require WiFi), but you will have to purchase a physical product.

Cloud Based systems negate the need for a physical device and are hosted off-site, but if you have any internet connection problems it could make controlling your devices difficult. It can be cheaper as you don’t need a physical product, but may require a monthly subscription.

If you’re buying a physical controller a bit more leeway is provided. Things to consider include:

  • What protocols can it interact with? Does it need Wi-Fi/network connection?
  • Can it be expanded/how many items can it support?
  • How will I access it to control it? Do I want off-site access; is Wi-Fi sufficient; does it have a wall-mount interface?
  • Does it come with a web interface or mobile app? Can I make use of voice controls (e.g. Alexa/Siri/Google assistant) to interact with it?
  • Does it provide any alerts or notifications? How do they work? Does it send e-mails or texts, does it do push notifications to my phone?

The main thing to determine is how smart do you want to make your home. If you’re just wanting to switch some light bulbs on and off, or just have door access control, then it’s best to go for a stand-alone option. If you’re wanting to convert your whole house, or just several aspects, having a unified control system for all of it is the way to go. Otherwise you’re stuck switching between apps and websites the whole time trying to remember which one controls which item.

Below we’ve listed some products to have a look at, along with links to more information about them.

Hubs:

Interfaces:

Communication Technologies:

  • ZigBee (wireless)
  • Z-Wave (wireless)
  • Wi-Fi (wireless)
  • Bluetooth (Wireless)
  • UTP (Power cables)

 

images: Amazon