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The Nuts and Bolts of How Home Automation Systems Work


If you are content to know that you can speak to your smart speaker to turn lights on and off in your home, that’s good enough. But if you want to know the nuts and bolts of how home automation actually works, you need to dig below the surface. You need to get beyond the devices you use to understand the technology behind them.

For instance, a smart speaker is more than just a speaker that sits on your counter. Inside that magic little box is an audio system capable of both input and output. There is also a wireless device to send and receive data across your wi-fi network. Then there isthe software that allows your device to speak to other network devices. It is all pretty complicated under the hood.

A single post wouldn’t be enough to get into all the technical details. So in order to present more of an overview, let’s look at three of the things that make home automation what it is. These would be considered the nuts and bolts of how it all works.


1. A Full Array of Sensors

Home automation devices can do a variety of things. As explained by Vivint Smart Home, devices run the gamut from smart thermostats to voice controlled lighting to smart locks that don’t require keys for entry. Each device has at least one unique purpose. A lot of devices overlap.

They all have one thing in common: sensors. A smart thermostat relies on sensors to determine the ambient temperature. Smart locks utilize a sensor for entry access, whether it is presented as a keypad, fingerprint reader, retina scanner, etc.

Sensors are what make it possible for different devices to interact with one another. The devices in a given system all collect data through their sensors. The data is sent to a central control system which uses the information to handle automated tasks.

2. Timers for Automating Events

The second thing that makes home automation work is the timer. This is clearly demonstrated with automated lighting. Let us say you want the lights to automatically turn on just before you get home from work. The program them to activate at 5:30 PM. A timer takes care of the rest.

Likewise, you can set up your system to turn off all the lights and lock the doors at 11 PM. You can time your automatic window blinds to go up at nine in the morning and go back down at six in the evening.

3. Automation Routines

The third and final element is the automation routine. Most out-of-the-box platforms already have built-in software that handles routines. But if you were building a piecemeal system, you could get the same sort of function with a smart phone app.

Such apps rely on a concept known as ‘if this, then that’. It is the same principle as the ‘if, then’ principle utilized in software development. The concept is pretty simple to understand. If a certain condition exists, then you want something to happen. If the ambient temperature in your home reaches 80°, then you want the air-conditioning to kick in.

Automation routines control both single devices and entire systems. In terms of the latter, you can program a whole series of cascading routines that begin to occur based on a single trigger. Complex routines of this nature are truly what make home automation so exciting.

Now you know that sensors, timers, and automation routines are the real nuts and bolts that make home automation work. There is a lot more to learn if you’re interested.