Home Automation Lighting Control
Insteon, Universal Powerline Bus UPB, Z-Wave, ZigBee, X-10
You can forever banish concerns over unnecessary energy expenditures at home and stop wondering whether you locked the front door with home automation systems. These high-tech solutions can help make your home into a smart home. In fact, a smart home system places every light, appliance and compatible peripheral in your home at your command. With home automation software that allows you to create custom programs, the possibilities for automated intelligent home control are quite nearly limitless.
This burgeoning industry has spawned a choice selection of products from several respected manufacturers. We’ve compiled a list of the best home automation systems available and ranked them based on their performance in a variety of categories. The top performers in our review are HomeSeer, Control4and Crestron, which have excellent feature sets. For additional information, see our articles on home automation systems.
HOME AUTOMATION SYSTEMS: WHAT TO LOOK FOR
As you look for a smart house system, there are several things to keep in mind. A system with the right functionality, strong compatibility and excellent technical support will be your best bet. Above all, try to look for a system that best suits your unique needs.
A good system is easy to use and promotes energy efficiency. Remote access can help you monitor your home when you’re gone. The system should enable you to easily program it to perform a variety of actions. Randomized programs are especially valuable, as they turn peripherals in your smart home on and off to deter criminals by making the home look occupied when you’re away. Voice control capabilities can help your system become more convenient. Depending on your preference, you should also consider whether a system requires a wired or wireless setup before committing to have it installed. Some systems even have the option for you to subscribe to a security monitoring service.
Another important category for these home automation systems is their compatibility. When you’re on the hunt for full-home automation, you need to be sure that the product you select will control the peripherals in your house to your satisfaction. A hardware controller is designed to be the control center of your home, try to look for a controller that can manage a multitude of devices; this way you have greater options to expand the system later on. Some systems are even compatible with security systems, HVAC systems or popular media management applications like iTunes and Windows Media Player. Look for a controller that supports common home control technologies like Insteon, KNX, UPB, X10, Z-Wave and ZigBee.
Help & Support
If you have a problem, what are your customer service options? Helpful support channels include telephone, email, user manuals, tutorials and online documentation. Less common support features, such as a live chat option and user forums, can be very helpful as well. Another thing to consider is whether a system requires professional installation or not.
The best home automation solutions include all of the above qualities in ample measurements. A feature-filled system that is compatible with your needs is essential as is an easily usable configuration with plenty of customer service. It can be difficult to decide which kind of smart home you want, but with the systems in our home automation reviews, at least you have some options.
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About UPB Technology
UPB technology provides an inexpensive and reliable solution for residential and commercial powerline communications applications. While other powerline communication technologies exist, none compare to UPB in cost per node, functionality and reliability.
Highly Reliable — The UPB method of communication is 100 ~ 1000 times more reliable than current X-10 technology and 10 ~100 times more reliable than CEBUS or LONWORKS powerline technologies. UPB is 99.9% reliable versus 70%-80% reliability of X-10.*
UPB transmits farther (over a mile), is less susceptible to powerline noise and capacitive attenuation (signal reduction) than other technologies for three reasons:
When put on one phase of a home’s two phase power line, the signals are so strong they go out to the street side transformer and are induced on the opposite phase, returning back to the home. Since UPB transmits at a low frequency, it does not affect other powerline devices or appliance/loads.
No New Wires – UPB dimmer switches are installed exactly like regular dimmer switches. They connect to a home’s standard wiring. Since no new or special wiring is required, they work great in retrofit applications too.
Affordable — UPB dimmer switches can be as affordable as high end non-communicating dimmers. When comparing costs of home upgrades (theater TV, remodeled bath or kitchen) adding lighting automation and control to a room or whole home provides a surprising improvement in quality of life at a comparably low cost.
Simplicity – Adding lighting control can be as simple as plugging in dimming modules or replacing dimming switches Pre-Configured Series. Unlike radio frequency (RF) wireless switches, where reliability is proportional to the number of ‘mess-networked’ switches installed, UPB provides reliability and performance anywhere in the home without the need of repeaters.
Peer to Peer – No host computer or central controller is necessary for single, point-to-point control or group (lighting scene) control. UPB is a no-host, peer to peer network. Interruption of power, or single point controller/repeater failure, will not affect a stand-alone UPB network.
Two Way Communications – Hardware, software and protocol design allows for two-way communication in all products. Status can be confirmed with polling or automatically transmitted upon local/manual load changes.
House Separation – Neighbors with UPB will not control each other’s lights. The UPB addressing scheme allows for 250 systems (houses) on each transformer and 250 devices on each system. It incorporates over 64,000 total addresses compared to 256 for conventional X-10.
Interaction – UPB communication can be used in the presence of all X-10, CEBus, HomePlug or LonWorks compatible equipment with no interference between either. The UPB technology uses a completely different frequency range than any of the wide-band, narrow-band, or spread spectrum technologies. The physical method of UPB communication is entirely different than the modulation-demodulation techniques of all X-10, CEBus, or LonWorks.
Higher Speed – 20 to 40 times the speed of X- 10 in terms of data transmitted. This is equivalent to over ten full commands per second. The average latency of command to action is less than 0.1 second.
* Reliability is defined as the percentage of transmitter/receiver pairs that correctly operate upon initial installation. The UPB test units are randomly installed in the environment typical of the target market. This market is defined as the single-family residential market in the US, homes with a median size of 2500 Sq, Ft. This environment is defined to be the existing base of homes, without any modifications, which means there should be no “fixing” the electrical system of the residence by adding couplers, repeaters or filtering.