A Comprehensive Review of Smart Home Automation, How it Works?

To save a few minutes of work each day, many people are willing to invest time and money buying, installing, and debugging smart devices, and connect them to a Z-wave controller hub, in order to automate the living scenes. For instance, the curtains in the bedroom and living room are automatically opened at 9:00 every morning, and they are automatically drawn an hour before sunset every evening. Likewire, the lights in the entire house are automatically turned on when a person enters the house, and they are turned off five minutes later.

Home Automation

Home Automation Protocols

Confirming the smart device's communication language is the primary necessity before we can implement the aforementioned scens. That’s the so-called home automation protocols. Currently, the four protocols listed below are essentially the prevalent smart devices on the market:


WiFi is absolutely the most widely used technology in life nowadays. It features quick transmission speed and inexpensive costs. The majority of smart home gadgets on the market are WiFi-based. However, low security, shaky stability, high power consumption, and limited linked devices are its drawbacks. This protocol is used by the majority of smart lights, smart door locks, smart switches, etc., on the market.



Z-Wave is reliable and ideal for narrow broadband applications and mainly used in smart home area. The two primary operating frequency bands for Z-Wave are 868.42 MHz (for Europe) and 908.42 MHz (for the USA). As a Sub-G protocol, Z-Wave can inherently avoid WiFi interference. The biggest benefit of Z-Wave is that all Z-Wave devices made by various manufacturers is sure to communicate with one another. Z-Wave protocol is used by the majority of smart motion sensors and smart shades.



Zigbee is also nnother well-liked wireless standard for smart homes. The things differentiate ZigBee from ZWave is that different smart device manufacturers may has its own Zigbee version, which may result in poor interoperability. On the other hand, Zigbee uses low-powered design, and frequently utilized in wearable technology, sensors, switches, and door locks.



Bluetooth also gets large  familiarity by the public. It is most frequently used in mobile devices like smartphones. Due to its affordability, more and more applications are now being employed in smart home items. However, it features relatively low transmission distance, suited for those smart gadgets like Bluetooth speakers, Bluetooth headphones, and smart scales.


Smart Home Hub

A gateway coordinator hub is necessary for home automation since every automated scenario essentially requires the linking of several smart devices. For instance, the light turns on automatically when someone enters the bathroom. The smart gadgets needed are:

Motion sensor: in the bathroom detects movement;

Smart hub: receive the signal from the motion sensor and carry out the pre-written logic simultaneously (e.g. if the motion sensor is active, the state of the switch wil be altered).

Smart switch: gets the signal from the smaer hub and completes the action of turning on the light. 

In this case, Z-Wave or Zigbee are typically used as the communication protocol between the motion sensor and the hub, while WiFi or Z-Wave can be used as the communication protocol between the hub and the smart switch. 

From the illustration, we can see that the smart hub serves as the central control unit for the home automation system. It acts as a signal relay, and an executor of the main logic. As a result, investing in a quality smart hub is crucial.

Voice Assistant

Voice Assistant (Google Home, Amazon Alexa, etc.)

In a strict sense, smart speaker devices cannot be referred to as smart hubs because they cannot link to other smart devices. They take voice commands to implement the logic of automatically turning off the lights when people leave the house.

The way a smart speaker device works is as follows: 
  1. The user's voice input is uploaded to a cloud server (like Google's server);
  2. The cloud server parsed the info and convert it into a command, and then passed to the server of the smart device manufacturers (e.g. smart switches);
  3. The manufacturers’ server passes the command to users devices (smart switces); 
  4. The relevant opening/closing motions are finished by local smart switch device. 
Users will find it so convenient as this workflow design does away with the necessity for consumers to runs logic locally on a device. However, these gadgets won't function if the home network is cut off. The best solution is to have a smart hub and a voice assistant at home, utilizing their individual strengths together.

Alexa Voice Assistant

Home Automation Gadget and Devices

Home Automation Gadget and Devices

There are a variety of smart home gadgets in the market, smart switches, biinds, motion sensors, thermostat, etc. Here we take smart switches as an example.

The most typical method of controlling smart switches is via motion sensors. When we arrive at home, what we need is that garage lights and entry lights switch on instantly, instead of saying "Hey Google, turn on the lights" and waiting three seconds. Additionally, when entering the room, people prefer to manually turn on the lights rather than wait three seconds for voice assistants to do it because of network latency. It is advised to utilize the Z-Wave and Zigbee protocols for smart switches because there may be numerous switches in the house, using Z-Wave and Zigbee can reduce the load on the home gateway and router.

Final Words

Home automation enables owners to remotely monitor their homes for danger, increase house keeping efficiency, and reduce home usage of water, electricity, and energy. Meanwhile, the aging-in-plaec can benefit a lot from home automaiotn, by assisting them in staying secure and comfortable at home, rather than transferring to a nursing facility.

The entire house being intelligentized is already a current trend. However, regardless of who develops them, smart devices must be able to communicate with one another using the same protocol, or at the very least a complimentary one, for a home automation system to be truly effective.

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