Home Automation Controllers (HAC's)
Home Automation Controllers
(also known as HAC's).
(also known as HAC's).
There are different approaches that can be used, some use custom designed units with manufacturer Firmware such as Vera, Homeseer, Philio or Zipato to name a few.
These are generally out of box solutions and are more suited to non-technical users or users who want a fast setup.
The DIY market is well served with many Freeware Programs available, a quick google search will show you the most popular.
All you need is a spare RaspberryPi or no longer used Lap Top or perhaps you already have a Home Server? If you have it's as easy as adding a Z-Wave Dongle such as a Black Cat ZWBCUZB-AUS and downloading the Software.
Homeseer is also available by way of download and is available at significant discount at certain times of year.
A 30 Free Trial is offered for evaluation.
Home Assistant is another newcomer which promises much. It is especially easy to setup on a Raspbery PI https://www.home-assistant.io/
Another low no cost option is to start with a selection of WiFi switches such as QUBINO or TEM OLE. These come with a free app which allows you to setup Associations and Grouping of lights plus simple Automation that uses schedules, time of day, sunrise and sunset.
A new player that has huge potential is Shelly, these are low cost WiFi Modules that are easily setup up using a mobile phone. No App is necessary as they come with an embedded webserver.
Software is free available by a downloadable APP from the Play Store. This is a good way to experiance what Smart Switches or Shelly Modules can do for you without spending $100's.
So which is the best?
For Small Home Systems, without doubt Homeseer is the most professional and nearly all devices will work out of the box with it (I haven't found any so far that don't).
Be prepared for a steep learning curve, but it's worth it.
Vera has at the time of writing many devices that are not recognised by it. This is very much a Vera problem and at the time of writing the manufacturer is working on new Firmware to solve this problem.
Vera does have the advantage of being the least expensive "out of the box" solution.
Vera is now End of Life in Australia.
Other Firmware available is Z-Wave.me which is Rasberry Pi based, it has a limited following in Australia.
For DIY'ers, Open HAB is most probably the best place to start, others to look at are Home Assistant (very good), Domiticz and for Mac Users try Indigo.
Zigbee is available in many flavours, hence it is considered unreliable and most likely will not work without the manufacturer's bridge. Interoperability is a problem with Zigbee, although this has now mostly been solved with Zigbee 3.0
WiFi is a great platform for users who just want to control a few devices such as Wall Switches or Sockets.
The name WiFi is misleading as it really refers to the frequency, with the mode of operation usually based on a modified version of Zigbee.
Control is generally over the Internet and usually comes with a Free App.
QUBINO & TEM WiFi Smart Touch Switches use the popular Smart Life/Tuya App which can be adopted by some HAC's.
WiFi is generally less expensive than Z-Wave & ZigBee.
Shelly has it's own App, however most HAC's have a Shelly plugin available.
SHELLY is the new kid on the block and has gained considerable interest. Low cost, either APP or no APP control.
The Australian range is fully Complient to AU/NZS Standards.
5 Stars at the time of writing.
RF433 is another protocol that may be considered, it is ideal if there is no Internet connect available and works well as a standalone system or can be part of a much larger HA System.
Broadlink comes with the Hardware that is required for this protocol.
Most HAC's have a PlugIn available for RF433.
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