Everything to do with the smart home for an absolute perspective on the subject of “intelligent living”
Is the stove still on? Is the basement light off? Is the heating in the bathroom still banging on? If you live in a smart home, these questions leave you cold. Because smart homes can be remotely controlled, automated and monitored. There are literally no mice dancing on the table here. But what is this intelligent home actually all about? Why live intelligently? And how does smart homework anyway? Familiarize yourself with the following questions and answers about the Smart Home and the associated possibilities.
- What is meant by a smart home?
- Sense and purpose of a smart home
- How to implement a smart home
- Setting up a smart home: 5 steps to a smart home
- Areas of application of various smart home systems
- Smart home products for more security
- Save energy with a smart home
- Conclusion: A new era of living
Due to the high demand, we have updated this article and added the question “Set up a smart home: 5 steps to a smart home”.
What is meant by a smart home?
A smart home is a home in which the various electrical and electronic devices are networked with a central control system. The devices can be switched on and off at specific times, and they can also be activated when specific events occur.
Typical examples are a heater that is switched on automatically at 6 a.m. in winter and a light barrier that switches on the light when it is dark. An “intelligent home” thinks for itself and takes over processes of everyday life that were previously carried out manually. Learn all about Smart Home Designing by Burraq Engineering Solutions
Aren’t modern households all smart homes in some way?
Most households already have some level of ‘intelligence’ as many appliances contain built-in sensors or electronic controls. Practically all modern washing machines carry out certain washing, rinsing and spinning processes automatically, depending on the program, load and water temperature.
For central heating, a thermostat is usually installed on the wall, which turns the heating on and off depending on the room temperature, or there is an electronic control unit that activates the heating at certain times of the day. Vacuum cleaner robots are also part of the family in many households.
All of these things are examples of home automation, but they are not really what is meant by a smart home. This concept goes one step further by providing centralized control. In the most advanced form of the smart home, there is a computer that does what you normally do yourself: it constantly monitors the state of the home and turns devices on and off accordingly.
For example, it monitors the light coming in through the windows and automatically raises and lowers the blinds or switches on the light at dusk. Or it recognizes movements on the floor and reacts accordingly: if it knows that someone is at home, it switches on the lights and music in different rooms as required; if nobody is at home, the intrusion protection is activated.
Sense and purpose of a smart home
Initially, smart homes were seen as part of a luxurious lifestyle, but they have now become the norm for many medium-sized households. If you are not always on the lookout for the latest technology, you may be sceptical about a smart home.
- However, a smart home promises advantages in many respects :
- Power consumption: Components such as heating, lighting and entertainment electronics can be switched on and off from anywhere in the house with a single click or an app so that they are used in an energy-efficient manner and as little electricity as possible is consumed.
- Convenience: blinds, television, light… most electronic devices now have remote control and their own apps. This can be extremely practical, but it can also quickly become a nuisance if you lose track. Smart homes offer a convenient solution here: You do not have to move around the house to carry out different functions. With smart devices, you can centrally control all household operations while comfortably sitting on the sofa or lying in bed.
- Peace of mind: A smart home also ensures a certain peace of mind. Is the garage door closed? Is the light in the basement still on? Is the skylight closed? All questions can be answered at a glance in a smart home without having to rush through the house.
- Individual adaptation: Smart homes also make it possible to use electronic devices according to one’s own wishes: The blinds can be opened automatically at a certain time, the brightness of the interior and exterior lighting can be regulated individually. In a similar way, each individual electronic device is optimally adjusted and, in addition, the points in time for various options to be implemented can be specified.
- Security: Burglary protection is also successful with smart homes. Smart networking of lights, cameras and even doorbells provides additional security and the presence of a smart system can even deter potential burglars. In the event of a fire, the intelligent home can also react and alert the fire brigade.
Tip: A smart home is particularly interesting if, for financial or legal reasons, no energy-related renovation is possible. These solutions are less expensive and usually do not require landlord approval.
How to implement a smart home
There are numerous different systems for the realization of a smart home. While these differ mainly in terms of how the smart home products are connected and controlled in the system, the basic principle can be explained in general terms.
- The following elements are typically required to implement a smart home:
- Gateway (central control unit)
- Networking (by radio or cable)
- Sensors such as motion detectors or thermostats
- Input devices such as displays, controllers, switches, tablets and smartphones
- Devices such as lamps, shutters, televisions
The basis for communication between the devices is a digital data network that works invisibly in the background. All information from the respective sensors, input devices and end devices comes together via a central control unit. Control commands are received and forwarded by radio or data cable. With the help of input devices, the user can individually program, remotely control and automate the smart home.
Setting up a smart home: 5 steps to a smart home
Regardless of how extensive your own smart home should be, a step-by-step and structured approach is important for the success of the smart home project. The following 5 steps are part of the implementation of a smart home.
Step 1: Rough planning
Before you can really get started, the smart home has to be well planned. First, make a rough plan and determine which devices you want to network in the respective rooms.
Consider all aspects such as lighting, security components, home appliances, shading, air conditioning, heating and entertainment equipment.
Step 2: Concrete planning
Once the rough plan is set, you can go into detail and determine the finer points of the smart home system to be set up. Find out the pros and cons of each solution.
Before you move on to the next step, you should know exactly which products should be networked and how. Creating a product list is particularly easy if the smart devices are listed by room.
Step 3: Cost calculation & procurement of materials
Using the product list you created earlier, you can now determine the cost. If necessary, also factor in the labour costs for the installation.
Once the cost calculation has been determined, it is time to procure all the equipment and materials.
Step 4: Installation & Commissioning
In this step, the components are installed and configured as planned. If you take care of the installation yourself, you should start with the core of the smart home: the smart home hub or the smart home centre.
If the heart of the smart home is in place, the system can be supplemented with the devices to be connected using an app.
Step 5: Practice Optimization
Now it’s time for the fun part of the smart home: the intelligent system has to be used and put through its paces. If there is a desire for additional components, the smart home can be expanded accordingly in this post-optimization phase.
Areas of application of smart home systems
The areas of application of smart home technologies can be divided into the smart house, smart living and ambient assisted living. The demarcations between the various systems are fluid.
What is meant by the smart house?
This area of application relates to the automation of the building technology in a house. The purpose of a smart house system is to ensure security and high resource efficiency in the supply in a building.
In terms of security and surveillance, networked smoke detectors, water sensors, surveillance cameras and intruder alarms are used. Heating management systems, intelligent ventilation and lighting systems as well as door and garage controls are implemented for efficient building supply.
What is smart metering?
Smart metering is an important field of application in the field of energy management. With intelligent, networked consumption meters, the energy consumption and the energy supply for water, gas and electricity are measured, determined and controlled with the aid of computers.
What is Smart Living?
With smart living, the main aim is to increase the quality of life and living for the residents of a smart home. For this purpose, home electronics are networked in the areas of multimedia, household and comfort.
Examples of smart home appliances are smart vacuum cleaners, connected washing machines and tumble dryers, coffee machines, as well as cookers and dishwashers connected to the smart home. In the area of entertainment, smart TVs, loudspeaker systems and smart boxes are networked.
What is Ambient Assisted Living?
The term Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) summarizes smart home solutions that are intended to make everyday life easier for people with physical disabilities. The technologies used for this are characterized by the simplest possible operating concepts and can be easily integrated into the everyday life of people in need of care.
Simple examples of the approach, which is often referred to in German as age-appropriate assistance, are the installation of a home emergency call system, but also alarm systems that can be used to notify relatives, for example, if the refrigerator door has not been opened for a long period of time.
Smart home products for more security
Intelligent networking is a smart home that offers various options for increased security with regard to the following aspects:
- Protection against burglary through prevention and alarm
- Protection against smoke/fire by detecting smoke development and alarm
- Protection against water damage
How does burglary protection work in a smart home?
Smart home not only helps to leave the home secure and locked, it can also prevent possible break-ins by simulating your presence. Using networked sockets and roller shutters, lamps, roller shutters, music and televisions can be switched on and off according to the principle of the housekeeping function in order to intelligently simulate the presence of the occupants.
If there is an attempted break-in, networked motion detectors and camera systems detect unusual activities outside and report this via SMS or email. And what if it’s just the neighbour’s cat? No problem, because modern sensors can distinguish people from animals and a false alarm is unlikely.
The motion detectors are installed at potential break-in points such as front doors, on balconies and terraces as well as in gardens and driveways. The sensors can be linked to an alarm system or to the lighting system to deter intruders from the act.
Tip: Make sure that camera systems have an integrated infrared night vision function.
How does fire protection work in a smart home?
The best way to minimize fire damage is to detect a developing fire at an early stage using smoke detectors. As is known from conventional smoke detectors, these trigger an acoustic alarm in the same room. In a smart home, networked smoke detectors can forward the alarm to the smart home system.
Depending on the setting, the system in the house uses an optical or acoustic signal to provide information about the development of smoke and can also notify the mobile phones of residents and neighbours without any smoke signals. The rapid forwarding of the alarm increases the chances of containing or even preventing the spread of a fire in good time.
How does protection against water damage work in a smart home?
While many security measures to protect against burglary and fire are often considered necessary, protection against water ingress or water damage from storms and problems with drains or sewers is usually neglected. The earlier water damage is detected, the better its costly consequences can be prevented.
A Smart Home not only warns of storms and heavy rain but also helps to notice windows that have accidentally been left open. Water detectors can be used to quickly detect heavy rainfall through open skylights and backwater in the sewage system, for example in the basement, before the damage is too great.
Tip: In regions at risk of flooding, an outdoor camera can also be used to monitor the water level and to protect against water damage.
Save energy with a smart home
One of the main arguments in favour of smart home solutions is the savings potential they bring with them. How much electricity can be saved depends on factors such as usage behaviour, the size of the smart home, the building fabric and the installed smart home products. A relatively large amount of energy can be saved when heating.
How can you save on heating costs in a smart home?
On average, more than two-thirds of all energy costs are incurred for hot water and heating. Thanks to intelligent networking within your own four walls, these costs can be limited to what is necessary.
With an intelligent heating control, it is possible to precisely set the periods in which heating is to take place, only a little heating or no heating at all. In addition, the right temperature can be set for each heating period, so that rooms do not become saunas unnoticed. The humidity can also be regulated and mould formation can be optimally prevented.
By intelligently coupling sensors with thermostats, for example, the heating can be switched off automatically while the windows are open for ventilation. The programming of such commands as well as all other settings are made via an app, so the heating system can be controlled not only in the smart home but also when you are out and about.
Which smart home products are used for heating control?
- Radiator thermostats for monitoring and regulating the room temperature
- Room thermostats for controlling several radiator thermostats in a room
- Door and window sensors to detect closed/open doors and windows
- Humidity and temperature sensors for monitoring the temperature and humidity indoors and outdoors and transmitting the determined values to the central house control
Note: As the savings potential depends very much on the individual conditions, the manufacturer’s information on maximum savings should be viewed critically.
how can you reduce power consumption in a smart home?
Electricity can also be saved with smart home solutions for the central control of electrical devices and lighting elements. In comparison, the energy-saving potential is lower here.
Laptops, smart TVs, chargers, fully automatic coffee machines and printers – many devices are only used for a few hours a day and still consume electricity all the time. Even if less energy is consumed in standby mode, this power consumption can be reduced with suitable smart home products without any loss of comfort.
Which smart home products reduce power consumption?
- Wireless wall switch: With a push of a button when leaving a room, all the electronics in the room can be switched off wirelessly. In addition to lamps, radio, television and any other devices, there can also be an intelligent coupling with the heating system so that the room is not heated unnecessarily when you are away.
- Switching and measuring sockets: By connecting to the central control unit, these sockets can be used to switch devices on and off as required. In this way, the coffee machine can even get a smile out of the morning grouch when the coffee has been brewed on time. Using these sockets, the light can also be switched on or off automatically when entering or leaving the room – in response to the signal from a motion detector. The power consumption can also be determined using the measurement function.
- Adapter plug: Similar to the switch and metering socket, the status of the power supply (on/off) can be timed with this smart home product or called up and checked using an app while on the go. Normally, however, it does not have a measuring function.
Tip: When purchasing smart home products, care should be taken to ensure low energy consumption. While some switches even efficiently use the energy generated when the switch is actuated, widespread use of touchpads as operating elements can undesirably increase power consumption.
Conclusion: A new era of living
As clear and simple as the term smart home sounds at first glance, the solutions and technologies behind the intelligent living approach are as different and diverse. While the typical example is a modern family home, a trailer that has been converted into a home can also be set up as a smart home.
With its diverse areas of application, the Smart Home is on the technical advance and thanks to constantly newly developed fields of application, even the most sceptical Ottosmart citizen may be offered a helpful and convincing solution in the future.
Purpose-oriented goals such as saving energy, burglary protection and fire alarm are contrasted with playful and entertainment concepts: While one person evaluates his home heating statistics over morning coffee, the other comfortably let Alexa and Co. tell his favourite joke. Both in their smart home.