The Difference Between a Smart Home and Home Automation

Whether you’re researching smart bulbs or exploring the capabilities of your new voice assistant, you’ve probably encountered the terms Smart Home and Home Automation, and you’ve got yourself wondering, is there a difference?

While these two terms are sometimes used interchangeably and are closely related, they actually refer to slightly different things.

smart home

The term Smart Home generally refers to a class of electronic devices and sensors that can be controlled over the internet (or your local network) via your phone, computer or other devices. These devices will often have their own separate app or interface that you would use in order to control devices within certain ecosystem– for example Philips Hue smart-bulbs are Smart Home devices, and the manufacturer maintains their own app which you can use in order to control the devices within the Philips Hue ecosystem.

Home Automation

Home Automation, on the other hand, refers more to a methodology for using Smart Home devices. The idea behind Home Automation is to make these devices work automatically, responding to what you are doing while requiring little-to-no interaction with any sort of app or physical interface.

For example, let’s say you may have Philips Hue smart bulbs, and when you watch movies you like to have them all set up in a certain ‘scene’ (scene is general purpose term that refers to the a bunch of smart home devices set to a specific state). General smart-home use would be opening up the app on your phone and then pressing the button for the corresponding scene and then starting your movie– and then when you stop (or press pause) opening up the app again and pressing the button for the scene that you want to go back to. If you are into home automation, you would set up an automation that detected when a movie started playing and then automatically adjusted your lights to your ‘movie scene’ and then turned them back to normal when you pause or stop.

You can easily have smart home devices without doing any sort of home automation (but what’s the fun in that?) but it is very difficult to do any sort of home automation without some sort of smart home device.

To confuse matters more, often some smart home devices will have some home automation features built right into their core functionality– like the Nest thermostat, for example, automatically adjusts your temperature depending on whether it thinks you are home or away.

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History of make smart building

smart home controller

But built-in home automation features are not the only (and often not even the best) way to accomplish this functionality. Most home-automation enthusiasts will use some sort of hub software that serves as a middle-man to allow various devices and ecosystems to talk to each other and to use various small pieces of information from one another and combine this information to assemble the context it needs in order to better respond to more complex scenarios than any single set of devices can on their own. Hub software like this also has the added benefit of being a single point of control so that you can control all of the smart devices in your house without having to use a bunch of different apps for each device.

The Difference Between a Smart Home and Home Automation

Technology. We can’t escape it, so we might as well embrace it. But the terms are sometimes confusing. What’s the difference between cost and energy-saving devices and the technology that makes everyday living easier and more enjoyable? If many systems in your home can be programmed — like the thermostat or the yard sprinkler — to do what you want them to do when you want them to do it, are they smart?

Does it matter?

In terms of adapting your living space to the new world, it matters. If you are building new or adding modern-day capabilities to an existing home, it pays to have a working knowledge of what’s available in terms of home automation and, alternately, smart home technology. They can be similar, but when you connect them to one another and make it possible to send signals that control varied operations from afar — now that is truly “smart.”

Home Automation

Automated systems have been around for a long time and they have done an admirable job preparing most homeowners for the advent of smart technology. Until fairly recently, home automation was considered advanced technology. It altered the worlds of lighting design, temperature control, landscape maintenance, dinner preparation (turning an oven on or off based on a pre-set schedule), television viewing, and home security. Today, all of that is old hat.

The interconnectedness of things, however, is a new concept. And systems that are interconnected and that can be monitored and controlled remotely, whether from across the street or across the globe — that’s smart!

Is Your Home Smart?

A  survey of more than 4,000 homeowners found that 2016 was the year that smart technology, in effect, became mainstream. The study found that almost half of American homeowners either already owned smart home technology or planned to invest in it before the end of the year. More than half of those surveyed said they would invest in smart home improvements prior to selling a home, convinced that buyers would pay a premium for the technology.

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Smart Home Vs. Home Automation

Home automation can seem a little confusing to some. Many times you will hear smart home and home automation used interchangeably, and while they are very similar, there is a big difference. I like to use the DVR reference for this one. You can program your DVR to record a single movie and you can also use it to record a whole season. That is a direct comparison to our topic today.

To begin, you must have a smart home to be capable of using home automation. In essence, they both need some type of Control System for the home. This home control system gives you the ability to turn off your lights from anywhere, or even turn on/off your HVAC. You also need control to lock/unlock doors or be able to look in on your security system. These are all examples of Control over your home. This Control System gives you the ability to have a smart home or run your automation. Now let’s look at the general meaning of smart home vs. home control.

smart home with voice

A Smart Home is normally defined as a certain class of devices and sensors that can be controlled by the user via an app on the phone or using your internet connection to connect to these devices. They could be smart or dimmable bulbs, a smart thermostat for controlling the HVAC, or even a smart microwave. These devices are normally connected to an app by the manufacturer that will allow you to control their specific devices. You can even use voice commands through Google Home or Amazon Alexa to complete basic tasks in your smart home.

Home Automation, on the other hand, is a methodology that allows your Smart Home to run automated services you have set up. They will be pre programmed by the user for certain events. The theory behind this is that certain things you do all the time on a routine basis should be automated so you has less preparation before your event begins. When you have a Google Home or Alexa, it may seem easy enough to control the home, but automation makes it even more convenient.

smart home scene

For example, let’s say you may have Lutron Smart Lighting, and when you watch movies you like to have them all set up in a certain ‘scene’ (scene is general purpose term that refers to the a bunch of smart home devices set to a specific state). General smart home use would be opening up the app on your phone and then pressing the button for the corresponding scene and then starting your movie– and then when you stop (or press pause) opening up the app again and pressing the button for the scene that you want to go back to. If you are into home automation, you would set up an automation that detected when a movie started playing and then automatically adjusted your lights to your ‘movie scene’ and then turned them back to normal when you pause or stop.

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Types of HVAC Systems

To confuse matters more, often some smart home devices will have some home automation features built right into their core functionality– like the Nest thermostat, for example, automatically adjusts your temperature depending on whether it thinks you are home or away.

But built-in home automation features are not the only (and often not even the best) way to accomplish this functionality.

smart home hub

Most home automation enthusiasts will use some sort of hub software, such as Control 4 or Elan, that serves as a middle-man to allow various devices and ecosystems to talk to each other and to use various small pieces of information from one another and combine this information to assemble the context it needs in order to better respond to more complex scenarios than any single set of devices can on their own. Hub software like this also has the added benefit of being a single point of control so that you can control all of the smart devices in your house without having to use a bunch of different apps for each device.

solution

Some users do not mind having 15 different apps to control 30 different devices in their home because they may like knowing each device has its own app and they can find them in their phone easier this way. That’s ok for a DIY person, but Connected Home is in the business of delivering professional grade solutions to make the process as easy as possible for our users and clients. There is nothing like having your entire house inside of one app. You open one app and have your entire home right there; security, lighting, all of your televisions, music, surround sound, HVAC, dvd, cable, satellite, refrigerator, and so many more in one single app!

Smart Homes and Home Automation are very practical in today’s world and are getting more increasingly popular and cheaper the more people use them. Connected Home believes we can correctly identify your lifestyle and create a dream home that works for you. If you still have questions or want a free consultation about your and your homes needs, please feel free to call and schedule a time to make your home, a Connected Home!