Lane departure warning systems in cars. Contactless payment in the supermarket: Innovative and networked technology is moving into all areas of life to make life easier and more efficient - including at home in the form of a smart home. But there are many variations.
In smart homes, for example, lights can be switched on and off from anywhere using an app and the heating system thinks about when to regulate the temperature up or down. Smart homes are not always smart homes.
There are large solutions that are integrated into the entire home electronics system, but also fragmentary uses in which only individual parts of the household are digitized. In order to use the potential of the technology without completely reinstalling the existing electronics, a middle ground is recommended, as John Shermer, an expert at Lightwave , explains. "Our solution offers real added value across Britain and Europe because it can also be seamlessly integrated into old buildings."
"Retrofitting" with smart home functions in existing houses that were built before the digital age is therefore possible. However, a decisive factor for the acceptance of such systems is simple installation and usability. In the “plug & play” age, in which consumers are used to doing everything via smartphone, smart home devices such as smart sockets and light switches must be easy to install and control. Only a comprehensive solution can make power consumption more efficient or create a pleasant living atmosphere through networked lighting. Systems based on wireless connections represent a good compromise between networking and installation effort. Only the connection of smart devices enables their optimal use.
The progress of the Internet of Things (IoT) is supporting the everywhere noticeable increase in usage acceptance for the smart home. Analog objects are increasingly being equipped with a digital component in order to optimize their use for the user. In addition to traffic control systems and freight containers, this development also affects sockets and lighting in the living room. Smart homes can help to make modernized old buildings economical, sustainable, energy-efficient, comfortable and long-term usable in addition to new buildings, informs the consumer centre, for example. Nevertheless, according to Splendid Research, only 12 percent of users use solutions that are subject to a system logic.
Recently, consumers have also been able to use the solutions from the British smart home manufacturer Lightwave - now also available via Tink and Amazon.
Lightwave's range includes intelligent sockets and light switches that consumers can control and operate centrally, easily and conveniently via app, Apple Homekit, Google Home or Amazon's Alexa. Networking takes place centrally via the Link Plus Hub, which communicates directly with the sockets and dimmers. An additional investment in expensive, networked light sources is not necessary. There are attractive starter kits to get started with the Lightwave system:
The combined Lighting & Power Starter Kit includes the Link Plus Hub, a Smart Dimmer and a Smart Socket outlet and has a recommended retail price of £229.99 available on Amazon.
At the start of the collaboration with Tink, the Lighting & Power Starter Kit is available in a special bundle together with the smart Google Home Mini speaker at no additional cost. Tink also gives discounts on selected bundles with Lightwave Starter Kits and the Google Nest Hub. Lightwave has a pioneering smart home system that leaves the conventional operation of the lighting system untouched and enables many intelligent functions.
Lightwave products are extremely easy to install and use the existing wiring in the house, which reduces installation costs and time to a minimum, but the solution is still seamlessly integrated. The communication between the Link Plus Hub and the dimmers or sockets is based on the RF standard, which, thanks to the frequency used, offers more range and greater immunity to interference than Bluetooth or WLAN-based smart home solutions and transmits signals even through solid walls.
Smart homes are not always smart homes
Complete smart home systems are only included in new houses, if at all, since fully integrated solutions must be considered when building a house. However, this is awfully expensive and therefore unaffordable for many. There are options for retrofitting older houses, but a tablet and a smart light bulb do not make a complete smart home. In such a system there are not only so-called actuators, i.e. end devices that are controlled by input devices such as smartphones, tablets or even touch displays integrated in the house.
Communication between sensors, control unit and actuators
A smart home is defined by reciprocal communication between control units and sensors in order to reduce unnecessary energy consumption through situational use and to use the smart devices as required. Intelligent lighting systems help to program the right brightness for different situations. Dimmed light when watching TV saves energy, as does programmable times for heating. In addition, the smart devices can in turn provide information on energy consumption in order to keep an eye on costs and optimize use. Sensors that are responsible for recording temperature, brightness or power consumption help here. The collected data is received in a gateway, a central control unit, which stores these and sends the commands from the input devices to the actuators. The connection between the gateway and the actuators can be made via the existing power grid, cable or radio.
The rise in the acceptance of smart home usage is also noticeable in the willingness of residents in existing buildings to retrofit smart home installations. for example, a dimmer. The two-way communication gives the status of the dimmer a Lightwave
Lots of communication options
There are numerous radio systems such as Bluetooth, WLAN or the RF standard. Due to the frequency used, this has a low susceptibility to interference as well as high security and range in contrast to Bluetooth and WLAN. Systems based on cable connections require a great deal of effort during installation and commissioning, since a separate line must be laid for each connection. In comparison, radio-based systems that use RF standards are easier to install. You use the existing wiring in the house, which reduces installation costs and time to a minimum, while flexible conversion is possible at any time.
The individual actuators can also be controlled by the different networks can be coupled, whereby the different end devices become a comprehensive system. In this way, the individual functions can be coordinated with one another.
More than just saving energy
ENERGENIE, a company based in Great Britain, should already be familiar to some smart home experts. The manufacturer, specializing in energy-saving devices, is expanding its own portfolio from August to include some additional innovations that are not only intended to reduce energy costs in your own home, but also serve to monitor existing energy sources. The new products are marketed under the line "MiHome - is a Smart Home" and range from light to heat regulation.
MiHome - save money in the long term thanks to efficient energy use
The MiHome components should not only communicate perfectly with each other, but also integrate external devices into their own network in order to control them and the consumption to monitor.
ENERGENIE announced that by no means all MiHome components in the will be mandatory smart home, but that only selected components can be integrated selectively. Each MiHome device can also be controlled via mobile devices, as is not unusual for smart home devices - for example, a tablet or smartphone. Are supported here iOS from Apple and Android in their latest versions. Control via Mac and Windows PC is also supported as a desktop option.
MiHome Heating and MiHome Light from ENERGENIE are used to control and regulate heat sources and lighting. The light extension should be able to control and coordinate classic wall and ceiling lighting at the same time. With MiHome Socket, another new innovation, a large number of technical devices can be monitored by plugging the extension directly into the socket. Some of the devices, depending on the requirements in the smart home, are simply plugged in and are immediately ready-to-go. Others may have to be integrated in a somewhat more complex manner, for example in that it becomes necessary to replace the light switches in the household.
With ENERGENIE, it is possible to monitor energy consumption in real time
Extensions such as the Home Adapter and Adapter Plus are used to monitor consumption in real time; the Adapter Plus is also able to record energy consumption over a selected period of time. With the MiHome Meter, the last component of the ENERGENIE product series, the consumption for the entire smart home is analysed and graphically displayed. Thanks to an IFTTT integration, configurations and scripts can be set up with regard to light and heat control.
All modules are controlled via the ENERGENIE gateway, which in turn communicates with the router. This enables a connection to cloud instances, mobile devices and classic PCs. Available from £ 70, the new devices are likely to serve primarily as a luxury add-on in larger apartments and houses. However, ENERGENIE does not deliver an indispensable novelty.