What is a Smart Home?
Blinds that roll down at sunset, heating that adjusts itself to your daily routine and an oven that sends you a text message when your pizza’s done: Smart homes are not just a trend, but a future way of life. For many, it’s already a reality they’ve been living for a long time.
What is a smart home, exactly?
Smart homes let you digitize and automate technical processes that were previously carried out manually. By linking up building services in a
uniform system, you can operate the functions of individual devices centrally and coordinate them with one another.
Another keyword you may hear in connection with smart homes is the “Internet of Things” (IoT). This makes it possible to bring Internet-ready devices online. These devices can communicate with one another over long distances, performing various tasks. Your smart home can “think” along with you, taking much of the hassle out of every day life.
How does a smart home work?
In a smart home, a digital data network (often referred to as a “bus system”) operates unseen in the background. For the technical components and connected devices to communicate with each other, they need a common interface (server or smart home hub) through which all information converges.
All control commands or sensor-based "stimuli" are received and forwarded via WLAN, radio frequency (RF), Bluetooth or data cable (KNX). Your home’s functions and technology are all easily controlled through devices like smart switches, touchscreens on the wall (like the Gira X1) even via app on your tablet/smartphone. Through these, you can program and remotely control everything as needed, or even automate it with a timer.
What should you look out for in a smart home?
For networked devices to work together, they must use a uniform programming language. For wireless solutions, Z-Wave and EnOcean are the most well-known international standards. A major advantage of wireless solutions is that they can be retrofitted without conversion measures or new cables. This makes them suitable for networking in rented apartments and old and existing buildings.
With Gira eNet SMART HOME you can, for example, easily connect your lighting, heating and blinds with each other at a later date - provided they can communicate via radio.
In addition to radio frequency solutions that you can retrofit in existing buildings, KNX has established itself as an internationally recognised and manufacturer-independent standard for installation in new buildings.
What advantages does an intelligent home offer?
First and foremost, a smart home is intended to ensure that home technology such as lighting or heating in the house works more efficiently and economically. Various services and applications in your everyday life can provide more comfort, security and energy savings.
Being able to dim the lights from the comfort of your sofa is already one example of added convenience. Another is the control of automated door locks, windows and wireless smoke detectors which send alerts to your smartphone in the event of emergencies. Intelligent temperature controllers and thermostats also waste less energy and save you money on heating bills.
The Internet of Things takes your smart home to the next level
Gira has also developed a series of intelligent smart home solutions that make your life more comfortable, safer and more energy efficient. Through the Internet of Things, you can additionally connect Gira Smart Home systems with intelligent products from other manufacturers: starting with lighting and music systems, through to washing machines and garden irrigation, to vacuum cleaner robots. The Internet of Things not only expands the scope of networking, but also offers completely new control options in the smart home - for example with the IFTTT service.
If this, then this: IFTTT automatically makes your home even smarter
IFTTT stands for "if this, then that", that is, "if this, then that". It allows you to link smart devices and services from different vendors and use a cloud to define individual "if this, then that" rules to automate various processes. For example, your vacuum robot only starts when you are on
your way to work. When you come home in the afternoon, your smart home automatically welcomes you with cosy, low ambient lighting and your favourite radio station.
IFTTT supports many applications such as Google Assistant, Amazon's Alexa, Spotify and Philips Hue. Many Gira products like the Gira X1 also have an IFTTT connection and can be easily combined and automated with applications from other manufacturers.
What about data security?
Similar to computers and mobile phones, a smart home also needs to protect its network along with your personal data. The most important prerequisites for this are individual settings when setting up the KNX system, such as passwords and assignment of rights. For complete turnkey solutions, many suppliers have developed special sets of rules that guarantee the greatest possible protection. For example, Gira works with a comprehensive checklist that covers all conceivable measures for data security, from the conclusion of a contract and professional installation to the separate backup of individual data networks and VPN connection.
The Gira S1 remote access module offers special security for remote control via app. This additional component encrypts all data during transmission, so that you are securely connected to your smart home even when you are on the move.
In just a few steps, the online configurator provides personalised suggestions for your living situation, finds specialist dealers in your area and supports you with an individual guide for implementing your smart home wishes.
This article was updated on 07.04.2020.
What other exciting possibilities do you see in a smart home? Let us know in the comments!