Phillips Hue and Fibaro Z-Wave

Phillips Hue and Fibaro Z-Wave

If you want to go with the Phillips Hue option which allows you to change the colour temperature of each downlight; here is what you need to consider:

We will need to replace the existing downlights for the Phillips hue downlights, they are bigger (the 125mm round size ) than a standard downlight which is usually 90mm. The cost per new unit is around $60AUD and the replacement of the old for the new one will be $40AUD each; a total of $100AUD per downlight you would like to replace.

Things to consider with Phillips Hue:

There is no manual override (you need to leave the light switch at the wall on the ON position at all times, the controls happen over the app on your phone only).

The amount of lights, bulbs is limited to 50 per Hue Bridge/Hub, once the 50 is reached we will need to add a second bridge. There is another option which would be to go to a Z-wave automation system. We generally use a Fibaro HC2 controller:

https://www.fibaro.com/us/products/home-center-2/

This system allows us to do a few more things and it works differently than the Hue. It allows you to control all the existing light fittings at home by installing an ON and OFF module behind each light switch you want to control, we also have dimmable modules for the dimmable lights. The investment for this system will be a bit higher as the Hub main controller gateway is $1200AUD and the cost per smart switch installed is around $299AUD each.

Things to consider with Z Wave:

There is manual override; the normal light switch on the wall will remain as it is and will function turning the light on and off as well as from the app on the smartphone and/or tablet.

It has the option of adding voice control.

The amount of modules per controller is 259.

It is the entry point to a more scalable system that will allow you to bring in more things like Motion Sensors, Door/Window Sensors, Sensor Gate Motors, Intercoms, smart locks etc. as you get used to automation.

Posted in Home Automation

Wired vs Wireless

Wired vs Wireless

Wireless systems are great for existing homes as there is no need to run cabling behind the walls, which can be a very expensive endeavour. These systems are also starting to integrate with WIFI networks, meaning that they are easily compatible with any existing home networks, such as the ones formed by computers.

Wired systems use Cat 5 data cables to communicate information. They connect into a proprietary control system or a more closed control centre. Wired systems can be implemented in both new and existing homes, however, it is easier to install in new homes.

Which one is better?

Both are viable solutions; the answer is based on what you need and what type of property you have. It’s extremely important to know the end result you expect to have so you can select the right system since day 1.
If your need is just to control the lighting of your place combined with motion detection and climate control, you could definitely achieve that with a wireless system in a cost-effective way.

If your needs are lighting control, HVAC system, and full control of audiovisual sound and tv screen control you may opt for a hardwired automation system as the wiring is reliable and is often simpler to join all of the systems together, as the cables run to a common junction point.

Remember the end result is the starting point.

Posted in Home Automation

Value is not the same as price

Value is not the same as price

Price is obvious. It can be seen at a glance from miles away. But value? Not so.

Value is more subtle and often needs to be experienced to be understood. Price is the same to everybody, but value is different for everyone. Price only becomes the decider when value isn’t obvious! Low price is the default position for those who don’t have the know-how or the guts to demonstrate value.

The sweetness of great service and results is remembered long after price is forgotten.

Posted in Electrical tips

How to prepare for IOT

How to prepare for IOT

Solid Maintenance Contract: You need to feel protected from the increased risks that new technologies present, and that means having a maintenance program in place that provides you with valuable peace of mind.

Leverage the IP: This may sound a big “big brotherish”, but if your home systems professional is able to collect data (with your permission) from your home’s IoT devices, he can get a better handle on your future needs. For example, if he notices an IP-connected video doorbell is unable to “see” images after 9 p.m., he can follow up by offering you a motion triggered light—often fixing the problem before you even realize one exists.

Discover an Upgrade Path: You recognize that obsolescence as a natural part of a technology lifecycle. You’ll feel better about investing in products and services if your home systems professional provides you with a logical upgrade path from the get-go. Being upfront eliminates surprises, breeds trust, and helps you plan more effectively for their future.

Focus on services

In years past, technology advancements were focused on hardware: Everyone needed to purchase a certain device or program (and each subsequent version) in order to stay current. But as the IoT advances, Raj Badarinath, senior director of product marketing at commerce solutions provider Avangate, believes that this model is going to change.

“Revenue will not come from the hardware, but instead from services on top,” Badarinath said. “In the IoT era, new models such as subscriptions, freemiums and bundles are rapidly becoming the preferred choice over traditional hardware options. Services are easily upgradeable, much more amenable to ecosystems that are constructed around hardware, and provide multiple revenue opportunities rather than a one-time sale.”

The problem with this service-centric environment is that small businesses are struggling to find the best strategy to charge customers for value in a transparent, secure and easy manner, Badarinath said. A customer-centric commerce platform can keep track of critical data like purchase history, payment methods and loyalty program information to help companies improve the customer experience and create a solid foundation for monetization.

Harnessing and analyzing data

The premise of the IoT is that, at any given time, devices can transmit data to and from one another and process it to improve decision-making. Businesses have already been tackling the challenge of harnessing Big Data through their own internal analytics platforms. The IoT presents this same challenge on an even larger scale.

“The IoT is not just about connecting cameras, fridges, vehicles, etc.,” said Todd Krautkremer, vice president of sales and marketing at cloud-based virtual private network service Pertino. “People want to analyze vast amounts of data and be able to do things with that information that are relevant and impactful. But how do we take this data and make it intelligible, accessible and actionable from a business standpoint?”

Krautkremer emphasized the importance of cloud-based computing to ensure that all connected devices can always be monitored, updated and controlled in real time. He also noted that third-party service providers will be critical to helping smaller businesses keep track of data and capitalize on the IoT.

The cloud and the customer experience

It’s clear that the IoT will continue to increase the amount of data businesses need to process. But with such a strong focus on finding the right data solutions, it can be easy to lose sight of your most important business driver: your customers.

“Companies have to keep an eye on their customer experience,” said Lynda Smith, CMO of cloud communication solutions provider Twilio. “There’s a lot of work going into making sure [the IoT] experience is natural [to human users].”

Smith reminded small companies to take advantage of the cloud to help them develop a great customer experience and compete with larger enterprises. This can range from using cloud solutions to deal with incoming customer data to facilitating customer service interactions in the cloud.

New security challenges

The downside of the IoT is that more data and more connected devices mean more opportunities for hackers and cybercriminals to launch an attack. The security risks associated with the IoT must be taken into consideration by businesses of all sizes.

“If you have devices recording and reporting [data], there’s a lot of risk,” said Walker White, CTO of clean data solutions provider BDNA. “If a device is connected, it can be hacked. With fully automated security systems, someone could break in, lock all the systems, and even remotely turn the lights on before they get there. These are very real risks.”

If you think the answer is to “avoid the IoT,” think again. White believes it will be nearly impossible to steer clear of the age of connectedness.

“People say they won’t embrace it, but that’s like saying you don’t embrace the Internet now,” White said. “It’s coming and you can’t fight it. Everyone will benefit [from the IoT], but unlike other technologies, this has a great deal more risk. The broadest storyline here is to proceed with caution.”

‘IoT-izing’ your business

Many businesses, especially smaller ones, are usually late adopters of technology, Makhdum said. But the IoT presents an opportunity for businesses of all sizes to add real value to their bottom lines, customer satisfaction and other significant KPIs.

“It is very important that businesses remain proactive in building a plan framed around what part of their company can practically be ‘IoT-ized,'” Makhdum told Business News Daily. “Framing and planning this will be crucial for successful IoT initiatives.”

Makhdum recommended investing in the IoT-related technologies such as sensors, data intelligence and infrastructure to support the volume of connectivity and resulting data. Focusing on employee training in both customer-facing and internal processes will also help companies take full advantage of the IoT.

Finally, be sure to connect with others in and out of your industry to stay up to date on the latest changes that may affect your business.

“There will be unpredictable and unexpected challenges that occur in real-time that will be hard to be prepared for,” Makhdum said. “Collaborating with industry and cross-industry consortiums help ensure sharing best practices across the board.”

Originally published on Business News Daily

. Set-up an IoT gateway
An IoT gateway can be used to manage the many IoT devices and sensors that come on to the network. This will make it possible to translate each “thing’s” protocols, and forward each unique piece of IoT data to its most appropriate destination.

Why organisations must secure the network

IoT gateways manage and support the ever broadening array of new devices and applications, and you can also use them for real-time network protection against security issues that arise because of IoT vulnerabilities.

2. Ensure network capacity and adequate bandwidth
Network traffic will inevitably increase over time due to growing numbers of IoT-enabled devices, adding to bandwidth requirements. You can set up an SDN to automatically allot network resources including bandwidth among IoT applications, according to priorities reflected in policies. For instance, this could be calendaring bandwidth for IoT devices that send data only at specified intervals.

3. Get the network ready to analyse big data
It’s often faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective to analyse IoT data at the network edge where IoT devices produce and gather the data. It’s also often critical to many applications, such as those that respond to imminent equipment malfunctions, that you complete that analysis in seconds. To analyse big data from IoT, get edge servers ready with the processing power and capacity necessary for data analysis, and make sure servers are fit for the environments where IoT lives.

How the Internet of Things is impacting enterprise networks

4. Get the network ready to store big data
IoT data comes in different sizes and with varying worth; some of it has a lot of value to a business, and some of it not so much. The importance of the data to the business can also change over time, and these factors create concerns over what storage types, tiers, and durations are appropriate for IoT. Scalable cloud storage is one possible solution, and for storing data at or inside IoT devices, consider MRAM or 3D XPoint Technology.

5. Upgrade to IPv6 to support the many new devices
IoT will need so many IP addresses for all the new “things” that it will be difficult for IPv4 to supply them all. Transition your network to support for IPv6 in time to stay ahead of that increasing device count. Also ensure to check with IoT vendors to determine whether their devices are ready for IPv6.

6. Secure the network appropriately for IoT
There has been a lot written about IoT security vulnerabilities such as challenges to patching and default credentials that you cannot easily update. You can begin to protect your network through risk analyses, device and protocol audits, as well as IoT policies and policy enforcement. Scrutinise and select IoT vendors carefully, and ask all of them how they will be able mitigate each and every one of your security concerns.

It’s time to take IoT security seriously

7. Set-up network monitoring in support of IoT
The sheer number and types of IoT devices and evolving IoT-related network events require that you use robust IT monitoring. Plan ahead for adaptable, scalable network monitoring that encompasses the variables you must account for with IoT.

Clearly, the potential of IoT to change the face of entire industries is significant, but its success will ultimately come down to how effectively IT infrastructures are managed as ever more devices – or ‘things’ – are added to the network.

By adhering to these seven pieces of advice, you give yourself and your business the best opportunity to reap the rewards that IoT can ultimately bring.

Tip one:
This is probably the best way to prepare yourself for future technology, which is to keep informed about the latest technology. By knowing what will or might happen you can better prepare yourself for when that dream becomes reality. There are many resources available to help you keep informed on the newest developments in technology. By knowing what is coming you won’t be caught off guard if they suddenly change the way things are done.

Tip two:
If you are running a business a great way to help get ready for future technology is to think ahead and write a plan for your business that includes how the newest technology will be incorporated into your company.

Tip three:
One thing that you need to keep in mind is that when buying computer systems and other electronics you are going to be investing money into a system that is going to be outdated soon. When making your purchases you are going to have to take into consideration any future technology to be sure that the electronics you are purchasing will allow you to handle all of your future needs, without requiring expensive upgrades. A lot of time your older computers can be configured to work with the newest types of software or operating systems.

Tip four:
Another way to prepare for future technology is to update all of your stuff, especially if you have a really old computer system or wiring for your home. By upgrading to the newer systems you are making it that much easier to make the change to the newest technology.

While there are plenty of things you can do to get ready for the future technology what you are going to do will depend greatly upon what kind of future technology you are preparing for. For example if you are preparing for the future technology in health care you might prepare yourself by finding a new doctor is informed about the future developments and how it can benefit you if you are concerned with preparing for future technology when it comes to electronics you are going to focus on getting your computers updated. But regardless of what type of future technology you are getting ready for the best way to be sure that you are ready is to keep informed about the technology.

Posted in Home Automation

Coronavirus: Home automation.

Coronavirus: Home automation.

Someone paid $500 for a pack of 32 toilet rolls? It’s true. It was on eBay. As COVID-19 continues to spread so too does the hysteria surrounding the virus and fears of long-term quarantine. Supermarkets around the country literally have shelves stripped bare of toilet paper. Australia – are we going mad? Actually no. According to research, Australia is pretty smart. Sydney in particular when it comes to smart cities.
How do other states rate?
Do you know what else is smart? Practicing good personal hygiene and staying informed through trusted sources like the Department of Health. Remember we can all play a role in reducing the impact of COVID-19. Smarter Communities have also announced preventative measures against the spread of the virus.

While everyone one of us is trying to protect ourselves and our families during the pandemic it would be a good idea to see how the Smart technology around us can help us to reduce the risk of being infected.

1- Voice Control

It’s been recommended by the WHO and health authorities to avoid close contact with others as well as touching public facility objects.
Public facility objects include lift buttons, door handles, doorbells, light switches, bus stop buttons…

Voice control technology has been around for a few years and it’s being integrated more and more with popular Smart Home and Building Automation systems. The technology is very well capable of eliminating many of the human physical interactions with electrical and electronic control devices by establishing the interface between human voice commands and Smart control systems.

Google Home and Amazon Alexa are the two well-known voice control systems available. They could be used in the office environments and lifts to be linked with Smart home Systems Like Fibaro to stop people from touching the devices for their control inputs.

3- Keyless entry and Intercom

Like “No Touch” systems a Keyless Entry (Smart Door Lock) also helps to eliminate human touch, there are many Smart Door Locks available in the market which could integrate with your smart home and smartphone through Bluetooth, Wifi, Z-Wave and Zigbee protocols. Once linked everyone could use their own personal Smartphone to control the Smart Door lock.
A Combination of Smart Door Lock and Intercom system could help humans to human physical contact during the Quarantine period. The door could be opened or closed for the delivery person remotely while vision and voice contact is established through the intercom system.

2- No Touch

Another way of eliminating human physical interaction (Touch) is using “No Touch” technology
No Touch technology is already in use in toilets to dispense hand wash liquids, operating water taps, and controlling hand dryers.
Motion Sensors could also be utilized to control the lighting and open/ close doors, gates, and blinds.
Gesture recognition systems also could be used to control a variety of devices like doors, alarms, lights, etc.

While it’s been recommended by the authorities to stop using banknotes, the pay pass technology is helping to stop the virus spread by eliminating the banknotes.
It may also worth mentioning that RFID tags are one of the very efficient ways of eliminating direct human touch if they are used properly. One idea could be their application to replace conventional bus stop buttons!

Posted in Home Automation

Myths About Home Automation

Myths About Home Automation

No one is surprised by motorized blinds, HVAC automation, or alarm systems combined with an extensive surveillance system – they are a kind of standard in homes built nowadays. Poles go a step further and decide on smart home systems with automation scenes. However, despite the growing popularity of smart home, there are still many myths concerning smart home automation. This is why we have decided to debunk some of the top myths people are mistaken with. We will start with the first 5 of them.

1. Smart home costs a fortune

Some say that the smart home has to be very expensive while using first simple solutions based on wired installations. Its cost which is actually high was dictated not only by the prices of the devices themselves but also by the need to include the system in the current electrical installation (which increased the price of the project) and the labor costs associated with installation and configuration.

The FIBARO system can be mounted on any electrical infrastructure available in the house or apartment. This is an extreme advantage: the system is designed to install within current installations.

FIBARO smart home system significantly reduces installation costs as well, even though it should still be carried out by a certified installer. Connecting elements within junction boxes of outlets and switches take few minutes. The installation of battery-powered smart home devices is even faster.

Moreover, FIBARO solutions are easy to integrate with other “home automation” elements, including those that are already installed. It means extreme convenience associated with merging all devices and their smart features within one smart system and optimizing costs. Let’s take the FIBARO roller shutter as an example. If it is combined with traditional motorized roller shutters that are cheaper than many radio-controlled systems available on the market.

If we were to translate this into specific amounts, the simplest smart solutions based on Apple HomeKit can close up in the amount of up to a few hundred dollars. The amount of about $4000 is enough to create a smart system having interesting features in a medium-sized facility. The amount of about $7500 and more will allow users to equip a house with an area of 100-150 sqm with a smart home system with extended features.

FIBARO solution is modular and this is the key to future extensions of the system possibilities. Nothing prevents you from initially installing a relatively simple and therefore relatively cheap system and set up new integrations in the future. The only really binding decision that you need to make before buying is the choice of core technology: Apple HomeKit or Z-Wave. The core of the above mentioned is Apple HomeKit (e.g. Apple TV or iPad as a HUB), the second is based on Home Center HUB related with Z-Wave technology.

2. Installation of smart home equipment is very complicated

Speaking about the assembly of the smart house system, it is worth distinguishing its two stages. The first is the assembly as such, that is, the installation of individual elements in the target places. The second is the configuration of the system.

The installation process of most battery-powered devices is not difficult at all. Part of the FIBARO system doesn’t even require tools: they can be successfully located on a wall, ceiling, or furniture using the provided double-sided tape. Some devices do not require any attachment by definition, such as a flood detector (Flood Sensor). Simply place the detector in the right place.

The Wall Plug is a smart outlet powered by a classic power circuit. In this case, the installation is reduced to connecting it to an existing outlet.

Devices dedicated to junction boxes to set smart features to switches and electrical outlets. The installation process is very simple, but for safety reasons, it should be done by a certified FIBARO installer. After all, we are talking about connecting them to a circuit of a 230V voltage.

The configuration is done through a user-friendly interface supported on a computer or mobile screens. As you can see, the setup process is theoretically and practically an easy stage, but nevertheless it is worth taking advantage of the experience of the installer. With dozens, and sometimes even hundreds of finished implementations, FIBARO installer is able to configure the smart home system in a way where it is optimally tailored just as the user wanted it to be including unique smart home automation scenes.

The help of a professional smart home installer is priceless even at the purchase stage. When you meet at the facility where you want to install the smart home installation, the installer can suggest new ideas or improve your plans to minimize costs and resources necessary to set up certain smart automation. Knowing all of the FIBARO smart home system advantages and integrations, an installer can advise you with a selection of devices and their arrangement that will best suit your needs.

In the case of large areas and really extensive business projects, his experience will be an absolute must to take advantage of certain points of view and the know-how about devices capabilities.

3. The smart home is difficult to maintain

Smart home systems are designed to make life easier for users and are designed to make it really happen. A well-configured system can work for many years. Using the system is dumbed-down to replacing the batteries in certain devices that are not powered via the electrical power supply.

Batteries can work up to two years and you do not even need to remember about replacing them. Furthermore, the user will receive info about low battery power to change it before it stops working. The battery replacement takes just a few seconds because the smart home devices are designed to require very little maintenance.

It is suggested to perform a system check-up by professional installer after about a month or two of use. After several years of experience, our experts have found out that verification run after that time can reduce unexpected system errors to a minimum. When speaking of the installer’s help, there is no need to have an appointment. User may grant remote access to the smart home system for his installer and the verification process can be performed remotely via an app designed for FIBARO installers, namely FIBARO Installer App.

4. Smart Home needs continuous Internet access

FIBARO’s smart home retains full functionality even when it is not connected to the Internet. The lack of access to the network does not affect automation done automatically such as switching on the lights at a certain time of a day or in response to detected motion. Moreover, Z-Wave technology keeps live all of the safety-critical automation features such as carbon monoxide detection, emergency gate opening, or water or gas emergency shut down. These features work even when the Home Center is turned off.

The lack of Internet access affects features that need access to certain cloud API’s or so. It concerns only smart automation features that need to do a backup in the cloud or remote management such as device on/off feature. However, you can still use your mobile devices or laptop to fully manage your system: all you need to do is connect your mobile or computer to the same Wi-Fi network where your smart home system items are located.

5. The smart home is difficult to use

FIBARO smart home system has been designed to make it easy for users that had never had any contact with smart home solutions before.
The mobile app available for your smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch is simple, intuitive, and very user-friendly with top UX design. It is much more user-friendly than complex control panels known from older smart home systems.

Furthermore, the smart devices themselves do not look to deviate from their traditional counterparts look. Some of them are mounted in junction boxes so that there are hidden. These smart home modules are neutral to the electrical circuit and can function as normal electrical components mirroring the basic switch or outlet features.

This way, referring to the popular saying, your guests can feel like home.

What does it mean? It means that if any of your guests will use the light switch in your living room, a single press of it with Single Switch in it will turn the ceiling lamp on and off. However, a double press can light all the lamps in the room, a longer hold, however, will close the blinds, leave the room light on and turn on the home theatre and TV.

 

 

Posted in Home Automation

Home Automation where to start

Home Automation where to start

Home automation and where to start is one of the hardest decisions. We regularly  find ourselves replacing the ‘wrong’ devices/products and replacing these with a well designed and planned approach. We are called to change these because the customer has usually received poor information or just based their decision on the first and cheapest smart product they have seen. Unfortunately, this exercise costs the client money in wasted time and equipment.

As integrators and as a Fibaro reseller, the best advice is to work from the desired end result or solution, as what you would like your home to do. Consider how it should feel and function, visualise the the end result, so  for example you don’t make the mistake of purchasing just Smart WiFi globes, which run on one application and then later realise you wanted full control of lighting, heating and cooling, security and audio visual, which will now have to run on another four separate applications. When these could have been integrated in the first place.

With the flexibility of some scalable automation systems these days, you don’t need to do it all in one hit but rather build your planned integrated system step-by-step as your budget allows.

As integrators and as a Fibaro reseller, the best advice is to work from the desired end result or solution, as what you would like your home to do. Consider how it should feel and function, visualise the the end result, so  for example you don’t make the mistake of purchasing Smart WiFi globes, which run on one application and then later realise you wanted full control of your lighting as well as your heating and cooling and security then you will need to use 3 separate applications. When these could have been integrated in the first place.

Posted in Home Automation
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