From the smallest studios to the largest homes, it's important to choose devices and their locations throughout the home properly to make sure that the smart home functions optimally. Walls, metal objects, and other barriers can cause significant weakening of Wi-Fi signals, and even Z-Wave and Insteon mesh networks can benefit from careful planning of the distribution of devices in a home.
On the other hand, hard-wired devices, and ethernet-connected devices provide robust communication and reliability, but may require new wire to be laid down.
Network Communication Protocols
Devicebook supports the following network communication protocols for a smart home:
- Wi-Fi / Ethernet LAN, including PoE
A Devicebook Smart Home's devices can use any combination of the above protocols. For example, a room's smart light switches may use Wi-Fi to communicate with the Devicebook Hub, while the motion sensors in the room use Z-Wave.
Communication Protocol recommendations
When you select devices, the following general recommendations on communication protocols may be useful.
1. Hard-wired are those which communicate with the Devicebook Hub's I/O pins directly, and as such do not rely on any wireless communication. These devices are the most secure and reliable, the easiest to set up, and relatively maintenance-free (no need to replace batteries). They are very much the preferred choice in all cases, if existing cables can be used or new cables can be installed.
Learn about Setting Up hard-wired devices here: Installing, Setting Up & Linking Hard-wired Devices in House Check.
2. PoE (Power-over-ethernet) is a good choice for many devices, especially surveillance cameras and doorbells that need higher bandwidth and operate continuously. These devices are similar to Hard-wired devices due to the reliability of their communication, and the fact that they also do not require batteries. However, you will need to be able to reach the device with an ethernet cable.
Learn about setting up PoE devices here: Installing, Setting Up, & Linking Power-over-ethernet Devices.
3. Wi-Fi devices are the recommended first choice for wireless options. They have the best overall coverage, and are the most reliable, but are almost never powered by battery. You'll likely need to connect the device to main/AC power.
If you are planning to use Wi-Fi devices in a smart home, you should first estimate the signal strength of the Hub's Wi-Fi network around the home. Learn how to do this here: Network Planning for Wi-Fi Devices.
Learn about setting up Wi-Fi devices here: Setting Up & Linking Wi-Fi Devices in House Check.
4. Z-Wave is a wireless mesh network. Messages are relayed via intermediate devices to increase coverage area. Z-Wave devices can be both battery or AC-powered. AC-powered intermediate devices or range extenders are usually required to cover most homes. While Z-Wave installations might require more complicated network planning than other protocols, it does offer more device choices and options.
There are 3 generations of Z-Wave devices: Z-Wave (often referred as Classic), Z-Wave Plus, and Z-Wave Plus V2. Z-Wave Classic devices should be avoided. Z-Wave Plus can be used and is fully supported by Devicebook. Z-Wave Plus V2 devices are preferred because they have the best range, reliability, and battery life.
Learn to plan out a Z-Wave network here: Network Planning for Z-Wave Devices.
Learn about setting up Z-Wave devices here: Setting Up & Linking Z-Wave Devices in House Check.
5. Insteon provides a dual-band network. Signals are propagated through the power line wiring of the home, as well as through the Insteon wireless radio network. Due to the power-line communication, this is a communication protocol that can cover longer distances or detached buildings such as garages. One major downside is that Insteon device selection is very limited.
Learn to plan out an Insteon network here: Network Planning for Insteon Devices.
Learn about setting up Insteon devices here: Setting Up & Linking Insteon Devices in House Check.
Note that you can use devices from any combination of the above communication protocols, but it may be more efficient to stick to using one or two in any given smart home.
The following sections list some common design considerations for specific device types.