Home Automation Resiliency
While home automation systems have been revolutionizing how technology is integrated into our homes and domestic life, the resiliency of those automation systems has given homeowners and building professionals alike many headaches.
Our team here at JACI are here to prove that controlling the home’s entertainment, security and access, communications, climate, lighting, and more does not need to lead to time consuming and expensive issues, so long as the right smart home designs are implemented.
For home automation systems, resiliency is the system’s ability to be user-friendly and remain operational in the face of unexpected problems and issues, such as loss of power or internet, hardware malfunctions, security threats, and more.
We have some great tips for improving a home system’s resiliency that can save both time and money, so keep on reading.
Do the individual systems function independent of a controller?
The controller of the home automation system is perhaps one of the most important aspects of home automation, as it’s the brain that connects individual devices together in your network and allows you to control everything from a dedicated interface or a device such as a phone, tablet, or computer.
One of our handy suggestions is to check that each of your devices are also capable of operating independently of the controller. Ask your smart home specialist if it’s possible to use your devices independently of the controller, either manually or through separate apps that you can download.
In many legacy home systems, a failing controller can also mean that automated devices no longer work, such as light switches, climate control, and associated security systems, leading to homeowners becoming overwhelmed by the problem. Should something happen to the controller, you are still going to need your devices to work until the problem is fixed, so choosing the right devices when designing an automated home system is key for creating a more resilient and user friendly home.
How reliant is the system on the internet/network?
Is the system going to continue functioning if there is a disruption to the internet or network? In order to improve the system’s resiliency, it is important that you choose devices based on whether or not they can function without an internet connect.
Although most modern smart homes utilize protocols such as Zigbee, Zwave, or Insteon to allow devices to communicate between each other and the controller, they still may not be able to function without an internet connection.
Cloud-based devices, Google home assistants, Alexa, and many other devices, regardless of your network’s chosen protocol, are not going to work without internet no matter what you do. You can improve your home’s resiliency by avoiding these devices, using these devices for non-essential roles in your home, or using multiple access methods so that, should these devices lose functionality, you can still access and control the other devices in your smart home.
Are you implementing multiple access methods or a manual override?
As mentioned above, one of the biggest drawbacks to older legacy systems is the reliance on a single point of failure, such as the controller, where everything is routed through a single point and cannot be used if that point fails.
In the case of using the lights in your home, when you hit the manual light switch, you don’t want the command to be solely routed through the controller in order to use the lights, like in many legacy homes. We recommend sourcing a controller that can sense the state of the light switch, so that the controller can turn the light on/off when it’s functioning while also allowing the manual switch to function independently.
The same system can be used for climate control, doors, security systems and so on. Doing so will provide you with a manual override option for devices so that your access is not dependent on the controller alone.
Home automation system security
Maintaining the security of a smart home comes in two different forms: using home automation for security of the property, and ensuring that the system itself is secure.
While most automated home security systems work the same as traditional security systems via cameras and security lights, we recommend linking different devices through the smart home controller to activate when another device is triggered. For example, when a security camera picks up movement outside, this could also trigger an alarm to go off, blinds to close in order to restrict visibility into the house, and an alarm message to be sent directly to your mobile phone.
In order to secure the system itself, we recommend running the system through a secure router that is from a different company than your internet service provider, and using a secure encryption method for your Wi-Fi such as WPA2. You can also get a completely separate Wi-Fi network to connect all of your automated devices to, which also helps to increase the all-round internet speed of your home.
You can also consider using two-factor or multi-factor authentication security options for your home automation system. In order to access the system, a user would need to provide a passcode, fingerprint, or facial ID in order to gain access, so that only you, your family, and those who you authorize can have access.
How are you going to recover the system after a failure?
Recovering from a system failure is best done with planning and thought before the failure happens when you are designing your system. If unprepared, reconfiguring devices just the way you liked them can be time consuming and frustrating.
With older smart home systems, you would have to map out your home with the locations and custom names of all of your devices in order to easily reprogram each device into your controller when resetting after a failure. You can save a lot of time and effort by choosing a controller that regularly backs up information onto the cloud, so that all of your devices and their personalized behavior settings can be easily transferred to a new controller in the case of a failure.
You are also going to need to collect and have on hand all of the factory reset and configuration procedures for your devices, since you are most likely going to need to reset your devices in order to connect them to a new controller.
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