Most Popular Home Automation Systems in Europe
Don’t know where to start when looking to automate your home? Here are 5 popular home automation systems widely used in Europe.
But first, what exactly is home automation? It is used to control basic and advanced functions of your household from one or more devices. If your home is automated then you can proudly call it ‘Smart House’. Household functions can also be controlled via smart phones/tablets which gives you the possibility to monitor and control your house where ever you are. You can also have notifications sent to you if anything out the ordinary happens such as smoke or security alarms going off.
These basic functions can include; lighting, heating, security, music, locks, windows, plug sockets etc. Almost anything electronic or that can make electronic such as curtain rails or blinds.
All these functions such as lighting and heating are usually controlled by many different makes and companies. The problem is that because they can all be made by different manufactures they cannot communicate with each other. You may have one application that controls the lights and then have to open other applications to control the heating or air conditioning.
To solve this, there are different Home Automated Systems which connect the devices together either wired or via Wi-Fi. This allows everything automated in the house to be controlled through just one device and application instead of many and allows the devices to communicate and work together.
In the last decade, Home Automation has grown and spread all over the world. Hundreds of companies have taken it upon themselves to try and create a perfect system for us to assimilate these devices into our homes to make our daily lives easier.
All Over Europe different countries have favoured different companies for their automated home. We shall be looking into a few of the favourites from different countries in Europe.
In countries such as the United Kingdom, Iceland, Greenland etc. there is a popular Home Automated System called:
The Loxone Company offers a miniserver that connects all your household functions and runs them all from one Smart Phone App. Everything from light controls, automatic blind timers, security alarms and cameras, fire alarms/smoke detectors. It really can connect a magnitude of different devices. I even spied a Sauna controller that can turn a Sauna on/off and control the heating and humidity of the room from your app, now that is very classy!
A large positive of Loxone is that they have developed what they call the ‘Loxone Tree’ and it is a new way of wiring the System. It saves up to 80% of wiring that most other systems use. It connects the devices on a room-to-room basis and not by device.
For example, instead of having a wire that goes from the main server to one light in a room and then to the next light in a different room and so on until every light has been wired. It just has a wire that goes to one room, then connects to the light, the heating, the alarms, the switches etc. it doesn’t matter if they are not the same device. This is a very new way of wiring up am Automated Home.
In other areas of Northern Europe such as Sweden, Greenland and Denmark Control4 is very popular choice.
Control4 is a powerful and reliable connection to a large range of devices. It is partnered with a variety of over 8000 popular companies that makes smart devices for your home such a ‘Nest thermostat’ and ‘Sonos’. This means that there is a good likelihood that no matter what technology you get to make your home smarter, it will be compatible with the Control4system.
Control4 also kept up-to-date with today’s growing technology and allows you to control your house from your iWatch. It has never been easier to control your house than now.
The only differences between lots of Home Automated Companies are the Interfaces that are used to control the house.
Home Automated Systems have become that popular in the world today that even less developed countries are getting in on the action. Croatia has their own Home Automation System Company Zipato.
It is now a worldwide company in over 60 countries. It offers a cloud-based server that is communicates with a ‘controller’ in your house that is connected to every device in the household. They provide 24/7 monitoring, intelligent alerting and secure remote control.
In addition to the usual Automated Systems you expect such as lightning, scheduling etc. Zipato also offers a range of other services (Figure 7) such as a ‘Health’ Service for those who are at risk of injuring themselves. If you are a carer or live with an elderly relative/partner then Zipato will use smart notifications to let you know if something is out of the ordinary using sensors around the house. These notifications can be sent to yourself, neighbours or emergency services.
Also, at a press of a button those at risk can call for help instead of struggle on their own, it is a very good service.
Towards the East, Russia and even the Ukraine is favouring a platform called iRidium.
It uses software that lets you create your own user interface that you can then upload to other devices such as smart phones and tablets. This gives you complete control over how you control your house to the controller (such as a phone) as simple or as complicated as you can imagine.
Although, this option will be for customers who have a fair amount of computer ‘knowhow’, as creating those interfaces will not be a simple piece of work (Figure 8). However, for those who can do it, it will be a much more affordable option than most Home Automated Systems, and the interface would look however you wanted it.
The most popular Home Automation Company favoured by Germany is KNX.
We will be finishing with Germany for the sole reason that each of these different household products can only connect together because they have adopted a ‘Standard’ that is used by very many international manufacturers that allows them to communicate together. KNX is that the worldwide standard for Home and Building control and it talks to all other aforementioned systems through various gateways.
The advantage of using KNX is that there is a very large range of different products to suit your every need (over 400 manufacturers with 1000’s of products). You can pick any products to suit your purpose and have them all connected together.
This allows them to share information about the rooms they are controlling and allows the house to be more energy sufficient. You would not need as many interfaces around the house because just one could control everything you need.
Also, one of the major benefits of KNX is that because it is The Standard, it can guarantee that your products will be upgradable in the future. What you install now will not be left behind as more technology comes out, even if it is from different suppliers.
There are a variety of other great control systems not mentioned here, as for example Crestron, Z-Wave, Zigbee and others. I bet you never knew there was so many! Listed above are only a very small amount of the many that are used out there today, but at least you can get the sense of the most widely used ones in the market today.