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We often hear Smart Home and Home Automation used synonymously, there is actually big divide. We also see people confusing smart gadgets with the both smart homes and home automation again this is not the same thing. Let's look at each.

Smart Gadgets

Smart gadgets are at the lowest level. A smart gadget can be any "micro" computer or controlled device that makes use of connectivity. Things like smart washer and dryers, fridges, dishwashers and alike. These devices are wonderful but really kind of a stand alone component, your fridge doesn't need input from you or anything else to operate. All of the smart features of these kinds of devices are just that, features. Certainly those features can be incorporated into more useful scenarios. 

 

Home Automation

Home Automation is the next level up. It requires some level of planning and execution. It is almost exclusively dominated by time. Turning on or off a driveway light at a certain time. Turning on or off irrigation at a certain time. These are examples of home automations, nice but hardly smart. The smartest device we really have here is a light sensor. However, just like smart gadgets we can with the appropriate hardware make more use of these things.

 

Smart Home

This is the top. The primary thing here is we need sensors and some sort of "brain". This is also where some confusion sets in. We see the term "Hub" tossed around a great deal. A hub can be the "brain" but not all "Hubs" are, in fact most are not. Most devices billed as "hubs" are just a really nice timer or a communications device for the features of those smart gadgets. They allow for interaction with different devices but not for conditional operation. This is where the rubber meets the road, a smart home needs to be "programmed". We use an if then else programming model. With this model and proper sensors we can use a weather sensor to tell our irrigation system to run or not to based on weather information collected by that sensor. We can set up programs to regulate our HVAC system based on current weather conditions and weather predictions. We can charge our electric cars based on electric consumption and rates. One can see that a smart home is really taking those smart gadgets and the concepts of home automation and taking it to the next level.