You should know this before using any IoT device at home

As our homes become increasingly equipped with home automation devices, such as motion sensors, video surveillance cameras, and WiFi relays for convenient lighting control, it’s crucial to consider our specific needs and the compatibility of our local network with home automation requirements. Without proper planning and consideration, unforeseen challenges may arise, leading to regrettable outcomes.

To ensure a successful home automation setup, it’s essential to understand what you truly need and thoroughly research various brands and models that align with those needs. In this article, we aim to guide you through reevaluating your installation choices and determining whether the selected devices are indeed the right fit for your home automation goals.


Aspects to consider when buying an IoT device

If you’re considering purchasing an IoT device like a sensor, WiFi relay, HVAC control system, or video surveillance IP camera, it’s important to pay close attention to the following aspects to ensure a satisfying purchase.

Wireless connectivity

Wi-Fi connectivity is now a common feature in households, thanks to Wi-Fi routers and Wi-Fi Mesh systems. With the widespread availability of Wi-Fi, setting up and configuring various smart devices such as sensors and relays has become much more convenient. However, it’s worth noting that while home IP cameras require a high bandwidth connection for real-time video streaming, other devices with lower bandwidth requirements can utilize alternative wireless technologies.

Two popular wireless technologies for home automation are Zigbee and Z-Wave. These technologies are specifically designed to create mesh networks that ensure reliable communication among devices. To integrate Zigbee or Z-Wave devices into your home network, you’ll need a central hub that connects them to your local network.

In the coming year, two important technologies, namely Thread and Matter, are set to revolutionize home automation. Leading manufacturers are already introducing devices compatible with multiple communication protocols, with a focus on these emerging technologies. If you’re planning to set up a home automation system, it might be worth waiting a few months for these technologies to mature and see what new devices and compatibility options become available.

Manufacturer with support for updates

Choosing the right manufacturer is crucial when purchasing IoT devices. While there are many inexpensive “Chinese” manufacturers available, they may not provide adequate support in terms of firmware updates, which are essential for adding new features or fixing existing ones. However, it’s worth noting that certain Chinese manufacturers, like Xiaomi, are highly recommended due to their quality components and regular update releases.

In the current transition period from WiFi/ZigBee/Z-Wave to Thread/Matter, it becomes even more important to select a reputable brand when buying devices that promise Matter compatibility. Opting for a well-known brand ensures that you won’t miss out on the promised updates and compatibility as the technology evolves.

Correctly configure the local network

In order to establish a robust home automation network, configuring the local network, whether wired or wireless, is of utmost importance. Consider implementing the following settings:

1. Set up a dedicated VLAN for home automation: It is advisable to place all devices, both wired and wireless, on this specific network.
2. Configure a separate WiFi network for home automation: Some routers, like ASUS models, offer the flexibility to create multiple WiFi network names (SSID) for different purposes.
3. Utilize VLANs on the LAN with a compatible router: If your router, such as those in the ASUS PRO range, supports VLANs on the LAN, you can establish separate wired and wireless networks within defined VLANs. This capability is also available in routers from manufacturers like QNAP and Synology.
4. Enable AP isolation in the home automation network: This feature ensures that only WiFi devices within the home automation network can communicate with each other, isolating them from the rest of the network.

Although currently there are limited devices that support VLAN configuration on the LAN, if you have the option to invest in a compatible router, it is ideal for organizing your home automation network separately from regular use and guest networks, enhancing security and efficiency.

Home Assistant Compatibility

Home Assistant stands as one of the most comprehensive operating systems for home automation. This powerful system enables us to seamlessly integrate and manage a wide range of devices and manufacturers, granting centralized control and adding a touch of “intelligence” to our living space. With Home Assistant, we can create automated routines such as raising the blinds in the morning and initiating the coffee maker, as well as receive notifications if the garage door is left open and automatically close it after a certain period.

The versatility of Home Assistant shines through its compatibility with various platforms, including PCs, NAS servers, and even Raspberry Pi. Whether through a virtual machine or Docker, this system effortlessly adapts to any computer within our home environment. Best of all, Home Assistant is completely free, accompanied by extensive documentation and a vibrant community dedicated to this captivating project.

NAS server as home automation center

If you possess a NAS server, it presents an excellent opportunity to transform it into a centralized hub for home automation. By installing the Home Assistant operating system on your NAS, you can harness its potential and leverage additional software to manage IP cameras and oversee video surveillance throughout your home. Leading NAS manufacturers such as QNAP, Synology, and ASUSTOR offer dedicated applications to transform their devices into comprehensive NVRs, allowing you to record and monitor all activities. By combining these capabilities with Home Assistant, you can trigger various automations when motion is detected.

Owning a NAS empowers you to install compelling software that enhances your home automation experience. With the ability to perform full virtualization of operating systems like Home Assistant and employ lightweight virtualization through Docker, you can effortlessly incorporate additional software that suits your needs. This approach enables you to establish a centralized home automation center while having the flexibility to back up its contents to the cloud or another server within your setup.