What are the elements of a home automation system?

At the most basic level, home automation systems are made up of three elements: a smart device, a hub, and a connected application.

While some smart systems work with just two of those above elements—a single device that works directly with an app or a hands-free hub that controls smart gadgets—most systems work through all three.

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Smart Hubs

The hub is the command center of your smart home ecosystem. It’s the piece that connects your individual devices and helps them talk to one another. Some systems have hubs that work only with devices from the same manufacturer, while others—like the Amazon Echo—work with myriad pieces.

Connected Mobile Apps

An app is what gives you the ability to control or monitor your smart devices remotely. You simply download the system’s companion app and pair it with your hub, and you’re done. While each product’s app works a bit differently, they generally provide power controls, timer access, and more.

Smart Devices

Smart devices are the real workhorses of a smart home system.

They’re the parts that actually implement commands. Here are just a few examples of the different types of smart devices you may be able to add to a system:

  1. Access Control and Security Gadgets: Access control and security devices include security cameras, smart locks, and motion sensors.
  2. Appliances: Almost any appliance could become a part of your home automation system in the next few years. Smart refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, and ovens already exist. Smaller appliances, such as connected coffee pots and slow cookers, have been around for a while, too.
  3. Climate Controls: Climate control services often dovetail with energy management systems. Smart thermostats are the most popular example of climate controllers.
  4. Resource Managers: Smart energy management devices include remote sprinkler controls and energy monitoring devices. Smart switches and strips fall into this category, too.
  5. Entertainment Pieces: Entertainment includes smart TVs, wireless speakers, and film projectors.
  6. Health Care Devices: Health care systems are a growing area in the smart home industry. Smart humidifiers and smart scales are two common examples.
  7. Lighting Controls: Lighting controls require little fanfare. They cover dimmers, lightbulbs, light strips, and switches. Many manufacturers live in the lighting space, including GE, Philips, and Belkin.

Also, while not technically a part of the home automation system, your internet connection, modem, and router often perform critical roles. A high-speed internet plan ensures smooth connectivity and reliable performance between Wi-Fi enabled devices.

Now that you understand the basic elements of home automation, head over to our Beginners Guide to Home Automation resource to learn more.

Celeste Tholen
Written by
Celeste Tholen
Celeste has dedicated her decade-long career to reporting and reviews that help people make well-informed decisions. She oversees editorial strategy and production for SafeWise, with a goal to help people find the information they need to make their homes and lives safer. Prior to SafeWise, she worked as an editor and reporter for KSL and Deseret News. She continues to report on local news as a volunteer with the community paper. For the last six years, she’s led a Girl Scout troop, teaching girls about safety and preparing for whatever life throws their way.

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