Zigbee Home Automation – Getting Started
If you are contemplating installing some form of the home automation system and are inclined towards incremental DIY builds, you will find platforms like Zigbee and Z-Wave more attractive.
The ZigBee Home Automation standard (ZigBee HA) is an internationally recognized automation protocol geared towards managing energy consumption and home security. The biggest advantage in ZigBee HA is that all the devices you purchase will be compatible with the system regardless of the manufacturer or market brand name.
What is ZigBee?
ZigBee is an open source communication protocol designed to let a variety of Internet of Things (IoT) devices talk to each other. The protocol is built to maximize on three of the most important things people look for when venturing into home automation:
- Power efficiency
- Interoperability and freedom to buy devices from multiple manufacturers
ZigBee home automation devices form a network and work hand in hand to facilitate inter-device communication and range. The more sensors and actuators you have in the system the more communication channels you get.
Couple this with the fact that ZigBee uses 16 different channels in the 2.4GHz frequency band to transmit data at the rate of 250kbit/s and you get a relative reliable home automation protocol with scalability in mind.
Get Started With Zigbee Home Automation – What do You Need?
Most homeowners getting started with Zigbee home automation will look for the basic gadget that will form the network’s backbone. The easiest way out would be by investing in a starter kit that contains the basic sensors, actuators, and gateway.
The Gateway is the Heart of the System
Your Zigbee home automation gateway sits at the very center of the system. Even though the gadgets can connect to each other through the mesh network, you will still need the gateway to make sense of this data before mirroring it back to your controlling computer or smartphone.
The gateway will be your network controller and will ensure that the home automation software you are running on your Zigbee HA can efficiently communicate with all the system gadgets. The gateway will also form an interface between your system and the web hence letting you control your home from virtually anywhere as long as the gateway is connected to the web.
A Typical Zigbee HA Starter Kit could consist of:
- A gateway
- A motion sensor
- A Window sensor
- A smoke alarm
- A Zigbee compatible thermostat
- One or more on and off switches
- Smart plug
If you don’t want to lock your PC or laptop into running the Zigbee home automation system, you can base all your scene programming on the compact but affordable Raspberry Pi.