Spend just a few minutes searching online and you will find an almost endless supply of articles and blog posts discussing home automation and smart homes. Often times, the two terms are used interchangeably. But are they one and the same? No, they aren’t.
A smart home is a physical home equipped with smart devices. Home automation is a technological means of controlling smart devices. More importantly, not all devices deemed smart can be automated. This translates into a very big difference between homes when you are discussing what the devices of each home are capable of.
The Home Automation Concept
The home automation concept actually isn’t new. We might think of home automation in terms of a Vivint Smart Home system that includes a smart thermostat, a number of security features, and programmable lighting. But think way back to when the washing machine was first invented.
A washing machine is a home automation device. It eliminates the need to wash clothes manually with a tub of hot water and a washboard. You simply throw your clothes in, add some detergent, close the lid, and push a button. The machine takes it from there. It is programmed to automatically run through a wash and rinse cycle without any effort from you.
Home Automation with Smart Devices
Today’s home automation is taken to a new level with the help of smart devices. For example, a smart refrigerator can run a complete inventory and automatically create a shopping list for you, then send that list to your phone so you can shop on the way home from work.
However, not all smart devices can be automated. Take the smart door lock. There is no automation involved. That’s because the lock doesn’t have any functions in need of automation. You would not want to automate locking and unlocking your door anyway. That would be too risky.
The Smart Home Concept
The smart home concept is similar to home automation except that automation is not always a requirement. You have already read about the smart lock and the fact that it has no automation capabilities. Yet it is still considered smart because it can be accessed remotely through internet conductivity and a smartphone app.
Likewise, a video doorbell offers no built-in automation, with the possible exception of sending an alert to your smartphone when someone approaches the front door. And yet the video doorbell perfectly encapsulates the smart home concept.
A well-designed smart home takes advantage of automation wherever possible. And where it is not possible, remote access and control still make the home easier to manage. Some devices even offer the best of both worlds.
The Smart Thermostat
Consider the smart thermostat. It can be automated by way of programming and artificially intelligent programming adjustments. But a smart thermostat can also be accessed and controlled remotely. Are you planning to work a few hours extra? Temporarily override the thermostat using your smartphone, right from the office.
Throw in Security Features
Both home automation and the smart home can be enhanced even further with the addition of security equipment. For instance, a smart home equipped with a number of wireless video cameras should be more secure. Those video cameras can be accessed remotely. They can also send alerts when motion is detected.
Home automation and the smart home are often discussed together because they are so tightly integrated. That being said, they still aren’t the same thing. Home automation is a strategy while the smart home is a physical structure with smart devices installed. It is no more complicated than that.