You can use the terms “smart home” and “home automation” interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two. Both are meant to make life easier by making day to day tasks happen automatically. But “automation” and “smart” devices are different. All smart devices have a level of automation, but not all automation devices are smart.
Home automation has been around for decades, and many devices were available long before the internet existed. Automating your home doesn’t have to be costly, and you don’t have to be a tech genius to do it. Your parents and your grandparents were automating their homes with light timers, motion lights and automatically starting coffee pots, and they’re clearly not tech savvy.
When you picture your goals for an automated home, I’m sure you’re not thinking of the light timers and coffee pots of yesteryear, but they do work automatically, and they do make life much easier. You can think of devices like motion lights as basic home automation, and you can augment them with smart devices. For instance, if you already have a motion light for your driveway, you can add smart functionality by replacing the light switch with a Belkin WeMo Light Switch. This would give your motion light the added functionality of being controlled by an app, a built in timer, and nearly endless recipes through IFTTT.
Smart home devices are relatively new. Calling a device “smart” implies some sort of interconnection with other devices and/or the internet. This is where the term “internet of things” comes in to play. With our WeMo example from before, you can upgrade your light switch to be able to be controlled via wifi from anywhere you have an internet connection. An added benefit of most smart devices is that they can upgrade their firmware automatically and download additional functionality at no cost to you.
You can get started automating your home for less than ten dollars with light timers or motion sensors, while smart devices may cost significantly more. No matter which you choose, each device you install will make your life slightly easier and automate boring, repetitive tasks.