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Connectivity options for Home Automation

SmartCity, SmartHome, Smart... has entered out vocabulary in increasing frequency. Recently Home Automation has picked up a lot of traction with multiple players.
It is important to know how these automation products get their connectivity for control.
Some of the main connectivity options are:


They all work with different protocols and platforms. One has to consider inter-operability while choosing one or the other. Cost, availability, ease of use and power consumption are also of concern.


It is widely used. Most homes have Wi-Fi routers and a wireless hub where they can connect to devices. Interference and bandwidth are the main issues as most people have already experienced. It is also high on power consumption. A real guzzler.

Read more here:


This has become very common as they are used in headphones, speakers and a number of other products.  Bandwidth-wise,


Consumption of power-wise it is better than Wi-Fi. The new Bluetooth low energy or BLE has greater range and capable of forming mesh network and not needing a hub. This clearly has winning points for home applications as it supports encryption as well.

More here:

*Bluetooth Low Energy (LE)
*Bluetooth Basic Rate/Enhanced Data Rate (BR/EDR)


Devices using Insteon use both Power lines as well as wireless increasing pathways and introducing redundancy. Insteon is X10 compatible which makes it easy for those using X10. It does not have a high learning curve and non-technical folk can use it.

Read more here:

Here is a comparison sheet for some of the connectivity technologies:

Universal Powerline Bus(UPB)
Universal Powerline Bus(UPB) is a replacement for X10 with superior reliability and range (mile plus range). The signal rides piggy back over the powerline reducing cost for separate control lines. Although it replaces X10, it is not compatible with it. It is also incompatible with newer technologies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. Lacking encryption, it is not as secure as wireless.

Read here are for more:

 Z-Wave runs on 908.42 MHz. It is one of the most popular home automation protocols and does not interfere with your 2.4GHz band devices.  It is widely compatible with all Z-wave family of products. Compatible backwards and forwards. Setting up and using the devices are a breeze.

Read more here:


Very similar to Z-Wave.  There appears to be interoperability problems between Zigbee devices from different manufacturers.(

It is low cost, low power and can run on batteries. It uses the 802.15.4 Wireless protocol and uses mesh network structure. Zigbee 3.0 appears to be better for compatibility with Zigbee from others.

Read more here:


Thread is an open, IPv6-based, low-power, secure and future-proof mesh networking technology (6LoWPAN) for IoT products. The Personal Area Network Thread protocol specification is publicly available.
Images from TomsHardware site

Read here:,29556.html

Post inspired by the various technology sites in the post 

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More Stories By Jayaram Krishnaswamy

Jayaram Krishnaswamy is a technical writer, mostly writing articles that are related to the web and databases. He is the author of SQL Server Integration Services published by Packt Publishers in the UK. His book, 'Learn SQL Server Reporting Services 2008' was also published by Packt Publishers Inc, Birmingham. 3. "Microsoft SQL Azure Enterprise Application Development" (Dec 2010) was published by Packt Publishing Inc. 4. "Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch Business Application Development [Paperback] "(2011) was published by Packt Publishing Inc. 5. "Learning SQL Server Reporting Services 2012 [Paperback]" (June 2013) was Published by Packt Publishing Inc. Visit his blogs at: He writes articles on several topics to many sites.