It’s the question, which smart home applications make sense. Of course this depends also on your home, e.g. if you have a house where it makes sense to install CTVs or if you just have a small appartment.
You should also select via which service provider you wanna manage your smart home.
For the time being, there are only three big three providing a generic interface, Amazon, Apple and Google.
As I am much more Google attached, I was opting for that provider.
On the other hand, it’s not mandatory, to use one of the big service providers at all. Because every smart home provider/device comes with an app anyways. But then you have to manage every device on it’s own. And I guess it’s very rare that you will have all devices only from one vendor. So you can expect, that your setup will consist of devices from different vendors.
There are – of course – different solutions available. I didn’t want to be dependent on one vendor, so I opted for a solution where every device is connected to the local WiFi network, without the need of a hub or something else.
During the configuration you usually have to provide your local WiFi password, as the devices provide a WiFi network (during installation only) on their own. You have to trust that the apps are not forwarding the password to their servers. Otherwise just change the password of your home WiFi after the installation.
I was also setting up a second network on my FritzBox router, a so called guest network. But not all devices are able to be setup with this network. I didn’t bother to find out why. As the smart devices are on the same network as all the other devices you can just hope that they do no harm to your private network. If you wanna be on the safe side you should put another router behind your internet router for your private network so that both networks are really separated from each other.
For the operation the devices are setting up VPNs to their cloud services. Some of the apps make it transparent if they are operating via the cloud/VPN or via the local WiFi network.
If you connect the cloud service of a device to e. g. Google home or IFTTT, you have to provide your cloud login credentials of the cloud services there. Then you can use e. g. Google assistant to control your devices. See the following picture for the network setup of my smart home applications.
As you can see from the picture I’m using the following devices:
- LED strips for indirect lightning, plus a power supply for each controller
- A dimmable light bulb
- A vacuuming and mobbing robot, Ecovacs 930
- Fritz 301 heating controllers (works with a DECT Fritz Box only)
- A power socket
- Blind controllers (there are also some available from IKEA)
- A Lenovo display
All devices can be controlled with the respective mobile app and are included in the google home app. In the google home app, you can assign each device to a home/room, and e.g. tell via the google assistant „switch on the (all) lights in the living room.
The Lenovo display has a special role as you can there also control the other smart home devices via the google assistant. And you can also configure that a slide show with pictures from your google photos are shown. All google assistant commands that don’t require specific mobile apps like whatapp are supported.