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Which Controller?

Smarthome controller | Which one suits my needs

The choice of the right smart gateway is very important, it is the first step in your domotics adventure, and once chosen  you do not change that easily anymore. A well-considered choice based on sufficient knowledge is therefore important.

Some conciderations:
1) A complete system or a DIY-system?
Fancy a complete controller with hard- and software and wireless readio, or you build your own?
2) Which type of communication to choose?
Do you need  Z-wave, Zigbee, the more affordable 433Mhz, or maybe Apple's HomeKit.
3) What kind of integration with other systems are there?
What you want is a 1 app controll of all your devices. Whatever protocol they are.
4) How easy is to make a scene and how complex can you make them?
A home automation system is so much more than just switching the lights via your smartphone.
5) What is your budget?
There are smarthome systems from 100 euro and up.
1) Complete- or DIY-smarthomesysteem?
You can choose to use a complete smarthome controller that you just need to turn on. Or you buy a USB stick and you build one yourself with (free) software and a Raspberry Pi or NAS. The choice is yours. A complete controller is more expensive, but also offers more support when you have questions or problems.
Are you a hobbyist then a USB stick with Domoticz is a good option. If you want to use domotics and it is less your hobby than we recommend a complete controller.

2) What communication protocol to choose?
There are several wireless systems available. But which one do you choose now?

Z-wave and Zigbee
These are the 'better' smarthome systems with 2-way communication and mesh-technology. The system always know the status of your lights and devices. The mains-powered smart modules will act as a repeater for better coverage. The modules are deerer than 433Mhz budget models. Z-wave is a more open platform than zigbee.
A Z-wave controller will work with most Z-wave actors and sensors. A zigbee router is more dedicated designed for a special appliance. Philips HUE for example is a closed zigbee system.
433Mhz Budget
You might know this system when you have a christmas tree and one-of-those wall sockets with a remote. Its based on the popular 433Mhz frequency without 2-way status confirmation and no repeater functionality. The price is lower than Z-wave or Zigbee
Apple has also developed a home automation platform. The disadvantage is that it only works with Apple products. It is simple and nicely integrated, but it is limited in terms of personal preferences.
WiFi smarthome
We think that WiFi is not the best solution for a wireless home automation solution. It is the best solution to let the different smart controllers talk to each other.
For larger smarthome systems, we usually recommend the Z-wave protocol as the best solution. However, if you want something as simple as a lamp in the corner of the room to switch smartly then 433Mhz Budget is fine, and you can choose a controller with that technology. Of course it can also be that you already have 433Mhz and have become enthusiastic about the possibilities. When you want to expand your smarthome system. you can also choose a controller that supports multiple protocols like the Homey.
- Homey
Homey - a Dutch product- and very good solution when you want to control more than 1 protocol. With his 7 channels he can control almost everything. You can then operate both your existing Click-On-Click-Off gear, and you can also control Z-Wave products and even zigbee.

Do you start all over and want a solid smarthome system with one-stop shopping, where you can buy the smart controller, all your smart switches and all your smart sensors all from the same brand? Then we recommend the FIBARO products wholeheartedly. FIBARO is as a domotica brand is in our opinion a topper.
3) Connection with other systems
Smarthome automation is fun, but linking it to other systems like Alexa and Sonos makes the experience really great. The connection between the different systems is usually done via your local (WiFi) network. The controller sends a message to another controller, which will control the wirelessly connected device. An example of this is the FIBARO controller (Z-wave) that sends a message to the Philips Hue Bridge (Zigbee) via the network. The bridge translates this into a zigbee command. Voila, the Homecenter 2 controls the Zigbee light :). In this  way you can operate all smart devices with one controller. Ideal for a Home-Away scene.

This link is called an API.
Homey has a very extensive user community that makes all kinds of nice links (up to a Tesla link). At FIBARO this is mainly done by the developers of FIBARO itself. There is also a FIBARO marketplace where you can download links created by senior users.

4) How simple is it to make scenes and how complex can you make them?

Each controller can create scenes. At Homey, more people have opted for an end-user approach. Scenes are created with the flow editor, a graphic shell where you create a trigger (every day at 08.00) and a number of actions that are executed (lamp on), possibly. with a delay.
This concept can also be found in the FIBARO Home Center Lite, the entry-level model of FIBARO. This involves working with block scenes, a similar solution to the flows at Homey. Do you have a USB stick and Domoticz? Then you have the opportunity to make similar scenes with blocky.
The FIBARO Home center 2 offers, just like the Lite, the possibility to create block scenes. It is also possible to convert the blockscenes to LUA code, after which you can adjust the code according to your own insight to really get the most out of your controller. When do you use that?
- Many products in the FIBARO market store use LUA
- To point an IP camera at a door that opens
- If you want the dog to bark when the doorbell rings

5) What is your budget
Your budget is also a factor when choosing a smarthome system. Although wireless smarthome systems are less expensive than wired systems like KNX (in excess of €15.000). You can start with a system from €100. A good and mature wireless smarthome system will cost between 1000 and 3000 euro. When you install it yourself it saves a lot as well. Participate in one of our trainings.

Want to testdrive one of our smarthome controllers? Click here for a testdrive
Or come-and-see in our shop in Oss. Click here for openingtimes.

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