A smart home ecosystem is a network of smart devices established to upgrade your home to become your most convenient, pleasant, and energy-saving place for you and your family.
Which smart home ecosystem is the best?
Plainly the one which connects the smart devices through a central gate operated by a smartphone app or through a smart home hub, when you customize your preferences and the smart home system overlooks the rest.
The current market presents thousands of smart products, however, they’re not all compatible with each other. What’s the best smart home ecosystem to make them a team?
It can be complex and time-consuming at the beginning when you try to sort out the most suitable smart devices and their compatibility.
That’s why I created a Smart Home Beginner’s Guide. This guide helps to find out the easy way to start with your smart home.
The basement of a successful smart home is your smart devices’ ability to synchronize and interact with each other. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that all your devices should be from one manufacturer. Some ecosystems and smart products are more adaptable than others and have a wider range of compatibility.
What Smart Home Ecosystems Exist?
Smart home systems usually consist of three elements: a virtual assistant (an AI that communicates with you), a speaker (hardware), and a phone application (which helps you to control your smart devices). Each system operates individual schemes for synchronizing devices and the option to automate a “flow” that carries out a series of actions. It is important to understand that not all smart hubs support all smart devices, and backward. To find compatible products, look for the “Works with…” characteristic in the product description and verify that it works with your chosen virtual assistant.
Remember that all home automation products use internet bandwidth, so whatever type of smart home system you take, it is vital to make sure your current connectivity and network speed are sufficient enough. Before you begin, check the tablet or smartphone you are using to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your smart home hub, and that the gadget you are adding is turned on.
Amazon Alexa Ecosystem
Alexa Virtual Assistant + Amazon Echo Speaker + Amazon Alexa App for iOS, Android, and Google Play
Home assistant Alexa is designed to answer questions, play music, read the news, communicate with your smart devices, and more. It is an industry leader with more than 7,000 third-party supported smart devices. It will be easy to find tech that works with this assistant.
If you see “Works with Alexa” in the description of the device you choose to purchase there will be no problem to sync it with the Assistant. Once two devices are connected to Wi-Fi, just tap ‘Add Device’ in the Alexa app and it will synchronize them. You can also ask Alexa to discover new devices using your voice…
With Alexa’s Routines feature you can automate a flow of actions across devices and make them work together. For example, you can organize a device group called “2nd floor lights” that will control all the lights on the second floor.
Google Assistant Ecosystem:
- Google Virtual Assistant
- Google Home Speaker
- Google Assistant App for iOS, Android, and Google Play
Android smartphones’ built-in assistant is Google, which makes the creation of a smart home ecosystem an easy experience for Android users. The assistant plays music, gets weather updates, answers calls, and operates your smart devices via Google Home app. It is also able to give an answer to almost any question because its technology is powered by the complicated algorithms of Google search.
Hundreds of devices are compatible with Google Home Assistant. Simply search for the label “Work with Google” on devices To sync devices using Google Assistant, ensure they all are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Open the Google Assistant app, find “Home Control,” and select the gadgets you want to sync. Similar to Alexa’s Routines, Google Home Actions feature can create action flows to group linked devices so they operate synchronously.
Apple HomeKit Ecosystem
Siri Virtual Assistant HomePod Speaker
Home Application for iOS
HomeKit is Powered by Siri, HomeKit is an iPhone assistant. It has fewer compatible devices available than other assistants, partly because until recently Apple’s encryption was closed to developers. Users report that it can be a bugbear to set up the system, however extra encryption is a bonus for those concerned with privacy.
HomeKit Rooms feature allows you to group devices by room and the Automation feature gives you the opportunity to create a thread of commands – like turning off the lights and playing music at the same time.
To synchronize devices with the Apple HomeKit app – click the “+” sign to add a new accessory, then scan the device’s QR code or enter it manually. For the reason of Apple’s special encryption, it’s important to ensure that the device you choose is HomeKit friendly.
What is the Difference Between a Smart Home Hub and Ecosystem?
There is a popular suppose that a smart home ecosystem must include a Smart Home Hub, but that’s not necessarily so.
In general, an ecosystem is a network of smart devices working jointly in a single environment to create a Smart Home.
Basically, ecosystems organize smart devices in a single smart home network. These devices can be connected through a physical hub device, but they don’t have to be.
Both hubs and ecosystems provide smart home synchronization of smart home devices. How to Choose a Smart Home Ecosystem?
Today’s market presents a variety of AI opportunities in smart automation systems. It is vital to know what you actually want your smart home to process. You can even set up professional cameras monitoring of your home in case there is a security focus you have.
Let’s see the main considerations in choosing the best smart home system for you.
What Smart Devices You Have?
In case you already have a few smart devices you can synchronize and operate them with a single app or platform.
What you need to do is search if there’s already a common technology, like smart assistants, for your devices
For example, if you’re planning an Apple TV system, then make sure each of your smart home devices is classified as Working with Apple HomeKit. Your speaker should become the Apple HomePod.
In case you have a Google Nest home security system you should get a Google Home speaker or another one compatible with Google Assistant.
One more example is when you have an Ecobee Smart Thermostat with voice control when you should look forward to smart home products working with the Alexa platform.
You should rather try and stay within the same smart home technology that your current smart gadgets offer you.
What Smart Devices Would You Like to Add?
The variety of devices is huge and is growing daily. There are smart lights, smart plugs, video doorbells, smart thermostats, smart home security systems, robot vacuum cleaners, smart kitchen appliances, and more.
It’s much practical to understand what your final goal is and study the market for the devices that are closest to your needs. You have to keep in mind that whatever system you choose to go with, has the compatibility range for the devices you need.
Finally, a huge factor in your choice is budget. There’s no need to spend a fortune on getting a Smart Home Ecosystem set up and operating.
Some of you may already have a hub and just not knowing it. Are there Echo Show smart displays at home? In case you have the Echo Show 10 or the 10-inch 2nd generation version, it also acts as a Zigbee smart hub.
Then, buying a few smart light bulbs and smart sockets may well be all you need to get started. Afterward, with the time you can upgrade your smart home devices to get the best smart home ecosystem for you.
A bit of research has to be done to ensure that all your equipment is compatible with your hub.
Problems with Incompatible Smart Home Ecosystems
Adaptability between different smart hubs and smart devices is a serious consideration.
A Google Home speaker or hub will not be practical if you want to use Alexa. If you’re an Apple fan, you should check the third-party devices for a Works with Apple HomeKit feature.
Wireless protocols should be checked for compatibility options. What is pleasant, Samsung’s SmartThings operates a variety of devices through their built-in support for all popular wireless protocols like Zigbee, Z-wave, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.
Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home systems support a rather limited range of wireless protocols, that’s why hardware options will also feel limited.
At the same time, they have a wide range of products like Echo Dot Alexa speakers and Google Nest Mini speakers that are powered by their respective voice assistants.
Being aware of the compatibility issues before you set out on your journey to your fully-fledged home ecosystem, makes your journey to smart home control a little smoother.
Smart Learning Doesn’t Happen
One of the greatest advantages of having a smart home ecosystem is that it learns from your actions and habits and adapts to suit them. Artificial intelligence offers people the ultimate convenience through smart home features.
For example, to save on energy costs smart thermostats learn your daily routines of when you’re home and not, so they can set the preferred temperatures for any case. They can turn the heating on when you are on your way home so that the temperature is right as you like when you enter.
To be highly effective the smart home system has to work as one unified complex of devices and a hub. This will hardly happen if you have built a system with individual devices and hubs that encounter sync problems.
1. Amazon Alexa Ecosystem
Alexa, turn on the lights.
Primarily Alexa was a simple smart speaker that turned the lights on and off. And since then it has undergone many transformations.
Echo Smart Speakers of the latest generation – like Echo Show 10 – can now run the entire smart home ecosystem. Some smart devices on the market have already Amazon’s Alexa built-in. Including the Ecobee4 and the Ecobee SmartThermostat with an option of Voice Control.
Alexa is compatible with numerous products- many more than some of its competitors. Amazon’s support for the Zigbee wireless protocol also means it can communicate with and control most Zigbee enabled wireless devices.
Alexa’s ecosystem is opened not only to a wide range of devices but also – to their apps and control interface availability.
The variety and number of devices compatible with the Alexa system are growing and Amazon ensures that these are controllable from a wide range of platforms.
The Alexa app runs on smartphones, tablets, and computers. It has versions for iOS and Android and operates from a simple web-interface on the browser. The Amazon Alexa is one of the most versatile and widely compatible systems on the market.
2. Google Assistant Ecosystem
Hey Google, call my secretary.
Google Assistant is also a widely compatible system. Especially since it has become available on iPhone. Both Google and Alexa offer similar ranges of friendly devices and, what’s more, the latest Google Home products also support the Zigbee Protocol.
At the same time, there are certain considerations that can help you see the difference. One of them is when you have a Nest Thermostat and/or Security System. These are certainly easier to sync with Google Assistant as they’re both Google products.
Google’s advantage over Amazon is its ability to interact with voice commands from any tablet or phone with Google Assistant installed.
And what’s more, Android smartphones are powered by the underlying Android operating system that Google developed – making sure that a wide range of Android devices is compatible with the Assistant.
One more of Google’s advantages over Amazon’s Alexa is its proximity with the built-in Android smart technology.
3. Apple HomeKit Ecosystem
Hey Siri, schedule a telephone call for tomorrow morning at 10 am.
Apple seems to make you choose: you’re either an Apple user or you’re not. Remember these Mac vs PC advertising?
In case you already use an iPad or iPhone – you can easily set up a HomeKit system with a HomePod speaker or with an Apple TV box.
If you run an Android phone, then in order to have the Apple smart system work, you’ll need to acquire at least one of Apple devices: an iPad, iPhone, or another.
This is because HomeKit itself is actually a protocol, any device that you want to connect to your Apple HomeKit Ecosystem requires this protocol built-in. The downside of it is that HomeKit will only work on Apple devices.
Apple HomeKit’s software is already integrated into the majority of Apple devices.
If you’re not sure whether the device will work with Apple’s protocols, then check for the Works with Apple HomeKit icon.
Needs to be mentioned that the Apple smart system working with Siri offers the same various advantages as Alexa and Google.
1. Z-Wave Wireless Protocol
Z-Wave is a network like Wi-Fi, except for its hubs and routers are designed for smart home automation devices.
The Z-Wave system’s wireless protocol was developed generally for automating smart homes. Smart products running Z-Wave are very versatile, so you’ll be able to customize your home system almost any way you imagine.
Z-Wave builds a wireless mesh network of all your smart devices using low energy radio waves of up to 100 meters range.
Z-Wave hubs are easy to configure and can coordinate up to 232 Z-Wave products together. Its frequency differs from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so you won’t have any interference with your current home networks.
2. Zigbee Wireless Protocol
Conceptually Zigbee is similar to Z-Wave, at its core is a wireless protocol created to link low-power, low-data devices in a mesh network on the 802.15.4 standard.
Along with low power consumption Zigbee transmits over a limited range, which, depending on the device, is around 10-100 line-of-sight meters.
However, using other network devices as intermediaries Zigbee’s network can transmit over longer distances.
Zigbee also claims it can support up to an unbelievable 65,000 devices, which is hardly possible to imagine inside one home.
Zigbee is supported by Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant home ecosystems.
3. Samsung SmartThings
As a powerful addition to the Smart Home ecosystem, Samsung provides named the SmartThings Hub. They also offer the Samsung Connect Home that combines the hub and Wi-Fi routers together.
It is compatible with a wide variety of up to date smart devices and can interact across a range of current protocols, including Zigbee, Z-wave, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.
The Samsung SmartThings ecosystem consists of a hub and a free app. It’s a versatile and popular system and can operate with most smart devices.
4. IFTTT Recipes
If That Then That (IFTTT) is a unique concept that helps to set up connected smart home ecosystems.
It isn’t actually a system. It’s a web-based service that synchronizes individual smart devices with individual apps and services.
For example, you can set an automation flow when in case your window sensor detects motion, the special IFTTT recipe will tell your Nest security camera to start recording and even set off an alarm if you want.
This trademark is also worth your attention. Logitech Harmony Hub is a powerful and flexible gadget that is compatible with over 270,000 smart home and entertainment devices.
There are also their own devices like the Logitech Circle camera to help keep homes safe. What’s more, as well as for its own range of smart devices they offer support for Apple TV and Amazon Alexa’s devices.
Summing up on the Best Smart Home Ecosystems
Smart homes are developing and becoming more popular. With a number of big players and an increasingly growing number of manufacturers getting involved, the future of the Smart Home will only get smarter with AI.
The mentioned brands have made it easy to set up a level of home automation to give you convenience and peace of mind.
Actually, all you need is a smart speaker to start the smart home installation.