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What is a Smart Home? How should I approach this?

With the number of technologies, brands, platforms, vendors, integrators, and manufacturers around, it can be very daunting to decide how exactly to do a smart home. As a first step, we’d invite you to our Definitive Smart Home Guide, which lays out the basics of a smart home, and guides you through decision-making processes, as well as the possibilities and limitations of different smart home systems.

If what we’re doing here at appeals to you, then you can dive right into our Smart Home Cost Quotation, which helps you with the actual planning of smart homes devices in your own home, including deciding on products, and calculating quantities you’ll need.

Want to take it a step further? Go straight to our DIY Smart Home Builder, which is a step-by-step builder which allows you to put the items straight into your cart – and even check out directly for local shipping.

What is a Hub? Do I need one?

Hub is a term that’s used commonly for different things, resulting in confusion for many of our clients. Here’s a quick way to look at it:

An Aqara hub can be described as a “router” that broadcasts a wireless network called “Zigbee”, much like a normal router broadcasts your wifi. They are the networking type of hub – that is, your other smart devices connect to it wirelessly to transmit data and commands.

We have an article on how Aqara wireless networks and Zigbee works.

An Apple Home Hub is more of a “server” than a “router”. As long as you have one unit of an Apple Home Hub at home, that’s enough for you to gain access to Apple HomeKit’s extra features, such as remote offsite controls, HomeKit Secure Video, and more. The Apple Home Hub is processing data and commands with its own hardware.

Sidenote: some Apple Home Hubs also act as Bluetooth and Thread “routers”, so this further complicates matters. But, in the scope of most of our products, they do not work as routers.

A Google Home Hub is simply a smart speaker or screen that’s marketed as a centre of your smart home – that is – in terms of interaction. It’s a hub you can speak to to ask for the weather, or to turn off a light, or to see a video feed from a camera. Google Hubs do not work as routers nor as servers (their processing is literally done on a cloud server).


This section will help you how to get started with smart products

Will my smart home work without wifi or internet?

Yes! We’re firm believers of offline controls for contingencies. Your light switches will always work when physically pressed. Curtain motors can be activated by a short tug on the curtains. Door locks never need wifi or internet anyway. Everything will still work, just that you won’t be able to control them with your phone.

Does each smart home device connect to my wifi? Will it congest my network?

No, most of our smart home device use Zigbee wireless technology to connect to the  hubs, in a separate network.

That said, we do have devices that will connect directly to wifi, such as hubs and camera hubs, and other devices from other brands, such as the Sensibo Air Aircon control and Meross smart plugs.

Do I need wifi and internet for smart functions?

Yes. You will need them for smart functions such as remote controls and creating automations. Some automations such as motion-sensor triggered lights will work without wifi, once configured.

I turn off my router every night. Will the switches still work?

Once the router is off, you will lose some smart functionalities. However, the pressing the switch physically will always work. Aqara Smart Hubs will connect back to your wifi automatically when the network is turned back on, and smart functionalities will be automatically restored.

Do I need strong wifi coverage in my home?

Generally, yes. It’s good practice and ensures stability of your devices. However, since most of our devices connect to the hub via Zigbee, only the hubs need a strong wifi connection. Thus, you will only need strong wifi coverage where your hubs are connected.

Do smart switches work with 2-way switches?

Yes! We can set it up so they will work exactly as they did before.

Can I set up the smart home myself? Or do I have to pay you to do it?

It is actually very easy to set up your smart home! All you need is an Android phone or iPhone that can download and run the Aqara app (available on both app stores). To know if your phone is supported, simply search for the Aqara app and see if you can install it on your phone. Once the app is installed, you can follow the step-by-step instructions to register an account, add new smart devices, and configure your accessories. Need help? Just contact us.

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