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Let Netsecure Automation take some of the confusion out of understanding home automation by using our Smart Home FAQ. Got a question? need something explained in easy to understand terms? We understand there is a lot of industry jargon which makes it difficult to grasp what’s important within a smart home.

Just drop us an email. We are happy to answer your question!

What is Zwave?

Z Wave is a form of wireless communication that uses a low frequency in comparison to other wireless technologies such as WiFi. Many people confuse Z Wave and WIFI – and naturally so.

Let me explain the difference between the two!

WiFi as most know it as, typical deals in one, two or both frequencies. Those are 2.4GHZ and 5 GHZ. These frequencies are also shared by many other appliances in the home such as Microwaves. WiFi has a high frequency to allow for fast data transfer, as the frequency is high, the waves are very close together in the spectrum. This means it’s not overly good at penetrating materials such as concrete.

Z Wave on the other hand is another type of wireless data transmission that uses much lower frequencies and much lower data transfer rates. Because of its licensed, low frequency , it’s excellent at penetrating concrete, glass and timber which makes it ideal within the home. Because it’s a spectrum that is licensed no one other devices but Z Wave devices use it which ensures that interference is non existent from other devices. Home Automation platforms only need small amounts of data transfer so the need for a ultra fast data transfer is not required.

Z Wave has been designed specifically for home automation purposes which make it the ideal choice for your next home automation project.

One of the fantastic benefits of Z Wave is its back wards compatibility with other Z Wave products and it’s superior interoperability. Z Wave products cannot be released onto the market without the Z Wave Alliances certification. This provides reliability and peace of mind for consumers knowing all Z Wave products play nice together. This reason alone is why Netsecure Automation only support Z Wave installations.

Z Wave Ecosystem

Z Wave Ecosystem

 

 

Z Wave now has over 3000 products from more than 700 brands worldwide.

Z Wave vs Zigbee - Which is right for you?

It’s a question we get frequently and if you’re building a new smart home it’s important to understand the differences.

Let’s first talk about frequencies – or the radio spectrum at which either device family operates at. Z Wave uses a licensed frequency in Australia 921.4 Mhz  & 919.8. Why is this important? Well, it means that only devices resold in Australia/NZ on those frequencies are licensed to operate. As the spectrum is licensed , it means that running devices in frequencies other than these is illegal. This keeps things clean – it’s like having only one person at a time talking over air traffic control. It also means that any Z Wave device you buy in Australia will operate with any Z Wave controller also purchased in Australia.

Z Wave vs Zigbee

Z Wave vs Zigbee

So how does this differ from Zigbee? Well, Zigbee uses a much higher frequency , used by others such as WIFI devices, Microwaves etc. Whilst this higher frequency of Zigbee is useful for being able to send more data (Higher the frequency, the higher the data rate) it’s isn’t overly that useful in a smart home or home automation sense as there is no real need to do so. Smart home messages are typically very simple, ON/OFF, DIM, etc. To send this data you really don’t need a very high bandwidth at all.

Being also on the 2,4Ghz frequency means you’re far more susceptible to interference from many other devices. Think about the air traffic control example used earlier – everyone talking at the same time. Naturally, this is a simplification and higher bandwidth devices have some measures in place to allow ‘fair air time’ but, at the end of the day, do you want your lighting devices of which you depend on so well, all talking with your mobile devices, PC’s, Laptops and Microwaves?  We don’t. We prefer our automation platforms to be on a purpose built, low frequency licensed spectrum designed for only that use case – home automation. And this is where we think Z Wave really has the edge. It’s been designed from the ground up, specifically for one purpose and uses a licensed frequency that is free from congestion.

What we haven’t talked about is the benefits of low frequencies. Whilst the trade off with a low frequency is that it has much lower data transfer, we also mentioned that this isn’t really an issue in the home automation or smart home sense due to the size of the data being sent. You can think of Z Wave as a bit like your old CB Radio – it’s capable of going very very long distances. Because of this lower frequency, it has significantly improved transmission distance and able to penetrate materials such as brick, plaster, glass and other building materials much better than Zigbee at 2.4Ghz. This is important because of the diverse range of material homes are now built using.

Techdemic have a great article about distances and data transfer that’s worth checking out here.

We recommend our customers make use of Z Wave. Being a purpose built system designed from the ground up for home automation and smart home control, with longer transmission distances and a licensed low frequency radio it’s better suited in our view to Zigbee because of the issues highlighted previously.

Give us a call or drop us an email if you’d like more information on the two and which is the right one for your new smart home.

The CCTV Megapixel myth - More is not better!

Myth #: More Megapixels = Better CCTV

1, 2, 4, 6, 8… it seems every year we get a new CCTV product on the market with a higher pixel count seeking to take the limelight as the hands down best security solution. Don’t fall into that trap: there is both an advantage and a disadvantage to higher megapixels. Advantage first – provided there is sufficient light in the scene a quality higher megapixel camera can resolve detail from further away that a camera with a lower megapixel count. But when is the light sufficient at night time when an intruder is likely to commit a crime? Almost never. CCTV cameras always have to deal with tricky light situations. The disadvantage? As well as placing increased load on your storage system , cameras with higher megapixel count resolve their extra detail at the cost of reduced light sensitivity. When it comes to night time usable CCTV images, light sensitivity is everything in order to capture a usage image for the police, insurance or your peace of mind.

In order to resolve sufficient illumination within the scene the camera is required to take a longer exposure, causing any movement to be recorded as a blur. Had a smaller megapixel camera been used, whilst the detail within the image would be reduced, a faster exposure would have eliminated any blur. It is for this reason we most often look at installations with 2~3 megapixel resolutions, resolutions which provide sufficient detail for facial & license plate recognition at a distance whilst still maintaining sufficient responsiveness and clarity at night.

We only use the highest quality sensors in our cameras supplied by world leaders, Dahua for dependable footage.

Which is the right smart home controller?

There are many smart home controllers in the market, so it’s important to understand the differences.

Most are built on rather low cost , low powered hardware and typically perform like a PC with an underlying operating system. The approach by most vendors is a combined hardware and software solution in a single unit. This can work well for basic homes with a low level of complexity and device number. One of the major disadvantages of a all in one solution is that smart home controllers are rapidly evolving. Protocols, specifications and hardware is changing very 3 to 6 months, which means your hardware solution has a very short life span.

With the all in approach, you are also limited to a specific device set. For example, as Z Wave hardware changes and brings improvements such as increased battery life and extended range the all in one approach is unable to be ‘upgraded’ to support these features. To take advantage of these features you would need to buy a new controller and migrate all your configuration and devices over.

We believe this approach has too many short comings to create a true, future proof smart home. With this in mind, we encourage our customers to look at modular systems, with up gradable software and plug in controllers. If Z Wave changes, and it has recently with the new Z Wave 700 we’ve talked about here then all you need to do is upgrade the plug in controller and everything else remains the same. Very minimal changes, no down time and the advantage of being able to use all the new feature sets.

Much like the IT Networking world is moving to software defined networks, we believe the software defined home automation approach is the most flexible, future proof and cost effective for clients.

Speak to us today to learn more about how software defined automation benefits you!

What is PoE?

Coming soon!

I see cameras for $59 and cameras for $599, what is the difference?

This is one we get often! Consumers can now buy CCTV cameras from almost anywhere – JB Hifi and Harvey Norman are classic examples. But how do you know if what you’re buying is quality? What is the use of a camera which won’t capture, in high quality, a potential intruder?

Good quality CCTV cameras provide a number of features which we think are mandatory. Power over Ethernet, Metal construction, IK10 Vandal rating and IP68 Water proof rating to name a few. But where the increased price really comes in, is the quality of the image sensor within the camera.

Like high end digital SLR cameras, the aperture size of the camera is important in order to gather as much light as possible in dark settings. This in combination with lux levels, tells you how much light the camera can capture in darkness.  A Lux level of 0 (Darkness) at an aperture of f1.4 lets in TWICE as much light as that of aperture of f2.0.

There is little point in choosing a camera which does not operate in darkness with a fstop sufficient to capture the required light. In general, most cameras can provide good quality images during the day but very few have the ability to do this at night.

It’s important to pay attention to this information when choosing your next camera.

Feel free to give us a call to discuss your camera needs. Netsecure Automation provide quality cameras designed to provide usable images in any lighting condition.

Can any home be a smart home?

Absolutely! A common misconception is that you need a new home to take advantage of today’s smart home devices. This is not true. Retrofitting smart home technology to older and new homes is possible. Z Wave manufacturers have designed their products to work with 2 and 3 wire system’s for this very reason.

Smart locks, motion sensors, lighting control are all possible as well as integration with CCTV. Infact, most older homes are even easier thanks to the construction types of that era which made heavy use of double brick walls with cavities make it nice and easy to pull through required cabling. Netsecure Automation typically work with more older than newer homes! Attic spaces and cavities are ideal for placement of smart home wireless relays and allows easy access.

Retrofit Smart Home Technology

Retrofit Smart Home Technology