How to Set Up a Smarthome Without the Cloud

  A hand that uses smarthome controls on a smartphone.
weedezign / Shutterstock

The easiest smarthome technology uses the cloud to do the heavy lifting. But that means you give up your privacy. And if the company closes, so does its smarthome. Here's how to avoid the cloud in your smarthome configuration.

Why a locally controlled Smarthome?

  A hand that uses a Smart Light Controller on a smartphone.
Nullplus / Shutterstock

Cloud-fed smarthomes are rich features and include some subtleties, but they come with disadvantages.

First, you have to give up a minimum of privacy. Voice assistants from Google, Amazon, Apple and even Microsoft used to record everything you told them and often sent those recordings to humans for review. While Google, Amazon and Apple have taken steps to alleviate those concerns, Microsoft has not changed anything yet. Some cloud-based devices also record their activities. Manufacturers use the information to improve systems, but in some cases they sell their anonymous data.

Second, if the cloud of the company that drives its smarthome technology closes the store or leaves the smarthome category, its devices will no longer work. [19659008] The same happened with the Lowe & # 39; s Iris and Revolv centers. Also, Best Buy recently announced that it will close the smarthome line of Insignia. Therefore, the Insignia smart plugs, cameras and light switches will stop working. And if you have an Insignia Smart Wi-Fi freezer, it will soon be just a freezer.

If you build a locally controlled smarthome, avoid all these problems. Your data does not leave your home, and even if a manufacturer quits, your devices still work.

However, keep in mind that creating a locally controlled smarthome is not for the faint of heart. But this is what you must do to push the cloud towards the sidewalk.

Start with a locally controlled hub

  The Hubitat hub, the z-wave adapter and the case.

Every smarthome needs a brain to feed it. Unfortunately, most of the time, those "brains" involve the cloud. For example, both Wink and SmartThings offer centers with a certain amount of local control, but they still contact the Internet to obtain some features.

Fortunately, it has other options, such as Hubitat, a fully locally controlled center. Any command you send or automation you configure is executed locally. Another advantage of Hubitat is that it is a preconstructed system. The disadvantage is that the process to configure it creates automations similar to complicated router interfaces.

Home Assistant is a concentrator solution of its own construction. With this option, you get exactly the smarthome you want, with all the functions you want. However, you must do everything yourself, including building the concentrator from a Raspberry Pi.

Of these two options, the Home Assistant interface is more polished, but the Hubitat configuration process is easier to use.

Other options, such as OpenHab, offer similar features. However, in all cases, you should expect to make more configurations than you would with a cloud-friendly center like Wink.

Also, be careful of the options you enable, if you connect to a cloud service, all your smart data can and will go to the cloud.

Switch to Z-Wave or ZigBee Devices

  The ZigBee and Z-Wave logos.
Z-wave, ZigBee

Now that you have a local hub, you need devices to power your smarthome. All plugs, light bulbs, locks or switches based on Wi-Fi must go. Most smart Wi-Fi devices connect to a cloud service to work, even when you use them with a hub.

Instead, use Z-Wave or ZigBee devices. What you choose depends on you, but they are more similar than different.

Z-Wave devices tend to be transmitted at a greater distance, so you can place more separate devices. ZigBee devices create larger mesh networks, so if you have many of them, distance is not a problem. Either way, choose a protocol and keep it as much as possible.

You can buy light bulbs, switches, plugs, locks and more Z-wave or ZigBee.

RELATED: ZigBee vs Z-Wave: How to choose between two big Smarthome standards

Ditch voice assistants

  An echo, Cortana and Google speaker Home with
Josh Hendrickson

Voice assistants are one of the most convenient ways to control your smarthome. But whether you use Google Home or Amazon Echo, it involves the cloud. What you say may end up on the company's servers, even if Google allows you to opt out.

Even with the option of voluntary exclusion, you are still using the cloud and your voice always goes to the company's servers. If the goal is to get rid of the cloud, that's not good enough. Unfortunately, we cannot recommend a viable local voice assistant since everyone uses the cloud, at least to some extent.

Abandoning the convenience of voice control may seem difficult, but it has another option: automation. [19659013] Automate everything

  Hands using Smart Home Automation on an iPad.
Stanisic Vladimir / Shutterstock

Without a voice assistant, you need another way to control your smarthome. Thanks to its center, you can control everything in one application. But that is not always convenient, especially if you have younger family members who do not have smart devices.

However, it's fine. When you use a locally controlled Z-Wave or Zigbee hub, you can enable your smarthome's superpower: automation. You can use automation to turn the lights on or off when entering or leaving a room. You can turn on your thermal blanket when you enter the bedroom on a cold night. And your smarthome can shut down when no one is home.

The most expensive and challenging part of this company is to configure automation. First, you need a variety of motion, temperature, contact and water sensors. Expect to spend somewhere in the range of $ 30 to $ 60 per sensor. And, as you probably want to automate your entire home, you will need more than one of each sensor.

Once you have decorated your home with sensors, the next step is to learn the automation engine of your chosen hub. The basic premise is usually "if this, then that" conditions. If the bathroom sensor detects movement, turn on the light. If the living room is empty for more than 10 minutes, turn off the smart plugs.

As you master the rules, some centers (such as Hubitat) can achieve more complicated scenarios. For example, you can combine conditions, such as the time of day and if someone is in the room before the center turns on the floor fan.

The ultimate goal is a smarthome that anticipates your needs and works proactively, rather than one that reacts to voice commands.

An effort is needed to assemble a completely locally controlled smarthome. You may also need to buy new components, learn new rules and give up voice commands. But you will have total control of your data and a smarthome that works exactly as you wish. The process is expensive, but in the long run it might be worth it.

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