Home automation requires you to, at some point, make a decision about whether you’re going to use a hub that processes the automations locally or a hub that’s dependent on the cloud. As new technology comes onto the market, you have more options, including ones that have a mixture of local and cloud-based processing.
You may not have had a ‘good’ choice when you first started setting up your smart home, but what about now? Options exist, and the liabilities of cloud dependence are becoming more real to us.
First, what does processing automations locally, or local home automation, really mean? The shorter the distance travelled, the better, faster, more reliable something is. Why? Because the more steps involved, the longer the round trip, and the more things that can go wrong along the way. The same applies to many things, including your home automation. Local home automation means you don’t have to count on the Internet being available, fast, or reliable — your home automation is controlled locally, inside of your own home.
Here are some key differences to consider when you’re choosing whether to move to (or initially choose) a local home automation hub.
Home Automation Response Time or Complete Unavailability
Slow response time can be frustrating. Cloud-dependence can mean applications seem to take longer to respond as they send data across the internet and back. A local application running on your own hub with local processing, by contrast, responds much faster. You’re probably used to flipping a light switch and having the light go on instantaneously. “Response time” (or latency) is minimized if those round trips to the cloud are eliminated.
Sometimes the internet isn’t just slow, it is down altogether. Whatever the reason, internet outages are a frequent occurrence. When they happen, you might swear and blame your cable company. You’d be even more upset if an outage meant your automations stop working: lights don’t go on and off as programmed, blinds don’t go up and down as expected, maybe the garage door remains open when you leave, exposing your belongings to the world. You might consider choosing a home automation solution that doesn’t depend on the internet to work.
A home automation hub that does the processing locally doesn’t require access to the cloud for every device command or action: it’s available to run your automations regardless of the status of your internet connection so your smart devices function reliably.
Local Home Automation Control & Data Security
A local home automation hub gives you practically unlimited control over your home environment. Want to pre-set your house temperature to be ready for you when you return home from work? Want to have your bathroom lighting come on at 100% at 7pm and 10% at 2am? The whole point of home automation is to make every aspect of your life easier.
Part of making your life easier is avoiding unnecessary security risks. Were you alarmed to hear that Yahoo, Target or Home Depot customer data had been stolen and accounts had been hacked, and your data likely sold on the black market? Once your data is stored in the cloud, it’s vulnerable, and it’s nearly impossible to protect. Imagine a hacker gaining access to unlock the smart lock on your front door, or turning off your lights for a burglary attempt. Those events are further reason to safeguard both your data and your devices at home.
A home automation system connects all the various devices in your home, and those devices contain many private details about your life. If commands are being processed in the cloud and device data is being sent back and forth, it’s vulnerable. With local home automation, the hub stores all the device data and does all the processing of automations, so all those records stay put in your home, safe and secure. Your data is just that, yours. With local processing, storage and backup, it stays that way.
Local Home Automation
You might wonder how all the necessary processing can be done locally if we don’t push it off to the cloud. The answer is in the Hub: it's a fast processor with advanced automation software that can handle the processing needs of your household automations and manage the devices on your Zigbee, Z-Wave and home’s local area network (LAN). Some devices in your home are cloud-based devices by design, such as Alexa, and of course those do require an internet connection to function. But technology has advanced significantly so that huge amounts of processing capability are inside these hubs and can take care of managing the automation you want to have in your home. We are no longer dependent on just collecting and passing data through to servers in the cloud – that can be handled locally.
What Happens Local, Stays Local
So, when you’re considering which home automation solution is right for you, keep in mind the benefits of keeping your data at home, where it is produced and where you have dominion over it. There’s really no reason to depend on the cloud to automate your home.