Need to Know Smart Home Words & Phrases

The world of smart homes can be confusing, especially with the various terminology used throughout the industry. Here we’ve broken down the most common smart home words and phrases to help you when starting your smart home journey.

Access Control – Access control refers to the technology in place that allows access to your property such as security keypads and intercom systems. By integrating with your smart system, you can enable access and monitor your property from anywhere in your home or remotely via an app.

Acoustically Transparent – An acoustically transparent fabric is one that allows sound to pass through without much barrier. This term is mainly used when describing cinema screens, where being acoustically transparent is beneficial as it improves a rooms’ acoustics.

Automation – The term automation refers to technology that reduces the need for human interaction. Smart home automation, in particular, is the integration of different smart devices to be controlled from a central hub.

AV Rack – An AV rack is a standardised frame used to house all devices needed to run your smart home, including all audio visual, security and automation equipment.

BMS (Building Management System) – Building management system (BMS) also known as building automation system (BAS) refers to a computer-based control system that needs to be installed within buildings to monitor and regulate the building’s electrical and mechanical equipment.

CAT5 / CAT6 / CAT6A – This is a type of cable, often known as a data cable, frequently used in the home automation industry for network wiring. It is the cable which connects to the router and makes the connection between the router and wired home automation devices.

CEDIA – CEDIA stands for Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association. They are responsible for creating standards across the industry, with over 3,500 members, including us, in over 77 countries.

Controller – Controller is the term most frequently used to describe the brain of your home automation system. The controller is the one that connects smart devices with each other.

Distributed Audio and Visual – Distributed audio and visual is the ability to have audio and visual (TVs/Projectors) in multiple locations throughout your home playing from the same set of sources (e.g. multiple Sky boxes, shared Apple Tvs etc.). All equipment is stored in a central AV rack, allowing you to access any music or TV system from multiple areas in your home.

HVAC – HVAC is an acronym for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning and refers to the use of various technologies to control the temperature, humidity, and purity of the air in an enclosed space.

Keypads – Keypads are smart versions of a traditional light switch. Offering a lot more functionality, keypads feature multiple buttons that can be programmed to control the elements you have integrated, such as lights, audio, TVs, blinds and security systems. Keypads can often be referred to as faceplates or switch plates.

KNX – KNX is a network standard that allows control of multiple different technologies and systems. A KNX system ensures each device is connected and properly ‘catalogued’ with a group address and device parameters. It doesn’t matter if it is a sensor, a motor, a camera, or a fireplace. Your KNX system knows where each device is, what it does, and how to communicate with it.

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LED – Stands for Light Emitting Diode. These modern light bulbs use very little power – typically 10% of the traditional incandescent bulbs.

Linear Lighting – Commonly known as LED tape or strip lighting, Linear lighting is used in joinery, coffers and shadow gap profiles to create a single line of light. With the advancement in LED technology, it is possible to have a continuous even light without any spotting.

Networking – Networking is everything that we do to distribute data around a property as well as to and from the internet. This includes wired and wireless networks. The most common networks are those used by our computers, phones, TVs and tablets etc. and is known as an “IP Network”, but other networks may also be used, such as KNX, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth etc.

Remote Access – Remote access is the ability to access your home automation and security system even if you are not home – being able to access from anywhere in the world, via an app or website login.

Remote Monitoring – Remote monitoring allows your system to be monitored by a third party, such as ourselves, for the purpose of maintaining and supporting the system.

Router – A router connects to a properties ISP (Internet Service Provider) and acts as the brain of the network, directing data to the right device. Routers used in smart home installations differ from your standard ISP routers, as they are designed to get the most out of your network, being able to handle high bandwidth and low latency multimedia traffic.

Scene – A scene groups together multiple actions on multiple devices, giving different programmed commands to create a desired effect. For example, a ‘breakfast scene’ could include opening the blinds and playing your preferred breakfast programme on the radio as well as allowing some lights to be turned on at a chosen dimming level.

Smart Home Control/ Operating System – A Smart Home Operating System (OS) is the overarching software component of your smart home, connecting and orchestrating the communication between all of your devices, and allowing you to control and interact with all of the devices in your home.

There are many different brands that supply these systems, including; Control4, Crestron, Lutron, Loxone, Elan, RTI, URC and Savant to name a few.

Touchscreens – A touchscreen is a tablet device, similar to an iPad, that’s used to control your home. These are dedicated controllers that can be mounted to a wall or kept on a charging device in an accessible location.

Video Matrix – A video matrix is a device that allows any video input onto a video output. Normally these are described as 4×4 or 8×8, which simply means you can have up to 4/8 inputs (i.e. Sky, Virgin Media) to any 4/8 TVs.

Wireless Access Point – Also known as a Wireless AP or WAP, a wireless access point is a wired network device that emits signals for wireless devices to connect and access the internet. When building your networking infrastructure, wireless access points are used to ensure strong internet connectivity throughout the property.

Looking to start your own smart home journey? Read our blog on what to think about when starting the design process or contact us to speak to one of our experts.

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