Smart Devices

Smart Systems vs. Smart Devices: What’s the Difference?


The Smart home revolution continues to roll across America. As more homeowners dive in, devices like smart thermostats, smart locks, and smart speakers are becoming more commonplace. So are integrated smart systems capable of making homes more efficient and safer than ever before.

Do you know the difference between a smart system and a smart device? It’s simple. Smart devices are individual things like thermostats and video doorbells. Smart systems are comprised of multiple smart devices integrated through a centralized control system. You can have smart devices without having a smart system, but you cannot go the other way around.

Centralized Control Is the Key

The key difference between a smart system and a large collection of smart devices is control. According to Vivint Smart Home, a leader in home automation and smart device technology, consumers can purchase all sorts of independent smart devices all controlled by their own smartphone apps. Consumers can invest in:

  • smart lighting
  • smart temperature control
  • smart audio and video
  • smart irrigation control.

Let’s say you fill your home with an array of individual devices. If they all work independently of one another and are not integrated through a centralized control center, you don’t actually have a smart system. You have a bunch of individual devices that you are trying to control separately.

Integration Through a Control Hub

A collection of smart devices becomes a smart system when they are all integrated through a central control hub. Companies like Vivint sell complete systems with hubs included. The hub is generally a dedicated device attached to a wall or sitting on a table or counter.

Likewise, complete DIY systems tend to come with central hubs. The DIY hub might be a physical device or just a mobile app the homeowner installs on a smartphone or tablet. In both cases, all the devices in the system have been purposely designed to work within that ecosystem.

The User Created Hub

Fans of DIY home automation are not left out of the smart system party. They can build a customized system using their favorite devices and a user-created hub. What is a user-created hub? It is a hub built on software the user installs on a spare computer or mobile device. Consumers have access to several different software options, some of them being paid software and others being free and open source.

The big challenge of building a DIY system with a user created hub is compatibility. Just about any smart device can be integrated with a mainstream product like Google Home or Amazon Echo. The same cannot be said for the previously mentioned software packages DIY fans tend to gravitate toward.

Integration Is the Point

You read previously that central control is key to building a smart system as opposed to a collection of smart devices. But what is the point? Full device integration. A smart system’s number one advantage is that integrated devices work together to make a home safer and more efficient.

For example, a smart system can be programmed to respond to voice commands. It can also be programmed with a series of cascading events. A program that automatically turns on first-floor lights can also be programmed to adjust the thermostat, disarm the home security system, etc. Each event on the program list triggers the next event as it is completed.

Having a collection of smart devices is good. All those devices being integrated into a smart system is even better. Smart systems maximize both programming and automation capabilities to give homeowners the biggest bang for their buck.
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