The Difference between ‘Smart’ and ‘Programmable’ Home Automation

We frequently use the term ‘smart’ to describe the home automation and security equipment we sell. There is a reason for this. Uxari home automation and security plans utilize the latest cutting-edge technology meant to make your home as efficient and secure as possible. To that end, we believe it is important to know the difference between a device that is smart and one that is merely programmable. It is a big difference.

Knowing the difference matters in light of the fact that there has been no shortage of programmable devices available to consumers since the 1960s. From the earliest mechanical light switches to programmable VCRs, being able to put lighting and appliances on preset programs is nothing new. But the idea has never taken off because programming tends to be more complicated than it’s worth. Enter the world of the truly smart home.

Program That Thermostat

When programmable thermostats first came to market, its designers claimed it could save homeowners a significant amount of energy. Their claims were absolutely true, but only to a certain point. Allow us to explain.

Heating and air-conditioning are the biggest consumers of energy in the typical American home. Programming one’s thermostat to account for periods when no one is home can help the homeowner avoid wasting energy to maintain a comfortable temperature. Likewise when occupants are sleeping. So a programmable thermostat can indeed save a homeowner a significant amount of energy – but only if that individual knows how to program it.

The problem with programmable thermostats is that they are difficult to use. Most of them have but one or two controls used to handle all the programming. That means an endless amount of time moving through menus and trying to remember which button to push to achieve the results you want. It was no different than trying to program a VCR back in the 1980s.

This is why programmable devices never really achieve the savings they were expected to. People either never tried to learn the process of programming, or they gave up after not being able to figure it out. Smart home technology is changing that.

A Learning, Interactive System

For a smart home device to be truly smart, it has to have three capabilities. First, it still has to be programmable just in case the homeowner wants to set up the device to operate on a particular schedule. Second, it needs to be able to communicate with other smart devices in the home. And third, it has to be able to both ‘learn’ and ‘adjust’ on the fly.

Let’s use the smart thermostat as an example again. A smart thermostat can be programmed just like a standard programmable thermostat. But modern technology relies on touchscreen and/or smartphone programming, so it’s as simple as can be. After programming is complete, the smart thermostat then communicates with other home automation devices for the purposes of figuring out your schedule – so it can self-adjust.

For example, the thermostat can communicate with your home lighting control and your alarm system to figure out when you’ve left home. It can then automatically readjust the temperature accordingly. The thermostat can communicate with your cell phone to determine your geographic location in reference to your home. Once you get within a certain distance, the thermostat can adjust the temperature again.

As you can see, a genuinely smart device involves a lot more than just basic programming. It pays to know the difference between smart and programmable before you design your own smart home automation system.