A Comparative Analysis of Smart Home Automation Technologies in the UAE

Posted on January 22, 2018 By

The Smart Home Automation industry in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been growing in a rapid pace since its daybreak over the last several years. The market is becoming more and more aware of the capabilities of having a total automation system whether at the scale of individual residences, castles, real estate developments, and hotels. Many developments in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have already been completed with a pre-installed automation system. Many developments in areas like Victory Heights, Arabian Ranches, Sports City, and Reem Island have also been built with infrastructure to aid such technologies in the long term.

In basic form, automation contains systems that control Lighting, Appliances, HVAC, Curtains and Multimedia. The market in the UAE have not only begun to realize the advantages in terms of comfort, protection, and luxury. But also in terms of energy saving and growing property value, thus all these realizations will continue to lead to a flourishing market in the UAE.

As automation is somewhat of a brand new technology in the mainstream marketplace, one must be aware of the numerous number of underlying technologies that will connect and allow for the conversation between an user and the Light Dimming Systems or Air Conditioning Systems. On the surface, these types of technologies may seem to lead to the same functionality, but in the back-end, they are different in possibly catastrophic ways. This leads all of us to the reason why we began composing this article, that is, to lose light onto the pros and cons of the different technologies (regardless of product or vendor) which are obtainable in the UAE market these days.

Any automation system is composed of 2 high-level components, the control, and the modules. The segments include light dimmers, relay changes, thermostats, motorized curtain control techniques, distributed speakers.. etc . which are to become controlled by the home owner. The controller, is the heart of the system from which signals are usually sent to “Dim the lights” or “turn on the air conditioning”. The method of communication between the controller and the modules are usually the Automation Communication Technology which usually we wish to address in this informative article. The method of communication can be through wires or wi-fi and are usually in line along with certain protocols or standards of communication. This article will discover and compare KNX, X10, Zigbee, En-Ocean, and Z-wave.

The requirements for comparison which we will discover are the following:

  1. Reliability of Communication: How dependable is the communication between the Controller and the Modules? When a message is sent to a component, the system must ensure the message’s arrival and confirmation of invoice. Scoring well in this requirements is very important to ensure that even under situations of wired or wireless disturbance messages are resent until verified by the receiving module. Not all protocols comply with this necessity.

  2. Security of Communication: The protocol must guarantee that the 3rd party cannot infiltrate a current system and operate it along with unauthorized access. The results of a hacker entering a car parking lot of a hotel plus turning all its lights away from is disastrous.

  3. Price

  4. Features and Capabilities: It is important that software technologies go beyond just controlling person modules and have the capability to incorporate with other systems most typically amusement since that is an area of higher usage of any home owner. Example: Easy Integration with Multi-room Music Systems, Multi-room multimedia distribution techniques (Movies, Videos, Pictures, Music)… and so forth

  5. Investment Protection: It is important to make sure that installed Controller or Modules can be easily changed in the future. Consider getting installed a system that has some elements fail after 5 years, with the same time, the business which installed it became broke. The home owner would be left without choice but to completely revamp the entire electrical system in the residence which would cost more in period, labor, and equipment that the thing that was originally paid for the automation program. Having a system that is standardized implies that any other company can support it or even replace certain parts with different items, maybe from different vendors, in order to ensure continued operation.

  6. Interoperability: This requirements refers to the capability of the Controller to speak to multiple Modules through different manufacturers. This will make sure that a system is made up with Lighting, HEATING AND COOLING, Curtains, Appliances, and Multimedia Control Modules are purchased from different producers which are the best or many specialized in those fields. This ensures that a system has the best-in class Modules for each particular objective. It is not logical that the best manufacturer of light dimmers is also the best manufacturer of curtain control systems, or sound systems. Some communication protocols are usually closed or proprietary, thus driving the customer to purchase everything from just one manufacturer. This criteria also overlaps with the Investment Protection Criteria since having an interoperable program will give future flexibility to quickly replace Modules even if the business which installed them has shut down.

The remainder of this document will address every communication technology based on the over criteria.

KNX

KNX is an international regular of communication typically installed in wired twisted pair environments. KNX was designed in 1990 and had been made as a very robust process to be used in industrial automation apps. The protocols reliability cannot be wondered since it implements many OSI conversation layers and is quite complex. KNX is also controlled by the KNX association and any company usually usually spends thousands of dirhams on their workers to go through training in order to comprehend the inner workings of the system. KNX is a complex process by nature, and was designed long before the “smart home” concept was born, thus the hardware that has the capability to assistance the complexity of KNX is usually expensive not only to engineer, but additionally to manufacture and thus the desires for this technology to become cheaper compared to its current alternatives is ineffective.

KNX has and is a popular choice with regard to hotels since 2006 and has already been deployed in many developments like the Shangri-la in Dubai, Rotana Hotels in the Marina, Fairmont, Movenpick to name a few. KNX can also be being specified by many real estate experts for major developments in the Abu Dhabi Reem Island plus Yas Island.

  1. Reliability of Communication: Yes

  2. Security of Communication: Yes

  3. Price: No

  4. Features and Capabilities: No. KNX has been more focused at the simple facility of automation plus typically fits in hotel conditions where customization and multimedia incorporation is not required.

  5. Investment Protection: Yes

  6. Interoperability: Yes

X10

X10 is an international open standard created in 1975 by Pico Electronics of Scotland, in order to permit remote control of home devices plus appliances. It primarily uses the 220Vpower line wiring for delivering messages between the Controller plus the Modules (Lighting, HVAC… etc).

X10 has only receyved several popularity many years ago when software technology started being introduced in the UAE. And was generally installed in small villa task then was slowly discontinued because of its reliability issues.

  1. Reliability of Communication: No. Since it really is prone to interference from multiple resources like transformers, motors typically discovered in TVs, washing machines, fans… and so forth Also, messages from Controller in order to Modules are never acknowledged so there is absolutely no 2-way communication.

  2. Security of Communication: No. If the 3rd party can tap into the powerline of a house, messages may be easily sent to control whatever the 3rd party wishes.

  3. Price: Yes

  4. Features plus Capabilities: Yes. This technologies can easily be integrated into PC based techniques and many options are available to provide function rich capabilities for residential apps.

  5. Investment Protection: Yes

  6. Interoperability: Yes

Zigbee

ZigBee is an open up wireless network communication protocol depending on the IEEE specification IEEE 802. 15. 4, which enables the Controller to communicate with its Modules via Radio Frequency. The regular is a development of the ZigBee Alliance, which was founded in the end of 2002. It is definitely an industry alliance of more than 230 enterprises who take up the globally development of this technology. The first ZigBee products came upon the market in the starting of 2005. Because Zigbee standardises only the lower protocol levels (radio layer), the different producers have defined their own higher software program layers. As a result ZigBee gadgets of different manufacturers are not suitable for each other.

  1. Reliability of Communication: Yes. A wireless fine mesh network is created and ensures several path routing to every module which usually translates to long reach, and higher reliability in case of disturbance or even in case of in-path device failure.

  2. Security of Communication: No. Zigbee utilizes weak hashing algorithms and has already been researched to be penetrable. Penetration is just not easy but software tools like “Killerbee” exist and can allow any individual with little Linux and scripting experience to hack into a current Zigbee network.

  3. Price: No

  4. Features plus Capabilities: Yes

  5. Investment Protection: Yes

  6. Interoperability: No

En-Ocean

EnOcean is a wireless radio rate of recurrence based, energy harvesting technology utilized primarily in building automation techniques. It is not set out for global, European or national standardization; nevertheless , EnOcean GmbH is offering its technologies and licenses for the trademarked features under license within the EnOcean Alliance framework. The idea was developed to enable batteryless sensors plus switches for building automation. Which is questionable in terms of energy saving because existing alternatives may consume as little as 500W per 60 storey tower in automation gadgets.

EnOcean based technologies have been set up in some big projects like the Abu Dhabi Central Market, the Dubai Financial Center… and so forth

  1. Reliability of Communication: No, En-Ocean does not offer 2-way communication between the Controller as well as its Modules. Also the Controller are at a star network with the Modules and there is no wireless meshing, this one-to-one signal mapping may drastically fail in times of high interference.

  2. Security of Communication: Yes

  3. Price: No, En-Ocean prices tend to be more aligned with KNX.

  4. Features and Capabilities: No. Supported but not yet seen in the market.

  5. Investment Protection: Yes

  6. Interoperability: Yes

Z-wave

Among all the above protocols, Z-wave ranks the best so far. The strength of Z-wave lies in the big number of various products from different manufacturers and also the very robust, 2-way, meshed, and secured wireless communication. Z-wave chips also consume a 10mW at peak and are low cost when compared with all other alternatives. Why? because Z-wave has been originally designed for residential apps.

Z-wave is viewed as the next generation of Smart Home Technology and products have started to emerge from huge players such as Honeywell and Schneider Electric. This technology is not only function full, reliable and secure, yet will be offered at competitive prices plus investment protection for projects of any size starting with individual rentals all the way to large real estate property towers. As of today, Z-wave has been deployed in many rentals in the UAE at an person scale. Z-wave is also starting to create its way through many of the large tenders for advancements throughout the Emirates.

  1. Reliability of Communication: Yes

  2. Security of Communication: Yes

  3. Price: Yes

  4. Features and Capabilities: Yes

  5. Investment Protection: Yes

  6. Interoperability: Yes

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