If you’re new to Smart Home automation and looking to make your home smarter, there are a few things you should know. When you’re shopping for devices, such as hubs (aka “controllers”), be sure to choose a hub that will deliver on what you want… ideally, one that doesn’t rely on “the cloud.” According to vox.com’s article “Too Embarrassed to Ask: What Is ‘The Cloud’ and How Does It Work?”, the cloud “has nothing to do with white fluffy things in the sky. Your data isn’t actually in heaven or in the wind. It has a terrestrial home. It’s stored somewhere — lots of somewheres — and the network of servers find what you need and deliver it. The cloud refers to software and services that run on the Internet, instead of locally on your computer. Most cloud services can be accessed through a Web browser like Firefox or Google Chrome, and some companies offer dedicated mobile apps. Some examples of cloud services include Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Netflix, Yahoo Mail, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive.”
Having said that, Smart Home hubs — some, but not all — rely on the cloud to talk to automation devices such as light bulbs, door locks, doorbell cameras, security cameras, thermostats, and thousands of other devices. Why is a cloud-based hub not ideal for the average Smart Home setup? Two very important reasons: Speed and reliability.
Sometimes, examples help make complex ideas easier to understand. Ergo, here’s an example that might help. Say you set up your smart home with one of the variety of hubs available through Ezlo, which offer both local and cloud-based control. With an Ezlo hub, you can use an app on your phone to control and automate over 27,000 different devices. Because Ezlo hubs, unlike many others, have the ability to work completely offline, you have instant control of all your devices without going through the cloud, or without having an internet connection at all. This is what’s called “local control” and it means that your devices respond instantly to your commands. Now, finally, the example! Let’s say you want to grab a late night snack from the fridge (don’t worry, everyone does it sometimes) and you open your app to turn the kitchen lights on. With local control, the lights turn on almost simultaneously, and you get to the kitchen safely; no bumping, no tripping! This is because you didn’t need to wait for your “turn on the kitchen lights” command to be sent to the cloud and back before the lights responded to it.
A round trip to the cloud and back takes time and that time is impacted by the strength of your internet connection. Slow connection? Slow response from the device you’re commanding.
By eliminating this round trip, your Ezlo controller has almost instant communication with any devices within your home. This is well exemplified by this comparison we did a while back.
The other key benefit of local control is that when the internet goes down, your system will still be up and running. Having the ability to work without a permanent internet connection and the power to process your scenes and device control locally not only improves reliability compared to the cloud-dependent hubs, but also ensures that you are always in control of your devices and automations.
Ideally, mixing local and cloud control is the best of both worlds, and that’s what we’ve managed to achieve with the new Ezlo hubs. We’ve combined the advantages of local control and automation processing, with secure cloud connectivity to deliver the type of control you need in any situation.
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