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Home Automation – Networks

Wired Ethernet Network

Wired ethernet networks are usually constructed using CAT 5 or CAT 6 cable, with RJ45 connectors at either end or connected to a patch panel

The advantages of a wired network are...

  • Connection speed.
  • Cost.
  • Reliability (unless you hammer a nail through the cable.)

The disadvantages of a wired network are...

  • Difficulty of routing cabling in an existing house.
  • You never put enough in.

Wireless Ethernet Network

The advantages of a wireless network are...

  • Rather obviously, no wires.
  • Flexibility. You can position a device anywhere you require (within reason.)

The disadvantages of a wireless network are...

  • Connection speed.
  • Not all devices you may wish to connect will have wireless connectivity built in.
  • Not all wireless networks can interoperate.
  • Signal may not reach to all parts of your house.

Nearly all wireless ethernet networks are based on a common specification 802.11 and currently come in 4 flavours

  1. b - Max. Speed of 11Mb/s. Communicates at 2.4GHz
  2. g - Max. Speed of 54Mb/s. Communicates at 2.4GHz
  3. a - Max. Speed of 54Mb/s. Communicates at 5GHz
  4. n - Max. Speed of 74Mb/s. Communicates at 2.4GHz and/or 5GHz

Powerline Network

Power line networking relies on sending information over you house's electrical wiring. It does this by superimposing a high frequency signal over the 50 or 60Hz mains.

The advantages of a powerline network are...

  • The wiring is already in place
  • The speed is (generally) better than wireless

and the disadvantages are...

  • Cost - adapters my be over the 50GBP mark per point
  • Adapters of different brands may not talk to each other. Even different adapters of the same brand but a newer technology may have difficulty communicating.
  • May not work in a 3-phase installation (although the vast majority of houses will only have a single phase installation.)

Radio Frequency (RF) Network

Like wireless ethernet networks, RF networks communicate over the airwaves however they don't use IP for their base communications protocol and generally use a vendor specific protocol.

1 Wire

Even simpler is the 1-wire protocol which only requires a single wire (the name's a bit of a give-away) though they usually require two to provide a return to ground and most 1-wire units use four.