ANSWERS
  • What is Smart Home DB?
    Smart Home DB is the most trusted community-supported online destination for smart home consumers.

    The platform aspires to cut through the complexity of everything smart home and deliver the knowledge needed to make the right decisions quickly, and with confidence.

    To realize the above Smart Home DB aggregates and curates all smart home products released around the world, all verified compatibilities, all published consumer reviews and all daily prices from more than 25 online retailers.
  • Which problem is Smart Home DB trying to solve?
    Smart Home DB's goal is to accelerate the roll-out of mainstream consumers upgrading to a smart home by filling the 'smart home knowledge gap' and educating mainstream consumers in a user-friendly manner on how to properly upgrade to a smart home.
  • Who is the target audience of Smart Home DB?
    At Smart Home DB we believe that there are 3 key smart home consumer groups:

    1. Amateur DIY (Do-It-Yourselfers)

    2. Wealthy Outsource

    3. Hardcore DIY (Do-It-Yourselfers)
    For example: www.bwired.nl

    Smart Home DB's main target audience is the Amateur DIY consumer group. Our point of view is that the Hardcore DIY and Wealthy Outsource consumer groups have always found their solutions one way or another in the past 30 years. We believe the largest smart home knowledge gap lies with the Amateur DIY consumer group, which is exactly the knowledge gap we want to fill.

    With regards to the technical prowess we expect our target audience to have, we would assume that our target users know how to properly setup and configure a Wi-Fi router from scratch.
  • How do I upgrade to a 'Smart Home'?
    We recommend to read our Quick Guide (3 min.) to obtain an initial understanding of 'smart home basics' you should know.
  • What are Smart Home DB Compatibilities?
    Besides the stand-alone benefits any smart home product offers, you will want to know whether a specific smart home product can pair/connect/link/play with other smart home products and product compatibilities graphs and tables satisfy this information need.

    Smart Home DB manages the most complete and accurate Smart Home DB's Compatibilities Database in the world.
  • What is IFTTT?
    IFTTT is a service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement:

    if [THIS] then [THAT]


    Channels are the basic building blocks of IFTTT.
    Each Channel has its own Triggers and Actions.

    For more information about IFTTT, please click here.
  • What is the difference between Smart Home Routers, Gateways, Hubs, Bridges and Relays?
    From a terminology perspective they all refer to the same product category but the most commonly used terms are 'Gateways' and 'Hubs'.

    Smart Home Gateways/Hubs differ from one another based on 5 key dimensions:


    1. Open versus Closed Ecosystems

    Gateways/hubs are designed to either purely facilitate pairing with products produced in-house (Closed Ecosystems) or to facilitate pairing with as many products as possible, no matter whether the products are produced internally or by other companies (Open Ecosystems).


    2. Built-in Radio Frequencies

    A gateway/hub needs to have the radio frequency built-in which is used by a smart home product to be able to pair. The 3 most popular radio frequencies used by smart home products are Wi-Fi, Z-Wave and ZigBee. So if you have a gateway/hub which does not have a Z-Wave radio frequency chip built into it, the gateway/hub will not be able to pair with any Z-Wave product.

    What is important to know is that even if a gateway/hub has the same type of radio frequency built-in which is used by a smart home product, it is not guaranteed that the gateway/hub can in reality control a product with the same radio frequency. The reason for this is that the software of a gateway/hub needs to properly have integrated the considered product before control functions can be facilitated. You can compare this bottleneck with required drivers to integrate new hardware (for example a webcam) with your Windows operating system.

    To avoid disappointments, it is advisable to always review the Smart Home DB's Compatibilities Database of both the gateway/hub as well as individual products before you proceed with any purchase.


    3. Product Compatibilities

    Each gateway/hub has its own unique product compatibilities graph and table, which you can always review in Smart Home DB's Compatibilities Database.


    4. Monthly Fees


    While most gateways/hubs offer their cloud services for free after the purchase, a few gateways/hubs charge for all or premium cloud services. Smart Home DB always highlights with every listed product whether monthly fees are required for product functions.


    5. Software

    Every gateway/hub requires its own unique software for configuration and controlling functions. The 3 most popular software platforms gateways/hubs write software for are iOS, Android and Web Browser. In reality most gateways/hubs offer configuration and controlling functions via iOS and Android Apps and some also facilitate access via a Web Browser.

    The user experience of each individual gateway/hub's apps differ and it is recommended to browse through app reviews published by other users for valuable insights.
  • Can I buy products directly from Smart Home DB?
    No, Smart Home DB instead daily collects all product prices from more than 25 online retailers to be able to inform you about the lowest (historical) price for each listed product.
  • What is the difference between Wi-Fi, Z-Wave and Zigbee?
    Wi-Fi versus Z-Wave & Zigbee

    Wi-Fi was originally designed to cover large areas and facilitate high-speed data communication (such as media streaming). Wi-Fi’s drawback by being able to facilitate high-speed data communication is that it is a power hungry radio frequency, which makes it a sub-optimal radio frequency for battery-operated devices, such as door locks, scales and sensors.

    Radio frequencies such as Z-Wave and Zigbee were also designed to cover large areas, but, in contrast to Wi-Fi, highly power efficient, which makes them ‘perfect’ radio frequencies for battery-operated devices.


    Z-Wave versus Zigbee

    From a consumer's point of view, the most important difference you should be aware of with regards to Z-Wave and Zigbee at the time of writing the latest update to this answer (Mon, Nov 18, 2014) is that products which use a Z-Wave radio frequency have a higher likelihood of being able to pair with other Z-Wave products compared with Zigbee products.

    The above means that the likelihood that a Z-Wave product from a Company A can pair with a Z-Wave product from a Company B is higher than a Zigbee product from a Company C being able to pair with a Zigbee product from a Company D.

    If you are considering to buy Z-Wave products it is important to know that Z-Wave uses different radio frequencies around the globe, for example 908 MHz in the United States and 868 MHz in Europe. So if you are living in the United States and use a Gateway/Hub with the 908 MHz frequency and buy a Z-Wave product from Europe with the 868 MHz, your US Smart Home Gateway/Hub will unfortunately not be able to pair with your EU Smart Home Product.

    The key reason why Z-Wave products overall are more compatible with one another compared with Zigbee products is the fact that Zigbee is an open standard which is (unfortunately) often tweaked by Zigbee product producers to realize a closed ecosystem in which only the company's own products can pair with one another. Z-Wave on the other hand is a locked standard with fixed interoperability rules which cannot be tweaked by Z-Wave product producers, resulting in a significantly more user-friendly ecosystem for  consumers from a product compatibility point of view.
  • What is the difference between an Open Gateway and a Closed Gateway?
    A Closed Gateway's main purpose is to purely facilitate pairing with products produced by the same company.

    For example, the Philips Hue Bridge's main purpose is to purely facilitate pairing with other Philips products such as the Philips Hue A19 Bulb (Color) and Philips Hue LightStrips.


    An Open Gateway's philosophy is to facilitate pairing with as many products as possible, no matter whether the products are produced internally or by other companies.

    For example, the SmartThings Hub, VeraLite and Wink Hub facilitate pairing with many products produced by other companies.
  • How is Smart Home DB different?
    Focused
    Smart Home DB is purely smart home focused and manages the most complete online community-supported global products database

    Comprehensive
    Smart Home DB aggregates and curates all verified product compatibilities, all published consumer reviews and all prices from more than 25 online retailers so you can make the right decisions quickly, and with confidence.

    Authoritative
    Smart Home DB is the authoritative source for several industry ranking lists such as the Smart Home DB Top 100 Products, Companies Leaderboard and Top 100 Apps.
  • What is the Smart Home DB Pricewatch?
    The Smart Home DB Pricewatch daily collects all the smart home product prices from more than 25 online retailers to be able to inform you about the lowest and highest (historical) price for each listed product.
  • What is the formula behind the Top 100 Products List?
    A Bayesian estimate is used as formula for calculating the Top 100 Products:

    weighted rating (WR) = (v ÷ (v+m)) × R + (m ÷ (v+m)) × C

    Where:
    R = average for the product (mean) = (Rating)
    v = number of votes for the product = (votes)
    m = minimum votes required to be listed in the Top 100 (currently XX)
    C = the mean vote across the whole report (currently X.X)
  • Who are the brains behind Smart Home DB?



    My name is Chun Liew and I am the founder of Smart Home DB. 


    Together with my research and software team members we aspire to provide you the best user experience possible and to become the leading online community-supported destination for everything smart home. 

    I am Dutch-born Singaporean and multi-lingual (English, Dutch, German, Mandarin), which facilitates that I am able to personally curate a significant amount of market information from the United States, Europe and China. 

    I spend most of my time in Shanghai and Singapore and you can reach me via chun@smarthomedb.com