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See Home Automation in technology
Amazon Alexa (Echo & Dot) and Chromecast Audio in

In 1989 we built a new house and I installed X-10 Powerline carrier switches to control all outside lights, some inside lights and control my thermostats For example I could hit one button on controllers through the house to turn on all outside lights. I had a controller I program that would do things like turn lights off and on when I was traveling. Another to turn my heat on using my old style thermostats before I got up and got home from work.

X10 is now obsolete.

Current systems:
Current systems now use wireless technology to send spread spectrum signals over the 908.4 MHz and 916 MHz bands in the US (860 MHz in Europe).
Devices can repeat the signals creating a mesh network for extended range.

They can control such items as window blinds/shades, smart thermostats, light bulbs, home security, motion sensors, cameras, smoke/fire/CO detectors, garage door sensors and many other "intelligent/connected" products.

There are a variety of controllers which you can access with your smartphone.

Protocols:

Z-Wave

ZigBee

WeMo

Thread

Operating range

100 feet

35 feet

100 feet

100 feet (theoretical)

Max no. devices

232

65,000

Router-dependent

250-300

Data rate

9.6-100 kbps

40-250 kbps

Router-dependent

250 kbps

Frequency

908/916 MHz (U.S.)

915 MHz/2.4 GHz

2.4 GHz

2.4 GHz

Network type

Mesh

Mesh

Star

Mesh

Needs hub?

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Source: TomsGuide.com

Technology Compared
  Insteon Z-Wave WiFi Bluetooth Zigbee
Maximum Theoretical Network Size Unlimited 232 256 9 256
Maximum Practical Network Size 1,000s 30-35 Dozens? 9 Dozens?
Physical Layer 1 RF RF RF RF RF
Physical Layer 1 Frequency 915MHz 915MHz 2.4GHz 2.4GHz 2.4GHz
Physical Layer 2 Powerline - - - -
Physical Layer 2 Frequency 132KHz - - - -
Mesh Enrollment Automatic Procedural Procedural Procedural Procedural
Operate w/o Hub Yes - - - -
Cost $ $$ $$$ $ $$
Compatibility Classes (less is more) 1 >1 Many 3 >>9
Forward & Backward Compatible Yes - - - -
Scenes without delay Yes - - - -
Message Propagation Simulcast Routed Routed Theoretical Routed
Network Configuration Full Mesh Partial Mesh Star Star Star + Mesh
Controller Failure Remote Access Failure Complete Network Failure Complete Network Failure Complete Network Failure Complete Network Failure
Mobile Devices Automatic Breakdown Automatic Automatic Breakdown
Initial Products Fully Supported Obsolete Just Launched Just Launched Obsolete
Physical Interoperability Yes Yes Yes Yes Not Assured
Brand Interoperability Yes Not Assured w / software/SDK w / software/SDK Limited
Messages Acknowledged Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Unique Addressing Yes - - - Not Enforced
Error Detection Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Error Correction Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Collision Avoidance Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Source: Technology -- insteon.com
See Z-Wave vs Insteon - ZwaveGuide

Z-Wave - The Z-Wave Alliance, now boasts over 1,000 different compatible devices
ZigBee - Some users have noted that Zigbee devices frequently have difficulty communicating
 with those made by different manufacturers.
WeMo (Belkin) wifi
Insteon (SmartLabs)- Insteon is a home automation protocol designed to bridge the gap
 between powerline-based and wireless protocols, so it uses both.
It's also compatible with x10 devices,
RadioRA (Lutron)
Caseta (Lutron)
Nest
See:
ZigBee, Z-Wave, Thread and WeMo: What's the Difference?
ZigBee vs Z-Wave vs Insteon: Home automation protocols explained | Digital Trends
Home Automation White Paper / X-10 vs. Insteon vs. Z-Wave vs. RadioRA 2 - Simply Automated Blog
TESTED: Smart Home Automation - Comparing Apple HomeKit vs Samsung SmartThings Hub vs Wink Connected Home Hub vs INSTEON Hub Pro vs Amazon Echo vs Belkin WeMo | ari jay comet : blog

Systems - Hubs:

HomeKit (Apple) - A framework in iOS 8 for communicating with
         and controlling connected accessories in a users home.
    Apple Stores Will Sell Yves Behar's Smart Lock for HomeKit - Businessweek
         
Works with Nest (Google) - Makes it possible for your Nest devices (Thermostat, Smoke/CO detector, ...) to
        securely interact with the things you already use every day. 
        
SmartThings (Samsung) 

Hubs: scores a.a/b.b CNet | [n.n] - PCMagazine Connect (Staples) - get D-Link not linksys hub 3.5/7.8 Works with Z-Wave, ZigBee, Lutron, Wi-Fi 3.5/7.8 Samsung SmartThings Hub $95 3.5/7.7 [4.5] AZ 3.6 (1035) Wink 2 (GE) $95 3.5/7.7 [4.5 EC] AZ 4.0 (68) Wink | Buy and View Smart Home Products Amazon.com: wink hub compatible devices Wink Smart Home Wall controller 6x6.6 Wink Relay wall controller 4.3" (not compatible with 3-way switches) Amazon Echo Dot (Alexa) May need another hub for many things WeMo must be on same wi-fi 2.4 GHz or 5GHz to work with Echo How to Connect Amazon Echo to Wemo Light Switch/ Hue Bulbs + Home Groups - YouTube Harmony (Logitech) Insteon (SmartLabs) Vera 3.6 (565) Caseta Smart Bridge (Lutron) 3.7 (35) Works with Alexa, Apple Homekit, Ecobee, Nest, Honeywell, Logitech, Sonos See Best Smart Home Hub: Insteon vs SmartThings vs Wink vs WeMo etc. | SafeSmartLiving Best Smart Home Hubs of 2016 - Home Automation Hubs and Controllers | Tom's Guide Home Automation Hubs PC Magazine Lutron L-BDG2-WH Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge, HomeKit-enabled - - Amazon.com
Controllable devices - Switches - ...
Lights:
 GE wall switch $45
 Cree bulbs
 Lutron Casetta $60
 Insteon  $50-
 Philips Hue (good) [Hue hub gives more flexibility]
Outlets:
 WeMo  (Belkin) $40 (Programmable timer)
 GE Wall-switch Light Control Remote With 1 Outlet Receiver | Staples

Switches: GE - Z-Wave Products Z-Wave Product Catalog - GE Z-Wave In-Wall Smart Switch 4.2 (2,233) $38 These are the same as the GE iris switches at Lowes Z-Wave - Leviton $34 4.2 (75) Lutron Caséta $60 4.5/8.8 4.5 (15) Linear WS15Z-1 Z-Wave Wall Switch - Wink@Home Wiki WeMo Light Switch (Belkin) $30-$45 3.7(4,908) 4/8.1 (Reports of reliability problems and bad customer support) Official Belkin Support Site | WEMO Light Switch - Setup Insteon $50 Need Lutron bridge connected to router or a hub like Wink which supports Lutron iDevices 4/8.0 3-way switches. Caseta You can replace a standard 3-way switch with a switch and pico remote control. The GE Auxiliary Switch for Z-Wave is required for Three-way or Four-way installations. GE Add-On Switch works with a GE switch to add 1 or more switches to a circuit See: The Best Z-Wave In-Wall Dimmer | The Wirecutter Smart switch buying guide - CNET The Best Smart Lighting Controls of 2016 | Top Ten Reviews Wink - Smart Outlets, Dimmers & Switches - Smart Lighting - Smart Home -  The Home Depot
Sensors - Motion sensors, push buttons, doorbells, ...
Amazon.com: Logitech Pop Home Switch Starter Pack for One-Touch Control of Smart Home Devices In Any Room: 3.4 (36)
Amazon.com: Pebblebee Onyx Stone Gen 2 Bluetooth Smart Button: Amazon Launchpad 3.3(6)
Flic – The Bluetooth Smart Button 3.1 (197) Some things don't work, Poor support, poor paring,
Sacramento River Basin | Sacramento River Watershed Program
Aeon Labs Z-Wave Minimote - Wink@Home Wiki Seems to only work with their devices.

Thermostats: Nest Honeywell TH8320WF1029 Wi-Fi Touchscreen Programmable Digital Thermostat
Kits:
Staples Connect Home Starter Kit, 1KTHCSKD  $189


          
    Connect hub      Caseta dimmer kit   Pico remote   Plug-in dimmer
   D-Link Staples Connect Hub              $77
   Lutron Caseta(TM) Wireless Dimmer Kit  $60 
   Lutron Pico(R) Remote Control           $15 
   GE Plug-in Dimmer Module               $66
                                  Total $218
Services:
Comcast, ADT, Dictagraph will install 
  Comcast $40/month  + installation $100-$400


Source: Home Automation Compatibility: Does This Work With That? | Dec. 2015
IFTTT - if this then that

Terms:
IFTTT - if this then that
Connect Wink: Shortcuts to hundreds of other services - IFTTT

Links:
Best Smart Home Hub: Insteon vs SmartThings vs Wink vs WeMo etc. | SafeSmartLiving
Wink@Home Wiki Smarthome - Home Automation Systems, Products, Kits, Hubs & Ideas
TESTED: Home Automation - Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, Lutron Caseta, Wink Hub, Staples Connect, Logitech Harmony Home Hub, and INSTEON Hub | ari jay comet : blog
Amazon.com: wink hub compatible devices
TESTED: Home Automation - Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, Lutron Caseta, Wink Hub, Staples Connect, Logitech Harmony Home Hub, and INSTEON Hub - ari jay comet : blog
Smart Home @ Amazon.com
Home Automation Technology
The Best Smart Home Devices of 2016 | PCMag.com
Everything that works with Amazon Echo and Dot (Alexa) - Reviewed.com Smart Home
Lutron Caseta Wireless Lighting Review: Pros/Cons, Summary, Award | Smarter Home Automation | Smarter Home Automation
Which Home Automation Technology Is Best?
Linux Home Automation | Neil Cherry
ACGNJ Window Pains - Home Automation Links | Frank Warren
FHEM (TM) is a GPL'd perl server for house automation. It is used to automate some common tasks in the household like switching lamps / shutters / heating / etc. and to log events like temperature / humidity / power consumption.
Best Home Automation System - Consumer Reports 2014
The WeMo vs Wink Smart Home Control Systems - All Home Robotics
Caseta® Wireless - Overview
Smartthings Home Automation Review
Videos like this "Top 5 Best Smart Home Automation Hubs of 2015" for the June 2015 GoPro
Simply Automated -- Home Automation Made Simple
Audio Video Networking
Light Bulb Size/Shape

SAIWhitePaperTechnologylightingcontrolNov212014
Simply Automated -- Home Automation Made Simple
GE Z-Wave Wireless Lighting Control Smart Toggle Switch, In-Wall, White, 12727 - - Amazon.com TESTED: Smart Home Automation – Comparing Apple HomeKit vs Samsung SmartThings Hub vs Wink Connected Home Hub vs INSTEON Hub Pro vs Amazon Echo vs Belkin WeMo – ari jay comet : blog TESTED: Home Automation – Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, Lutron Caseta, Wink Hub, Staples Connect, Logitech Harmony Home Hub, and INSTEON Hub – ari jay comet : blog ZigBee, Z-Wave, Thread and WeMo: What's the Difference? Everything that works with Amazon Echo and Dot (Alexa) - Reviewed.com Smart Home
The Best Z-Wave In-Wall Light Switches? - DarwinsDen.com
Leviton Decora Switch, Z-Wave, 15-Amp, Scene Capable, Works with Amazon Alexa - - Amazon.com The WeMo vs Wink Smart Home Control Systems - All Home Robotics

Old 2003 information
last updated 14 Aug 2016