Smart Home Technologies

What is the best technology for adding smart lights?

Smart lights are typically handled by a wireless technology. This may be Zigbee, BLE, or Z-Wave. Zigbee solutions are typically cheaper but operate over a shorter range than for example Z-Wave.
PanL also offers a wired DaLi solution which will not suffer the same interference issues experienced by some early wireless implementations.
It is also worth considering what you want the light to do. If it is a basic on/off and dimmer function then a smart switch with a standard bulb may be suitable. If there is a requirement to add colour tones to the light setting then the lightbulb itself needs to be smart.

What is Zigbee?

Zigbee is a wireless technology designed for low power short range operation in a smart home environment. Typically operating at 2.4GHz over 10-20m in the home. There are currently a range of sub classes within the Zigbee specification such as Zigbee Home Automation (ZHA) and Zigbee Light Link (ZLL) targeted at specific applications. Plans are in place to merge these separate protocols into one combined standard Zigbee 3.0. At the time of writing this FAQ Bridgetek recommend using ZHA compatible devices to interface with the PanL hub.

What is Z-Wave?

Z-wave is a wireless technology competing with Zigbee to become the defacto standard for home automation applications. Typically this standard operates at 800-900MHz with a range upto 100m. The frequency band of operation with Z-Wave is more suited to some installations as it does not interfere with WiFi.

What is BLE?

BLE is Bluetooth Low Energy. Many users will know Bluetooth from pairing headphones/microphone to an audio device such as their phone. This is suitable for very low range communication < 10m. [/av_toggle] [av_toggle title='What is Wifi?‘ tags=”]

WiFi is possibly what you are communicating over right now as you read this. It is the preferred technology to access your internet router. Adding WiFi into the home installation mix offers access to cloud computing and remote control of the smart devices whilst away from the home.

What is DaLi?

DaLi is a wired control system enabling full control of one or multiple lights in an installation. Being cabled it does not suffer from any potential wireless interference issues.

Should I use wired or wireless technology?

This is somewhat subjective and down to the users preferences, however there are some key considerations.
If the installation is part of a renovation or home improvement project then wireless will have a lot of appeal specifically if the project is a DIY or hobbyist project.
The obvious benefit to the solution being wireless is the simplicity of the installation, as there will be no need to route cabling. The main considerations will be the location of sensors and smart devices. It should also be noted that a wireless module will be battery operated and so consideration should be given to providing access and how often a battery will need to be replaced.
If the installation is a new build then the wired option becomes more feasible and is indeed often preferred by contractors as the issues of interference with competing wireless devices is reduced.
The flexibility of a PanL platform will allow for wired and wireless devices to be added.

What is the best user control interface – app, switch or touch screen?

There are two key categories here – fixed and portable. Whilst most smart devices offer an app for the phone/tablet which is great for remote access, it is also recommended that the installation includes some fixed controllers for times when the phone battery is dead or there is simply no one at home with a phone to access your installation.
The fixed controller may be either a simple mechanical switch which will have limited functionality, or as is the case with PanL, a full feature colour display with touch control. The colour display controllers can be programmed to perform multiple functions (lights, curtains, scene setting) and also provide usage stats such as energy usage that would not be available from a simpler mechanical switch. The user should consider what they want to do as well as cost when selecting their control interface. Note the PanL solution offers a range of display sizes which can help to tailor the installation functionality, aesthetics and cost.

Why do I need to add sensors to my smart installation?

Technically it is not essential to add sensors to a smart home installation. The lights or curtains can still be controlled manually or on a timer. However to make a smart installation an intelligent one, the use of sensors will significantly increase functionality and value. For example a proximity or occupancy sensor could allow for lighting to switch on/off as someone leaves or exits a room. This adds convenience, security and energy saving intelligence to the smart system.

PanL Solutions

Why should I choose PanL?

The key benefit to choosing PanL is flexibility. At this time the smart home automation market is bristling with new ideas and competing standards. The PanL hub solution allows different technologies to be bridged and combined into one simple system – no need for multiple apps on your phone to control lights, heating or curtains.

How many devices can I add to a PanL hub?

The data ports of the PanL hubs provide RS485 communication and power to the smart device. Each port is able to supply a maximum of 24V DC @ 0.5A (12W). As such the limiting factor in most installations will be the power consumption. Typical power for a PanL35_AA display is 4W – allowing 3 displays per port would enable 24 displays on one PanLHub80. Multiple hubs may be deployed in an installation to extend the number and functionality of the installation.

What power is available on the PanLHub44 sensor ports?

The 4 dedicated sensor ports of the PanLHub44 support 5V DC @ 50mA for powering and controlling sensor devices.

What screen sizes are PanL displays available in?

At launch the PanL displays will be offered in 3.5”, 5.0” and 7.0”. When selecting a control display consideration should be given to how many functions are required from the interface as this will impact the number of menus and icons to be displayed. For example a 7.0” display at the home entrance or main living area may be best whilst a simple 3.5” screen may be suitable for the bedroom. PanL systems allow for different display sizes and functionality across the installation.

Can I add voice control?

PanL supports Alexa, which would allow for adding voice control to the installation, in regions where Amazon Alexa is supported

What devices are PanL compatible with?

Bridgetek are still working to define a recommended device list, but support can be made available to support a wide range of wired and wireless devices over interfaces including Z-Wave, Zigbee (ZHA), DaLi, RS485 and WiFi devices.

Can I become a PanL installation partner?

Bridgetek are keen to build a distribution and installation network. Anyone interested in such an opportunity should contact marketing@brtchip.com for further details.