Smart Home Terms

2-Way Lighting

A lighting system where one light is controlled by two switches. For instance a hall light that can be controlled from the hall and the upstairs landing.


2-wire Lighting System

Lighting system that does not include neutral at the light switch.

3-wire Lighting System

Lighting system that does include neutral at the light switch.


Home automation Device that switches digital (on/off for an electrical switch) or analogue signals (0 % … 100 % for a dimmer or blind control).


The process of adding a device to a Group. By doing this, the device can be controlled as part of the group.


A bridge is a type of connection which works between your smart home devices and the internet. This makes it possible to control certain devices from anywhere in the world remotely.


Also known as the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association, the lead association that supports the implementation of standards in the home automation industry.

CEDIA is a global initiative which has over 3700 member companies and home automation specialists.

Cellular Alarm System

It usually means that the system doesn’t need a hard wired landline because the control panel communicates with the remote monitoring center via cellular signals.


Is a term used to describe the brain of the home automation operations. The controller is the one that connects smart devices between each other.


Is a type of cable frequently used in the home automation industry for network wiring. It is the type of cable which connects to the router and makes the connection between the router and wired home automation devices.

CFL Bulb

Stands for Compact Fluorescent Lamp – these are the ‘Energy-Saving’ light bulbs that we all now use in our homes. CFL’s have replaced traditional (incandescent) light bulbs.

CFR Bulb

Stands for Compact Fluorescent Radio Lamp – identical to a CFL but these bulbs have a built-in radio receiver that enables them to be controlled by a wireless home automation network such as LightWaveRF.


A Device that can control other devices on the wireless network. There are a variety of controllers available including hand-held remote controls, central gateway controllers that provide access to the Internet and PC software (via USB) that can control your network from anywhere in the world.


A dashboard is usually a user interface on a mobile device such as a mobile phone app or a web portal from which you can see the statistics and live data gathered from all or some smart devices in a smart home.

On top of that, some dashboards also allow you to control certain features of the smart devices such as lights, music, heating etc.


A Device is a specific electronic product that can be controlled through the wireless network. The device can be a local wireless controller, which controls a specific light or appliance (usually connected to it by mains wiring), or a sensor that provides input to the network. Each Device is seen as a network Node.

Device Pairing

Refers to including a device in the network of another in order to gain control or to share the configuration options from each other.

Example: pairing an iPhone music playlist to a Sonos Bluetooth speaker.


A wireless controlled Device that controls the brightness, as well as the On/Off state, of a local light. It will be connected to the light via standard wiring.

Distributed Audio

Refers to home automation processes that include whole-house audio or multi-room audio systems which can be controlled from the entire premises of the building via a smart speaker, remote or a touch controller.

Distributed Video

Just like Distributed Audio systems, a distributed video system refers to a home automation integration which installs TVs and displays throughout the home or in multiple rooms having one central controller.

Dual-Mesh Network

Network system used by INSTEON. Control signals are simultaneously sent using your home’s mains wiring (powerline) and the INSTEON wireless network. At the same time all INSTEON devices act as repeaters ensuring signals get to the furthest reaches of your home – without dead-spots.


Common system to create a computer network using cables (wired network). This system is less common in homes, where the more convenient Wi-Fi (wireless) system is used. However, the wireless Router typically includes Ethernet sockets so that a PC or other device can be directly connected to it.


A set of commands that get instigated following a trigger from a device or sensor. For instance when a motion detector is tripped a light comes on.


To remove a Device from a wireless network. After a device is Excluded, it cannot be controlled by the network. It can be Included into the network again at any time.


Term used to say how many switches are on a switch faceplate. For instance if a switch has two switches that control different light circuits, this is known as a 2-gang switch.


Connects your home automation network to the Internet. The Gateway enables you to control the network and all the devices on it from anywhere in the world using a computer or smartphone. It also enables your network to send and retrieve information from specific remotely located servers.


Geofencing is a technology used to secure your home. Usually this relies on a GPS positioning system. Geofencing tracks your smartphone location in order to detect you or your family’s position in reference to your home. This will trigger an event designed to better serve your needs.

Example: Geofencing will detect when your children get back from school and will automatically open the backyard door for instance. The same can work for opening the garage door or enabling remote access to visitors via a smart lock.


A collection of individual Devices, which can be controlled as a group. For instance a controller can switch them all on with one action, rather than having to turn on each Device individually.


Or a Graphic User Interface is another term which refers to the user interface from a mobile app / touch panel / TV etc designed to control smart electronic devices.

Home Automation

All aspects of adding control to your home and appliances. It can be as simple as adding remote control to a few lights, or creating a more complex system that includes automatic sensors and security systems.

Home ID

The common identification for all Nodes belonging to one Z-Wave network. Each Controller is factory programmed with a unique Home ID, when operating as the Primary Controller, it assigns this Home ID to the network. The Home ID is 4 Bytes (32-bits) long.

Hardwired Security

Is a term used for wired security which is thought to be more secured. However, this is not the case as now wireless has advanced WPA encryption and is the norm nowadays.


Or Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning. Is the system technology in charge with the environmental comfort of a smart home.


The process to add a Device to a wireless network. When Included, the device can be controlled by the network.


Similar to Module. An Insert is installed inside an existing wall-box to add wireless control to the appliance or light. In most instances the existing switch or dimmer can be retained for manual control.

Internet of Things

Popular term to describe how real-world sensors and appliances will be connected together via the ‘cloud’ enabling them to communicate and control each other wirelessly. Also known as IoT.


Stands for “Internet Protocol”. It is a standard set of rules for sending and receiving data across a computer network or the Internet. Used with Ethernet and Wi-Fi networks.


Also known as a system integrator, is a person or company specialized in building a smart home system, connecting smart devices, building the wiring, enabling connections, configuring the system etc.


Stand for “Infrared”. Commonly used by remote controllers to control appliances such as TVs, DVD etc. The control signals are sent using Infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye. IR is line-of-sight technology, which means there must be no obstacles between the controller and the appliance.


Stands for Light Emitting Diode. These modern light bulbs use very little power – typically 10% of the traditional incandescent bulbs


A new wireless technology to control home electronics from a single wireless network. LightwaveRF is an affordable alternative to Z-Wave, ideal for creating a simple home network to control lights and home appliances. Since its launch in 2011, LightwaveRF has quickly grown to become one of Vesternet’s best selling technologies.


A macro is a set of commands that can be triggered by the push / touch of one button / option. Macros are specifically used to play music on multiple devices at the same time, turn on the lights for specific areas or set the thermostat at certain temperatures in multiple rooms at once.


A Device that adds wireless control to a light or appliance. For instance a dimmer module enables you to control a lamp wirelessly.

Manual Override

Enables the user to control the Device locally without using the wireless network. For instance a Z-Wave socket will have a manual On/Off switch.

Mesh Network

A type of Network that allows each Device to send, receive and repeat messages. This process makes the network more robust and extends the range of the entire network. Z-Wave is a good example of a Mesh Network.

Momentary Switch

Momentary switches, also known as Retractive, Mono-Stable or Bell-Push, only remain in the On state while you press them, they return to the Off state when the button is released. These are commonly used in home automation systems.


Similar to Scene. Mood is a LightwaveRF term where one switch can control many devices at the same time, each device receiving a different command. For instance “turn lamp A off, raise the roller blind on Window C and turn the TV on”.

Motorized Window Shades & Blinds

Is a type of smart shades and blinds powered by remote controllers and access from smart devices like touch panels, mobile phone applications or tablets. These can be customized accordingly and they can work in groups.


Two or more Devices connected together is called a Network. This enables Devices to be controlled and to communicate with each other. For home automation we typically refer to a Wireless Network as a Network.


Is a device used to control your smart home devices. These usually come in the form of a touch panel, dashboard, remote controls, menu screens displayed on TVs.


A specific point or Device on a home network. Each Node has a unique address, which the Controller uses to communicate and control it.

Node ID

The address of a single Z-Wave Node, the address length is 1Byte (8-bits).


Means the same as Include – the process to add a Device to a wireless network. The network can then control the Paired device.

Portable Controller

A network controller that can be moved around the home or office. These controllers are normally hand-held and battery-powered. It’s recommended that Portable Controllers are used together with at least one Static Controller to ensure reliable network operation.

Primary Controller

This controller Includes all other Devices into the Network. It assigns its Home ID to the network and allocates a Node ID to each Device in the network (including secondary controllers).


A set of communication rules that enable network devices to communicate with each other. INSTEON, Z-Wave , Zigbee and LightwaveRF all have their own communication protocols.


A wireless controlled Device that controls the On/Off state of a local appliance (load). The Relay controls the power going to the load via standard mains cables. The term Relay is normally associated with Inserts and Modules that control appliances of more than 600W (not lights).

Remote Access

This refers to user access whenever the smart home user is away. Remote Access / control is basically control from anywhere in the world over a part of your smart devices or each and every one of them. Example:Controlling the smart lighting status for your home from a mobile app during your holiday.


Stands for “Radio Frequency”. All wireless technology uses RF signals to send and receive information. Home automation technologies use various Radio Frequency ranges: Z-Wave (868.42MHz EU), LightwaveRF (433.92MHz) and ZigBee (868.42MHz EU).


Similar to a Gateway, a Router connects a local area network (LAN) to the Internet. In most home installations the Router controls the wired (Ethernet) and wireless (Wi-Fi) networks as well as communication with the Internet. For the purposes of this document Router is part of your computer network and Gateway is part of your home automation network.


Like Groups, Scenes group together multiple Devices. However, while groups treat all devices similarly, scenes enable a controller to send different commands to different devices. This results in endless possibilities such as: “turn light switch off and open window B” or “dim all lamps to 50 % and turn on the TV”. This ability makes Scenes a very powerful part of a modern home automation network.

Secondary Controller

An additional controller that can control Devices on a Network, however, it cannot Include devices to the network, this is performed by the Primary Controller. When the secondary controller is included into the network the primary controller assigns its Home ID and Node ID.


Home automation Device that sends information across the network based on changing conditions such as movement, temperature and light levels. For instance a motion sensor sends information when motion is detected.

Setpoint Temperature

The temperature that thermostat is set to. If the room’s ambient temperature is below this setpoint temperature, the thermostat will send a signal (or close a switch) to turn on the heating system.


A Device that is controlled by other network devices. In Z-Wave networks, slaves are categorized as “standard” or “routing” slaves. A routing slave includes advanced capabilities for routing signals around the network. Typically slaves are Actuator devices such as switches, dimmers and relays.

Smart hub

A smart hub is an appliance designed to connect multiple smart devices in your home with the purpose of offering you the possibility to control them via a mobile application or a central / digital remote controller.

Static Controller

A network controller that has a fixed location. At least one Static Controller is recommended to ensure reliable network operation in Z-Wave systems.


A wireless controlled Device that controls the On/Off state of a local light (load). The Switch controls the power going to the light via standard mains cables and can be a switch paddle, Insert or Module.

Toggle Switch

Toggle (Bi-Stable) switches latch in position. For instance when you press the switch to On, the switch physically stays in the On position. These are the standard light switches you’ll find already fitted in your home.


Means the same Exclude – to remove a Device from a wireless network. After a device is Unpaired, it cannot be controlled by the network, but can be Paired again at any time.

WEP and WPA Security

WEP or Wired Equivalent Privacy and Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) are forms of security designed to encrypt data which is sent via your WiFi access point. WEP is an older version and is rarely used. We recommend you to use WPA for better encryption.


Wireless network that enables computers, printers and other devices to communicate with each other and the Internet (if the Router is connected to the Internet). Wi-Fi is based on the IEEE 802.11 standard.

Wireless Network

A Network on which the Devices communicate wirelessly using radio waves (RF). Wi-Fi, LightwaveRF, Z-Wave and ZigBee are all wireless network technologies.


X10 is an industry standard for carrying control signals over the domestic mains power wiring. X10 devices can replace ordinary light switches, mains outlets and pendant lamp holders; these can be controlled by keypads, radio and infrared remote controls. X10 was introduced during the 1970s and is largely being superseded by the advanced capabilities of Z-Wave and LightwaveRF.


A cloud-based central controller for Z-Wave networks. It allows you to setup, manage and control Z-Wave Devices on your network without requiring a sophisticated Central Controller or Gateway. More information:


A Network technology that enables all your home electronics to be controlled from a single wireless network. It’s easy to install with no complicated programming and no new cables to run, yet offers sophisticated control of your network. Any Z-Wave enabled device (from multiple manufacturers) can be added to the network, and many non-Z-Wave devices can be made compatible by plugging them into a Z-Wave accessory module.


An advanced wireless technology being built into home automation and smart energy devices; it is closely associated with the ‘Internet of Things’. Zigbee devices are based on the IEEE 802.15 standard, however compatibility between manufacturers’ products is limited.