Have questions about getting started with smart home technology and feeling a little overwhelmed? You came to the right place, because we have answers.

I see different terms, like "smart home," "home control," and "home automation," which all seem to refer to the same thing. What’s the difference?

The answer to this could be an article in itself, but the short version is this: home control and home automation are the things that smart homes do. Home control means being able to operate your lights and locks and thermostats and so forth remotely, from a single device like your smartphone. Home automation is the process of programming those devices so that they operate automatically, in ways that best suit your lifestyle.

Can I add smart home tech to my existing house without having to tear down walls and add new wiring?

Absolutely! Technologies like Z-Wave work wirelessly, so while you may need to tap into the existing wiring in your home to replace your existing lights and thermostat with smart equivalents, you won't need to add any additional wiring.

How do I know which smart home devices work together?

The easiest way is to look for products with the Z-Wave logo. Z-Wave products are built to be interoperable. That doesn't mean that you're limited to only Z-Wave products, though. Some hubs, like SmartThings and Wink, support several different standards. So your best bet is to check the website for your hub's manufacturer and see which products it supports.

Will wireless products like Z-Wave interfere with my baby monitor?

Most likely, no. Baby monitors in North America operate on frequencies around 49 MHz, 902 MHz, or 2.4 GHz, and those in the middle could potentially overlap with Z-Wave's operating frequency of 908.42 MHz. Your best bet, if you have concerns, is to opt for a baby monitor that has selectable channels, or buy one that operates at much lower or higher frequencies.

Will smart home technology affect my internet speeds?

Not at all. While most smart home systems rely on your home network for some functions (like remote access and communications between your smartphone and smart hub), the bulk of the home control action takes place on a separate wireless network that doesn't interfere with Wi-Fi at all.

Does smart home technology make your home hackable?

Any technology that uses the internet to communicate can be susceptible to intrusion. However, with Z-Wave, it’s very unlikely. With its 128-bit encryption and advanced security framework, a Z-Wave smart home system is likely more secure than your Wi-Fi network.

This still sounds scary. Isn't this how the machines eventually take over and create Skynet?

Not a chance. While we talk a lot about "smart" home technology, a Z-Wave system isn't really intelligent. The smarts come from the very simple programming you do: for example, "If I unlock the front door, turn on the foyer light." Beyond that, the system can't make its own decisions. You can use it to freak out your friends, though.

Still have questions? We have more answers. Be sure to check out the Z-Wave FAQ to learn more about getting started with your own smart home.