If you’re like most people, you’ve heard about smart home technology but you’re not quite sure how it can be applied to your own home. So, what is a smart home? A smart home includes devices which are connected and can be controlled by a panel located in the home or via a smartphone. These days you also have the option of voice activation in your home.
Some people integrate their home security with home automation when designing their smart home. Others simply focus on the automation side of it separate to the security. It is entirely a personal choice.
If you’re building a new home from scratch it is wise to think big and plan for your whole smart home from the beginning. This saves you time and money in the long run because you are starting with a blank slate. You can place devices in optimum locations and you can include any necessary wiring before the walls are completed.
If you’re considering smart home automation and security for a house already built this is perfectly doable as well. It’s a lot of fun to start planning what features you’d like in your smart home. You can begin with a small package of products and build on them without committing too much money at the beginning. You can focus on one room or one type of smart home device like smart lighting and begin your smart home journey. Just a word of warning, it can become quite an addictive hobby once you start introducing smart home devices into your house. Once you experience the comfort and convenience a smart home will give you, there’s no going back.
What is a smart home capable of offering
A smart home offers the convenience of adjusting your thermostat from your smartphone when you’ve already left for work. It gives you peace of mind to know if a lock on a door or window has been tampered with. It provides you with the ability to turn the oven on remotely from a location away from home so you have a home cooked meal when you return and it lets you turn on your pet’s favorite music while you’re at work. However, in addition to the convenience, your smart home can help you save money on utility bills. How many times have you left the house and forgotten to turn the thermostat down a few degrees to save power? You’ve probably left the house and forgotten to turn off lights or the television.
Apart from security products, your smart home can also help with security while you’re out by turning on lights or music from your smartphone at random times. Fool potential burglars by keeping your usual lighting going while you’re on vacation.
You can also monitor what time your teenager gets home at night through smart lock notifications.
What is a smart home device
What is a smart home? There are many different types of smart home devices and many brands available. You can opt for a full install by a company specializing in this area. Alternatively, you can do it yourself and simply buy the smart home devices from somewhere like Amazon.com
Types of smart home devices currently available and ready to include when you’re asking, “what is a smart home?”, include:
- Smart home light switches
- Smart home power sockets
- Smart home thermostat
- Smart home window locks
- Smart home door locks
- Smart home garage locks
- Smart home multipurpose plugs
- Smart audio speakers
- Wifi security cameras
- Wifi nanny cams (hidden inside the home)
- Smart home smoke detector
- Smart kitchen appliances
- Smart beds
- Robots to check on your home and pets
These smart home devices can be controlled from a touchscreen panel in the home, a smartphone or you can choose voice activation for many of them too.
How do I start making my home smart?
When you ask, what is a smart home, you can take a few different approaches. If you want to start small and increase your number of smart home devices gradually the most important factor is compatibility. Decide on how you want to control your smart home and which hub or control you want to use. If you want to buy an Amazon Echo for your house this would be your starting point. The Echo is voice controlled and you can use it to operate your lights, request the latest news headlines or weather, control the thermostat or play music, among other things.
Google Home is a direct competitor to the Amazon Echo. It is a very similar voice activated device for your home. Once again you can request information like news headlines or you can search the whole internet with Google Home. It should be noted that Google Home is a newer hub and cannot yet be used with as many smart devices. I’m sure this will improve rapidly during the next 12 months.
In addition to these voice-activated smart home controls you can choose to use an app on your smartphone or a touch screen in your home. A lot of smart home devices also have their own controls such as a touch screen on a fridge.
I already have a security system but what is a smart home system?
If you already have a security system in your house you should consider home automation compatible with the brand already installed. You can get a smart home system installed by the same company or you can add devices one at a time to your system already in place. You may need to speak with the company providing your security system to find out what you can achieve in terms of a smart home.
Another option to consider early in your decision making is whether you want to pay monthly fees for an integrated security and automation system or whether you’re looking for a stand-alone smart home system without ongoing fees.
When you’re starting out on your smart home journey it is important to note that smart home gadgets vary a lot in price. We all know this but you should give it some thought before you start making purchases. Is your priority to own a fun and quirky but expensive gadget or do you need to invest in a basic lighting solution first? What is a smart home to you? If money is not a consideration I encourage you to get it all, you’ll be on cloud nine with all your new technology. For the rest of us, you’ll need to get your priorities sorted out before you begin.
There are robots which integrate with your smart home system and can check on your pets or your home when you’re out but they cost a lot more than adding a smart light switch to your living room or a wifi security camera at your front door. With this in mind you can start with a few devices and enjoy their benefits before you commit to a lot of high end gadgets. If you’re an audiophile you’ll want to commit to new wifi speakers first but if you’re more concerned about the environment and your carbon footprint you’ll want a smart thermostat, solar panels and alerts for your smart window locks in case they are left open.
For families there are more and more smart kitchen and laundry appliances becoming available and these can save you time and give you peace of mind when running a busy household. As mentioned above, Amazon’s Echo device uses Alexa, an artificial intelligence voice activated control. More devices are using Alexa and are compatible with the Echo.
When you start out I have one word for you, “research”. There is so much emerging in the market right now so it’s a great time to take advantage of all the options out there and get started with your smart home.
Work out your priorities, decide on a budget and start discovering all the new technology available. You’ll be impressing your friends with your new smart home before you know it. It is an ever evolving journey but you’ll be having a lot of fun along the way. Your smart home offers comfort, convenience and peace of mind. Once you’ve got it, you’ll never know how you lived without it!