In the age of technology, everything we have can be connected to the internet, including most things in your home, making your home a smart-home.
But it can be a very mind-daunting task to set up a smart home due to a large number of accessories out there which work for specific appliances. In this article, you will know the various ways to upgrade your home and make it compatible with the technology.
- 1 Smart Homes and how to set them up
- 2 Things which turn your home into a smart home
- 2.1 Smart lighting for your home
- 2.2 Temperature Control
- 2.3 Security cameras
- 2.4 Multi-room speaker systems
- 2.5 Smoke detectors
- 2.6 Smart Water systems
- 2.7 Personal Assistants
- 2.8 Amazon’s Alexa
- 2.9 Google’s Assistant
- 2.10 Apple’s Siri
- 2.11 Choose Hardware Compatible with Virtual Assistants
- 3 Conclusion
Smart Homes and how to set them up
Smart homes are pretty alluring, but they can be a tad bit expensive to set up. But when you look at all the features and functionalities you get as the result of setting up a smart home, ranging from smart lights to pretty much everything with wireless connectivity, you can see the benefits rise up exponentially. The benefits tend to creep up on you, you can let your dog walker in your home when you ain’t there, turn off the lights when you are away from home, adjust the temperature of your home, and a lot more it pretty incredible.
Smart homes are pretty easy to set up. With the help of a few accessories, you can make your life a whole lot easier and better! For building a smart home, you need to choose a hub and install a few simple and easy devices which allow for integration. A few things using which you can turn your home into a smart home are as follows:
- Smart lighting
- Smart speakers
- Smart thermostats
- Home security cameras
- Multi-room audio systems
One method to build a smart home is to buy all the things like smart bulbs, sensors, cameras and several more. You can then connect all of these devices and accessories to a hub so that you can communicate with the devices using your smartphone. This way takes a lot of both money and time. If what you need and require is simple, there a few inexpensive products which can give all the functionalities a high-end smart home and save you a lot of time as well.
All you need is wirelessly compatible devices and a good wireless router that reaches all the corners of your home. Another way is to use the virtual personal assistants available in the market. Currently, there are three virtual assistants available, and they will be discussed briefly in the lines that follow.
Things which turn your home into a smart home
Using a few smart accessories, you can control your home from the tip of your fingers! Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Given below are a few devices which can easily turn your home into a smart home in a matter of minutes. Choose the devices which you think will work for you amongst a plethora of devices already available in the market. This is just a brief view of the devices which can make your life a lot easier, comfortable and overall BETTER!
Smart lighting for your home
The first thing when it comes to turning your home into a smart home is smart lighting. Lights that can be turned on and off, or dimmed according to your mood? Most people would say yes to that! There are many smart lighting systems available which don’t require a central hub and can still interact with other elements of your smart home. Smart bulbs, such as those available from LIFX and TP-link, can communicate using Wi-Fi. There are other smart lighting systems that can work using the Bluetooth transmitter in your smartphone as well.
If all of the lighting in your home is above your head and is controlled by switches on the wall, you can replace those switches with smart switches. If you want to control your lamps, you can also get a smart plus to dim the lamps or switch them on and off.
A smart thermostat gives you both comfort and saves you a lot of money as well. These devices not only have a cooling/heating schedule but can be controlled remotely so that you can your room set to the exact temperature you want when you arrive home instead of waiting for the room to get to the desired temperature after you arrive. With the help of a smart thermostat, your HVAC system works only when there is a need for it too.
There are not a lot of smart home devices which can be comfortable, easy to use and setup while saving you loads of money when it comes to energy at the same time. These devices can not only be scheduled to turn on and off, but can also be made to detect your presence at home and making your HVAC work in the best and efficient way possible.
Want to keep an eye on your children when you are away and don’t have a babysitter? With the help of a quality home security camera, you can keep an eye on your home when you are away. There are several models which work well for both indoors and outdoors.
You can monitor your front door and this can be pretty helpful if you want to know who is on your doorstep when the bell rings without getting out of the bed.
Multi-room speaker systems
With the help of multi-room speaker systems, you can place speakers all around your home and can stream music online from them, in sync with each other or different, as per your needs and requirements.
Conventional smoke detectors are pretty useful and loud, but about those times when you are away from your home and can’t hear the alarm? With the help of a smart smoke detector, you will get a local alarm as well as an alert to your smartphone if there is any danger of a fire in your home. Pretty convenient, no?
Smart Water systems
Water is a very important resource. It is very important to use your water smartly and efficiently, especially when it comes to watering your lawns and gardens. With the help of a smart irrigation system, you can ensure that your lawn gets enough water to keep your plants healthy and not waste water while doing it.
With the help of personal virtual assistants, like Alexa by Amazon, Siri by Apple and Google’s assistant, it has become very easy to control the products for the smart home. You can give pretty simple commands to these assistants and Viola, you got your lights or air conditioning or whatever you want to be turned on. There are pros and cons to each of these virtual assistants, so make sure you choose the one you think caters to your needs perfectly.
There are lots of smart lighting systems available in the market. Some require a device that lets you communicate with the product wirelessly; some come with built-in wireless connections. You can use Alexa to control smart lighting systems such as those by LIFX. You will need an echo product, a LIFX bulb and a smartphone with Android or iOS so that Alexa can communicate with your smart bulbs.
You can control your fans, kettles etc. with Alexa by using a smart plug for different manufacturers like TP-link. You can use your assistant to turn the kettle on and off, slow down or increase the speed of your fans, all with the help of a smart plug.
There are smart thermostats which can be controlled wirelessly and you can use your Alexa personal assistant to help you with that as well. An Echo product, smart thermostat compatible with Alexa and a smartphone would do the trick for you.
Echo products are the best if you want to have a smart home in a matter of a few hours. Amazon echo products can be plugged in anywhere and are pretty easy to set up. Echo Dot is a small speaker and is one of the best and cheap smart home controllers available. With 10,000 skill and capabilities, Alexa is the personal assistant that supports several smart home features. The applications needed in order to set up Echo products work with both Android and iOS platforms.
- Sometimes getting the Alexa app for iPhones and Android phones can be a bit cumbersome.
- Alexa may not be as responsive to the commands you give to it and a time lag can occur.
- Input commands need to be given directly into the speaker of the phone instead of the smartphone in general.
- Furthermore, the third-party applications that work with Alexa can collect data from you since Amazon doesn’t take any responsibility for them and their data acquisition policies.
You can summon your Google Assistant by saying O.K. Google. There are several Google assistant compatible devices available, and you can mostly control existing devices in your home with the help of applications available on the Google Play Store as well. You would need a Google home speaker, compatible device, an application to run the device and a smartphone from where you will control your smart home device.
All the newer versions of Android phones come with Google’s Assistant. Google Home costs slightly more than the Echo speaker, but it is definitely worth the extra dollars. The AI technology used in Google’s assistant leaves the AI used in Siri or Alexa. The number of questions you can ask Google’s assistant is very broad, and you are more likely to get a correct answer while compared to other virtual personal assistants.
- The way you summon the Assistant, by saying O.K. Google can be a tad bit annoying.
- The smart home products which support Google’s Assistant are less as compared to Amazon’s Alexa.
- The audio quality of Google Home leaves a lot to be desired.
The thing which makes Apple’s assistant stand out amongst others is the fact that all the data which is transferred between the Apple devices and the accessories is encrypted, thus making it pretty secure.
You can trigger Siri by saying Hey, Siri. You can hold down the home button as well. You can control several accessories like smart lights or thermostats, or you can buy devices which are compatible with the Apple Homekit to start the magic.
Choose Hardware Compatible with Virtual Assistants
After you make the chose regarding your virtual assistant, you need to choose the hardware for the central hub which will be the smart home controller for you. With Amazon’ Alexa, you have three options that are of Echo Dot, Echo, and Echo Show. As far as Google’s Assistant is concerned, you can choose between Google Home and any of the smartphones which support the newer version of Android. Apple’s Siri works with Apple smartphones, watches and Apple Watch.
We’ve gone through a list of basic smart home components you need for turning your home into a smart home. All in all, it depends on what you need and require, and which accessories will get you to the point you want to be.
If you want to get a smart home hub and integrate all these components together, make sure you know all the pros and pitfalls of a smart home hub. If you just want to turn a few appliances in your home, then you know that you can buy these devices or can control the existing devices using a few tweaks in your existing system.