The appeal of having a connected “smart home” is obvious; turn on the thermostat before you walk in to your home, have the door unlock for you via your phone, have the lights turn on when you enter, and have a virtual assistant make that cup of coffee you’ve been dreaming about all day. That’s just the start of what a smart home can do for you.
The automated home is nowhere near as complex as it used to be. These days anyone can set up a smart home with a few simple steps. Here are 7 tools to help you lay the foundation of a smart home; the essential gadgets, if you will.
- Smart Lighting
Smart lighting is a common starting point for anyone looking to create a smart home. There are lots of smart lighting systems out there, including some that don’t need to be connected to a central hub to work as intended. Some connect through Wi-Fi while others use Bluetooth and they can all be controlled remotely. Phillips are the king of the smart lighting world, but they aren’t the only game in town.
If your home is primarily lit by ceiling lights then you could replace your old switches with smart switches. There are also smart plugs for lamps and other plug-in lights. These all help you control your lighting through your phone or computer.
- Smart Speakers
The only thing more convenient than being able to control the lights with your phone would be controlling them with your voice. Amazon Echo and Google Home are the leaders of the smart speaker while. Amazon have been the top dog for several years now with Alexa but Google are gaining more ground each day.
Having a smart speaker with a display gives you a lot more functionality. You can use the speaker to watch videos and stream live footage from a security camera, use two speakers as an intercom, or make a video call. Smart speakers also make excellent smart home hubs because many other smart devices can be connected to them – and controlled by them.
- Smart Thermostats
The smart thermostat is another essential tool in the smart home. They provide a lot of comfort and drastically reduce utilities bills all at the same time. They do much more than give you the chance to create the ultimate heating and cooling schedule. More advanced models can actually detect when you are home so that your HVAC system is only ever running when it needs to be.
Smart thermostats have recently undergone something of an evolution. New models are equipped with sensors that can be placed in the rooms you use the most often. This allows for the thermostat to offer more accurate heating and cooling to further reduce energy waste. Nest Labs are a good choice for thermostats as they were the company that really brought the concept to reality.
- Smart Home Security
Having a high quality smart home security camera allows you to keep an eye on your home and belongings even if you aren’t around. Indoor models give you the opportunity to monitor children or pets, while outdoor cameras let you watch for prowlers – while also deterring them from even attempting to break in.
Some smart cameras come equipped with lights that automatically light up to welcome you home. There are also doorbell cameras that let you see who is at your door and – with some models – speak to them before answering.
- Smart Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Every home needs a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector. Regular ones can get the job done fine, but a smart one does so much more. They are better able to detect problems and will issue a local alarm. They also send an alert to your smartphone and are able to alert other contacts – if you authorize them to anyway.
Smart smoke alarms work together with emergency lighting to guide you through a smoke-filled environment. Others have extra features such as a built-in smart speaker. They can guide you and allow you to issue commands such as telling your speaker to call the fire services for you.
- Smart Water
Water is the most precious natural resource we have. We need it to live. That’s why smart irrigation systems were invented. They ensure that your home and garden get all the water they need while reducing water waste. This could be the smart home system that gains the most by being connected to a central hub. They can be complicated to deal with, so it helps to have a hub that can do it all for you.
- Smart Locks
Smart locks are the new hype. Having said that, there is some variety out there when it comes to smart lock technology. Smart locks like the August Pro+, allow you to lock and unlock your door through your phone. Others allow you to give virtual “keys” to your friends and family so they can do the same. There are more unique models that control your door via fingerprint.
The home of the future is a smart one. Automated homes are becoming more and more popular. These smart homes can do anything that you program them to. The more devices you have the more potential your home has. These seven tools should be considered a solid foundation to start with. Once you’ve seen the potential of a smart home you’ll no doubt be interested in even more smart devices.
Just be sure that the devices you get work properly with the hub that you get too. Most hubs are highly compatible so that shouldn’t be an issue, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Ensuring that your devices are all compatible and can work together gives you the most value out of your investment in smart home technology.