How to Get Started with Your First Smart Home

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First Smart Home

The smart house has a tremendous appeal. You can go into your home, have the lights come on immediately, and request your digital helper to pour you a cup of joe by unlocking your smart security door with just a smartphone. When you’re not around, a robot cleaner will vacuum the house, your digital thermostat will lower the temperature to save money, and you can oversee anything with interior and external surveillance cameras from your cellphone.

At the very least, everything is much better than it was before. Home automation was usually a difficult task that required networking, programming, and DIY knowledge. Current smart homes, on the other hand, are easy enough to configure by almost anybody. Almost all of the fancy gadgets in your home can be controlled from your phone or, even easier, with a simple voice phrase, thanks to a handful off-the-shelf devices. So where do you even begin?

What should you buy first?

Your money, time, and passion all play a role in the response to this question. To be honest, you could simply purchase one smart home device and start using the software provided by the manufacturer, then adjust more afterwards. That’s exactly what a lot of folks have been doing for the last 5 years at most.

If you really have much larger ambitions in mind, though, you should definitely go with a major home automation ecosystem. At the moment, there are three:

Alexa – an Amazon virtual assistant.

Google Assistant – a virtual assistant created by Google.

Apple’s HomeKit – a smart home automation system.

Now, how are you meant to figure out which home automation system is right for you?

Alexa, which is housed within Amazon’s Echo speakers, powers the company’s products. Nest/Home is the name of Google’s gadget line, while Assistant is the name of its virtual aide. HomeKit is Apple’s technology, and Siri is its virtual helper.

Alexa and Google Assistant both are quite newcomer-friendly and interoperable with a wide variety of other home automation devices and equipment.

Both companies now provide their assistants via 3rd-party speakers from companies like Sonis, Sony, JBL, Lenovo, and others, as well as gadgets with displays – Amazon has some Echo Show models, while Google’s connected monitors are expanding, with the Nest Hub Max setting the pace.

For Apple fans, Apple HomeKit is the logical alternative. With the Apple Home’s iOS application, the Apple TV box, as well as the Apple HomePod or HomePod Mini smart speakers’ own speech assistant, Siri, you’ll be able to manage anything.

Apple’s shortcoming is that it still lags significantly behind both competitors in regards to supported gadgets. If you’re worried about security, though, it’s a better option, since Apple is still far better at safeguarding personal information that it collects.

How to get it setup?

So now you’ve decided on a home automation network or control system – now what? Picking a home subcategory and then looking for items that fit with the ecosystem you’ve selected is a smart approach to start thinking about how to organize your network.

Household items, baby monitors, surveillance cameras, alarm systems, gardening, lights, connectivity, security devices, audio, and thermostats are by far the most prominent smart home areas currently.

What are the most useful things to do with it?

Lights: Smart bulbs like the Philips Hue allow you to manage particular lamps or sets of lamps from your smartphone and create various “scenes” with varying luminance and color tones, so you aren’t blinded by blue light at night. They may even switch on and off remotely in response to a variety of signals. Smart switches may be used instead of bulbs to manage the lighting that are already installed in your home.

Thermostats: You can regulate your A/C or heating depending on the time of day or when you come home with the Nest or Ecobee lines of smart heating systems. The Ecobee even comes with several sensors that you can set across your home to monitor the heat in different rooms.

Smart locks: They come in a variety of configurations: some let you lock and unlock your door using your phone, some enable you to provide special access to a friend or relative, and others, like the Kwikset Kevo, let you open your door by just tapping it with your fingertip.

Smart doorbells: These have cameras, allowing you to see who is at the door and avoid those annoying solicitors. Ring and Nest doorbells can also sync with respective parent companies’ camera systems in your house, allowing you to build a network that senses close movement, gives you notifications while you’re not at home, and stores footage through the internet for later review.

Security systems: cameras and sensors are really just one element of security systems. Kits from businesses like SimpliSafe ($229.00 at SimpliSafe) can track your whole house for break-ins if you want a complete setup with door sensors, interior motion detectors, as well as sirens. Some solutions, just like Abode, even allow you to self-monitor, removing the need for a connection to emergency responders and allowing you to keep an eye on your home without paying a monthly charge.

Television sets and remote controls: You might not consider your home theater to be component of the modern home, but it has always been so – especially when you attach a smart remote like the Logitech Harmony Elite, that can regulate numerous gadgets in one go (such as lamps, shades, and other smart equipment) and integrates with Alexa for hands-free supervision.

There’s a lot more: this is only a peek at the complete picture. More advanced and sophisticated sprinkler devices, glass blinds that shut at the press of a finger, robot vacuums that scrub the home while you’re away, kitchen equipment that can be fully automated, and smart plugs that really can handle anything which goes into a wall are all available.

Then what?

Smart gadgets should, at the end of the day, render your living simpler, not more complicated. So don’t get too caught up in building a smooth, integrated solution that will endure indefinitely—you’ll be frustrated. Instead, focus on the areas of your day that are bothering you and do the most you can using what you have.

By Jason Thompson

Jason has been passionate about technology since he first got his hands on his Dad's Motorola RAZR. When not re-writing his home, you can find him teaching others how to do the same through numerous training courses.

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