With the ever-expanding list of devices that connect our world and claim to better our lives, choosing the right products for your smart home can be daunting. The fact is it’s an emerging market with a variety of ways to connect and control aspects of your home and new gadgets are introduced all the time.
So where do you start? Focus on these four areas to help build the smart home that works for you.
Lighting, thermostats, contact/motion sensors, cameras, speakers! There are too many to fully list, but start with asking yourself one simple question: “How can this device help make my life easier?”
Are your porch lights always turned on in the evening and turned off in the morning? Use smart bulbs to automate that. Does your pesky neighbor keep stealing your monthly edition of Good Housekeeping? Get a camera to send you motion alerts and catch them in the act!
There are so many options for connected devices; just focus on making an aspect of your daily routine better one device at a time.
- Lights: Phillips Hue, LIFX
- Switches: TP-Link Smart Plug, Wemo Insight Switch, GE Smart Dimmer
- Sensors: Once you get a hub (see step 3), purchase their sensors for best results
- Thermostats: Nest Learning Thermostat, Ecobee3
- Cameras: Nest Cam, Netgear Arlo Pro
- Entertainment: Sonos, Logitech Harmony Elite
- Other: Nest Smoke Detector, Roomba, Neato Botvac, Anova Culinary Precision Cooker
2) Voice Control
This is second on the list because it gives quick and easy access to control your devices hands-free. Since the last thing you want to do is reach for your phone to open a specific app in order to toggle a light switch you could have just as easily (or more easily) reached for on the wall. So keep that in mind when picking your gadgets. Voice control should be used for more than a party trick.
3) Smart Hub
As you add more devices to your home, you’re going to find that some don’t use the same wireless technology and are unable to communicate with one another. Say you want to control a light switch with your voice through Alexa. The devices would have to share the same wireless technology in order to do so.
That’s where the smart hub comes in. Instead of communicating directly with the light switch, Alexa sends the command to the hub and the hub communicates that command to the switch. Most hubs use the most popular wireless signals, but since this is still a new market and the standards are not, well, standard, it’s important to check what wireless signal a device uses (Zigbee, Z-Wave, WeMo, Thread, etc.) before purchasing to ensure compatibility.
Now that you have everything in place and many devices to work with, set up scenes where multiple devices will work together at a specific time of day or an event to trigger multiple actions at once.
For example, with your smart hub you can orchestrate what happens when you arrive home from work, whether it’s opening your garage door, turning on the foyer lights or playing your “chill” playlist on the kitchen speaker. Whatever works for you.
With these four areas in mind, putting together your smart home should be about reducing the amount of mundane activity and grunt work you do around the house. And of course, creating fun scenes for your next party or prank on your friends. It’s all about what works best for you!