Contrary to what some people think, a smart home doesn’t have to mean a Beyond 3000-housing with hologram projectors and robotic assistants. In a nutshell, making a home smart means replacing regular fixtures, controllers, appliances and accessories with connected or automated versions. This allows you to control and manage them remotely, with your smartphone, voice or have them respond to certain environmental input, e.g. temperature, humidity, light, sound, etc. By connecting the tech in your home, you gain better control in real time, access to information, especially history data for security cameras or utility meters, and, finally you gain more free time by establishing automated routines and procedures. Let’s find the easiest way of making your home smarter a bit.
Testing the waters
Smart home systems and parts aren’t cheap. More accurately, quality comes at a price. So, unless you want to take a full plunge, maybe it’s better to take baby steps, to get the taste of smart before you decide to spend a serious amount of money. Considering this, a simple light-control system like Philips Hue Starter Kit is a good entry-level purchase and an introduction to the world of smart homes. Depending on the version you choose, you’ll get two or three smart bulbs and the bridge unit that makes them compatible with the Apple HomeKit. After you set everything in place and learn how to control it with Apple Siri, you’ll get the idea of the amount of effort involved and the convenience of using it.
Choose your assistant
After you’ve acquired a taste for automation, and decided to join the smart home club, it’s time to choose your virtual assistant. Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and Amazon Alexa are the most popular tools, but each of them comes with its strengths and weaknesses. Working with Google’s Home system and newer Android smartphones, Google Assistant is powered by the brains behind Google search, so in the terms of intelligence, it’s “smarter” than Alexa and Siri. However, there are far more smart home products for Alexa.
Question of security
Apart from many multimedia and entertaining capabilities of a smart home, at the root of automation lies the need for greater energy efficiency. By making systems connected, there is a smaller margin for error or resource waste. In this light, it’s hard to imagine a smart home without features that reduce the home’s environmental footprint, such as low-flow bathroom fixtures, high-rating insulation, and solar power systems. Most homeowners go for medium-sized panels since a typical 5kW solar system provides the best investment-yield ratio. With smart inverters, energy monitors and the new generation of battery storage, solar energy systems fit the smart home puzzle seamlessly.
Not only convenience
Making your home smart has many other benefits, as well, the most important probably being the resource economy. For a home with a central heating and cooling system, a smart thermostat can be a great add-on. Its presence-detection settings mean that the system is aware when there is no one at home and automatically turns down to save money. In this category, compatibility with certain home assistants is less important, as these smart thermostats are capable of autonomous operation.
Almost anything in your home, from garage doors to entertainment systems can be automated and remotely controlled. However, some accessories work only with certain products and some do something better than others. Whether you start big or small, it’s important to choose a system that best suits your needs, and stick to major brands who will stand behind their products down the road.