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Smart home guide for beginners: How to make your home easier to live in, without spending a lot of money or time

You can build a smart home by purchasing many components, such as sensors, smart bulbs, and security cameras. Then connect them all to a hub to allow them to communicate with one another and you via your smartphone. Let’s face it, this can require a lot more money and a lot more time. For some, this is just too much. If you have simpler needs and wants, a few inexpensive products can provide the majority of the same conveniences as a high-end smart house, but on a smaller budget.

You can build a strong foundation for future expansion by ensuring that your smart home products work together. It is important to know which smart home products are independent of a hub. Although hubs have their advantages, the most important being having one user interface to manage everything, they are not essential. A good wireless router is a must-ideally one that can reach every corner of your house.

Smart lighting

Lighting is the first step to a smart home. Many smart lighting systems can be used without a central hub, and still, interact with other smart elements. For example, Cree, LIFX, and TP-Link bulbs communicate over Wi-Fi while others, including the newest Philips Hue bulb, communicate via Bluetooth radio on your smartphone.

The latest generation Philips Hue smart bulb can now be controlled via Bluetooth. This eliminates the need to use a Philips Hue Bridge.

Other smart bulbs use Zigbee radios, and so require a Zigbee to-WiFi bridge that is connected to your router. An app for your smartphone or tablet can be used to control these smart bulbs. It can also be used to program lighting scenes and schedules.

Smart speakers

What could be more convenient than using your smartphone to dim the movie lights? You can say “dim the lights” to have a smart speaker connected to your smart lighting do it. The market leaders in this area are the Amazon Echo series and Google Home series. While Amazon is still the market leader in this space, it has had a larger installed base, enjoyed greater support, and was the only smart speaker with displays for a while. Google is now a strong competitor.

This photo shows the plant at the edge where the Echo Show 10 must rotate its display almost 360 degrees.

The digital assistants of the two companies–Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant- will be more frequently found in third-party products. Ecobee has embedded the heart of an Echo in their Ecobee SmartThermostat, with voice control. While Lenovo was the first to market with Google Home devices with displays (the Lenovo SmartDisplay series).

Smart thermostats

Few smart home devices are as capable of providing both comfort and energy savings as a smart thermostat. These devices do more than just establish a heating/cooling schedule based on your home’s anticipated arrival time. They detect when you are at home and away so your HVAC system can only work when it is needed.

This is the latest trend in thermostat technology. You can place sensors in rooms that you use most often so that the thermostat works based on where you are. Instead of being triggered by heating or cooling cycles based upon the thermostat’s position, which is usually in a hallway that you rarely pass through.

The Ecobee smart thermostat has voice control and a built-in Amazon Echo speaker. It can also respond to voice commands. Remote room sensors allow you to control the temperature in your home and eliminate cold spots. This device is capable of serving as the hub for a wider smart-home system or home security system.

Nest has some amazing thermostats including the $129 Nest thermostat and Wyze Labs recently launched a very affordable smart thermostat. This model is worth your consideration, even if you don’t have the budget for the other models.

 

Security cameras for your home

You can keep an eye on your home with a quality security camera, even when you aren’t there. Outdoor models are more effective at catching prowlers and can be used to monitor your pets and children.

Maximus, Arlo, and Netatmo models all include lights that can be used to illuminate your path. Doorbells come with cameras that can be integrated into them. These cameras allow you to monitor your porch and interact with your visitors without even having to go inside.

Multi-room audio systems

Multi-room speakers systems such as Sonos, Yamaha (MusicCast), or Denon (HEOS), are largely self-contained. They allow you to place speakers in multiple rooms of your home and stream music from either your collection or online services like Spotify. You can also send different tracks to each speaker.

You can control your home theater’s lights by using the soundbar placed in front of your TV. With a Sonos Beam speaker, you can control the lights in your home theater with both Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant.

Many companies offer soundbars that can be used to enhance your movie- and TV-watching experience. A smartphone or tablet can control all of these devices. Some Sonos models include Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant onboard. They can control other smart home devices, but only one can be activated at a time.

 

Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Inherently, carbon monoxide and conventional smoke detectors are dumb devices. Although they sound loud, their alarms are useless if nobody is home to hear them. If danger is detected, a smart smoking detector will sound an alarm in your local area. However, it will also alert you via your smartphone and any other contact you have authorized.

 

Smart Irrigation

Water is our most valuable resource. A smart irrigation system will ensure that your garden and lawn get enough water to thrive and flourish without wasting it. This subsystem, out of all the smart home systems you could invest in is likely to be the most beneficial when integrated into a hub. A purpose-built app is better than a smart irrigation system. Rachio makes our favorite products within this category, but Wyze Labs recently joined the fray with a lower-priced rival.

A few words about IFTTT

 

An IFTTT account is one of the best ways to make disparate smart-home devices work together. The acronym stands for “If This Then That”, a service where an action was taken by one device or service can trigger an action on any number of other services or devices.

IFTTT works in a similar way to having a smart hub in the cloud. It’s also widely supported by other smart home products and services.

IFTTT used to be a free service. But it’s not anymore. You can access as many IFTTT applets that you like with a free IFTTT Standard account. There are thousands of them.

Are you ready to start?

Although we have listed the components of smart tulum homes in an order that most people will use, there is no set order. Installing a smart smoke detector should be a priority over installing smart lighting.

You might consider investing in a smart hub to bring all of these components together under one user interface. However, Hubitat Elevation is the most compatible hub. It supports all third-party smart home products. Other systems like Ring Alarm are more focused on security and offer limited third-party support. To verify that each hub works with the other devices, visit the websites of the manufacturers.

 

By Bruce Kuhn

Bruce is a well-traveled man from Phonix who can only fly wearing a mask. He has beautiful, green eyes. His top quality is that he is particularly educated.

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