Turning your home into a smart home may seem like a daunting endeavour at first, but it’s now more accessible than ever.
By investing on the right gadgets, you can take your first steps towards a smart home - and all the advantages that brings.
Before we begin
Here’s a pro tip that will save you tons of future headaches if you’re starting to make your home smart:
Be sure the gadgets you’re choosing can “talk” to each other.
Some products are built to work really well with most devices, some aren’t, and if you make the wrong purchase it can be very frustrating to have a product that doesn’t work with your chosen virtual assistant. For example, if you’re a Spotify user, Google Home and Amazon Alexa have you covered. But the Apple HomePod, for example, doesn’t - Spotify does work on it, but not as well as iTunes.
So the secret is planning. Check out what products you like, what you want first, what you need, and invest in the ones that can talk to each other flawlessly.
1. Light Bulbs
The Philips Hue light bulbs are excellent to start your smart home experience. They’re easy to install and work with nearly every home automation system.
Here’s what you can do with these smart light bulbs:
- Program them to light up when you come home
- Change the colour of the light for a different mood
- Control them from your smartphone
- Control them with your voice (via Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit)
- Dim each bulb to your desire
And the best part is how they work with most virtual assistants flawlessly!
2. Virtual Assistant
Speaking of virtual assistants, these are the driving force behind smart homes — the one thing you need to make everything work together beautifully.
Virtual assistants usually have features like:
- Voice commands for nearly everything they can do
- Connect to Spotify or iTunes to learn your musical taste and play your favourite tracks
- Help you with everyday tasks (like reminders, weather forecast, appointments, traffic conditions, sports updates, phone calls, and grocery lists)
- Control your smart home gadgets — also by voice command
Some of the most famous and accessible virtual assistants on the market right now are:
Google Home / Assistant
Although Google already has it’s own smart hub called Google Home, you don’t necessarily have to buy a new product to control your smart home. Simply go to the Play Store on your Android Phone, download Google Assistant for free, and you will be able to control your home by voice-command through your phone. It can also do all sorts of everyday tasks and learns from your habits. Even if you don’t have smart gadgets, it’s worth a try — if you like what you see, then you can consider investing in Google Home.
Amazon Echo / Alexa
Perhaps the most accessible virtual assistant in terms of price and capability, you can purchase the Amazon Echo and start using most of its functions right away, even if you don’t have smart home gadgets yet. It can control your smart home and help you with hands-free phone calls, playing music, weather forecasts, placing Amazon orders, and much more.
The HomePod is a sexy-looking speaker with powerful capabilities, but it’s also the most expensive and somewhat limited of the bunch. It’s highly recommended if you’re already an Apple user, since it integrates marvellously and automatically with their services — no setup required. However, it’s a little alienating if you’re not entirely dedicated to Apple.
3. Security Camera
The Nest Security Camera is a great and reliable pick if you want to boost home security.
This easy to install security camera can be transmitted to smartphones apps, so you can get security alerts or just check how things are doing if you’re out traveling, for example.
It has sensors that can detect the difference between casual activity and a person entering the room, giving you the alert you need to take action. The installation couldn’t be simpler — you can affix it to a wall like most cameras, but you can also stick it to metallic surfaces with the built-in magnet, or simply let it stand on a flat surface.
And finally, it even comes with a built-in speaker — so you can hear what’s happening, but also speak through it. So, in their words, you can tell the dog to stay off the couch, even if you’re not home.
4. Smart Air Conditioner
The Sensibo Air Conditioner can be controlled through your phone or entirely by voice-command.
Among its many cool features, it can start heating up the house before you wake up in the winter, and cool it down before you arrive home in the summer. Even better, it can turn off automatically when it detects no one else is in the room.
All these features combined save energy, since it automatically determines the best temperature and moments to turn on and off.
To control it entirely with your voice, you would simply need Google Home or an Amazon Echo.
A reliable thermostat always comes in handy, and if you’re thinking of making your home “smarter,” something like the Nest Learning Thermostat does the trick.
Aesthetically, It comes in different colours to match your home’s style and integrates with other Nest devices flawlessly.
As for features, it does everything you’d expect and a bit more. But of course, the best thing about this one is how it integrates well with the Alexa for voice-commands, and can also be controlled via smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
Are you ready?
These are only some of the main options you have and the first you can consider, but if you have any other doubts about building a smart home, feel free to reach us in the comments below!
Follow us on Facebook for more tips and inspiration on decor, DIY, and much more!