How to Make Your Home a Smart Home

If you want to make your home more convenient, modern and even eco-friendly, consider taking some steps to turn it into a smart home. But what exactly is a smart home, and which smart devices would work best for you and your family?

Table of Contents

  • What Is a Smart Home?
  • Why Is Home Automation Important?
  • Best Smart Speakers, Assistants and Hubs
  • How to Use Smart Lighting In Your Home
  • How to Use a Smart Thermostat and Other Energy-Saving Devices
  • Smart Locks and Other Smart Gadgets for Your Home
  • How to Set Up a Smart Home Security System
  • FAQ

Summary

You might think that turning your home into a smart home is too convoluted a process to even begin. But it’s actually fairly simple.

Your smart home can be customized to operate exactly how you want it. If you want a smart home on the simpler side, it’s easy to set up a smart device or two to make life a little more convenient. If you want a futuristic, fully-automated home, there are many options to take your living space to that level, and you can even turn your smart home into a smart fortress by setting up a smart home security system.

What Is a Smart Home?

A smart home, or home automation in general, refers to a home outfitted with “smart” technology that makes your home work more efficiently, which makes your life easier and more convenient as an end goal. Smart technology is any device or piece of technology that communicates with others or operates through the use of the internet or another wireless signaling method, like Z-Wave or Bluetooth. These devices all work together to create an automated home.

By subtracting or adding devices, you can customize your level of automation to make your home work for you. It’s your home, after all, so you should be setting it up exactly how you want it.

Why Is Home Automation Important?

You may see a lot of talk about home automation and be wondering, why is home automation so important anyway? What’s the big deal?

A home without any smart devices whatsoever is becoming more and more rare. Your home may already have smart home devices that you might not consider to be part of a greater home automation plan, like a Google Nest or Amazon Echo. These devices typically serve as hubs that allow you to control every other smart home device in your technology arsenal, such as lights, locks, sensors and more.

You can’t discuss home automation without bringing up internet. Every smart home needs high-speed internet. A high-speed internet connection serves as the backbone of any automated home. If your smart devices are brand new but have an outdated network to rely on, that’s just a waste. That would be like buying a new boat and only being able to take it out on a puddle! Instead, it’s best to opt for a high-speed internet plan, at minimum speeds of 100-200 Mbps or so. The faster you go from there, the better. You want all your devices to have ample bandwidth to function properly, and you want your whole family to enjoy your internet plan to its full extent.

So, once you have a high-speed internet plan, you can get started automating your home. There are a few different reasons why you might choose to make your home a smart home:

  • Modernity: A smart home is a modern home. When you employ a smart hub, speakers and lights, for example, your home just feels modern.
  • Savings: Smart homes often save you money. Sure, there are start-up costs, but the long-term savings from devices like smart thermostats, which regulate home temperature, add up!
  • Environmental benefits: Smart homes help the environment with devices like smart thermostats, which conserve energy, smart lights, that control electric output, and more.
  • Convenience: Perhaps the most important thing about smart homes is that they are meant to make your life easier. Control devices with your voice, through an app, and build a smart home security system that keeps your home and family safe.
  • Luxury: You don't need to settle for just a smart speaker or two. Take it to a new level and make your smart home a luxurious one by using the latest and greatest smart technologies.

There are clear benefits to using smart devices in your home. But when people discuss “smart devices,” what exactly are they talking about? Let’s dive into it.

Amazon Echo smart home device to listen to music
Image credit: Amazon.com

Best Smart Speakers, Assistants and Hubs

The central nervous system of any smart home is your smart hub, which is often times a smart speaker with personal assistant functionality – think Amazon Echo, Google Nest or Apple HomeKit devices. Smart displays, which are small screens that show a command interface, exist as well.

These hubs serve as the command center for every device in your home and can be control with your voice or with an app. Hubs are also highly compatible, meaning they are convenient and can be paired with many different devices, such as lights, speakers, detectors, thermostats and more.

How to Use Smart Lighting In Your Home

Smart lights are like any other lights, but smart! This means that they use either Wi-Fi connectivity, Z-Wave or Bluetooth to communicate wirelessly with your command device. This makes for convenience and customization, since the lightbulbs themselves have properties such as the ability to change colors, dim, remote control and more.

For example, Philips Hue lightbulbs can be controlled wirelessly via Bluetooth and can be programmed to do all sorts of awesome things, like change colors, create unique atmospheres, schedules and more.

However, if you have a traditional light switch, this means that the switch controlling your smart light must remain on all the time – otherwise you’re going to be stuck turning the switch off and on like you usually would. But if you swap your traditional light switch for a smart one – some popular brands include TP-Link and Ecobee – this obstacle can be circumvented.

Smart lights provide numerous benefits that aren’t limited to just being cool. They can be powered on or off remotely with just the touch of a button on your command device, they can be used in the formation of mood-boosting scenery, and they can help cut electric costs by implementing lights-out schedules, dimming settings and more.

How to Use a Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat gives you control of your home’s temperature like never before. Smart thermostats allow for remote and voice control and for a tremendous amount of personalization.

When you install a smart thermostat, your home actually controls its own temperature. You can set it to be at certain temperatures depending on the time of day – such as letting your home be a bit warmer during the summer daytime hours while you are at work – and also control airflow from room to room to make your bedroom cooler than a space that doesn’t need cooler or warmer air (depending on the season), like a hallway. Some can even detect when you are home versus when you are away automatically.

How to use a smart thermostat

Smart thermostats can regulate the climate of your home in accordance to any parameters you set, but you also have the ability to connect to it remotely and change any settings. Of course, different smart thermostats will allow different levels of control, so be sure to research the details of models you are interested in before buying. For example, one popular model, the Ecobee SmartThermostat, has voice control, remote room sensors and can even serve as your home’s smart hub.

Customizable temperature planning can cut your energy costs dramatically, as you won’t be paying for air you don’t need, which also means your home’s environmental impact will be minimized. When you have a traditional thermostat, that level of room-to-room control and heating/cooling scheduling is impossible.

So, if you are looking to save money, cut down on your environmental impact and pick up an advanced smart device while you’re at it, a smart thermostat is a perfect device to make your home more intelligent.

Smart Locks, Doorbells, Detectors and Other Smart Gadgets for Your Home

Some other smart devices serve as a mix and match solution to smarten up your home here and there to make your home feel more convenient and safe overall. Let’s run through a few different types of smart home devices and see how they will benefit your home.

Smart locks:

Smart locks use a keypad and wireless sensors near doors and windows instead of traditional locks and a baseball bat for protection. They connect seamlessly to your other devices and send you alerts if something is wrong. You can also lock and unlock remotely through the use of an app. Another great thing about smart locks is the ability to create custom codes for trusted friends and family and neighbors in case you want them to access your home.

Smart doorbells:

Smart doorbells are incredibly popular today and will only continue to get more popular, especially in the days of online shopping. They are relatively inexpensive and provide peace of mind when you are away, and also when you are home and don’t want to get up to check the peephole! If you want to see if a package you’ve been expecting was dropped off, just look at your front porch via your doorbell’s camera. If someone knocks on your door and you want to see who it is, and even use the doorbell’s speaker to greet them, many video doorbells allow this. Top smart doorbell providers include Ring and Arlo. Many people also receive smart doorbells as part of a larger smart home security system package by providers like ADT or Vivint. A smart doorbell is a likely smart starting point for many families because of low cost, easy installation and the instant benefits you receive.

Smart detectors:

Smart detectors take smoke and carbon monoxide safety to the next level. Traditionally, when a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm is triggered, it just beeps until someone notices it. With a smart smoke detector or smart carbon monoxide detector, these devices connect with other smart devices in your home to send you instant alerts in case of emergency. If you are in your home, the signal will bounce from device to device until it reaches your phone. If you are not home, it will send you notifications directly to your phone. If your smart detector is part of a larger smart home security system, it can even call 911 for you.

Smart sensors:

Smart sensors include motion sensors, thermal sensors, security sensors and more. These sensors can do things like open a dog door (when a pet passes by a sensor low to the ground, the dog door will open, for example) and also be used for thermostat regulation, security and more.

Smart vacuums:

Smart vacuums are very common these days and are purely for convenience. Some people take joy in cleaning and vacuuming, while others clearly don’t, which is why smart vacuums are a thing. If you have some money lying around and want to sit a robot on the floor and watch it vacuum, go buy one. Or you can buy one for each room in your home and have a robot vacuum armada.

Smart cameras:

Smart cameras are usually part of a larger smart home security system, but many models of smart doorbells include cameras to bolster your home’s security and improve peace of mind. Many cameras now now include HD or even 4K video and also cloud storage to access old footage.

Smart audio systems:

Smart audio systems include typical smart speakers and also soundbars that help to create unique atmospheres while indulging in some entertainment. Brands like Sonos specialize in high-quality, smart sound systems that elevate the entertainment experience and even include Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant functionality, meaning you can control your soundscapes with your voice. If you love TV or movies and are looking for a smart device that needs minimal other smart devices to work properly, a sound system is a great thing to look into.

How to Set Up a Smart Home Security System

Smart home security systems are the latest innovation in protecting what matters most to you. A smart home security system uses a system of smart devices that connect with your phone or other interface of your choice to immediately alert you of any possible emergencies. Smart security systems often use video cameras, doorbells, locks, sensors, detectors and more, arming your home with a complete security package that can be easily managed in the palm of your hand.

Top smart home security providers include ADT, Vivint and Frontpoint. These brands offer varying degrees of customization and packages that range from minimal to fortress-like. It is also important to decide whether to opt for a do-it-yourself or professional installation, as there are plenty of relatively inexpensive DIY smart home security systems available on the market.

If you want to learn more about bolstering your home’s security, call National Broadband today.

Frequently asked questions

What is a smart home?

A smart home uses home automation, which is a broad term referring to technology inside a home that makes life more convenient, safer and easier for its inhabitants, and often times the environment as well.

What are smart devices?

When referring to a smart home, a smart device is any technology that works to improve the lives of the home's inhabitants. For example, popular smart devices include smart home hubs, speakers, lights, door locks, cameras, monitors, sensors, thermostats, vacuums and many others.

Does having a smart home save you money?

When turning your home into a smart home, there will of course be start up costs. These expenses depend fully on how smart you really want to make your home. If you want to get a video doorbell and some smart lights that automatically shut off when not in use, you could potentially save some money on your electric bill. If you want a smart thermostat that regulates your home's temperature when you're not home in order to maximize efficiency, that's an awesome way of saving money during the hot summer months and cold winters. How much money you could potentially save depends on what you want out of your smart home, but for the most part, they are a great way of reducing both your bills and your environmental impact once you get through initial setup costs.

What are some smart home security system providers?

Top smart home security providers include ADT, Vivint, Frontpoint, and many others.

What Is Z-Wave?

Z-Wave makes home automation easier by connecting smart devices with radio waves. But how exactly does it work, and why’s it important?

Types of Home Security Systems

Choosing the right home security system is a big decision, rightfully so. How do you know what to pick?

What Is Mesh Wi-Fi?

Mesh Wi-Fi uses multiple access points, or nodes, evenly distributed throughout a space to maximize Wi-Fi coverage. But how exactly does mesh Wi-Fi work, and is it a good fit for your home?