What Is a Smart Home?
In layman’s terms, smart homes are homes containing devices that are able to communicate with each other and automate your daily activities. These devices range from appliances and lights to televisions and security cameras. Technically, if you own at least one device that is connected to your network and can be controlled through it, you are a smart home owner.
Nowadays you can control smart tech in your home from anywhere in the world using a mobile device. These smart houses serve to simplify your daily life, save you time on miscellaneous tasks, and even save you money in some cases. Not only do they make your daily tasks a breeze, but they also make your home a safer place.
There are cameras, locks, and motion sensors you can install to secure your home. All of these things can also increase the overall value of your home. More and more homebuyers are looking to purchase homes with pre-installed smart devices.
What Are the Benefits of Smart Homes?
There are quite a few benefits to home automation, which we can categorize in the following groups:
Devices like thermostats, light bulbs, and sprinklers can save energy and therefore money. Some devices can monitor energy usage, like water and electricity, which give you a better overview of where you might be wasting energy.
You could say that most devices fall under this category. Many people want to make their home a safer place, which is why they might opt for say, motion-triggered smart lights, to trick burglars into thinking someone is home while on holiday, or security cameras that let you see what is going on in your home from any location.
Convenience and Comfort
A lot of smart home devices work together. You can, for example, program your door lock to switch on the lights when you unlock the door to enter the house. It’s also convenient when someone is at the door. You can check who it is with your doorbell cam and let them in using a mobile app. You can also record shows with smart televisions, play music on command, dim your lights, and so on.
This is a useful one. People choose home automation in order to have complete control over their home at any time from any location—they like to know what’s happening inside their home at all times.
Is It Worth It?
In most cases, it is. In order to properly assess whether it’s worth it for you, you need to think of how much you will be saving on expenses and time.
Here are some examples of why we think it’s worth it:
You can save on utility bills and water expenses by using smart devices like smart thermostats, lights, and sprinklers. In the long run, these devices practically pay for themselves.
This is one of the main reasons people choose to “smart” their homes in the first place. You can monitor in-house activities remotely and receive notifications on your mobile device. You can get notifications when a pet cat escapes or when your children come home from school. Burglars also tend to avoid well-secured homes.
You can turn your home into a palace of comfort after a long and stressful day at work. Smart homes allow you to manage your TV, answer and open the door, dim the lights, send emails, answer calls, and more, all from the comfort of your couch.
In addition, smart hubs can help you with reminders, create grocery lists, and so on. And you can be sure when you leave the house that all appliances are switched off, so there’s no need for any double checking or finger crossing that everything will be the way you left it when you get back.
Which Devices Are the Most Commonly Controlled in a Smart Home?
The four main categories under which the most commonly used devices fall under are: lighting, entertainment, climate, and safety.
Smart light bulbs are the easiest to install and use. They have features like timers, motion sensing abilities, and schedules. For example, you can set the lights to turn on when you come home from work and automatically switch off after midnight.
The lights with motion sensor abilities can switch on when they detect someone coming into a room and switch off when they exit. You can also set the lights to switch on based on the activation of another device. Like, for example, when you open the garage door, your house lights will switch on.
These are also pretty common. They are relatively simple to install, though slightly more difficult than light bulbs. They are also able to adapt to your climate preference and schedule, which is why you can look forward to a flawless home climate.
Home security systems are a rising trend in the industry as more and more people are choosing to protect their homes and families, not just from burglaries and break-ins but also from damage caused by floods, fires, and the like. Common smart home products would be smart locks, security cameras, motion sensors, and flood and smoke detectors.
Some people only use smart tech for entertainment, like smart TVs, speakers, and projectors. These devices can be pretty expensive and even require some installation costs in case you want built-in devices or ceiling speakers.
What Are the Elements of a Home Automation System?
The most basic system will be comprised of just three elements: smart hubs, smart devices, and then an app that connects them all. Some systems can even function with two of the three mentioned here—for example, you could instead use just a device and an app or a hands-free hub and a device.
They are the command point for all your other devices. Basically, a smart home hub connects all your devices and helps them interact with each other. However, please keep in mind that there are some hubs that are only compatible with devices produced by the same company. There are others, like Amazon Echo, that work with a plethora of third-party devices.
By simply downloading the app and connecting it to your hub, you can control your smart home gadgets remotely.
Here are some examples of the types of devices:
Access and Control
These would be cameras, locks, and motion sensors.
Practically anything can be smart. Refrigerators, dishwashers, machines, and ovens, for example. There are even slow cookers and coffee makers.
These are systems that optimize your energy usage, and the top device here would be the smart thermostat.
Basically, devices that monitor energy usage and help you use them rationally. Examples would be smart sprinklers to reduce water waste or smart switches to reduce energy usage.
This would be smart TVs, speakers, and even projectors.
These are becoming more and more common by the day. An example of a healthcare device would be a smart humidifier.
Here you have options from light bulbs to dimmers to switches and strips.
Let’s not leave out your router, modem, and internet. They often play a vital part in your smart ecosystem. High-speed internet can make sure your WiFi-reliant devices are running smoothly.
Do I Have to Make My Whole House Smart?
Not at all. You need to decide whether you want full smart home automation or stand-alone smart gadgets. Usually, if you’re a new user, it’s better to start small and ease into it. It’s easy to add on to existing tech rather than take down already installed devices, as their installation may have required some serious home remodelling. Sometimes you may just want to automate one or two tasks instead of the whole house.
For people who want to automate a few tasks or just one, it’s better to go for the thermostats, smart lights, or smart locks, maybe even a smart doorbell. These are the best options when starting small to feel a difference. If you are all about convenience, then maybe smart switches are the way to go, along with some connected appliances. Basically, these appliances can tell you when you are out of juice or turn off the lights in the yard when you forgot to switch them off before leaving the house.
There are people who opt for full home automation systems. This means everything that can be automated, is. For access to securit