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Smart Home Automation: When to DIY and When to Call the Pros

There’s a smart device for just about everything these days, and fully integrated smart homes make life much more convenient, comfortable, and safe. But with so many smart devices to choose from, it can be overwhelming to start setting up your system. Here are some of the best projects to do yourself and ones that should be left to the professionals.

When to Do it Yourself

Standalone devices are relatively easy to install and connect with a central hub. However, not all systems connect, so it’s important to plan these pieces ahead of time or understand that they will not be integrated for true home automation. That means you’ll be juggling multiple apps, and your smart devices won’t be able to communicate with each other. And, if you run into any issues during installation, you will probably have to get support from both the hub and device vendor.

If you are not particularly tech-savvy or want a fully integrated system from the start, DIY is probably not for you. However, if you are just trying out smart devices or have a lot of technology experience, then the devices below are a great DIY start to your smart home collection.

  • smart lightSmart Home Hubs: Setting up a smart home hub, such as the Amazon Echo, Google Nest, or Samsung SmartThings, to name a few, is relatively easy to do yourself. Usually, you can use an app on your phone to set your preferences. However, it can be tricky to hook up your other smart devices, and some may not even be compatible with the smart hub’s platform.
  • Lightbulbs: Standalone smart lightbulbs couldn’t be easier to install; you just screw them in. They look like a regular bulb but connect through an app on your phone to create different settings. However, as with most standalone devices, they work great independently but might not synch with your specific hub.
  • Standalone Speakers: Often, one of the first purchases for those just dipping their toes into the smart home array, smart speakers work as a virtual assistant that you can activate and control through voice commands. Plus, they are relatively affordable, with mini versions like the Google Home Mini for under $25.
  • Smart Plugs and Power Strips: Smart plugs that you simply plug into your existing outlets let you control power to just about anything with your voice when they are connected to a smart home hub. However, these plug-in outlet attachments are usually bulky, and you’ll need to buy a lot of them to control things all over your house.
  • Smart TV: Many of the televisions on the market today are smart TVs. These TVs allow you to watch on many different platforms and even play games, all through a Wi-Fi connection. You will usually need to download an app to set them up, but the setup is straightforward.

When to Call an Experienced Electrician 

While you can DIY pieces to a smart home, the best way to achieve true home automation is with a professional installation. So, if you’re looking for the ultimate in convenience and comprehensive smart home automation, a professional installation by an experienced electrician is your best option. Sometimes a professional installation is even required, such as those projects that include electrical work and must be done by a licensed electrician. The devices and systems below are best to have installed by an experienced electrician.

  • smart home hubIntegrated Panels: If you want a hub that is guaranteed to work as a system with your other integrated smart devices, then a panel wired into the wall is a great option. These panels have a screen display and are powerful devices that create the key to home automation.
  • Wired Smart Plugs: While you can get a similar effect with the DIY smart plugs mentioned above, replacing your outlets with smart plugs in a house-wide system is a more streamlined and comprehensive approach to connecting the whole home.
  • Thermostats: Smart thermostats keep you comfortable and help you save on your energy bill, and with home automation, they can even be triggered by your daily routines.
  • Light Fixtures: Replacing or installing a new light fixture usually involves some level of electrical work, which means may be better off with an experienced electrician, depending on your level of comfort working with electrical wiring.
  • Smart Appliances: You can find everything from microwaves to ovens and dishwashers with smart home technology-enabled to make life more convenient. Imagine using voice commands not just to set the timer but for all your oven settings. Usually, the retailer from which you purchase the appliance will deliver and install it for you.
  • Sound Systems: Sure, you can plug in one smart speaker, but an entire sound system routed through your whole house is an entirely different level. With systems like the Sonos home sound system, your installer can help you combine the perfect mix of products throughout your home while hiding all the cables for a clean look.
  • Locks and Doorbells: Some smart doorbells, like the Ring wireless doorbell, are easy to set up yourself. However, when it comes to security devices like locks and hardwired doorbells, a professional can ensure that everything is installed correctly and working to keep you safe.
  • Automatic Shades: Putting up shades can seem like an easy job, but it’s an easy job to get wrong. Sizing, hanging correctly, and wiring all come into play, and if it’s done incorrectly, you could end up with extra holes in your wall, or you could even void the manufacturer’s warranty.

If you’re thinking about adding any of the devices above to your home, schedule a consultation with Brothers’ skilled residential electricians. Our teams have been improving Maryland homes with the latest technologies for over 30 years and are excited to help you plan and create your smart home.