It seems like you can connect just about anything around your home to a smart device, making everyday life more convenient. And in reality, you can! Smart home automation is increasingly popular, with new features becoming available all the time. And the latest devices allow you to control things around your house with your voice or set them up to run automatically based on your routine.
But before you start buying up devices, it’s essential to make a plan for your smart home. Home automation controllers don’t connect to every type of smart device, and it can be a waste to purchase piecemeal items that do not create a cohesive system. Plus, you can simply plug in some devices while others require an electrician to do the installation. Learn all about home automation so that you can plan and achieve your ultimate smart home.
Smart homes and home automation are actually two separate concepts that can be combined to bring your home high-tech convenience. Smart homes are houses that have multiple smart devices, items that can be controlled through a hub or app on your phone. Home automation is something that smart homes do by integrating devices so that tasks occur automatically and can trigger other events as well.
Many homeowners dip their toes in smart home technology, starting with DIY projects like smart lightbulbs or a smart TV. But true home automation happens when you hook up things like doors that unlock when a smoke alarm goes off, thermostats that set routines based on when you’re home and away, and surveillance cameras that begin recording when they sense movement. Smart home automation utilizes the convenience of smart devices, connects them, and automates to make your life easier, safer, and more comfortable.
Without getting too technical, it’s important to understand how your smart devices function together so you can get the most out of your home automation system.
Wireless home automation functions through low-power devices that send and receive information. For example, light sensors that detect the sunrise and send commands to open (or close) your smart shades automatically.
The devices can communicate through a variety of wireless connections. You are likely familiar with Bluetooth, a lower power connection, and WiFi, which requires more power but can be used for higher-data applications. But there are also ANT (network) connections that run at ultra-low power, and ZigBee, which is also a low-power option that gives devices multiple channels to communicate over so that each device can connect with one another.
It’s important to know that these different connections exist as some smart home hubs will only communicate using one or two of these, making them incompatible with smart devices that use other connection methods. Researching which connection is utilized by the hub you want and the devices you want to connect will save you from a big headache and potentially useless devices later on.
Smart home automation isn’t reserved for the tech-savvy – though you’ll likely find many of these devices in their homes! Once your system is set up, it’s straightforward to use. You can start as small as setting timers hands-free when you’re cooking to as complex as programming your bathroom for your morning routine.
With home automation, you can set up your routines ahead of time so that you can focus on more important things throughout your day. Set your coffee maker to brew a fresh batch so you wake up to the smell of fresh coffee, schedule your lights to turn on when it’s time to get up, and even preset your shower to get the perfect temperature every time.
We all have that moment of panic that we forgot to lock the front door or close the garage after we’ve left. With smart locks and door controls, you can set automatic locks, be notified if you’ve left the door unlocked, and even lock the door remotely. And with video doorbells, you can see who is knocking before you answer the door. You can even speak to them remotely if you’re not home.
Home automation can make your house more accessible to elderly or differently-abled family members. With voice commands for lighting, entertainment, and even opening and closing doors, smart devices can give back agency to those who have trouble moving around the home.
Heating and cooling make up a significant part of your energy bill, but you can have ultimate control with home automation that is proven to save energy, which can save you money. For example, when you’re running the air conditioning, the Nest smart thermostat claims that you can save up to 15% on your energy bill when using their smart thermostat.
Everyone knows that having an energy-efficient home is a great way to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, but everyday life distractions get in the way. Along with lights that automatically turn on and off when you enter and leave the room, smart thermostats learn when you’re away and home, how your individual house heats and cools, and consider the outside temperature to hit target temperatures, conserving energy.
Most homeowners will find it relatively easy to install a standalone smart device and connect it with a corresponding hub. However, not all systems connect, which means you’ll be juggling multiple apps, and your smart devices won’t be able to communicate with each other. Plus, if you run into any issues during installation, you will need support from both the hub and device vendor, creating a real headache out of something that is supposed to add convenience to your life!
The list below is a guide for the devices that are easy to install yourself and what a professional should help with.
Plug-In Smart Plugs
Integrated Smart Plugs
Whole-Home Sound Systems
Locks and Doorbells
The main goals in creating a smart home are peace of mind and convenience. But the wrong contractor can create a headache, drawn-out timeline, and even unsafe conditions. Choose a contractor with experienced electricians that has a track record of positive customer experiences.
Brothers’ teams of master tradespeople have been improving Maryland homes with the latest technologies for over 30 years. We specialize in installing systems like Lutron lighting, Sonos whole-home sound, thermostatic showers, and any installation that requires general electrical work like a light fixture or automatic blinds. As Full-Service Remodelers, we can service your entire home, not just the parts. That means you won’t have to juggle multiple project teams or companies for different projects and that you will have peace of mind knowing your home automation system is comprehensive.
There are so many devices to control your smart home, and ultimately, you will need to decide which one will work the best for your needs. Consider things like whether you want a display screen and which items you want to connect in your home. Here are a few of the popular options and their best features.
With a voice assistant and display screen, the Nest comes in at a great value. However, Nest is not as compatible with various devices as other hubs. It does not have the ability for smart home routines to trigger automatically, meaning it is not a good choice for true smart home automation.
The Echo is easy to set up and works with a plethora of smart devices. However, the Amazon Alexa platform still does not allow you the best control over the smart devices that you connect, and users have found that the routines they set up are not always reliable.
A versatile hub, SmarThings is compatible with many different smart home devices from various manufacturers. It also has a low profile with a small box that blends into décor well. However, the app and setup can be a challenging process for the less tech-savvy individual.
Brilliant smart home control is built into the wall and has a touchscreen, camera, motion sensor, Sonos speaker system control, and is compatible with Amazon Alexa for voice commands. It is an excellent all-encompassing option for those who want a full system installed and set up by a professional.
A less traditional hub, the Apple TV 4K can run automations and enables voice control with Siri all through a small box connected to your TV. The user interface is similar to other Apple products, which will be familiar to many homeowners. However, it only works with HomeKit products, so you will be very limited in what you can connect.
Once you’ve picked out a system or hub, it’s time to decide which devices to incorporate across your home. From the kitchen to the bedroom, and even outdoors, there are a plethora of smart devices to make life easier. Of course, many of these smart devices can be used throughout the home. So, use these lists as a jumping-off point for how you can add smart technology to every room of your house.
Not sure where to go from here? Learn more about the electrical projects that create a smart home so you can plan and create a safe, convenient home.