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Your Complete Smart Home Automation Guide

Get informed, make a plan, and save money. Your guide to the ultimate smart home.

An Introduction to Smart Home Automation

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.

What is Smart Home Automation?

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.

How Home Automation Works

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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.

Why Install Smart Home Devices In Your Home?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Energy Efficiency

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.

Professional Installation for Smart Devices

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.

Do it Yourself

Standalone Hub

Smart Lightbulbs

Plug-In Smart Plugs

Smart TV

Standalone Speakers

Small Appliances

Professional Installers

Integrated Hub

Integrated Smart Plugs

Smart Thermostats

Light Fixtures

Large Appliances

Whole-Home Sound Systems

Locks and Doorbells

Automatic Shades

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Choosing the Right Electricians for Your Installation

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.

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Popular Home Automation Hubs

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.

Google Nest

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.

Amazon Echo

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.

Samsung SmarThings

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.

Crutchfield Brilliant

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.

Apple TV 4K

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.


Smart Home Device Options for Every Room

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.

Smart Kitchen

  • Smart Appliances: The latest high-tech kitchens come with major appliances like the oven, refrigerator, and dishwasher that are smart-tech-enabled. For example, the Samsung family hub smart refrigerator helps you plan meals and order groceries, connects with the oven to set cook times, and has a video screen to watch TV or connect to cameras around your house.
  • Small Appliances: Smaller standalone appliances like crockpots and coffee makers come with smart technology as well. You can monitor temperatures and turn them on and off through your app or with voice commands on your hub.
  • Smart Trash Can: Yes, even the trash can be smart-tech-enabled! Most smart trash cans have motion sensors and odor controls, but the GeniCan attachment can even scan bar codes as you throw out items and add them to your grocery list or order them automatically.
  • Robot Mop: It can be such a chore to mop the kitchen floor consistently, but a smart mop like the iRobot Braavajet can take care of that for you. Control this mop through an app or your smart home hub.

Smart Bathroom

  • Thermostatic Shower: The days of waiting for the water to heat up or adjusting the knob for the perfect temperature are over with thermostatic shower systems like U by Moen. These showers enable voice commands and can start immediately at your ideal temperature.
  • Smart Vanity: A major upgrade from standard vanities, smart medicine cabinets like the Verdera system connect to smart home devices to control lighting, provide entertainment, and keep you up to date on the weather, traffic, and sports.
  • Smart Fans: Ventilation is key to preventing mold and mildew in the bathroom, but with smart fans like the Broan NuTone, you can get so much more. Conserve energy and enjoy music with built-in speakers and voice commands.
  • Smart Toilet: Cleanliness is what bathrooms are here for, and smart toilets like the intelligent toilets by Kohler are focused on just that. With touch-free controls, warm-water cleansing, and self-sanitizing wands, these toilets are both comfortable and clean.

Smart Living Room

  • Smart Speakers: Whole house solutions, like the built-in Sonos sound system, are customizable for theater-quality tv viewing and music all around the house.
  • Smart TV: Smart TVs allow you to watch on streaming platforms without an extra device for an internet connection. Some solutions, like the Apple TV 4K, can even act as hubs to control other things around the house.
  • Smart Thermostat: 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.
  • Robot Vacuum: Smart vacuums, like the popular Roomba, can be controlled via an app, and some models can even learn from your routines so they don’t disturb you during the day.
  • Lighting Automation: Lighting solutions, like the Lutron whole-home system, can learn from your routines, have motion sensors to see when you’re exiting the room and turn off the lights, and can be controlled with voice commands.
  • Gym System: Smart gyms, like the Tonal system, can simulate weights, measure your reps and range of motion, and automatically adjust to your body, so you get the best workout possible without ever leaving your house.

Smart Bedroom

  • Smart Bed: Adjustable beds with remote controls have been around for a while, but options like the ReST Smart Bed can automatically sense your pressure points and adjust throughout the night to support you and relieve pain.
  • Sleep Tracker: Sleep tracking pads, like the Withings Sleep under-mattress pad, can track your sleep cycle, snoring, and wakefulness to give you a wellness update and suggestions for better sleep. But, if you don’t want to invest in a tracking pad, most wearable fitness trackers have this ability as well.
  • Nightlight: You can install Lutron lighting throughout the house, but a particular way to incorporate this with the bedroom is a nightlight or nighttime setting that emits a soft light so you can see where you are going without flooding your eyes with light.
  • Climate Control: A smart thermostat is great for keeping your energy costs low, but it is also perfect for those who sleep warm or cold. Program your thermostat to cool or warm your room during the night, and even have it learn from your habits.
  • Alarm Clock: Smart clocks, like the Soundcore Wakey, can charge your phone and wake you with preset sounds, alarms, or the radio. The clock display dims with low light and can be adjusted or turned off via an app. Alternatively, if your smart home hub is located in the bedroom, you can simply use it to set alarms.
  • Smart Blinds: It can feel refreshing to wake up to the rising sun, but keeping blinds open all night allows streetlights and cars to disturb your sleep. Smart blinds can be programmed to open at a specific time or automatically open and close with sunrise and sunset.

Smart Outdoor Devices

  • Video Doorbell: Smart doorbells, like the Ring camera system, connect you to your front door even when you’re away from home. Your smartphone app will trigger when the doorbell senses motion, and you can even speak to people at the front door.
  • Security System: You can take security a step further with a fully integrated system that includes automated door locks, motion sensors, and video surveillance around the house, such as the ring doorbell systems, all connected through your smart hub or with you on a smartphone app.
  • Automated Sprinklers: Timed sprinklers have been around for decades, but new smart sprinklers take this convenience a step further by making automated routines for you based on the local weather forecast.
  • Robot Lawn Mower: You’ve probably heard of robot vacuum cleaners, but robot lawn mowers take this convenience outside, like the Husqvarna Automower that can be controlled through your phone with Bluetooth and cellular connections.
  • Bluetooth Padlocks: Smart locks on your home are excellent for security, but you can expand smart locks to gates, sheds, and garages with Bluetooth padlocks. These convenient standalone devices allow you to create guest settings and see access history.
  • Grilling Tech: There is a plethora of grilling technology to help you become a grill master in no time. From smart thermometers to grill cleaning robots and even fully integrated smart grills like the Camp Chef grill and smoker that automatically maintains temperatures and enables remote control through your smartphone, cooking outdoors has never been easier.
  • Smart Pool: Anyone who has maintained a pool or hot tub knows that the chemical levels can be tricky, and it’s a real pain to keep clean. With smart devices like Polaris robotic pool cleaners and the pHin water monitor, it’s easy to ensure the pool is clean and the chemicals are balanced, all from your smartphone.

Smart Nursery

  • Smart Baby Monitor: Radio monitors with limited range are a thing of the past. New versions allow you to view your baby on video and connect through the phone to check in from anywhere.
  • Smart Changing Pad: Tracking your baby’s weight between doctor visits and monitoring how much they are eating is easier with a smart changing scale that helps parents have peace of mind.
  • Health Monitor: Wearable smart tech isn’t just for adults; with monitors like the Owlet Smart Sock, you can track your baby’s oxygen level and heart rate while they sleep and receive notifications on your phone that let you know when your baby needs you.
  • Smart Bassinet: High-tech bassinets like the Snoo smart sleeper can rock your baby to sleep, monitor their vital signs, and adjust to calm them back to sleep if they wake up, lending a helping hand to parents of newborns.

Smart Pet Devices

  • Video Monitoring: Just like monitoring your child’s room, you can keep an eye on pets while you’re away with smart cameras like the Furbo Dog Camera, which even allows you to speak with your pet and dispense treats all from your phone.
  • Pet Doors: Smart pet doors can be activated with a Bluetooth device on your pets’ collar, which allows them free access while keeping any unwanted animals. They can also be set for specific times to control when your pet is allowed to roam outdoors.
  • Smart Bowl: Track how much your pet is eating, dispense food or water on a schedule or with an app, and keep their water clean with smart bowls that aim to enhance your pet’s wellness.
  • Smart Potty Solutions: Self-cleaning litter boxes can sense when your cat has gone to the bathroom and automatically sift out the waste with alerts and notifications sent directly to your smartphone. And there’s a similar device for dogs. The BrilliantPad is a self-cleaning dog potty that automatically replaces a dirty pad with a new one.

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Smart Home Automation Advice from Remodeling Experts

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.

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