Smart home automation has become the new norm in today’s world. However, only a few people know and understand its true meaning. “Smart home” is an umbrella term that covers everything from voice-controlled outdoor lights to app-enabled ceiling fans.
Aside from this, smart home can also be described as a technology that makes your life extremely easy, convenient, and comfortable. It saves time and stress from doing routine chores such as switching the light on or off, adjusting the humidifier, locking or unlocking your front door, etc.
For the longest time, people have believed that smart homes only exist in fictional movies and cartoons. But today, we are here to tell you that this concept has been brought to life with the recent advancement in technology.
Now, you can connect multiple smart devices to your home and become a smart homeowner. However, with so many devices, it is normal to get overwhelmed while shopping for smart devices. To help you make these decisions, we have bought a comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide to start your smart home automation journey.
Table of Contents
How To Get Started With Smart Home Automation
Follow the steps mentioned below to get started with home automation and benefit from smartphone and voice-controlled smart devices.
Select A Smart Home Device
Selecting a smart home device to automate your home is crucial. However, if you’re new to smart home technology, this decision can be quite overwhelming and confusing to make on your own.
We suggest making gradual progress with your smart home and adopting a practical yet positive mindset. You’ll find different smart devices, including those with backward and forwarding compatibility. We recommend buying appliances with backward compatibility since they pair better with products preexistent in your homes.
In contrast, devices with forward compatibility work better with the latest gadgets and are better if you plan to continue upgrading your system in the near future. Remember to stay moderate with these devices and always research before making the final purchase.
Factors To Consider When Selecting Smart Home Device
- Start small: It’s best to start with one or two devices to see how well they work for you. Then, you can add more devices once you are comfortable and confident about switching to a smart home.
- Cost: You’ll find smart devices in all shapes, designs, and prices. Decide your budget beforehand and then look for a product based on this value.
- Setup: To understand smart devices’ internal workings and efficiency, start with intuitive products. It would be best if you buy appliances that are easy to set up and use. Some electrical devices like smart outlets or smart thermostats require technical skills for installation and are not ideal for beginner users.
- Research: Always do research before buying. You can read customer reviews or buyer guides and compare products – based on their quality, prices, compatibility, etc. Different perspectives can help give insight into the products and whether they are worth the cost. Additionally, you can subscribe to websites offering tips and updates about new and current trends in the home automation industry.
Questions To Ask Yourself When Selecting Smart Home Device
Apart from these factors, you must also consider what you demand from a smart home device. For example, what task requires the most help? How easy is it to operate the device? Here are a few questions you should ask yourself when selecting the best smart home device:
Do you require a personal assistant to make groceries, lists, and orders? Some people, such as doctors and police officers, belong to a profession that takes up most of their time. For them, doing chores as simple as groceries can be super difficult and time-consuming. However, a personal assistant smart device makes this task simpler and more convenient. Using a smart platform, you can make a list of products and groceries you need and order them online.
- Do you need assistance turning on/off appliances such as lights and coffee machines? If yes, investing in smart plugs or smart light switches is best. These components allow you to turn on or off your appliances from remote locations. You can also use an app on your phone or voice controls to give commands and save energy and time.
- Do you want to save money by bringing down your utility bills? You can save a lot on your utility bills by installing a smart thermostat. It helps you save energy and makes it easier for you to adjust its settings using the mobile app as its remote control.
- Are you concerned about the safety of your home? You can improve your home security by installing security cameras or smart locks. With security cameras, you can always keep an eye on your house by checking through phone screens using only a Wi-Fi connection. Similarly, smart locks enable you to enter your home using passcodes or smartphone access, eliminating the need for conventional keys. Moreover, if someone tries to break into your home, you can be instantly alerted.
Smart Home Devices You Can Buy
Smart home devices that are a great choice to experience your first home automation system with are:
- Smart Speaker
- Smart Lock
- Security Camera
- Video Doorbell
- Smart Plug
- Smart Light Bulb
- Smart Thermostat
Select Your Smart Home Platform/Ecosystem
The next step is to choose a smart-home system, also known as an “ecosystem,” from one of the many available platforms.
A platform’s basic purpose is to act as a central system where all devices can connect and be controlled. It allows you to remotely control everything using an accompanying app on your smartphone or voice controls.
Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, etc., are common examples of smart home platforms. Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are suitable options for Android users, whereas Apple HomeKit or Siri are ideal for iOS users.
However, some devices require a smart hub to control smart appliances and devices. Many devices are compatible with your chosen ecosystem, but some home automation devices will perform more efficiently using a hub or bridge.
What Is a Smart Hub?
A smart hub links the user’s phone or digital assistant with the smart devices. Instead of using Wi-Fi, it uses radio signals to connect the devices. Hubs also help improve security; meanwhile, the reduced use of Wi-Fi minimizes the risk of tech-savvy thieves breaking in and stealing confidential information.
Unfortunately, most manufacturers don’t provide hubs with devices; they need to be purchased separately, which can be quite expensive. But don’t let this scare you away from smart home devices! Most smart home devices only need ecosystem and app compatibility for home automation; a hub is not required.
Ecosystem Compatibility With Automation Devices
Here’s something you should always remember: only a few smart home platforms are compatible with all smart home devices. So, for now, it’s best to work with a system that has compatibility with most of your devices. As far as the future is concerned, you should buy products after checking their compatibility with your installed ecosystem.
Smart Home Ecosystems You Can Buy
Here is a list of the most famous and reliable ecosystems among smart homeowners:
- Amazon Alexa
- Google Assistant
- Apple HomeKit
Set Up And Install Smart Home Devices
Once you’ve figured out the devices you want to buy, and what ecosystem you need, the next step is to set up and install these devices. It’s also the most exciting part of the home automation process. Here’s everything you need to know to carry out this process smoothly:
Connect to Power
A smart hub/ ecosystem requires power to function efficiently. So, depending on your hub model, set it up via an AC adapter or install them using rechargeable battery packs. Plus, it’s always a great idea to keep backup batteries at home, so your house functions properly in case of a power outage.
Connect to Reliable and Fast Internet
Most smart hubs are usually set up using internet routers with an Ethernet cable. However, some hubs have modern connectivity and only need passwords to connect to wireless routers.
Install the Accompanying Application on Your Smartphone
Almost every home automation system can be accessed using an app on your smartphone. You must search for and download the provided app (for a specific device) from the manufacturer on your smartphone.
Set up Your Account
Once you have installed the app on your phone, log in or sign up using a new email address. Most systems have very easy-to-follow instructions, so don’t worry too much about this. Set up the account and secure it with a strong, unique, and unbreakable password.
Add/Connect Smart Devices
After this, following the instruction manual, connect the smart home devices with the home automation system. You are granted full control when the app, devices, and home automation system are connected.
Set Schedules For Scenes and Triggers
Many devices have innovative features like scenes and triggers. With the scene feature, you can schedule a series of actions to take place at a specific time. For example, you can program your lights and other appliances to turn off automatically at 9:00 pm (bedtime) or for garage lights to turn on/off at sunset and sunrise, etc.
Using the trigger function, you can program motion sensors to automatically turn on devices like lights whenever it senses nearby motion. For example, switching on the lights when you get up at night to go to the bathroom.
Set up Notification and Alerts
This feature improves the security of your home. By setting up notifications for the app, the smart home devices will notify you via text or email when a suspicious activity has been detected inside. For example, you can be alerted when movement is detected around some device or when someone tries to open a door with the wrong password. You can also get alerts for unlocked doors.
Create Automations Or Routines
The ultimate goal behind using smart home automation is to schedule your day and daily chores using these devices. The most efficient way to do this is through the creation of automation and routines.
Routines in a smart home device function as a group device or, in other words, a multitasker – some companies also advertise them as shortcuts or scenes. They allow you to perform two things:
They enable you to control and change multiple settings of a single device in one go. So, for example, you can adjust the brightness, mood, color temperature, and timing, from one single app rather than doing it manually for each setting one by one.
They enable you to control and change multiple settings for various devices. So, for example, you can adjust the light’s brightness, speakers’ volume, or thermostat settings from a single app rather than opening their separate apps individually.
To create these routines, shortcuts, or scenes, you must follow a set of instructions. These steps may vary from app to app; however, the universal set of instructions is as follows:
- Find where the smartphone app allows the option to create routines
- Select the smart home devices to make routines for
- Adjust these settings as per your preference
- Give these routines a simple and notable name (helpful when controlling through voice commands)
- Try different routine settings to figure out which one works best
The automation function uses a cause-and-effect structure to automatically enable and adjust device settings according to the condition of your house. However, they require more critical thinking and a longer installation process than routines.
The setup process of automation is done in two parts: choosing what conditions would activate the system and how the system should respond or react. Here are some examples of triggers and reactions you use for most smart home systems:
|If this happens
|Then do this
|To control a device
|Voice or app command
|Activate a pre-set routine
|system or device status changes
|Make changes to the mode of the system
|When location changes (geofencing)
|Send an alert, message, or notification
- Setting schedules helps you control devices during the day. For example, you can automatically turn the devices on/off – especially useful when going to bed or waking up.
- Smartphone apps or Voice commands are not only the most common but also the most efficient automation method to control smart home devices.
- Status changes in the system or device allow them to react to stimuli. For example, they can tell a sensor to send an alert, alarm, or notification when it detects activity – acting as an excellent security measure.
- Geofencing works great if you frequently change your location. This allows the system to change the settings based on the current location. In addition, it enables you to prepare the empty house per your routine based on your estimated arrival or departure time.
What more can you do?
Once you have first-hand experience with smart home devices, you will eventually see the appeal, ease, and fun it brings to your lifestyle. At this point, you can add more devices to your home to boost its functionality and performance.
This addition is done in four distinct categories: control, security, entertainment, and utilities, and helps achieve a great balance in any ideal smart home:
|Common Smart Devices
|Control and automation
|Smart speaker, a smart plug, smart display, smart hub, smart lighting, remote control, garage door opener
|Smart speaker, TV streaming stick, smart display
|Security and safety
|Security system, smart lock, security camera, video doorbell, security sensor, siren, smoke, and CO detector
|Utilities and energy
|Smart thermostat, smart plug, smart lighting, smart sprinkler, sensor, water leak detector
Smart home devices are the newest trend on the block and have captured every individual’s attention with their added features and user-friendly controls. At last, we have reached the end of our guide in hopes that it will help you set up and start your smart home automation journey the right way. Make sure to research and learn about these technologies before jumping into this new world to make the best of this highly advanced system.
I have over 15 years of knowledge in the technology field. Studied IT systems administration and now installing security cameras and smart home devices into user’s homes and offices.