What is a smart home? That seemingly simple question can actually have many different answers, depending on who you ask. In our context, a “smart home” is a residence that has a number of devices, either built into the structure itself or added later, that can automate various tasks that are normally handled by humans, either with voice commands or by artificial intelligence.
For some home owners, turning their house into a “smart home” can be as simple as buying a connected speaker. For others, it can involve linking several different products, including speakers, cameras, computers, smartphones, televisions, security systems, appliances and more, in order to create their idea of a “smart home”.
In this article, we will tell you why you may want to consider turning your own house into a “smart home”. There are quite a few reasons why such a move could make your home safe, more energy efficient, or just more entertaining to live in. We will also give you some quick examples of products that you can buy right now that can help you begin your journey from regular home to a smart home.
Why should I have a smart home?
Now have we have attempted to answer the question of what is a smart home, we will now explore why you should set up your house with smart or connected home products.
Saving energy (and money)
For many people interested in creating a smart home, one of the biggest incentives is to save energy, and therefore money, through the use of automated heating and air conditioning systems. Smart thermostats, such as the ones made by Alphabet’s subsidiary Nest, offers a way for users to quickly and precisely automate the heating and cooling of a home, which should cut down the owners’ electric bill.
Other products such as connected lights and appliances can come with their own features that allow them to be automated so they use less energy when they are not supposed to be in use. These kinds of products should be high up on anyone’s list if they truly want to turn their location into a smart home.
Better security and safety
While there are alarm systems that you can buy to help protect your home, many people will want to feel even safer in their house. Smart home products such as connected lights, cameras and even doorbells can help make a home even safer. If you are home alone and someone is checking out your house to see if they can break in, having these kinds of devices might scare them off, even above regular home alarm set ups.
Handling regular household tasks
If you want to take some of the tedious tasks of home care out of your hands, connected and automated devices can help you take care of that as well. The most obvious device is the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner from iRobot, along with similar products. However, appliances such as refrigerators and others can also be bought with smart home features that do things like automatically start washing clothes, or even order milk online if your fridge senses you are low.
Making the home more entertaining
Answering the question of what is a smart home doesn’t have to involve serious matters. Having such a home means you can be entertained and informed to a new level as well. Connected speakers, combined with AI-based digital assistants, can play music, offer news and sports scores, and can even help you control other connected devices as well. Connected devices can also find a good film to watch, either at home or in a real movie theater.
Your first smart home products
There are a ton of products out there that can help make your home ‘smart’. To help you get started, we’ve created a list of just five products we feel would be perfect for starting your journey into the world of smart homes:
Amazon Echo: Amazon just launched the second generation version of their main Echo connected speaker. Using the company’s Alexa digital assistant, it can help you use voice commands and automation to do all sorts of things for yourself and your home. Alternatively, if you are more locked into Google’s ecosystem, you might want to consider a Google Home.
Nest Thermostat: The leader in connected heating, Alphabet’s subsidiary has created a smart thermostat that’s been signed to learn the kinds of tempertures in the house you like and can handle them automatically. It can also respond to voice commands for both Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers.
Phillips Hue connected lights: The Hue lights, when connected to the Hue Bridge router, can not only customize the lighting in your house, but can also be programmed and ordered to turn on and off when you need them to, thus saving you some money.
Ring Video Doorbell: This connected doorbell comes with a camera that allows owners with a smartphone or tablet to see whomever is outside their house. It also comes with a speaker that lets you chat with people outside the door, even if you are not at home. Another good option is to get a smart lock, like the August Lock.
Wink Hub 2: If you want to have one central router that connects all of your smart devices together, you can’t go wrong with the Wink Hub 2. It supports nearly all wireless protocol, along with Alexa voice commands and more, for easy home automation.