A Guide: How to turn your Home into a Smart Home

A Smart Home

A Guide to turn your home into a Smart Home

Expertise is not a pre-requisite

You don’t need to be an expert or spend a fortune on high-end or expensive remote controlled devices in order to have a highly reliable, functional smart home.  If it your desire to create your own smart home then you will need to do a little work to discover what is available, what you’ll need vs what you may want.

Needs vs Wants

Many consumers believe they need to go all in on smart home and security equipment.  This puts people at a disadvantage as it causes them to live beyond their means with equipment that they don’t need.  Approaching the equipment of “what you need,” you will find that equipment ranges from low to high end products.  In most cases, you will find the equipment that you need for much less cost than you may think.

Let’s start out with a basic foundation that you can build upon.  In laymen’s terms, a smart home would consist of devices, components, sensors, smart bulbs, security cameras, speakers and video cameras and connect them all to a hub so they can communicate with each other and with you, remotely through your smartphone.

In reality, that would involve spending more money and time than necessary.  Unless you have an unlimited spending budget, it is very feasible to get the best of both worlds and stay within your budget.  We are fortunate to live in a time where smart home technology has become so advanced and economical that you do get more “bang for your buck.”

There are many less expensive devices that will deliver than same levels of convenience that the high-end ones do.  You will find this through your research.

Research your Needs

First of all, you should congratulate yourself.  Reading this guide is a part of your research.  Just by reading this guide, you are gaining knowledge, information and ideas to consider.  By doing this little bit of research, you will find great buys and deals, ensure that your components are compatible with each other, and you will build a solid foundation that you can build upon over time.

It is important to know which smart home products do not depend on a central smart home hub to operate.  While hubs do give you advantages like, having a single interface to control all of your smart home devices, a hub isn’t always essential, depending on your priorities.

In any case, you’ll need a good router and possibly a range extender if necessary.  Let’s take a look below at some examples of smart home devices that do not need a central hub in order to operate effectively.

9 Hub-Free Smart Home System Devices to build upon:

  • Home security cameras
  • Video Doorbells
  • Smart Lighting
  • Smart Thermostats
  • Smart Speakers
  • Multi-room audio systems
  • Smart Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
  • Smart Irrigation

1.  Home security cameras

A quality and inexpensive home security camera allows you to keep a watchful eye on your home, inside and outside even if you’re not home.  Follow the two links to show you some of the best yet inexpensive Home Security CamerasIndoor Security Cameras will allow you to monitor what’s going on inside your home (kids, pets, guests), while Outdoor Security Cameras can detect trespassers, burglars prior to reaching your door.

It will detect and notify you, sound off a siren, contact police.  They also provide motion detected lights that illuminate when someone comes into their path and begin recording with state of the art night vision cameras.  Models like Ring Security Systems that offer more than just security, they allow you to maintain control over your home even if you’re not there.

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2.  Video Doorbells

Basically a sleek doorbell video camera that will monitor your front porch area and beyond, as you set the range of motion detection.  You are notified when someone crosses into there path and let you interact with visitors without needing to answer the door.

You can be in a remote location around the world and still converse and see who’s at your door.  Ring is highly recommended for both wireless and wired security systems. Here is a link to popular Video Doorbells.  The most popular and reliable video doorbell has proven to be the Ring Video Doorbell 2, and at a great price and the best functionality.

3.  Smart lighting

Smart Lights play a big role in safety and your security as it let’s passerby’s know that you are more than likely  home.  When the lights are programmed on timers and dimmers, would-be burglars would opt to move along out of fear that you may be home.

They prefer easier targets that are dark to hide in the shadows.  Most Smart Lighting Systems work without a central hub yet interact with other smart home devices elements, and you can control them via your smartphone app.

4.  Smart thermostats

The Smart Thermostats are highly versatile with the ability to deliver both comfort and energy savings.  These devices establish a heating and cooling schedule based on when you anticipate being home to enjoy those benefits.  They can detect when you’re home and when you’re away, so that your system operates only when it’s needed.

The latest break through with smart thermostats is that they can be equipped with sensors that you place in areas of the home in which you spend most of your time.  The thermostat triggers and heats or cools only the areas you are in rather than in the rooms you do not occupy.  Regular thermostats will only cool or heat to the temperature that the hallway is in (because that’s where the sensor is) while the rest of the house gets wasted energy.  It all adds up.

5.  Smart speakers

It’s as simple as telling your Google Assistant, or your Amazon Echo Series (the leaders in the industry), to dim the lights, raise or lower the volume on your speakers, or use the app on your smartphone.  Can you imagine the benefits of this?

While Amazon has held the lead for the past few years, has enjoyed much broader support, and had the only smart speakers with displays for a long time, now Google is coming on very strong to compete with a highly proven record.

Because these smart speakers have been so widely embraced by other smart home device manufacturers, they have become, serving as a central interaction point for everything from smart lights to home security cameras, displaying video feeds from the latter on connected TVs or their own displays, if equipped.

6.  Multi-room audio systems

Sophisticated multi-room speaker systems from the likes of Sonos, Google Home Hub + Smart Speaker and Amazon Echo Plus are largely self-contained.  This enables you to drop speakers in multiple rooms in your home so you can stream music from your own collection or from online services such as Spotify to all of them in sync, or to send different tracks to each one.

Several companies have soundbars in their collections, so you can improve your television and movie watching experiences when you’re not listening to music.  In either case, a smartphone or tablet is all you need to control everything. Some Sonos models even include Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant, which is capable of controlling other smart home devices.

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7.  Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Conventional smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are not a smart investment and serve no purpose.  Their alarms, although loud, serve no purpose unless you are home to hear them.  A smart smoke detector, will sound a local alarm, too, but it will send an alert to your smartphone and anyone else on your list of authorized users if danger is detected.

Some smart smoke alarms, such as the Nest Protect, incorporate emergency lights that can help you find your way out of a smoke-filled home.  Others may include such advanced features such like integrated smart speaker.  If money is an issue, Roost Dome Z offers a less-expensive alternative: A smart battery that can make your existing smoke detector more intelligent.

8.  Smart Irrigation

Water is our most precious resource. A smart irrigation system can help ensure your lawn and garden get enough moisture to be healthy and vibrant without wasting any of it.  All the smart home subsystems you can invest in, this might be the one that will benefit the least from being incorporated into a hub. Smart irrigation systems can also be complex, so using a purpose-built app is usually better anyway.

9.  What is IFTTT

One of the most powerful ways of making smart home devices work together is to open a free account with IFTTT.  The acronym stands for “If This Then That,” a free service in which an action by one device (or service) can trigger one or more other devices.

IFTTT is very much like having a smart home hub in the cloud, and it’s widely supported—and not just by smart home products and services.  IFTTT is super simple to use: You just create what’s called an applet by going to the IFTTT website and then pointing and clicking on the service or device you wish to use as a trigger (the this in If This Then That).

It links them to your IFTTT account, and then you point and click on the service or device you wish to act when that trigger is activated.  If you want to give it a try, the IFTTT site includes thousands of pre-made applets that you might find useful. One, for example, will trigger your Philips Hue smart bulbs to flash when a timer you set on an Amazon Echo runs out.

Ready to being? Let’s get you started…

This is a great guide to home security and smart home functionality.  It is packed full of prioritized information, products and “know-how” to point you in the right direction.  I have listed reliable and best priced smart home components in the order that most people will go about installing them.  There is no hard and fast rule.

Effort has been provided here to give you Links, Images, and best deals on quality products for your new Smart Home.  This is a perfect platform for you to do your research/home-work on for your upcoming project(s) relating to your Smart Home.

If you think installing a smart smoke detector is more of a priority than smart lighting, then go for it!  It’s all about what makes sense to you.  If you are going to make your home into a smart home, you will want to invest in a “Smart Home Hub” that will pull all these components together under a single user interface.

Make sure the components you purchase will work with one of the most common hubs: A Samsung SmartThings, or another system that can host third-party devices.  Much of the ultra-cheap, generic smart home gear you’ll encounter when shopping won’t give you what you need.  The hub manufacturers’ websites will inform you as to which devices each one will support.

Including such compatibility in your buying criteria today, will maximize the value of your initial smart home investments down the road.

Click on these links below to get the best deals:

This Guide to turning your home into a smart home is the beginning of your journey.  Prioritize your “needs” and leave your “wants” for later.  Do you a need home security system first?  Or, would you prefer the easy to use assortment of gadgets for a smart home?  Either way, they are all fun especially when you DIY.

I look forward to your comments and questions.

 

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Comments

  1. Jen Bree says:

    Great article again Brian. I did not know about IFTTT. I got the google nest hub, still in the box given to me as a gift, your article reminded me about it. Thank you! I need to set it up soon. I’m planning to replace our old thermostat as it’s been acting act lately. Smart thermostats sound really good. I’ll check it out.

    • Brian says:

      Good to hear. Your right, so many appliances can connect to your hub. You’ll have fun with it. And, you can add appliances as you see the need. Thanks for reading!

  2. Justin C says:

    Hi Brian. I have a couple of Ring products as security at my home now but was thinking about getting something a more comprehensive for the whole house. This guide has really helped me out and informed me of my options. Great guide and thanks for sharing!

    • Brian says:

      Thanks Justin, glad you got something out of it. Ring is my favorite. I love the fact that I can keep on adding on to what I have – even accepts third party smart home devices. It makes my life easier.

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