We’re at a point where you’ve likely heard a lot about smart home technology, and you may have a general understanding of what the term means. At the same time, it can be overwhelming to know where to start in terms of choosing smart home technology equipment and then setting it all up to work well together.
The following is a beginner’s guide to smart home technology and what to know if you’d like to get started.
What Is a Smart Home?
If you’ve heard the term smart home, you might not necessarily know exactly what it means. The reality is, there isn’t one specific definition of a smart home. It used to be a term used a lot in high-end real estate in custom homes that had technology-based features built-in. Now, however, smart home technology is more affordable and accessible than in the past, and smart homes are available to almost anyone who’s interested in having this kind of technology.
If it had to be given a definition, it would basically just be using certain devices that are connected with one another and communicate with one another, and that you can manage from your smartphone or mobile device.
The Different Types of Equipment
There are different general categories of equipment to be aware of. The most commonly used types of smart home technology equipment are smart lighting, speakers, thermostats, home security cameras, and audio systems that work in multiple rooms of a home.
The following is a brief overview of each:
- Smart lighting is a really good starting point if you’re interested in smart home technology but aren’t sure where to start. You don’t necessarily need any kind of central hub for smart lighting to work, and most lighting systems are flexible enough to work with other components of a system. What a lot of people do as their entry point to smart home living is connect their lighting system to their smart speaker. For example, you can link the control of lighting to your Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker.
- Smart thermostats can be another good place to start your endeavor into smart home living. Smart thermostats can help you save money and keep a comfortable home.
- Home security cameras can help you monitor your home, particularly when you’re away. There are indoor options that you can use to monitor babysitters or teens, and there are outdoor options as well. Some cameras will integrate with doorbells, so you will know who’s standing there before you go to the door and you may be able to interact with them as well.
- Multi-room audio systems include speakers such as Sonos. These systems let you put speakers in different rooms, stream music, and you can listen to the same thing in every room or something different.
While these are the main components of smart home systems, there are also other options like smart smoke and carbon dioxide monitors and even smart irrigation systems.
The Smart Home Ecosystem
If you want a smart home, you can try individual brands and gadgets, or you can choose what’s sometimes called a smart home ecosystem. The most popular of these are Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit.
When you choose an ecosystem, rather than going with all individually-branded smart home components, it makes it easier to choose products for your system because you know what’s compatible and what’s not.
How Do You Choose the Best Devices for Your Needs?
The following are some things to keep in mind as you’re choosing devices.
First, know how tech-savvy you are and what you’re comfortable with. If you’re not very comfortable with technology, keep it pretty simple. Then, you’ll have to think about your budget. Prices can vary quite a bit on this kind of technology. Devices can be very inexpensive all the way up to high-end and pricey. A lot of people who are just starting will wade into the smart home pond with less expensive components and then go up from there as they get more comfortable.
You are going to have to think about your needs and preferences as well. You may not care very much about something like smart speakers to play music in different rooms of your home, but on the other hand, you might care a lot about security.
Finally, before you make any purchases, research the products thoroughly. Even big brands have products that don’t necessarily have great reviews.