What is a smart home? Well, it’s a home with Internet integration, and the technology has come a long way in the last few years. In a smart home, you can use your computer, phone, tablet, or voice commands to control appliances, lights, the AC, the security, and much more. We covered smart homes several years ago, but since technology has advanced so much, time has come to revisit the topic.
There’s so much you can control using smart home technology, in fact, that we can’t cover it all here. So, we’ve chosen six smart home components to focus on. Upgrading your place in this fashion can be expensive, so compare prices and options before you dive in.
You can do some simple enhancements, or more advanced, depending on your needs, what you can afford, and what you’re comfortable with.
It makes little sense to mention anything else before we explain this. A smart hub is the control center for devices in your smart home. You can control it via voice, a control panel, your tablet, phone, or computer, but the hub itself sends commands to all or most of your home devices.
A few are worth mentioning by name. These include Amazon Alexa with Amazon Echo. The Echo works as a voice input device and speaker, so you and the Alexa system can talk. The Alexa system itself uses your commands to control various devices in your home. Another good option is Logitech Harmony Elite, which allows you to control things via buttons, rather than with your voice if that’s what you prefer.
Most areas of the U.S. see hot summers and cold winters, so we all know how important AC and heating are. We’re used to getting up to adjust the thermostat, but smart environmental control makes that a bit easier, enabling you to adjust the temperature by voice or phone. Imagine cooling your house down at night before you leave work so it’s nice and comfortable when you arrive.
Systems to control the environment include the Ecobee Smart Thermostat with Voice Control, which works with Alexa. There’s also the Next Learning Thermostat, a wifi device that lets you control heating and cooling via your tablet or smartphone.
Maybe you want to make sure the lights are off in your children’s room when they’re supposed to be in bed, or perhaps you’d like to adjust the color and level of lighting during the evening to make sleep easier. These days, there are systems that can handle that.
The Phillips Hue is an excellent choice. This smart system connects to your hub and lets you control all your home lights, even changing their colors. If you don’t need color-changing lights, consider the cheaper Hue White instead.
There are so many smart appliances that we won’t mention any specifics here, but we will cover types. You can find smart coffee tables with built-in refrigerators that also play music. There are cookers that will warm up meals for you before you get home, and microwaves that connect to Alexa and take voice commands.
On the more expensive end are smart refrigerators that detect what’s inside, help you keep track of ingredients, suggest recipes, and tell you when food has expired. There are even smart ovens, smart clothes washers and dryers, and smart dishwashers, all of which can be controlled via wifi.
Remember in Back to the Future Part II and the door that could be unlocked using a thumbprint? Well, we have that technology now. Typically, though, these keyless smart locks use either a wifi code to open them or code on a keypad. Three such systems are the August Smart Lock Pro, the SimpliSafe Smart Lock and Pen Pad, and the Google Next. Unlock your door remotely for guests, or simply punch in a five or six-digit code to get into your home without having to carry around an extra key.
The next smart home feature goes along perfectly with smart locks.
At last, we come to smart doorbells and smart cameras. Smart doorbells, or video doorbells, attach to your front door and include a camera that allows you to see who is at your front door from any of your connected devices. They’re becoming quite popular, and you’ve probably seen them for sale at department stores. One option is the Ring Video Doorbell Pro, a smart doorbell w/ 1080p video.
For your front door or anywhere around your home, there are also smart security cameras. Good options include the Arlo Ultra system, which is wireless, streams, and records in 4K, has motion tracking, and each camera has a 180-degree field of view. A cheaper option is the Wyze Cam Pan. This camera has motion and sound detection, time-lapse recording, and free cloud storage.
We hope you find this information helpful when upgrading your home. We also encourage you to do your own research and to look up other smart home devices so you can find solutions that work for you.