The future is here, and even if it’s not quite the Jetsons-esque utopia some might have envisioned, there are a lot of ways to use modern technology to improve our lives. This includes creating a smart home.
But what is a smart home? The answer to that varies depending on what you’re looking to get out of your experience. In simplest terms smart home technology is about using automation to improve your home life. This can be as simple as having a digital assistant to play tunes, restock on household supplies, and help you keep track of your hectic life. Or as complicated as fully automating lights, thermostats, and even your kitchen appliances.
Why would you want a smart home? Not sure if a smart home is even right for you? There are many reasons to consider making your home a bit smarter including convenience, saving money, and more. We have a great guide that helps you answer whether a smart home is even right for you which you can find here.
Of course, you don’t need to buy everything in the store to automate your lair. Here’s what to consider when starting your own smart home.
Getting started: smart speaker, hub, or both
While it’s entirely possible to have a few lightbulbs and other smart home accessories that are controlled solely by your smart phone, it makes for a pretty cumbersome experience. To make the most out of your smart home experience you’ll want to have some kind of central hub that easily controls it all.
There are a few ways to go about it.
The smart speaker route: Today’s smart speakers make it easy to link up a variety of different smart home accessories that you can then easily control with your voice. Depending on how complicated your setup is, you might even get away with only using your phone and smart speaker to control your entire smart home experience. There plenty of smart speaker options on the market, so for more on buying the right one you’ll want to check out our smart speaker guide.
The smart hub route: A smart hub allows to easily integrate a bunch of smart accessories and control them from a single app. This is much easier than having dozens of apps on your phone for each smart accessory in your home. Of course there’s an even better solution. For more on picking the right smart home, check out our smart hub buyer’s guide.
Pairing a smart hub and smart speaker: While you don’t necessarily have to have a smart speaker and a smart hub, it typically is the most flexible choice allowing almost any smart device to play nicely with your newly created smart home.
What to connect to your smart home setup
So you bought that shiny new smart speaker, hub, or picked up both. Now your house is magically smart and does everything on its own, job done. Okay, that’s not exactly how it works. You’ll need the right smart home devices to take advantage of your new smart home setup.
So what can you connect to your smart home setup? The sky is the limit, but here’s a few places to get your started:
Smart bulbs: Smart lights are probably one of the simplest ways to make your home smart. After all, it’s as easy as screwing in a light bulb. They are also extremely renter friendly, unlike installing a smart thermostat or putting in a brand new smart stove. There are a number of options, so check out our best smart light guide for more details.
Smart outlets: Smart plugs are extremely versatile, allowing you to control almost any device with your phone or smart speaker. This includes stuff like Christmas Trees, a wall AC, or really anything you can think of. They are also pretty affordable. Learn more about smart plugs here.
Smart thermostats: There are a growing number of smart thermostat options on the market, though the best known options are made by Nest. A smart thermostat not only can make your house more comfortable, it can save you money through long-term savings in energy costs. For more on smart thermostats check out our guide.
Smart coffee makers: Who doesn’t like a nice cup of Joe? A smart coffee maker can have your coffee ready to go the moment you wake up, but it’s so much more than that. Some models can let you set up specific temperature ranges and other customizations that just aren’t possible with old school coffee makers. Think a smart coffee maker would be right for you? Check out our best smart coffee maker guide.
Smart locks: Smart locks can let you issue one time access codes to friends and families, automatically open for you if they detect your paired smart phone, and more. Be sure to check out our guide to the best smart locks. On a related note, be sure to check out our guide to the best smart doorbells.
Smart security cameras: Modern smart security cameras allow you to check on your house, pet, or family members anywhere you have access to the web. There are a bunch of different options at a variety of price points. Be sure to check out the best smart security camera options here.
Robotic vacuums: Never vacuum again. Or at least only when you’re doing a super detailed spring cleaning. Neato and Roomba are two of the most notable brands, but there are plenty out there with prices ranging from as little as $200 to well over $1000. Be sure to check out our best robotic vacuums guide.
Smart blinds: Are smart blinds an absolute must have? No, probably not. Still, if you have large bay windows, being able to say “Ok, Google – open my blinds” is more than a little awesome. Be sure to check out our smart blinds guide.
Smart alarm clocks: An alarm clock isn’t exactly a must-buy in 2018, that’s what a smart phone is for after all! Believe it or not, some folks still use old school alarm clocks though. Even better? Smart alarm clocks that can do a lot more than simply wake you up. Want to know more? Head here.
Smart kitchen tech: The kitchen is a great place to use technology to upgrade the experience. Smart stoves, smart microwaves, and even smart refrigerators are just a few of your options. Learn more by checking out our smart kitchen tech guide.
Smart bathroom tech: Yes, even your bathroom isn’t safe from the smart home revolution: smart mirrors, smart toothbrushes, shower speakers, and even smart shower controls are all things now. What else is out there? Click here to find out.
That’s just scratching the surface. A smart home can be a simple or as complicated as you want it. Have more ideas for transforming your home into a 21st century marvel? Let us know about them in the comments below!