Converting Your House Into a Smart Home
The term smart home refers to homes that are connected through the Internet to help their inhabitants do everything from monitoring security cameras to heating and cooling their house remotely. With smart home technology, you can even use your smartphone or tablet to turn your kitchen lights on and off and adjust the temperature in your living room no matter where you are in the world! To convert your house into a smart home, follow these five steps.
The problem — you want to automate your home
If you want your lights to turn on at night, if you want your doors to unlock when you’re near, or if you want an alarm system that lets you know when there’s an intruder in your home, smart home automation is a great way to ensure your house is completely safe. However, while all of these capabilities might sound nice in theory (and they are!), how do you get started? With some equipment and some smarts devices, that's how! Here’s what you need to know about smart home automation. What is smart home automation? Think of it as just another form of technology the same way smartphones, computers, and even cars can be automated. In essence, it gives you control over devices in your home from a central location (typically your smartphone). This means that instead of having to walk around with different remotes for each device, such as for lighting or entertainment systems, everything can be controlled by one remote: yours. The benefits — convenience and safety: There are two main reasons why people automate their homes. The first is convenience; who doesn’t love being able to open their garage door from their car using a smartphone app? The second reason is safety; many people don’t realize how much extra security they could gain by automating their homes. Imagine being able to lock your doors remotely when you leave work late at night or knowing whether someone has broken into your home while you were away on vacation.
The tools — what do you need?
It doesn’t take a lot of fancy, expensive technology to create a smart home. Most of these tools can be easily acquired for under $200. In fact, there are plenty of tutorials out there for how to make smart home technology out of items that you probably already have in your house (e.g., MacGyver). You don’t need them all, but it helps give you an idea of what you might want in your smart home…or at least where you might start!. The most important thing is that you buy devices and systems that are compatible with each other. And while we didn’t list everything out here, Amazon has a great selection of inexpensive devices and kits that will help you get started. Here’s a quick rundown:
1) Lighting — Philips Hue Connected Bulbs ($199): Philips Hue connects directly to your WiFi network, allowing you to control lighting throughout your home from your smartphone or tablet device using the free Philips Hue app. You can even set schedules and timers for your lights so that they turn on and off automatically when you’re not at home. The starter kit comes with three bulbs and a wireless bridge that plugs into your router for easy setup.
Step 1 — The Wiring
if you’re planning on installing any smart home automation at all, you need to install network wiring throughout your house. The amount of wiring you require will depend on how much of your house you want to be wired; from there, it’s just a matter of budgeting time and money for your installation. For example, if you want to control lights in three rooms and outlets in two rooms (for lamps), that would take about 20 minutes of labor-but you would also have to run around 200 feet of the wiring through your walls. While that might not sound like a lot, it can be an expensive endeavor if you don’t know what you’re doing or if you hire someone who doesn’t know what they are doing.
Step 2 — Home Automation Platform
The first step in building your smart home is choosing which home automation platform will best suit your needs. There are several popular options on the market right now, including Wink, SmartThings, and Insteon. You can’t go wrong with any of these platforms, but they each differ in terms of features and price. We recommend starting out with one of these three options as it gives you a great foundation for building out your smart home. Once you’ve chosen a platform, move on to Step 3 below.
Step 3 — Device Types & Best Practices
This step is for you to identify some device types you’ll want in your smart home. Now that you know what accessories, services, and apps will be integrated, it’s time to think about which devices need to be included. Each category will have its own considerations when it comes to choosing which devices are best for your smart home setup. For example, lights can be controlled by switches or dimmers; thermostats can be controlled manually or automatically; cameras can record continuously or only when motion is detected; etc.
Step 4 — Set Up & Configuration
Now that you’ve identified your device types, there are several things to consider before starting out on your DIY smart home journey. While there are many pre-made kits available online, they may not include all of the items you want or they may not fit with your existing tech setup (i.e., some Z-Wave hubs require a neutral wire). In addition, each system has its own app for controlling various aspects of your smart home.
Step 5 — Programming Your System
It’s easiest to program your system through your smartphone or tablet. If you don’t have either of these devices, you can connect directly with Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomeKit products. Check to see if any devices work with your existing home-automation system before buying anything new. You might already have everything you need. The most important thing is that it works for you! To get started programming your smart home, select an automation service such as IFTTT (If This Then That) or Stringify and set up accounts. These services are free and easy to use and allow you to create recipes that will trigger specific actions when certain conditions are met. For example, turning on lights when motion is detected in a room. There are many different options out there depending on what types of devices you want to control, so take some time researching them before making any purchases.
Step 6 — Monitor & Control your smart home From Anywhere
When converting your home into a smart home, you’ll want to make sure you can control all of your devices from anywhere. So it’s important that whatever solution you choose allows for remote access and monitoring via an app or computer. There are dozens of free and paid smart-home apps available, such as Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, Amazon echo, and Insteon. you can check our blog post on smart window blinds that are compatible with Amazon Alexa. Whatever solution you decide on, we recommend sticking with one brand for maximum compatibility. (For example, if you buy a Nest thermostat but then try to connect it to your Wink hub.)
Step 7 — Troubleshooting Tips & Final Thoughts
There’s no one-size-fits-all method for troubleshooting problems. Here are some general tips to follow: First, don’t skip steps! Second, make sure you can connect your device and that it has power. Next, make sure you have an Internet connection (and check your data plan). Finally, try unplugging and waiting 10 seconds before plugging back in. If all else fails, contact customer support. It’s also important to remember that there is more than one way to do something on your computer or mobile device. If you find yourself stuck at any point during setup, do not hesitate to ask for help from someone who knows what they are doing-or search online for additional information.
Originally published at https://engineerxp.com on April 13, 2022.