June 17, 2024

A Beginners Guide to Smart Home Devices

The smart home has many benefits that can save time and money. However, new tech can be intimidating for beginners.

One big concern is whether devices work well together — not all smart tech speaks the same language. To help, choose devices that can connect to an app and set up routines or automations that streamline your day.

1. Smart Speakers

If you’re looking to get into smart home devices, a smart speaker can be an inexpensive way to start. You can control music, the thermostat, lights and more with just a voice command.

Some models also offer personal organization, like message dictation, calendar updates and reminders. They can even translate languages and answer general questions, such as the weather forecast or the solution to a math problem.

2. Smart Lighting

Smart lighting is a popular entry point into the smart home because it’s easy to install, works with most voice control assistants, and integrates well with other devices. Look for features like away mode that randomly turns lights on and off to make your house appear occupied when you’re away.

Also, look for bulbs that support Matter for improved compatibility with other devices.

3. Smart Locks

Smart locks let you add guest access codes for dog walkers, cleaning crews or other service providers. They can also integrate with voice assistants and other third-party devices, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home.

Look for a lock that uses your home Wi-Fi or a dedicated bridge to communicate with your smartphone and other devices. That will give you the most control and integration options.

4. Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats use remote sensors and advanced processors to understand how you heat and cool your home. They let you control the temperature from anywhere using your smartphone and provide analytics for better energy savings.

Smart home technology can help you save money, live more sustainably and improve your lifestyle. However, integrating all these devices can be tricky. You will also need to keep up with security updates.

5. Smart Plugs

Adding smart plugs to your home can turn any electrical device into one that’s controlled remotely. Look for plugs that offer a user-friendly app with flexible scheduling and timer options and are compatible with your voice assistant of choice.

Smart plugs that use Zigbee or Z-Wave protocols may require a hub or bridge for connectivity, but this can enhance the reliability and efficiency of your smart home setup.

6. Smart Switches

A smart home requires devices that work together and can be controlled with one app or voice command. For a starter set, choose from the three major smart home ecosystems-Amazon Echo with Alexa, Google Nest with the Assistant and Apple HomePod with Siri.

Smart switches can automate lights and appliances and integrate with other devices for a more convenient lifestyle. They can even schedule routines to turn on lighting and play music as you wake up or adjust the thermostat before you arrive home.

7. Smart Sensors

Smart sensors can monitor and control a home’s temperature, lighting, appliances, blinds and more. They can also help homeowners save money on their energy bill and live more sustainably.

These matchbox-sized devices detect ambient conditions and send alerts to a smartphone. They often require use of a branded hub and can include features like motion detection and water leak monitoring. They also typically include a digital processor that performs onboard data conversion and digital signal processing.

8. Smart Cameras

Smart cameras are a great way to monitor your home or business. Look for ones that have scheduling features and support an automation service like IFTTT.

You can also find smart cameras that offer night vision, two-way audio and cloud storage. They can also be linked to your lights so that they automatically turn on and off, giving criminals fewer places to hide.

9. Smart Doorbells

Whether you’re curled up on the couch with your pup or working from home during your lunch break, a smart doorbell can help keep your home safe. These internet-connected devices ring like a regular doorbell and can also send activity alerts or let you talk to visitors with two-way talk from your phone.

Wired models are available that can be hardwired into your existing chime or use batteries. Some have cloud storage for added security.

10. Smart Accessories

It’s also smart to look for smart devices that work with analog backups in case your internet or power goes out. And be sure your WiFi is strong enough to handle the data-sharing required by smart devices.

Remember, you don’t need to build out your tech-enhanced dream home all at once. Start with a few key devices and add more as your budget allows.

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