Get started with smart home technology

Jeff Peterson
Jeff Peterson
Published on August 13, 2021

Whether it’s trying to remember to turn on the porch light at night or the constant fiddling with the thermostat in your home, the day will come when you’ll decide once and for all, to look into all the hoopla of a smart home.

You’ll soon learn that not only does a connected smart home offer convenience, but, if done right, it can save you money too. Want to learn more? Check out my tips for the three must-haves to get your home on the road to becoming smarter.

Start with a hub

A smart home hub is the boss of all the connectivity devices you add to your smart home, controlling each one according to your parameters. You can choose from a wide range of smart home hubs, from budget to ultra- expensive.

My go-to review site, TomsGuide.com, chose several hubs that they claim are the best of the best for 2021:

My personal choice is the Google Home hub.  We have a main Google Home in our kitchen and then in every room of the house, we have a Google Home Mini.  In addition to this, we have the Google/Nest wifi mesh system to allow our internet access to work great, in every room of our smart home.

Now that you have the hub, it’s time to decide what else you’d like to add to your smart-home arsenal.

No more hitting switches

If you’re like a lot of consumers, you bought or were given a smart home speaker, such as the Echo, with Alexa built in.

While getting weather and news reports, lullabies for the kids and reminders for you are some of the conveniences Alexa offers, she (and other voice assistants) is capable of so much more in giving you a smart home.

So, which smart home gadget do most people buy first?

The smart plug. It’s inexpensive and versatile. While the experts at TomsGuide.com recommend the Wemo WiFi Smart Plug, those at PCMag.com suggest the Wyze Plug.

Plug the smart switch into a wall outlet and use Apple, Alexa’s or Google Home Assistant’s app to control whatever you plug into it. For instance, we have a friend who uses hers to turn on and off the grow light over her vegetable seedlings in early spring.

Plug a lamp into it and then tell Google to turn it off or on, at a given time each day. “It’ll let you automate anything you plug into it — lamps, desk fans, crock pots, space heaters, you name it,” says CNET.com’s Ry Crist.

Security

Another popular beginner smart home gadget is some sort of security product.

TomsGuide.com highly recommends the Arlo Q security camera, “… which is one of the best smart home devices designed for giving you peace of mind.”

The doorbell cams are big sellers and usually one of the first smart home purchases, besides the smart plug. Connected to the internet, the systems allow the user to monitor their homes from any smart device.

Video doorbells such as Nest Hello get the nod from TomsGuide.com while the folks at CNet.com choose Arlo Essential Video Doorbell.

On a budget? Check out Ring Video Doorbell Wired, “The cheapest Ring video doorbell — with some compromises,” according to the review at TomsGuide.

Smart home door locks follow close on the heels of the security cameras in popularity. Lock or unlock doors remotely and you can choose to access your home either keyless or with keys (depending on brand).

Speaking of brands, the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock is hands-down the experts’ favorite.

Set up a “scene,” and your voice assistant can put all of these elements together. For instance, say “Hey Google, goodnight” and she’ll dim the lights, ensure the thermostat is where you want it while you sleep, and lock the door.

It doesn’t get more convenient than that and now you have a smart home!

So what smart home features do I personally have at my house (currently)?

  • Google Home Hub
  • (I believe) 12 Google Minis
  • Smart Internet Mesh
  • Smart Doorbell
  • Multiple Cameras with Night Vision Inside and Outside the House
  • Smart Garage Door Remotes
  • Smart Thermostats
  • Smart Door Locks
  • Every Light in our House is a Smart Light Bulb
  • Smart Speakers
  • Smart TV’s
  • Smart Ceiling Fans
  • Smart Wall Plugs
  • Smart Alarms
  • Smart Pool Equipment
  • Smart Sprinkler System
  • Smart Wife That Figured it All Out!
  • Backup Contingencies if the Power or Internet go Out

 

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