Smart Home – Beginners Guide

The future is now! And while we’re not quite at Jetsons level, we’re on track for the cartoons predictions of what life will look like in 2062!  We’ve got 42 years up our sleeves to get to the flying cars and robot maids named Rosie but there are a lot of ways to use modern technology to improve our lives at home already. But are you really ready for a smart home? How about ‘dipping your toe in’ with some basics?  

What is a smart home? 

Like anything scaleable the definition of a Smart Home varies from person to person, and what you’re looking to get out of your in-home tech experience. Basically smart home technology is about improving your home life using automation. A simple task like having a digital assistant to play your music, or set reminders that help you stay on top of your hectic schedule. Or as complicated as fully automating lighting to your personal preference when you enter the room, controlling the thermostat temperature through the day, and even activating your kitchen appliances.

But what are the real benefits of a smart home? 

Not sure if smart home technology is even something you want to dabble in?  Convenience, saving money, and making life a little easier are usually the main reasons most people consider making their home a bit smarter. 

If you’re going to bite the bullet, here’s where to start. 

Firstly, remember you don’t need to buy everything in the store to automate your household. To be fair it’s overwhelming and many of the Home Show team have opted to incrementally introduce smart home technology to their homes at their own pace. It’s not about getting everything at once, but if that is your style we applaud you for taking the plunge. We’ve seen our exhibitors introduce products over the years and we know what has become popular in our own lives. Here’s what we think you should consider when starting your own smart home… and not really in any particular order. 

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. Things to think about when you’re weighing up the options:

-The areas of the home you want to monitor, and how many you’ll need. 

-Is it Cloud based recording, and easy to use? Do you have to pay for the service or take on a subscription? Or is it a free cloud service included in the price? 

-Is simple to set up, or will you need specialist installers?

-We say read the product reviews!!! And ask friends with them what they recommend. 

arlo with phone

Smart locks:

To go along with camera security Smart locks are next on the list. You’ll never need to find a hiding spot in your garden to leave an extra key out! Functions will vary but we like the idea of being able to issue one time access codes to friends and family, and to set it to automatically open for you when you get home when it’s paired with your smartphone. You should get a professional to install and give you a run down on the features. 

Yale Smart home lock

Smart bulbs:

Smart lights are one of the easiest ways to introduce Smart tech to your home. Seriously ‘it’s as easy as screwing in a light bulb’. Unlike adding a smart thermostat or putting in a brand new smart appliance like an oven they are renter friendly. There are a number of options and features. Easily create a dimly lit environment to relax in. Or create party central during the weekend with options to produce flashes of different colours along to the music. It’s all possible with a smart bulb.

Smart home tech Party bulb

Smart outlets:

Smart plugs are extremely versatile, letting you control many devices with your phone or smart speaker. Great for festive holidays incorporating things like Christmas Tree lights and decorations, turning on fans or plug in AC units. There’s even options to give you a little extra security, by allowing you to automatically turn your lights on and off in a random pattern to make it seem like you are home even if you’re not. Great for holiday time! 

 

smart home plug

Smart thermostats & temperature controllers:

Increasing numbers of smart thermostat options are available on the market. A smart thermostat makes your home more comfortable automatically. And by setting a low power mode when you’re not there, it can save you money through energy cost savings. Again good for an extended period of time while you’re away from home.

Nest-Control

Smart coffee makers:

Wake up and smell the coffee! Sure you’ve been able to set timers in the past to have your coffee ready when your alarm goes off, but it’s so much more than that. Some models will let you set up temperature ranges specific to you, plus other customisations that old coffee makers just couldn’t do.

delonghi automatic coffee machine

Robotic vacuums:

Never vacuum again. Well, not the quick ‘whip around’ anyway.  If you’re doing a super full on spring clean you may need to be more hands on. Roomba is one of the most recognised brands, but there are plenty out there with prices ranging from a few hundred to well over $1000. 

Smart blinds:

Are smart blinds really a must have? Ummm no, not really. But, if you have large bay windows or bifold doors, being able to swipe the app or say “Ok, Google – open my blinds” is kinda cool and way easier. 

smart-motorized-blinds

Smart kitchen tech:

The kitchen is a good place to start using technology to enhance the cooking experience. Smart stoves, smart microwaves, and even smart refrigerators are just a few of your options. Most major brands have a smart appliances offering functions like warming up the oven when you are on the way home, right through to having fully integrated touch screens built into the refrigerator. 

smart-appliances-to-add-to-your-smart-home

Smart bathroom tech:

Yes, your bathroom hasn’t been left out of the smart home revolution: smart mirrors, smart toothbrushes, shower speakers, and even smart shower controls are all ‘things’ now. Create a bathroom sanctuary with a few touch screen swipes. 

smart-bathroom

Is it worth the set up and cost?

The price range for Smart Home tech is huge and there are price points that fit most budgets. Usually Companies claim that set up is simple, but if you’re not a ‘digital native’ you may need to make use of the friendly help-desks, downloadable instructions or a teenager in your life. Many companies offer services that will install and set up for you also.

Here are our top 3 benefits :

1. Control and convenience.

You can control everything in real time either from an app on your smartphone or tablet, or through a voice-controlled smart speaker. Smart home companies sell to idea of convenience – they’re aiming to make your life a little easier, or save you time on a regular basis.

2. Information.

Smart home gadgets give you easily accessible data on things like security – for example history of security camera feeds. Or, perhaps, what is in your refrigerator in real time, or what the battery life is and when you’ll next need to charge your tech.

3. Automation.

If you don’t want to manually control your home gadgets you can set up routines and rules. You can set up certain actions to happen after being triggered by things like you entering or leaving your home or sensors being activated.

 

Final thoughts from the Home Show team: 

A smart home doesn’t have to mean completely new and crazy gadgets or robots – though it can be done if you want to try for a Jetsons level household. In reality it just means replacing gadgets, appliances and accessories with connected or automated versions of a similar thing as and when you feel comfortable.”

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