If you answered YES to our question in our previous article, “Are you ready for the smart home?” , then you’re now ready to start shopping the devices that will turn your home into one.
As we defined in the aforementioned article, “‘Smart Home’ is the term commonly used to define a residence that has appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, entertainment audio & video systems, security, and camera systems that are capable of communicating with one another and can be controlled remotely by a time schedule, from any room in the home, as well as remotely from any location in the world by phone or internet,” according to Smart Home USA. Or, simply put, “a smart home can mean any device or appliance connected to the internet that you can control using a smartphone or whose function you can automate,” defines Tom’s Guide, a tech reviews website.
So what are the appliances and systems that will get you started in turning your home “smart”? Check out the general list below, most of which are suggested by Tom’s Guide, and start checking your local appliance or tech store for brands and versions that are available (for the best brands, according to Tom’s Guide.
One of the first and simplest smart home devices you can start with is smart lighting. Besides being easy to control with your smartphone, smart lighting can help you save on electricity. A smart lighting system can help you set schedules for when to turn lights on and off, and all smart lights are LED, which consume less energy. Some even have built-in dimmers. Pair your smart lighting with a smart light switch, which can help you control several bulbs all at once, i.e. dim bulbs to different levels—all with the use of your smartphone or other smart home devices. You may just need the help of an electrician to install this.
2. SPEAKER + VOICE CONTROL SMART HOME SYSTEM
More than just for playing music, what’s cool about a smart speaker is how it lets you command your gadgets by speaking into it. You don’t even need your smartphone to do this for you. It can even give you information, like the weather, the latest news, and recipes. You can even use it to read you audiobooks, order delivery, and purchase items online using your voice.
Popular brands of smart speakers, or voice control smart home devices https://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-smart-home-gadgets,review-2008.html, are Amazon Echo/Alexa, the first in the market, which boasts of more third-party features and works with the most number of smart home devices; Google Assistant/Home, a personal assistant/speaker/home control system which can do other things Echo/Alexa can’t, like control Chromecast TVs, and constantly adds new third-party partnerships; and Apple HomeKit/Siri.
3. HOME HUB
Another starter smart home essential, a smart home hub will allow you to automate a lot of processes in your home in one central system—if you don’t already have a smartphone or voice command speaker that do this for you. It lets you control several smart home devices that you wouldn’t be able to integrate otherwise. You can turn the lights on, change the temperature, play music, and lower window blinds all at once, the moment you unlock your door when you arrive home at night. One popular brand is the Samsung Smartthings Hub, which can communicate with a wider range of other smart home devices.
You want an even simpler, easier, and more inexpensive way to turn your existing home appliances “smart”? Get a smart plug or switch, which you can connect to a lamp to control it from your smartphone, even while you’re away. You can also set schedules for the plugs to turn appliances connected to them on and off, and link them to other smart home devices like Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit.
This smart home device lets you remotely control the temperature in your home using your smartphone. Paired with remote sensors, it can help you heat or cool any room or your entire home to the right temperature, thereby also saving you heating and cooling costs in your electricity bill.
6. UNIVERSAL REMOTE
Do you find it such a hassle—not to mention too much clutter—to have several remote controls for your various entertainment devices, like the TV, speakers/stereo, cable box, DVD player, AndroidTV device, and more? Then just get this one device to control them all. Some universal remotes can even let you control other smart home devices, like lights and thermostat. Meanwhile, some can be linked to voice control smart home systems like Alexa to let you change channels and more using voice commands.
7. ROBOT VACUUM
The best perk you get from a robot vacuum is how it can get to places you can't, like under beds or dressers. And yes, they usually perform as well as your regular vacuum, picking up all sorts of dust, dirt, pet hair, and food crumbs. Some brands can also be paired with smart home systems like Alexa, Google Home, and Samsung's SmartThings.