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Getting Started with Smart Home Tech: A Beginner's Guide

By Ben ShepardsonSeptember 09, 2017
  • Smart home technology is no longer something that exists only in The Jetsons. Actually, it's existed for quite a while, and it's becoming increasingly affordable. And it's just a matter of time until every home in the country gets an IQ boost. If you're ready to venture into smart home technology for the first time, this guide is for you.

    Choosing a Nucleus

    Programmable lights that dim or turn off, hot water heaters that communicate with your smart device, doors that lock and unlock themselves - these things aren't possible without a central hub, or nucleus. Before you start purchasing smart appliances and fun gadgets, you need to choose how they will be controlled.

    You've got several options for your core nucleus. Amazon's Alexa-powered Echo and Echo Dot have surpassed more than 10 million units sold. Google's Home includes its hands-free assistant and is compatible with many of the top smart tech brands. Wink 2 Hub and Apple HomeKit connect to multiple devices via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and other methods, while Logitech offers the Harmony Elite remote control that lets you control devices with the push of a button.

    If you aren't sure which one to choose, consider the devices you'll be investing in to see which hubs will be compatible with your end goals.

    Select Your Smart Home Gadgets

    There are seemingly infinite options when it comes to smart home devices. From lights to thermostats to appliances to doorbells and sprinkler systems, you'll need to decide which areas of your home to transform.

    Some people choose to focus first on areas that will save them money, such as their heating bills or utilities. Philips Hue makes a good option if you're constantly forgetting to turn off lights. Thermostats like Honeywell's Lyric is easily commanded with Alexa and can help you save on energy usage.

    Others choose to invest big with a complete transformation. If you have the desire - and the budget - to go smart all at once, investing in a full smart home system can be more economical and reliable. This way, you have a complete set of components that were created to work together.

    Consider Expansion Opportunities

    If you're starting small and plan to build on your smart home capabilities, it's important you choose components with expansion possibilities in mind. Your initial purchases may limit what you can invest in later. It's helpful to choose devices that are compatible with others. Otherwise, you may find yourself later investing more than you planned in order for all your devices to function in harmony.

    However, incompatibility shouldn't be an automatic dealbreaker, especially if it saves you money and you're not missing out on any important features. For instance, if your security camera and thermostat don't talk to each other, you may be okay with your camera's geofencing not telling your thermostat to adjust the temperature when you're away. Oftentimes you can find workarounds, which may take a little extra time to set up but can ultimately give you similar results.

    Wrap Up

    Smart home technology isn't just the future - it's becoming a larger part of the present and will continue to grow in sophistication. Investing in smart home tech isn't a necessity, but once you experience its benefits you may wonder how you ever got along without it.

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