Are you dreaming of self-dimming lights and hand-held access to security cameras? This guide on how to set up a smart home is for you. Not too long ago, smart homes were for cartoon space families. They were common in movies where the rich show off their pricey futuristic possessions.
But with technological advancements, you can now automate your home, provided you have a smartphone. However, with numerous smart-home products on the market, setting up a smart home can seem overwhelming. The first step in setting up a smart home is determining how smart you want your home to be.
Not everyone likes a fully linked smart home. Some homeowners only want to control lights from their phones remotely. In contrast, others want full appliance automation, lighting, and a home security system. Before commencing this project, look at the products available to determine which elements align with your interests.
Keep reading to learn more about a smart home.
What Is a Smart Home?
A smart home is a convenient home setup where devices and appliances can be controlled remotely from anywhere with a reliable internet connection using a smartphone or other networked device. Devices in a smart home are interconnected via the internet, letting you control functions like security access to the house.
One home automation system can control door locks, thermostats, refrigerators, and more. The system is downloaded on a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other networked device, and you can create time schedules for specific changes to take effect.
Smart home appliances have self-learning skills to learn your schedules and adjust as necessary. Smart homes with lighting control can reduce your electricity use, saving you money that would otherwise end up catering to high electricity bills.
Here are examples of smart home technologies:
- Smart TVs
- Smart lighting systems
- Smart thermostats
- Smart door locks and garage door openers
- Smart security cameras and systems
- Smart kitchen appliances
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Smart Home?
With a smart home, you can automate functions like monitoring water use and energy while enjoying benefits such as saving money on energy bills. This enhances your home security and increases your home’s resale value.
However, this convenience comes at a cost. The cost to build a smart home varies depending on the devices you choose, the size of your home, the brand you choose, package options, labor, and your preferences. Some brands are more expensive than others, so search for one that aligns with your budget.
For a comprehensive smart home setup, including smart thermostats, lights, security cameras, and more, you might be looking at an estimated cost ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. For those on a budget, you can build a smart home for less than $1,500, but remember that this won’t include high-end smart home devices.
How to Build a Smart Home
Gone are the days when smart homes were considered science fiction. Today, the competition among manufacturers to make affordable smart home devices available to consumers has become fierce. That’s a huge plus for those seeking to make their home smarter for convenience, energy efficiency, or accessibility.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to build a smart home:
- Select your desired ecosystem for controlling your smart home.
Amazon Alexa. Google Home. Apple Homekit. These names are familiar to those considering installing a smart-home system. Although there are numerous smart-home systems, these are the big names in the industry. However, that’s not to say you’re limited to products labeled as Alexa, Google, or Apple.
Wondering which ecosystem will massage your home’s interest? First, consider devices already working in your house. Is it an iPhone, or do Alexa-enabled devices exist throughout the house? If you have Android devices or spend most of your time in the Google arena for work, choose Google Home.
Apple Homekit is an excellent choice for those with iPhones or Mac computers. The Homekit software is integrated into most devices or easily downloaded. And like most Apple apps, the software is user-friendly.
Amazon Alexa has the broadest range of device compatibility among the platforms and the biggest availability of third-party apps that can be incorporated into the smart-home system. However, it’s worth noting that Amazon rejects any responsibility for third-party apps used with the platform. So, unless you intend to stick exclusively with Amazon products, this can be a security gap.
- Buy your desired smart-home devices and ensure they are compatible with your system.
For most homeowners and renters alike, the entry point to a smart home is only one or two devices: a doorbell camera, a smart speaker, or a smart plug adapter to switch on the lights in a dark room. Committing to a complete smart home involves deciding how much automation you want, placement choices, and scheduling.
- Smart lighting
Smart lighting can be achieved by buying smart light bulbs, lighting fixtures, or a smart plug adapter that lets you switch the power to the light switch on and off. Smart lights enhance the home’s safety by automatically turning on and off when you are not around.
Additionally, you can program smart porch lights to turn on and off at different times daily. This feature adds security as it creates the impression that someone is manually turning them on and off.
- Smart thermostats
Smart thermostats can also do the same for your home’s HVAC system, remotely adjusting the HVAC equipment to increase or reduce your home’s temperature depending on whether or not you’re around and the temperature outside or inside the house.
Even better, they can activate an alarm if the HVAC system malfunctions, endangering pipes or pets. Mapping HVAC temperatures makes your home more energy efficient.
You can connect a home energy monitor to a system and record the energy a specific device or outlet uses. The best home energy monitors allow you to monitor energy usage, resulting in significant energy savings by notifying you of energy-hogging appliances.
- Smart home security systems
When it comes to security, a smart home offers numerous options. Smart lighting can create an impression that the house is occupied when it isn’t. Indoor security cameras, outdoor cameras, and video doorbells allow you to monitor your home from the comfort of your location, whether on vacation or at work.
These devices can be integrated with a monitored home security camera system, enhancing home safety and reducing homeowners insurance premiums. Smart door locks and indoor cameras can help you feel secure at home. The option to permit temporary access to babysitters and repair people without giving them a key for permanent access is very convenient.
- Smart smoke detectors
While one might think that smart smoke detectors don’t have to be smart because their central role is to detect smoke and trigger an alarm, connecting these devices to a smart-home system has multiple benefits. If you are not at home, you won’t hear the alarm, but when a smart detector activates an alarm or alert on your smartphone, you can contact first responders immediately.
- Check your WiFi connection to ensure it can handle the smart-home devices.
Your home can have a strong WiFi signal at the router, but based on the home’s size and layout, more is needed to reach the far corners of the house. A powerful, consistent WiFi signal is needed throughout the space for your smart-home system to work as expected.
You can confirm this by walking around the home while holding a WiFi-connected device and examining the signal strength. Consider other options if the coverage is poor.
It’s crucial to ensure that the router supports a dual-band signal for 2.4GHz and 5GHz, as these are smart devices’ most commonly used bands.
- Connect your smart devices to your smart home hub.
Begin by setting up the hub. The method depends on the type of hub (phone app, speaker, etc.). Download the app, plug in the devices, and sift through the setup screens in the app. It’s easy to connect devices to the app. Even users who are unfamiliar with smart-home products or systems can connect.
Next, activate the devices through whichever proprietary app the manufacturer uses, meaning you should download those apps. The guidelines for this process are included in the package and are usually straightforward.
It would help to finish this step before attaching devices to their mounting locations. You do this because the setup in the app requires you to scan a code or insert a number printed somewhere on the device.
After setting up the devices, the connection method to the hub will depend on the platform. Those with Amazon Alexa can open the companion app, select Smart Home, and click “Find devices.” Apple Homekit works similarly by opening the Homekit app, clicking on the “+” in the upper-right corner, then selecting “Add Accessory.”
With the Google Home app, you must open the app, click the menu icon in the upper-left corner, tap “Home Control,” and then touch the “+” to add a device. Remember to test each device before installing it, which will be challenging to access if it needs reinstalling.
- Name the devices with a logical naming convention.
During the installation of the devices, you’ll be invited to name each device. This often requires careful thought, as any mistake can make it difficult to manage your smart home. Before starting the process, you should think through a naming protocol, whether the smart home only has one or more devices.
You can name each device starting with the room where it’s installed, followed by a description. For instance, “bedroom blue lamp.”
Note: If the voice-command hub is near a window or door, pick names only known to the household members. Doing so prevents perpetrators from calling, “Alexa, open the front door!” And entering the house.
- Put the devices in their respective locations.
After setting up the devices, connecting them, and naming them, please place them in their desired locations. Devices like thermostats require mounting brackets onto the walls and securing them. Others have to be set in place or plugged in. Once all units are in place, examine the device status in the smart-home app and ensure the signal strength is powerful.
- Group devices according to purpose for convenient control
After installing and connecting the devices, create groups by room or establish routines that make it convenient to make bulk adjustments. For example, “Good Morning” can be a routine that starts the coffee pot or turns on the exhaust fan in the bathroom. Other ways can be “I am Home” to switch on lights or start the oven preheating.
- Set up multifactor authentication to enhance privacy and security.
The main concerns when considering a smart-home system are safety and privacy. And rightly so; hackers who access your smart-home system have control over all the devices in the system. Thankfully, technology has fixed these issues with solid protections built into the hardware and software linked with the smart home.
Change the default password of the router, apps, and other devices. All passwords must be unique and hard to remember. If your device supports two-factor authentication, set it up immediately. This prevents unauthorized access as the system will call you or email a password before allowing a login. It’s best to use these integrated safety options to safeguard your home.
Although no system is impervious, using unique passwords and encryption will enhance your home’s safety.
Smart Home Installation (DIY vs. Professional Installation)
With the recent technological advancements in homes, the bridge between convenience and innovation has become apparent. Whether you do it yourself or hire an expert to give it a professional touch, here’s what you should know to ensure your smart home setup is flawless.
DIY vs. Professional Installation
- DIY Installation: Those who are tech-savvy and enjoy getting their hands on gadgets will find the DIY option handy. However, this option is time-consuming, requiring extra effort and tech know-how.
- Professional Installation: Professional installation provides a hassle-free experience. Professionals deal with the setup, ensuring all devices work flawlessly. It’s great for homeowners and renters who need reliability without the tech fuss.
Before choosing either option, consider the complexity of your project and your tech skills.
Troubleshooting Basic Issues When Building a Smart Home
Building a smart home is a huge step in streamlining your daily life. But as with other tech, you can experience some issues. Here’s how to address some common problems:
- Connectivity issues: Sometimes, smart home devices fail to connect to the internet. A quick fix to this is ensuring your device is near your WiFi box. If positioning it is difficult, purchase a WiFi extender. You can also switch the device and the router off and again to see if it works.
- Incompatibility between devices: Smart devices are engineered differently, so not all are compatible with the smart home ecosystem. Confirm whether your new device integrates with your smart home setup.
- Voice command not identified: Sometimes, voice assistants don’t recognize your requests. You can address this issue by training your voice assistant to recognize your voice. This option is available in your settings. Also, ensure there are no noises close to the device that may be interrupting the microphone.
- Automation rules not functioning: Double-check the automation rules if the tasks you set fail to start. Ensure all units involved in the automation are functioning. Test all the devices separately to determine if one of the units is the problem.
- Periodic maintenance: Regularly update your smart home control system’s firmware, software, and devices to increase output. Also, dust and clean sensors and cameras to ensure everything functions as expected. Lastly, change passwords to keep hackers from invading your privacy.
How Do I Convert My Normal Home to a Smart Home?
As the world is heading towards new technology to make life convenient, many individuals have adopted different ways to transform their homes. Here are various ways to convert your home into a smart home:
- Install smart lights
Our relationship with lighting has existed for years. Switching lights on and off and on again. However, smart lighting changes everything as you can now control your lighting in a way that was previously feasible in sci-fi.
Use your smart device, like a mobile or laptop, to control the lights in your home from any location. While this seems like technology in the far future, it now exists and will remain so.
- Install smart locks
Smart locks are WiFi or Bluetooth-enabled smart home devices that allow you to lock and open doors with a voice command or fingerprint detection. With smart locks, you need not to be apprehensive about losing your keys. You can unlock the door to let your guests in even when you’re not at home.
With customizable options and features designed to give you control over what occurs in your house, smart locks have established a new home security experience. These innovative devices are more powerful than standard locks.
You should replace the old lock and the latch to install smart locks, but brand-specific installation guidelines can differ. Once you’re through, configure the device with the relevant app.
- Install a smart refrigerator.
A smart refrigerator is internet-connected and delivers multiple functions based on the model and brand you choose. Most smart refrigerators have a dedicated smart home app that can be downloaded on a phone or other networked device.
With the app installed, you can view updates on your fridge from anywhere. Internal cameras, flexible user-controlled cooling options, and remote access via a smartphone or laptop are all aspects of this innovative technology.
- Install smart speakers
Smart speakers can turn your ordinary home into a smart home. They can link with other smart home appliances or devices. In simple terms, you can link the speaker to your WiFi network, control it using a mobile app, and feed it audio files.
Smart speakers outshine their regular counterparts when it comes to features and functionality. For example, you can use voice commands to control the voice assistant, which is usually incorporated in modern smart speakers. They can use this to research online, establish reminders, and interact with different voice assistant features, including guidance.
- Install automatic gates
Automated gates have become more prevalent in modern times. These gates have electric motors and can be opened or closed with a dedicated phone app or remote. The gate is handy in critical situations, like when it’s raining, as you don’t need to get out of your car to open the gate.
Besides enjoying its security, residential and commercial buildings benefit from an automated gate in terms of ease. Some of the most popular styles of automatic gates include swing gates, trackless folding gates, and sliding gates. The model you pick is based on your preferences and your budget.
- Install smart switches
Smart switches are advanced digital gadgets that give your standard home tech-powered functionality. While they still function as regular light switches, they include incredible features like smart dimmer switch functionality, extra buttons for smooth control, and the ability to control other appliances.
- Purchasing a smart cleaner
Not so long ago, using a vacuum cleaner required manual labor, time, and upkeep, all of which can cause you to skip on the job. The process becomes even worse for those living alone. Thankfully, robot vacuum cleaners are the answer to these problems as they are stress-free and can clean and recharge by themselves.
How to Set Up a Smart Home
Smart homes are homes where different functions can be controlled by a phone app, voice assistant, or panel display. However, with various ecosystems, standards to navigate, and a diverse array of devices, putting it all together takes a lot of work.
Knowing how to set up a smart home can go a long way in making your everyday life easier. First, decide how smart you want your home to be and consider your budget. You don’t want to invest in devices that you’ll not use. Next, choose your desired ecosystem with which to control your smart home. The three common ones are Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple Homekit.
Lastly, buy your preferred smart home devices and ensure they are compatible with your chosen ecosystem. Connect these devices to your smart-home hub and name them using a logical naming convention. After that, install them in their desired location and group them by purpose for better control.