We’ve all seen it: we’re watching some futuristic movie, the main character has just gotten home, and they say something like, “Pull up the video from Morgan.” All of a sudden, their television is playing the video they asked for.
It’s pretty cool, but it’s the stuff of science fiction… right?
It turns out that scenes like this are a lot closer to reality than you might think. That character has a smart home, and while modern smart homes might not be able to do everything the movies can, they can do more than you might think.
You might be wondering, “What is a smart home?” That’s a question a lot of people have been asking this year. Keep reading for a handy guide to smart home basics.
What is A Smart Home?
At its most basic level, a smart home is a home that has devices connected to the internet. These devices form something called the Internet of Things, or IoT for short.
The Internet of Things is what makes a smart home work. Internet-enabled objects use sensors or cameras to record information. That information is then uploaded and shared to other IoT devices on your network.
What this does is allow your devices to respond to things like voice commands or motion. Your smart home might have motion-sensing lights, for instance, or a speaker that plays music you request.
Often, you can control most of your IoT devices from a single place, such as your smartphone. It’s like a remote control, but for… well, just about everything in your house!
If you’re worried about your phone getting lost or stolen, consider using a wall-mounted tablet instead. Tablet mounts are a simple, affordable way to improve your smart home!
IoT devices need an internet connection to function properly. In addition to a wi-fi connection, they often utilize the cloud; this has both benefits and drawbacks, which we’ll discuss more later.
Smart Home Assistants
If there’s one aspect of smart homes that almost everyone is familiar with these days, it’s smart assistants. These are virtual ‘helpers’ like Alexa or Cortana.
These assistants usually come in the form of speakers. They can hear your voice commands and questions, respond to you, play music you request, and more.
There are literally dozens of different kinds of smart home assistants on the market today. It can be difficult to choose the right one for your smart home. Before buying one, make sure it’s compatible with your other IoT devices.
Smart assistants are the first thing most people think of when they think of smart homes. They’re the device you talk to, and that talks back. They can control many other smart devices.
In other words, the smart assistant is the ‘face’ of a smart home. They are far from the only device a smart home should use, though.
Types of Devices
A home is only as smart as the devices inside it. So, what kind of devices can you bring to your smart home? The answers are practically endless.
Smart lights offer you the ability to turn your lights on or off without even being in the room. How often are you comfy in bed when it suddenly hits you that you forgot to turn the kitchen light off? Not a problem with smart lights!
Smart lights also offer a huge range of color options. Many of them are dimmable and can adjust their color at your request. Best of all, they often last much longer than regular bulbs.
Smart thermostats are another key component of a smart house. They make it simple for you to set your desired temperature on the fly.
They also have sensors that can tell if no one’s home, or even if you’re sleeping. This lets them adjust their output and, ultimately, save you money!
Smart cameras are a popular addition to many smart homes. Doorbell cameras are increasingly common; they monitor your front door, allowing you to catch anyone tampering with packages or otherwise misbehaving.
There are other great home security options for smart homes, too, such as smart alarms and smart locks. There are even things like smart smoke detectors that can alert you to issues when you aren’t home!
Cost of A Smart Home
At this point, you’re probably looking for the catch… and it seems obvious what that catch might be. Setting up a smart home must be terribly expensive, right?
Nope! Smart homes are surprisingly affordable.
It’s true that some devices, such as a smart thermostat, may cost you a few hundred dollars. On the other hand, that same thermostat will save you money by running your heating and cooling more efficiently.
The same could be said for smart lights. The initial cost is higher, yes, but factor in the energy efficiency and the fact that you won’t need to replace them as often. They practically pay for themselves!
What about smart assistants? As the focal point of a smart home, you might expect them to carry a heavy price tag. The truth is, most of them don’t even crack $100.
Even the more expensive options are usually bundled with other great smart devices, like lights or doorbell cameras.
Smart Home Security
There’s one other aspect of smart homes that concern some people: security. Not home security; you’ve already seen how smart homes can improve that. It’s digital security that you need to think about.
As mentioned earlier, many IoT devices are connected to both wi-fi and the cloud. While many wi-fi connections are quite secure, the cloud can be a bit more vulnerable.
While this might sound scary, there’s no need to panic. Security is a priority for most major producers of smart products, so as long as you’re buying from trusted sources, you don’t have too much to worry about.
On top of that, there are lots of simple steps you can take to improve the security of your smart home network.
Upgrade Your Home
Now that we’ve answered the question “what is a smart home,” it’s clear to see how beneficial they are. Smart homes offer huge quality-of-life benefits for a reasonable price.
So, what are you waiting for? Start setting up your smart home today! Pick out a smart assistant, grab some LED bulbs, and give your home the upgrade it deserves!