What Is A Smart Home?
Have you ever thought about pimping out your home to make it function in a completely new – even radical – way? Do you want to make the most of modern technologies to automate many of the things you still do manually about your home? If so, you are not alone because there are increasing numbers of domestic devices that are designed to be connected to one another in ever smarter ways.
After all, it was not that long ago that the idea of purchasing a smart fridge that could let you know when you were running low on supplies and even place an order with your local supermarket on your behalf would have seemed like science fiction.
However, thanks to the internet of things (IoT), such smart appliances are already a reality in many homes. So, if you are thinking about how to make the. most of these sorts of technologies and go beyond the usual ones, such as streaming Netflix or Amazon Prime through your smart TV, then what are the sorts of applications you should be looking at?
Read our guide to the latest smart technologies that allow you to interact with your home in ever more sophisticated ways and think about how enabling such systems are. After all, when it comes to the smart home, people are only now waking up to the possibilities smart appliances offer.
Whether they are used on their own or in combinations with one another, the things you can think of doing are virtually limitless. Want to pimp out your home? Here are a few ideas to get you started…
Wireless Security Systems and Home Surveillance
To begin with, let’s look at one of the most popular ways that homeowners deploy smart technologies in their properties today – Wifi Smart Security Systems. Of course, home security is nothing new. After all, people have enjoyed the benefits of burglar alarms that are tripped by motion sensors and CCTV systems for many years. However, such systems could hardly be described as smart in the sense that they do not make intelligent choices on behalf of homeowners.
This is in stark contrast to the sort of smart security devices you can obtain right now. Take Sonoff’s impressive motion detector, for example.
- This device will detect the presence of something that is moving in front of it, just like a conventional PIR.
- However, the big difference with this sort of device is that it will relay whatever it has detected to your home’s Wi-Fi network.
- This means that you could have it notify your other smart devices in any number of ways.
For example, let’s say you install one by your back door.
- If it detects movement, then you could set it to turn a smart light on to deter a potential intruder. Of course, this might mean your light comes on because of a stray cat passing by, too.
- So, how about getting it to turn on a smart video camera if the light has come on more than once in the last five minutes or so?
- Indeed, you could program your home surveillance system to send the images it captures directly to your smartphone whether you are at home or out.
- Then, you could see for yourself what is going on and take appropriate action.
Use Smart Plugs to Make Legacy Appliances Smarter
Bear in mind that you do not need to buy new appliances to upgrade them. With some of the latest smart plugs, you can turn a conventional device into a smart one within seconds. For example, how about plugging a desk fan into a smart plug?
- With this approach, you could turn the fan on and off whenever it suited you simply by tapping on your tablet or by speaking into your voice-controlled smart assistant.
- Even better, you might like to set your fan up so that it takes its cues from other smart data that is being collected elsewhere around the home.
- How about it comes on only when a motion detector notes that you are about to enter the room and it turns it off for you automatically when you leave?
- Alternatively, you could program it such that it comes on when the temperature in your home reaches a certain level and you want to aerate it to cool down.
Of course, this is just one example of an everyday appliance that you can use in a much more interactive way once it is plugged into a smart plug. This relatively cost-effective approach makes it so much easier to enjoy a smart home right now rather than slowly getting around to upgrading all of your electrical gadgets one by one.
What’s more, you get a great deal of flexibility with this approach. After all, you might use one smart plug for a fan in the summer when you want to keep cool and use it for an electric heater in the winter when the reverse is so. In other words, with just one smart device, you can get a lot of bang for your buck when pimping your home with smart tech!
Wi-Fi Light Switches to Control Mood and Ambience
Wi-Fi-enabled smart switches mean you never need to get out of your chair – or even your bed – to control all the lights in your home. They work just like conventional light switches but sit flush to the wall they are mounted on. Tap one to turn your lights on or off or swipe it to dim them. This way, you can operate your lights just as you normally would when you enter a room without having to fish out your phone.
However, without getting up, you can also control your lights, even changing the colour of them if you have the right sort of lighting products. Just use an app to set the lights how you want and even have them adjust automatically according to the ambient light levels if you wish! You can even use them to change the light settings remotely when you are not in a room or even at home.
Smart Lighting Products and Smart Light Bulbs
Smart light switches are not the only way to pimp the lighting in your home. How about dedicated smart lighting products that you can use both inside and out? Sonoff’s smart LED light strips are a good case in point. These funky light strips are weatherproof so you can use them in your garden, your workshop, your garage or inside, too, if you want.
Offering full functionality with:
- Google Assistant
- Google Nest
You can change the light intensity of the LEDs, alter the colour and make multiple decorative effects wherever you like.
Of course, you can also do much the same with conventional light fittings around the home with smart light bulbs. These smart lights communicate wirelessly and will respond to app and voice commands to come on and go off. Alternatively, program it to come on when another device is triggered, such as the fridge door opening, or someone ringing your doorbell.
Accessories That Make Your Smart Devices Work the Way You Want
Whether you are using Wi-Fi smart switches so you can control when devices come on from your phone or have connected your current appliances to smart sockets and plugs, you will want some smart home accessories to make your home truly smart.
These might include things like temperature sensors which you can use to notify you when the home has got cold, for example, allowing you to decide whether not you want to turn your heating on.
You might also like to consider a controller for your smart devices which you can use alongside your smart home assistant or phone. Sonoff’s hand RF remote clicker fits this bill. Add it to your keychain and use it with a raft of intelligent switches around your home even if you are out of range of the nearest Wi-Fi signal.
When you start looking at all of the accessories you can add to your smart home set up – such as Wi-Fi to radio frequency bridges, for example – you will soon realise just how many options there are to connect various smart devices to one another and create a myriad of ‘if-then’ scenarios that suit your lifestyle.
Network Options – Wi-Fi and Zigbee
So far, we have looked at the types of hardware that make smart homes come to life. It is also worth bearing in mind that there are several communication protocols you can benefit from. Without getting bogged down in the technicalities, domestic Wi-Fi is often a great way to interconnect your smart devices and to talk to them via an app like eWeLink or from a voice-controlled home assistant.
That said, Wi-Fi has certain limitations so you also might like to consider kit that is compatible with a system like Zigbee. Basically, Zigbee is a convenient way of making a mesh network in the home that allows multiple smart devices to act in a much more interoperable way, thereby opening up many more creative possibilities for the pimped out smart home.