Since the popularity of smart homes has grown, you may be wondering what are the advantages of smart home technology?
Smart homes use less energy, so you gain energy efficiency which in turn saves you money. This is because some smart systems set devices on a reduced level of functionality, so they go to sleep and only wake up when you command them to. Smart home technology also offers tremendous benefits for less abled and elderly people living alone.
What is a smart home
Smart homes use home automation systems so you can control appliances, lighting, entertainment systems, heating and even closing the curtains remotely using a smart phone or computer. It can also include home security such as access control, security cameras, security lighting and alarm systems.
Smart homes can give you peace of mind when you’re either not in the house or unable to view parts of your home due to immobility. If you hear a bump in the night, you can instantly view the areas of concern via security cameras and take action if required, keeping your loved ones safe. They also allow you to avert accidental house fires from unattended ovens. Security systems can be installed that allow you to monitor the comings and goings of guests and alert you when suspicious activity is detected. Doors can be locked, security systems armed, and cameras monitored from your phone, creating a safer and more secure environment for you and your family.
If you have friends or family members who are elderly, infirm or disabled, you know how difficult even the most basic everyday task can be for them. Smart home technology can greatly increase their quality of life, and utilising voice commands can make the learning curve much easier for someone unfamiliar with computers.
Setting up automated systems for activities like lawn care removes unnecessary stress from the lives of these individuals. As the technology moves forward, more and more difficult tasks will become accessible, improving flexibility and independence in housing for people who might not be fully capable of taking care of their homes on their own.
What you need for a smart home
From smart speakers and locks to lights and thermostats, here are our recommendations for the devices you need to make your home smart.
How to make your home smarter
At its most basic definition, 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.
The devices and services that make a home "smart" will be different for every individual. So here’s how to make your home a smart home.
Smart lights can lower your energy bill. All smart lights are LEDs, which consume far less electricity than incandescent and even fluorescent bulbs. However, smart lights can also be controlled via your smartphone, and you can set schedules for when these lights turn on and off.
You could have a look at Philips Hue smart lights which includes two bulbs and a bridge to connect the lights to your router. The bridge can support up to 50 lights, which can be dimmed. Plus, they work with a wide range of smart home systems, including Alexa and Apple HomeKit.
You may have already experienced smart speakers and almost certainly seen the adverts on TV. Rather than taking out your phone to control your smart home devices, a smart speaker lets you speak the commands to make your gadgets do what you want them to. Not only can you command them to take actions, you can ask them questions for research, like tell you the news and weather, read you recipes. You can also order food or even a taxi. And (most usefully) they play your music too. Smart speakers like Amazon Echo produces good enough audio to be the primary speaker for a flat or living room. And the Alexa voice assistant can do more than the competition, thanks to its thousands of third-party skills and the vast array of Alexa-compatible smart home devices you can control.
Smart plugs and switches
A smart plug or smart switch is the easiest and cheapest way to make any appliance in your home "smart." For example, you can connect a lamp to a smart switch, plug the smart switch into the wall and you'll be able to control the lamp from your phone. You can also set schedules for the plugs to turn on and off and link them to other smart home devices. This is very useful when you want lights to come on at dusk when you are either not at home or unable to get up to switch on the lamps.
There are lots of good smart plugs available that work with Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings and Nest.
Smart home security cameras allows you to keep an eye on your home and keep tabs on who's coming and going, all from your phone, tablet or laptop. The better cameras will also have night vision and can be linked with other smart home devices. That means the camera will start recording when you leave home and stop when you return.
Many smart home security cameras and apps have excellent video quality and motion detection like the Arlo Q. This has flexible scheduling and an intuitive user interface. Plus, Arlo offers a generous seven days of cloud recording of events for up to five cameras. The more you spend, the more higher quality features you get, so it is a good idea to research which security cameras as best suited to you or ask us here at iRewire for advice and options available.
Smart home hubs
Smart home hubs allow you to link up lots of smart home devices so you can control them from one uniform platform. Hubs also let you automate a lot of processes from this one place too, which is incredibly time efficient.
For example, you can have your lights turn on, change the heat on your thermostat, start music playing, and close curtain or blinds when you enter your front door in the evening. However, it's important to note that your smartphone can do many things a dedicated hub can do, and that smart speakers like the Amazon Echo are becoming the new hub.
An over-riding benefit of smart thermostats is the connectivity to your smart phone and the freedom this brings you. Smart thermostats give you the ultimate control of the temperature of your home no matter where you are in the world. You can control the temperature of your home from your smartphone, which is connected to your smart thermostat. In addition, when linked to other smart home devices, such as motion sensors, curtains and lights, it will also save you money in the long run by reducing your heating and cooling costs, as you won't be using and wasting energy when you're not at home.
Smart light switches
If you have a lot of light bulbs in your home, you can opt to either replace them with smart bulbs, but this can become expensive, or have smart light switches installed. Smart light switches work in the same way as a normal switch but can also be controlled from your smartphone and connected to other smart home devices. Installing smart light switches requires some basic electrical knowledge, so we would recommend you call our electricians for assistance in the wiring of your home to become a smart home using smart light switches.
One of the great inventions of smart home technology is a vide doorbell. Video doorbells sends a live feed to your smartphone or tablet when someone pushes the button at your front door. Plus, it acts as an intercom, helpful for those who have trouble getting to the door quickly. Just keep in mind that a really good security camera could help monitor your front door as well. If you need help with wiring in the security cameras and video doorbells ask our electricians for help.
There are many smart devices available for an enormous range of activities to make your life simpler and to save energy. More and more smart home apps are coming to market and here’s a quick list of some more:
- Smoke Detectors: If there’s smoke (or fire) in your house, a connected smoke detector can alert your smartphone, wherever you are.
- Universal Remotes: Control all of your entertainment devices such as TV, stereo, cable box from one device (and some link your lights and your thermostat too) letting you control up to 15 devices, as well as a host of smart home gadgets. The remotes can be linked to Alexa, so you can change channels and more using your voice.
- Garage Door Openers: Adding smarts to your garage door means you can control it from your phone, but more importantly, it means the door can notify you if it gets opened when you're not at home. You can also connect it with lights and smart cameras, which will activate if the door opens.
Security concerns about smart home technology
With every additional smart device you bring into your home, there is a greater risk of it being hacked. Fortunately, there are a number of easy methods to help prevent intruders from gaining access to your smart home devices. Ask our Smart Home electricians for guidance on how to prevent your smart home from getting hacked.
Making your home a smart home
To book a consultation to make your house a smart home, please fill in the form below or contact our Smart home electricians on 0800 788 0629 and we will be in touch asap.