When we heard about smart home technology just a few years back, it seemed we were destined for a life in a Jetsons-style reality. While flying cars haven’t gone mainstream just yet, smart devices have, and if you’d like to automate your life simply and affordably, we’ve chosen the top five best ways to turn your home into a smart home.
Smart Home Hub
The first step in automating your home environment starts with a smart hub, such as with the Amazon Echo or Google Home. With the help of a digital assistant, you can control multiple devices such as lights, thermostats, home security apparatuses, and appliances with just a simple voice command.
If you have only recently become interested in automation, a smart home hub is a great first step and allows you to sample the available technology without diving right into the deep end of the pool.
While digital voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri are popular for their hands-free accessibility, some of us prefer a more traditional approach and would rather select commands through the push of a button. If you’re in the latter group, you’ll appreciate the touch-control technology offered by the Logitech Harmony Elite, a universal remote that does a lot more than just control your TV.
The Harmony Elite connects to the Harmony Hub and controls everything from playing music to dimming lights to closing blinds. It’s all done with the touch of a button. And since the Harmony relies on IR transmission technology, this means you don’t need to point the remote directly at the device you’d like to activate, which is great for electronics you house behind cabinet doors or in other rooms.
With smart lighting, not only can you can control your lights’ on/off functions with simple voice commands, but you can also change the lighting based on your particular mood. The most popular of the smart lights is Phillips Hue, which allows you to change your lighting based on different “Recipes.”
For instance, when you first wake in the morning, you can set your lights to “Energize” mode, which emits cool, bright lighting to get you pumped for the day.
Want to read a book or focus on some serious work? There’s lighting for that too.
And finally, the light setting destined to become your favorite, the “Relax” setting, emits a soft, dim glow designed to help you unwind after a long day.
Some smart devices are all about saving you time, but this next product is also designed to save you money. While a programmable thermostat can be set to a heating and cooling schedule based on when you anticipate being home, a smart thermostat can actually detect when you’re home and adjust the temperature accordingly.
That means your HVAC system won’t run needlessly if you forget to program the thermostat when you’re away on vacation, allowing you to come home to energy savings. It’s a win-win!
For such a small area, front porches and doors see a lot of traffic. From unexpected guests to package deliveries, it’s nice to see who’s on the other side of the door without having to peek outside.
Thanks to the new smart doorbell from Ring, you don’t even need to be home to interact with visitors, as a tap on the doorbell or motion on the porch will automatically trigger an alert and send a live cam link directly to your phone.
And, if you own an Airbnb, forget about hiding the keys under the doormat. With the August Smart Lock, you can grant guests access to your home through the August app, which they use to unlock the smart deadbolt, and works only for the length of time you specify.
You don’t ever have to worry again about your home catching fire while you’re gone, thanks to the Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide alarm. You’ll receive an alert to your cell phone at the first sign of heat or carbon monoxide, so your home is protected, and you can call for help whether you’re at home or away.
With these smart safety and security devices, you can have peace of mind knowing your home is protected while you’re away and can monitor any and all activity through live cam technology.
No smart home is complete without some time-saving, automated cleaning options. After all, isn’t that what you first pictured when we entered the home robot era?
If you despise vacuuming and sweeping as much as a trip to the dentist, a robot vacuum from Roomba, Samsung, or Shark is sure to become your new favorite appliance. Just program the device to clean the desired room, throw up a few sensor barriers to keep it in line, and, when the cleaning is complete, the robot will return itself to its home base, where it’ll charge up in preparation for the next use.
Robot mops work in the same manner as robot vacuums but are designed to work on tile, wood or laminate floors, and utilize microfiber cleaning cloths and jet-spray technology to wipe down floors while you’re away. This leaves you with a clean home, minus the stinky mop head!
And sweeping just got a whole lot easier, thanks to the Bruno Smartcan, which has a sensor to open the lid and a suction near the floor, so you can sweep debris directly underneath.
Another cleaning innovation is a washer-dryer combo, which washes and dries in a single machine. Not only is this a great space-saver, but some units, like the one from LG, can be programmed through Alexa or the app to run while you’re gone, so you can come home to clean and dry laundry.
If you’re tired of hassling with sprinklers, you’ll love the new smart irrigation systems, which include programmable scheduling that accounts for weather and environmental conditions, so your yard sign always stays lush and moist, and never overwatered and parched. Some smart irrigation systems can even import local watering laws based on your zip code, so you stay in legal compliance on water-restricted days.