What's the best way to start out with a smart home?
From smart lights to virtual assistants, here's the basics you need to raise your home's IQ.
Deciding what you really need
One of the first things to think about is what you really want from your smart home. What sort of things annoy you, and what things do you really wish would just happen without you thinking. For some it might be coming home to a comfortable house with a perfect climate, for others it's about extra security or energy efficiency, -- or maybe you want to have the lights turn on before you even enter the house. Before you spend money on smart home products you might not need or use, understand what you really want to get out of augmenting your home. At this point it can be very useful to speak to a smart home expert such as ITA to help you learn about what could work best for you.
First things first, you're going to need a high-quality internet connection. If you live in an NBN-enabled area, consider yourself lucky. However, a reliable ADSL2 connection is sufficient to run most home automation devices. You're also going to need a Wi-Fi router that can handle high levels of demand. There's no point having a fast internet connection if your router isn't up to speed. If you're looking at having multiple devices, smart energy-saving power boards are a great idea.
The fun parts
Most people are somewhat familiar with home automation, but aren't used to thinking about it in that way. Setting a timer on a heater or programming your PVR to record a show are simple and common examples of home automation. You're probably less of a newbie than you think. A smart home just extends these functions to other areas of comfort, entertainment, convenience, and security.
This is a great way for newcomers to enter the world of smart homes and a really fun first step. If you like the idea of wireless multi-room music, a Sonos system can be an affordable entry product. Sonos works with streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music to deliver music through your entire home.
No-one enjoys coming home to a house that's freezing cold or sweltering hot. With an automated heating and cooling system you can leave it all to a smart thermostat or control the temperature from anywhere on your smartphone. Created by Google, the Nest Learning Thermostat can begin to program itself after just a week of learning your habits.
Lighting is another popular starting point for those who want to build a smart home. Smart home products such as Phillips Dynalite can transform the way your house uses electricity, saving you money and providing incredible convenience.
One of the most accessible smart home products you can buy is a virtual assistant such as Google Home or Amazon Echo. These microphone-enabled speakers use advanced artificial intelligence to make your life simpler. You can ask for information, issue commands to connected smart devices, stream music, or even use it to plan your day. Home and Echo are similar in function but don't share the same partners, so check compatibility with your existing devices.
About the Author
Integrated Technologies Australia (ITA) are experts in all aspects of home automation, and have experience in designing and building fully integrated systems that can make your life easier than you ever imagined.