Kitting Out Your First Smart Home? Start With The Basics

We’ve all been there. We’re browsing online, popped into a shop or visited an exhibition stand at the mall only to be pulled in by a great looking ad or snappy sales patter, then coming away with a bit of tat masquerading as tech that never gets used.

You get it home, open the packaging, set it up and find that it’s nothing like as good as you thought it would be, it’s cheaply made, poorly performing and probably makes a funny smell if you leave it switched on too long. But you’re ashamed of yourself for being tricked, so, instead of sending it back and asking for your money back it just falls into redundancy or gets put in the cupboard under the sink/stairs/attic or garage in the hopes that you’ll either find a use for it or give it to the jumble next time they come looking for collections.

The problem is that the more technology which is available to go into our homes, the more rubbish there is blocking our view of the good, helpful gadgets and tools which would help make life that much easier. And different people have different needs. We’re sold on ‘lifechanging appliances’ but unless we actively want to change the way we live our lives, a bit of tech we can pick up for a few pounds at the supermarket isn’t going to make a huge difference to our lifestyle.

Learn to say no to a convincing sales patter, decide what you want for your Smart Home Automation systems and keep it in mind when you’re looking at adverts and brochures. Does it solve the problem you’re currently considering? No? Put it down and walk away! If your priorities change later on and you decide that you would like to look into it again you can always come back when what you were originally looking at will not only be cheaper, but will have been superseded by more effective tools.

So, if one were to avoid useless fripperies and only invest in technology which is useful, where should you start?

Smart Home Hubs

Smart Home Hubs are the brains of an automated home. There are several options but they essentially do the same job. Your options are to buy a Smart Speaker which you can put on a desk or shelf and talk to. It will respond to questions by searching the internet and perform instructions by translating your commands into activity in connected devices. If you prefer something more hands on there are tablet and view screen style options which let you use a touch screen as well as voice to control your Smart home system, and with it you can also watch online videos, make video calls to contacts and view home cams and CCTV if they’re among your Smart Home devices.

Smart Lighting Controls

The next, and arguably most obvious addition to any Smart Home System is your home lighting. There are so many things you can do with smart lighting it’s dazzling. Turn lights on, off, or dim to a suitable brightness, even change the colours in any room without getting up, or necessarily being at home if you’re using an app on your phone. Set the lights to come on when it gets dark, when you get home, or when another Smart device is activated using If This Then That (IFTTT) technology.

Television and Home Entertainment

Since Smart Home technology became popular, the way we watch TV has changed inexorably. In the old days, if we didn’t have a tape in the VCR when a show started & we were out, we missed it. Today we are moving away from terrestrial TV altogether in favour of satellite and cable services which let us watch anything at all whenever we like. The way TV works has changed too. If I’m watching something on TV and I want to go to another room all I need do is pick it up from my phone, walk over there, watching as I go, and cast it back onto the TV where I am. That might be more technology than is required to watch Eastenders but if you’re in the middle of a live sports event and you don’t know which channel you’re watching it on it saves missing the action as you try to find it on another set.

Smart Home Security

Nobody wants their home to be the target of criminals. From vandals to conmen, none of them relish the idea of having their faces caught on film as they walk about your property. Burglars are often put off breaking into a home which as CCTV cameras watching over the doors and windows, nor do they like burglar alarms which let everyone know when they force a door or window open to get in. Sensors can be used to detect when anyone has opened your doors or windows, whether you’re at home, at work, even on holiday. Synch them with home cameras and you’ll be able to see and record whoever is in your house, making it possible to decide if it’s a legitimate visitor, or that you need to call the police.

Garage Door Openers and Access Control

Moving on from security, seeing who is coming to visit and giving access to your property is a great deal easier if you have Smart Access control, Smart garage doors and intercoms. Access control is like an entry phone, except you can take it with you anywhere. So if you’re in the garden, in the bath, bed, or not in the mood not to see anyone you can check who’s on your doorstep via the app and decide whether or not to answer the door to them. Especially handy for those with mobility issues who find that callers and delivery drivers tend to disappear before you can get to meet them.

As well as letting you see who’s there, smart locks can allow access to those you so choose using their mobile phone as a key. If the sensor detects the right phone, doors spring open as they approach. This is equally true for Smart garage door openers. They keep the doors locked throughout the time you’re away, but as you approach they begin operating, so that you can park your care late at night or in the rain without having to get out, fumble with your keys, open the doors and move the car inside. Once inside the doors are closed again, securing your car, tools, and all the other things you keep in your garage against theft and damage.

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