When you're first starting out in smart home automation, it can feel pretty intimidating with the overwhelming number of choices available and jargon that can feel like you're speaking a whole other language (we've compiled a jargon buster here to help you decipher the smart home jargon).
We get it can be confusing to know where to get started, so we've compiled a list of questions you should ask yourself before diving head first into smart home automation to ensure you're starting off on the right foot. There are many options when it comes to smart home automation, so it’s important to make some good, solid decisions before you get going.
What is a Smart Home?
Before we dive into the questions, we should clarify what is considered a smart home. The term "smart home" is a catch-all term for any home device that is connected to the internet which allows them to be remotely controlled, monitored and accessed through a smartphone or mobile device. Smart home subcategories include smart lighting, smart doorbells, smart doorlocks, smart cameras, smart alarms, smart garage, smart thermostats, smart outlets, and voice assistants to name a few.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting Started
1. What communication protocol should I use?
Smart home devices communicate with one another using communication protocols. Some of the most popular home automation protocols are Z-Wave, Zigbee, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE. It is important to determine which protocol you would like to build your smart home ecosystem around, as it plays a big factor into the compatibility and interoperability of your smart home ecosystem.
You want to choose a protocol that is easily interoperable and prevalent in many smart home devices. If you're planning to add more than one smart home device into your smart home ecosystem, we recommend the Z-Wave protocol as it is built on the premise that all Z-Wave certified products are guaranteed to work together and it boasts more than 2400 certified products. The crucial thing to remember is that wherever you choose to begin, go for a strategy that won’t limit your options in the future.
2. What part of my home should I automate?
Smart home automation can be an expensive undertaking and with all the smart home subcategories available from smart lighting, smart doorbells, smart doorlocks, smart cameras, smart alarms, smart thermostats, and smart outlets to name a few, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start.
We think it's a worthwhile exercise to determine some pain points in your routine to determine where smart home automation can fit in. For example, if you're always wondering if you left the garage door open, then smart garage controllers is a good place to start. Or, if your parcels keep magically disappearing from your doorstep, it might be time to invest in a smart doorbell. Examining the pain points in your routine can uncover where smart home devices can fit in and alleviate those everyday frustrations and can guide you where to invest your hard earned money.
3. Will I integrate more than one smart home device into my home?
Although this question doesn't need to be decided right off the bat, it is worth considering down the road if you're planning to add more devices into your smart home ecosystem. Most smart home brands have dedicated apps to manage their respective smart home devices, but it can be cumbersome trying to manage multiple smart home devices on separate apps.
It's worthwhile to invest in a smart home hub if you're planning to integrate more than one device into your smart home ecosystem. A smart home hub acts as the brain of your smart home, bringing together all your devices in one central location, so you don't have to switch between apps to manage your different smart home devices. We recommend a smart home hub that serves multiple wireless communication protocols, such as Samsung SmartThings or Wink, so you can integrate devices using different protocols onto one platform.
Voice assistants, such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa, can also bring all your devices together in one place and are quickly becoming a popular economic alternative to dedicated smart home hubs. However, voice assistants have limited compatibility as they do not serve multiple protocols, so it's best to check if your smart home devices will work with your favorite voice assistant.
4. Do I plan to access and control my smart home remotely?
One of the biggest appeals of smart home automation is the ability to remotely access and control your smart home devices from virtually anywhere in the world. Those nagging questions of, "Did I leave the hair straightener on?", or, "Did I remember to turn off the lights?", are eliminated as you have the ability to check up on your house regardless if you're on your way to work or lounging poolside in Mexico.
You connect with your smart home devices via an app, so you'll need a solid Wi-Fi connection at home and a mobile device (i.e. smartphone or tablet) that has internet access in order to access and control your smart home devices remotely. If you have any Wi-Fi dead zones in your home, we suggest a Wi-Fi mesh router that can be placed in multiple locations throughout your house to eliminate those pesky Wi-Fi dead zones. We recommend the Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi Mesh Router and Smart Hub that doubles as a Wi-Fi mesh router and smart home hub - it's like hitting two birds with one stone!
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- Tags: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Smart Cameras, Smart Home, Smart Lighting, Smart Outlets, Smart Thermostats, Voice Assistants, Z-Wave, Zigbee