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Tech Tip: Getting Started With a Smart Home

December 2, 2020 3:48 pm

These days, it seems like everything can be controlled at the push of a button. You can adjust the thermostat, turn off the lights, and even lock your front door right from your cell phone. Suddenly, the flying cars and talking robots of the Jetsons don’t seem so far off.

And while smart home tools like these are appealing—with the potential to save you time and money while ensuring your house is secure—the sheer number of products on the market can be overwhelming.

If you are curious about smart home technology, but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we are going to walk you through the steps of setting up your smart home. 

If you are more of a visual learner, watch our latest Tech Tip video to follow along with tech expert Riley. Let’s get started!

Begin With the Basics

The more pieces there are to a puzzle, the more difficult it is to put together. For this reason, we recommend starting with just one or two gadgets. You can build up from there as you become more familiar with the tools and how they work together.

To get started, determine what your needs are. If you are concerned about safety, consider investing in a security system or doorbell camera. If you want your house to be a comfortable 70 degrees when you get home every day, start with a smart thermostat. We’ve compiled a list of the major smart home gadget categories. From this list, select the categories that are most relevant to you and do a bit of research on the available devices.

Security: One option to secure your home with smart technology is a smart doorbell, which contains a camera so you can see who’s at the door (and avoid pesky solicitors). Certain cameras also have features that detect nearby motion, send notifications when you aren’t home, and save recordings in the cloud for later access.

For even more protection, you can also invest in a full security system equipped with door sensors, motion detectors, and sirens. 

Lights: Smart bulbs allow you to control individual lights or groups of lights right from your phone. If you are not interested in changing out the lightbulbs in your home, you can purchase a smart switch to control your existing lights.

Thermostats: There are several brands of smart thermostats available, which allow you to adjust your air conditioning or heating depending on the time of day.

Locks: We’ve all been there: you get all the way to work and suddenly wonder, “Did I lock the door behind me?” Smart locks allow you to lock your doors remotely, and some even allow you to unlock your door just by touching it with your finger.

Of course, these gadgets are just the tip of the smart home technology iceberg. There are hundreds of other options available—from self-starting coffee pots to autonomous vacuum cleaners—but these basic tools will help you lay the foundation for your smart home. 

Controlling Your Smart Home

So you have the first few pieces of your smart home puzzle—now what? 

You may want to purchase a smart home hub, which will integrate all of your gadgets into one system. But do your research before you buy—not every hub supports every smart home device. Some of the most popular hubs, like Samsung SmartThings and  Wink Hub 2, are compatible with almost all third-party devices. The hub manufacturers’ websites will list which devices each one can support.

As you begin to build your smart home, keep in mind that every person’s needs are different, and their smart home should be too! Research multiple products, select the ones that suit your needs, and soon you will be on your way to living like a Jetson.

That’s it for this edition of Tech Tips! Check back soon for another tip to make your technology work for you.