A Beginner’s Guide On How to Set Up A Smart Home

It wasn’t long ago that a home equipped with tech that automates simple tasks like turning on the lights was the stuff of sci-fi movies. If you feel like it’s still out of reach, the good news is, smart homes are here, for real. With Wi-Fi and a smartphone, you’re halfway to having your own digital personal assistant at home.

“People assume that my house looks like The Jetsons, [but] it’s not overly automated,” says tech expert and journalist Marc Saltzman. “I have a Wi-Fi thermostat, a smart camera system, smart speakers and displays in almost every room.”

Although that sounds like a lot, Saltzman’s setup is unassuming and adds a dash of convenience to his busy life. Want to streamline your life and set up a smart home of your own? Here, Saltzman shares his tips on how to get started, including smart home products you’ll need.

Choose your “ecosystem”

Whether you go with the Amazon Echo, Google Nest hub, or Apple HomeKit, you’ll need one of these smart home systems to get set up. Each of these ecosystems offers a “hub”, or a central control centre that connects devices and allows you to give voice commands. These commands are carried out by your “assistant” (so for example, if you’re using Amazon’s Echo, your assistant is Alexa).

The best part? You don’t have to worry about the brand of each smart device (like your doorbell, security camera, or lightbulb) being compatible with an ecosystem as most smart devices will work with all three of the most popular hubs. To be sure, check the box to see if the device is compatible.

“The great thing about smart home tech is that it’s modular,” says Saltzman. “If you buy a Philips Hue light and you want to use your voice or an app to turn on lights... it will work with Amazon, Google and Apple. The smart speakers tie it all together.”

If you live in a bigger home, you might want to buy several hubs so your assistant can hear you no matter which room you’re in (these hubs should all be the same make). You’ll also need to make sure each hub has a power source and a decent Wi-Fi signal.

Figure out what you want your smart home to do

Convenience, security and cost savings are all benefits of making your home smarter, says Saltzman. In choosing your preferred system, start by putting together a list of what matters most to you. For example, you might want a system that opens your shades at 8 a.m. every day, or a thermostat that alters its behaviour based on your own and helps to save energy (and money). If you opt to create a schedule with your smart home technology, timers can be set up with your smart hub, but most smart devices work through apps on your phone, too.

Other devices provide peace of mind along with security, like a water sensor that pings your phone if it finds leaks, and motion sensors that let you know if someone is sidling up to your house when you’re not there.

If you need further convincing that creating a smarter home will make your life easier, start by investing in a smart plug or two. For under $20, plug one into the wall and put your lamp or coffee maker on a timer.

When it comes down to it, streamlining your life is just the smart thing to do.

By Staples Canada

August 30, 2021