You are half an hour from home, stopped and unmoving in freeway traffic when you start to wonder if you turned down the heat in the oven before you left. You can, hopefully, call a neighbor who has a key to your home. Or you can simply hope that when you return home in the evening that the beef roast has not been cooked to cinders! Today, however, there is a third choice, making your home, smart so that you can contact your stove with your smartphone and tell it to make sure the heat is set for day-long slow cooking.
What Is a Smart Home?
When your heating, lights, and various electronic devices are contactable and controllable by a distant computer or your smartphone, you have a smart home. A home can be just a little smart or it can have all of the bells and whistles. It is up to you. Features that a smart home can have include the ability to check and control central heating and air conditioning, kitchen appliances, a single central thermostat or various thermostats throughout the home. You can set things up to turn on and off a gas fire in the fireplace, make sure that no water is running inside or outside of the home, and if the entry points to the house are secure.
What Smart Home Features Are Needed and Which May Be Just for Fun?
Being able to see your pets on home video, talk to them, let them see you on a video screen may be really sweet but not something that you need. On the other hand, having the smart home, contact you when there is an intruder or fire and it has already alerted the police or fire department is useful. The ability of a smart home to make life more comfortable, efficient, and even cost-effective is only limited by the imagination of the homeowner, and of course, their budget.
Saving on Energy with a Smart Home
One of the great aspects of a programmable heating and air conditioning system is that you can dial them back when you are not at home and turn them up via your smartphone when you leave work. Likewise, the heating can be turned down at night when you are sleeping and turned up a notch just before the family wakes up.
Smart Devices That Talk to You and to Each Other
This is the so-called internet of things. Everything, including your new toaster and coffee maker, have computer chips in them and can be connected with a central control station in the home and with your computer at work or smartphone as well. Because internet connections are faster than they used to be and Wi-Fi routers have larger ranges, devices throughout your home can be interconnected without the need for extra wiring. And, there are low-cost networking devices that can extend your smart home’s Wi-Fi network coverage to every nook and cranny of your property.
What Do You Need to Do to Make Your Home Smart?
Today you do not need to have someone invent the various pieces of a smart home. But, you might need help assembling the pieces. For example, you may already have a home security system, but will want to integrate that system with other smart home features. As the task becomes more technical you will want to get help from folks who do this kind of work.
If you are going to build a new home, you will want to install a network so that connecting devices and appliances are easy. If you are in an existing home, and especially if you are just interested in a couple of smart home features, you can purchase the individual products. Just make sure that they are designed to easily and securely connect to your smartphone or office computer.
Because companies are busy designing smart home products, you will not need to look for a thermostat control device, a carbon monoxide detector, and smoke detector. You can find these features bundled into a single product, with internet access available.
One issue to consider if you are adding smart home devices one at a time is that not all devices made by different companies “speak” to each other. Thus, when you make your first purchase of a smart home device, consider going with a company that you can go back to later on to make your home even smarter.
What Else Do You Need to Make Your Home Smart?
If you want a smart toaster or coffee maker, you don’t need to worry about how fast your internet operates. But, when you start adding lots of video devices and interlinking everything, that becomes an issue. Be sure to test your internet speed before you start thinking about making your home smart. Then you can include the necessary upgrades in your budget as needed.