How to Create a Smart Home from Scratch / iDevices
(Pictured Above: iDevices at the 2018 West Hartford Kitchen Tour)
Our 2018 West Hartford Kitchen Tour last month featured special guest iDevices, an Avon-based manufacturer of smart home solutions, who showcased their collection of smart home technology during the tour. After receiving such positive feedback from our tourists throughout the day, we felt it was imperative that we share information about this new technology on our blog. iDevices' Andrew Ragali, Content Marketing Manager, was kind enough to write a guest blog for us explaining how to make your home "smart". Thank you, Andrew!
How to Create a Smart Home from Scratch
Creating a smart home is a great way to raise your home’s value, create a more connected atmosphere and control many of your home’s appliances by simply speaking or pressing a button on your phone. Let’s break down the steps to creating a smart home from scratch so that you can get a better idea of what connecting your home entails.
Before you start purchasing smart home products, you'll want to review your options so that you can make a smart step in the right direction.
What you'll need?
At the outset, you'll want to ensure you have a strong and capable Wi-Fi connection. You don’t want a “hotspot” wireless connection, because it doesn't provide enough bandwidth to begin running your home on various smart devices. Homes that have intermittent Wi-Fi access can sometimes experience problems with certain smart products. If you live in a more rural area that has a spotty connection, it isn’t a deal breaker, but it's something to pay attention to.
What to make smart?
There are a variety of things that you can make smart in your home. You can start with a few simple upgrades, like your lights. Smart lighting is a great first step, and allows you to have full control of what is lit when. It also helps with security, turning various lights on in your home when you’re not there. Another simple and easy smart home addition is to sync your thermostat. This allows you to control both heat and air conditioning, and a good thermostat makes it easier to save money on your energy bill. A deeper integration can involve integrating your home audio and video system, and your security system. You can coordinate virtually anything you plug into the wall, as we’ll show you later in the article.
Take the time to figure out which smart products you want to invest in and make sure they're all compatible with a smart home speaker. Choosing a voice-controlled smart speaker such as the Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod or Google Home is the perfect start since this can be one of your control hubs. However, certain smart home accessories don't always work on all of the platforms. A lot of your future smart home conversions will rely on which smart speaker device and brand you select. iDevices products are unique in that they work with the Amazon, Apple and Google smart home ecosystems, giving you a lot of flexibility as you set up your smart home.
Begin the upgrade
Let’s take a look at some of the common items you can purchase when looking to smarten up your home.
Unless you're completely in the dark when it comes to smart devices, then you've probably heard about the Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod, or Google Home speaker systems. These devices connect to Wi-Fi and use a voice assistant (Alexa, Siri, or the Google Assistant) to not only play music, but also perform a wide range of actions. The best part of these speakers is that most of them will come with an app that acts as a smart hub to connect and power all of your smart devices. When connected to an Echo, for example, you can say things such as “Alexa, turn on the lights.”
The versatility of a smart speaker makes it a must-have when you're turning your house into a smart home. This is also a great item to start with if you're unsure about how far you want to dive into the smart home world. You don’t need anything other than a smart phone and a wireless connection to power one of these speakers, so you can stay with this one option comfortably and add on when ready.
Smart plugs & outlets
These Wi-Fi capable devices plug right into existing sockets and give you a quick way to smarten up your otherwise “dumb” items. With a smart plug, you can toggle power to plug-in electronics like coffee makers, lamps and even holiday lights. This is a great introduction to voice-controlled lighting that will allow you to turn your lights on and off without having to get up and flip a switch. Smart plugs are a perfect way to control your holiday lights without having to climb around things or venture out into the cold to plug them in. For a more seamless and integrated approach, smart outlets such as the iDevices Wall Outlet can actually replace any traditional wall outlet and provide the same functionality as a smart plug without sticking out of your wall, including energy monitoring, remote access, and voice control.
With a smart socket, you choose the type of bulb you want to use, screw it in and effectively make that bulb smart. The smart socket gives you all the benefits of a connected light bulb that can be controlled remotely or with your voice. The Illumination 2-Pack and 3-Pack by iDevices includes smart sockets that can evolve your existing lighting without the need for a hub. They even have a built-in LED light ring that can manipulate a standard bulb's color, so you can create the perfect mood for any room or moment.
A smart bulb is an all-in-one lightbulb that you'll screw into a standard light socket in your home. These allow you to dim your lights and change the color of your lights. Some can even play music and advertise helping you sleep better. Many smart bulbs require that you purchase a starter kit. These kits often include an external hub specially formatted for the lightbulbs.
Another smart home add-on that you can branch out into is a security system. If you already have a security system in place, such as ADT, you'll want to contact your security provider and ask them what options they offer to connect with your smart devices. ADT can pair with your Amazon Echo, for example, to adjust locks, security settings, lights, and even close your garage door, all depending on how much you have set up with your plan.
If you don’t have a full security system, but you're interested in adding an affordable option for your smart home, then a simple video doorbell like Ring is a great way to experience connected security. The Ring doorbell records motion and alerts your smart phone. You can also see and access a live stream from your video doorbell as well as talk to anyone standing at your door.
Benefits of upgrading
When you make the decision to create a smart home environment, then what you're essentially doing is connecting your many devices, appliances and simple everyday items in one place, like the iDevices Connected app.
Perhaps the best part of a smart home is that you're able to have full control from one single device – your phone. Always at your fingertips, you can monitor and adjust a variety of things inside and outside your house simply, easily, and instantly. When it comes to creating a smart home, you can set your own pace to become as connected as you possibly can, or just try out a few products to see how they work for you. No matter your budget or learning curve, when it comes to technology, the best thing about upgrading your home to a more technology-friendly place is that it is affordable and pretty easy to learn.
View our slideshow below to see these ways in which you can incorporate iDevices products into your home. Photos courtesy of Stephen Alexander Homes and iDevices.
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