5 Beginner Steps to Smart Up your House

The Smart Home industry is poised to grow over the next years by a staggering 14% each year until 2022 to $122bn. But many users struggle still with the complexity of the products, the installation and above all the choice. But choosing the right products for a kick start is not difficult.

Below a guide to smarten up your house in 5 steps!

Don’t fall into the trap thinking that smart home products are too expensive. Most of the time they are much cheaper than you think and much more cost effective than other home upgrades.

If you like the idea of a smart home, you should absolutely try it out and don’t pay any attention to the various myths that keep being repeated.

Spoiled for Choice

The Smart Home industry does not make it easy for users to find the right gadgets or to decide for the optimal set-up. There are a lot of different smart home standards and protocols in the industry which confuse the users.

Here are some of the more well-known ones:

  • Bluetooth
  • Z-Wave
  • ZigBee
  • Insteon
  • Thread
  • Wi-Fi
  • X10

While Wifi is widely used it is a drain to the batteries of your smart home devices. Z-Wave and Zigbee are supported by most major smart home brands and is currently the safest solution for your SmartHome.

So don’t feel overwhelmed!

We show you smart products which make it easy to navigate between the different protocols!

The right Smart Hub

As a starter in the Smart Home world you probably do not want to spend a fortune on the devices. You also look for a simple to install device which offers a certain degree of customization and works with most devices.

SmartThings Hub V2 starter pack
SmartThings Hub V2 starter pack

For this purpose I recommend the SmartThings Hub which currently costs $99. The Hub is the basis for all the communication between your future Smart Home devices. It allows you to control the key elements of your house via a mobile app. You can also set-up simple rules to automate your house. This might including switching on the light in the evening or when motion is detected in a room.

However, I would suggest you get the Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit for $249. In this package you get already the first key tools for your future automated house! It comes with:

  • 1 Samsung SmartThings Outlet — You can just plug this in your existing outlets and use it e.g. to turn on your bed-side lamp.
  • 1 Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor — Install one of these in your entry hall and automatically switch on the light if people are present. So not more thinking about switching off the light!
  • 2 Samsung SmartThings Multipurpose Sensors — Use the Samsung SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor on any entrance in your home to gain full knowledge of whether it is open or closed. You can check to make sure you closed the door properly when you left the house in the morning. You can also attach the multipurpose sensor to cabinets and be alerted if children are getting into areas they aren’t supposed to be getting into. Like the Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor, the Multipurpose Sensor monitors temperature in your home.

Now you have laid the ground works. Lets see what else to add!

Smart Switch to control your lights and more

WeMo Switch — Beautiful design

To automate your lights you essentially have two options. You can either by any of the smart bulbs like the Philips HUE. However, the Smart Bulbs will be limited to just lightning. I would therefore go for the Smart Switch which also allows to start playing music or setting an alarm based when switched!

One easy to implement Smart Switch is the WeMo Wi-Fi Light Switch for $46. The switch is WIFI enabled and can be easily added to your SmartThings Hub.

The set-up of the switch is done in a few minutes and can even be done by someone who is not an electrician. There are a lot of tutorials on YouTube which show how it works.

There are plenty of other alternatives in the same price range but I very much like the design of the WeMo.

Best thing about it. It is also compatible with the next Smart Gadget you need for your basic set-up.

Speak to your house!

Before Amazon Echo was launched last year, I found controlling my smart house actually not very smart. I always had to either get-up to press the switch or pull the phone out of my back packet and find the right app.

Alexa will be your new best friend
Alexa will be your new best friend

Now comes Amazon Echo. It allows you to control your home by voice. Through the SmartThings Skill (that’s how they call there apps) you can tell Alexa (Amazon’s Siri version) to turn on the light or dim it for your next movie session. You can also control your SmartThings Outlet and tell him to switch on the coffee machine.

Not convinced yet? You can also order your next Pizza through Alexa! So in other words Alexa is not only a good tool to manage your home but goes far beyond. This also justifies the price tag of $179.99. And there’s very little setup involved. It’s pretty much ready to go right out of the box.

So we can control, speak to and turn on the lights of our house. So what’s next?

Smart Thermostat

Nest - Stay warm and safe money!
Nest — Stay warm and safe money!

The smart thermostat allows you to automatically control your heating. This is actually one of the smartest tools of your future house because it will safe you a lot of money. How many times are you heating your home in the winter on weekends when you are actually travelling? Smart thermostat like the Nest will take this into account and regulate the heating accordingly. So it is warm when you need it but you do not waste money.

The Nest comes for approx. $250. Sounds a lot but it can actually cut your energy bill in half!

And even though the Nest involves a little bit of setup, the process is easy enough that you’ll be able to do it even if you have no experience dealing with thermostats. Again it is compatible with SmartThings and Amazon Echo so you are sorted from that perspective.

So one final step to get to you perfect starter set-up.

Feel safe through a smart door lock

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The last “practical and easy” item I want to highlight is the smart home door lock.

I would recommend the Danalock. It is one of the most convenient smart locks available and costs $130. The Danalock mobile app lets you adjust the lock’s settings, add users and view lock activity. Guest access is available via the app, and you can configure this access using three settings: recurrent, temporary and permanent. Recurrent access gives your guests a daily or weekly time frame that allows them to open the door, temporary is a one-time access period and permanent grants access 24/7.

Danalock has two noteworthy convenience features: auto-unlock and twist assist. Auto-unlock uses your smartphone’s location data to unlock the unit when you get close to home. Twist assist helps you lock the unit by hand; all you have to do is turn the lock a little and Danalock’s motor takes over to complete the locking process. You can also lock and unlock your door by touching the button in the center of the unit.

Installation is very easy. You just need to replace your existing “dumb” lock. You can set up remote access for Danalock via your SmartThings Hub.

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Now You are fully set-up with your Smart Home!

With these five pieces, you should have a smart home setup that didn’t take much effort to put together, yet offers a lot of practical benefits in your day-to-day life. The bonus is that all five of those pieces can seamlessly interact with each other!

Let us know how setting up your Smart Home worked.


Originally published at Smarthomeblog.eu.

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