16 Jan

How to set up a smart home: an easy guide

Having all of your appliances, lighting, heating and home security controlled by an app or a voice assistant saves you time and makes your life feel effortless. If you have ever wondered how to make your home a smart home, our simple guide makes it easy.

Having a smart home can be so much more than the simple features, like turning on the heating before you get home. With the right gadgets in place, you can create a system that perfectly functions to fit in with your life. If you often forget to turn the lights off downstairs before you go to bed, smart lighting can do this for you with a simple voice command. You could trigger your favourite track to play as you walk in through the door, schedule your coffee machine to switch on when your alarm goes off, or set a smart vacuum to clean your house from abroad. The possibilities are endless with today’s technology. 

Having a house full of intelligent automation and smart devices seems like an ideal way to embrace modern innovation, but there are some things to consider before going ahead. Firstly, the whole point of having a smart home is to make your day-to-day life more comfortable. Nothing about your smart home should be hard to figure out or difficult to use. Another thing to remember is that more is not necessarily better – there is such a thing as too many devices in one home! Prioritise improving the things that can really make a difference in your life, then build from there depending on your lifestyle’s requirements.

Where to start?

Firstly, assess how your current WIFI performs, as your smart home is only as good as your internet connection. The last thing you want is to discover that your WIFI cut out during the very moment you wanted to record something on your security camera! 

Fragmentation has been a common issue with smart home systems in the past but has improved over the years. Your devices need to complement each other, or you might end up with a home full of devices that are not being used to their full potential. The best way to deal with this is to pick a ‘brain’ or a smart hub as a starting point, some of which include Alexa, Google Home, Smart Things or Home Kit. A smart home hub cleverly relays your instructions or requests from either your phone or tablet app, or your voice assistant, to the relevant appliance. Once the hub has carried out the action, for example, when it switches the bedroom lights off, it relays the message back to you that it has completed your request. Always think about what area of your home you want to begin with e.g. security or lighting, which will help you decide on the right smart hub product. Once this is installed, only pick devices and appliances that will be compatible with that system. 

Sensors, trackers and voice assistants

Next, invest in multipurpose sensors that will allow you to automate things around the house. They can sense when someone opens doors and windows, or when water might be leaking, and trackers can notify you whenever it leaves a designated area of the house. Your sensors can all be controlled from the relevant Smart Hub app, where you can connect them to a voice assistant and create sequences when triggered. 

Voice assistants use voice recognition, speech synthesis and natural language processing to understand and process your requests. The two main voice assistants are either Google Home or Amazon Alexa. They cleverly control appliances and features around the house, and you can ask them to react when something triggers the sensor. For example, Alexa can announce to the whole house when Dad is on his way home, or play a humorous theme tune when you open the fridge in the kitchen. 

What kind of features are there? 

Home lighting is another excellent place to start when setting up a smart home. Some kinds of automated lights require their own hub and app, but there are plenty of great options on the market. Place the lights around the house, fitting them into lamps, spotlights and pendant lights. On the app, you can group the lights into rooms, such as a bedroom group or a kitchen group. You can control these groups from either your smart hub or your voice assistant, so you can ask to turn the lights off in the bedroom, or automate the lights to switch on when you come home in the evenings. 

You can also connect doorbells to a smart device, meaning that you can automatically switch on your security camera to see who has rung the bell no matter where you are in the house. Smart plug outlets are brilliant for controlling appliances in the house, making it easy to ask your smart home to turn off the television for example or switch on the coffee machine.  

Nest Smart Thermostat is something that many people now have in their homes, as they allow you to take more control over your heating and boiler systems. You can set the temperature through your voice assistant, or use your phone location to switch your heating on when you reach a certain distance from home.

Keeping your smart home protected

One thing you might hear when talking about smart homes is the concerns people have around personal data sharing and cybercriminals. Making sure that your connected devices are all secure can give you peace of mind while you enjoy your new, efficient home. The key is to protect your Wi-Fi router by giving it an unusual name and a strong password. Use a robust encryption method in your router settings, and keep all your software up to date. If your smart device apps offer a two-factor authentication log-in option, then it is undoubtedly worth enabling.  

With your sensors and smart outlets in place, you can go on to set up all sorts of triggers and routines. As you can see, if done correctly, there are limitless ways to make your home smart!