Guest post by Patrick Hearn
Many people are drawn into the world of smart home technology by cool features like smart lights and smart assistants, because they help make life more convenient. But it can also be somewhat intimidating for people to get started when they’re faced with a bevvy of technical terms and limitless options. Getting past the jargon and understanding how smart home devices can work together can all add up to a much more convenient lifestyle.
Here’s how to figure out which smart home products can work best for you.
Consider How Devices Communicate
When you’re selecting smart home devices, you may come across the terms Insteon, Zigbee, and Z-Wave. These are different types of networks that smart home products use to communicate with one another. Insteon can communicate over a Wi-Fi network or through the existing electrical wiring in your walls, while Zigbee and Z-Wave communicate only through your Wi-Fi network.
The main thing to keep in mind is that there are compatibility differences to consider. Not all smart home products are compatible with these networks, but the vast majority of smart home products will work with Zigbee and Z-Wave.
Choose Devices that Can Simplify Your Life
The number of available smart home devices grows with each passing day. Where once there were only smart lights and security systems, now you can purchase everything from a connected oven to a smart robot that vacuums your home for you. The majority of newer products are compatible with most existing products, and even those that don’t work together straight out of the box can be made to work together through smart home hubs.
Take a moment and think about the conveniences you want in your home. If you invest in only one type of smart home technology, make it a security system complete with security cameras. Connected home security systems make it easy to keep an eye on things around the house when you’re away, and even the presence of a security system can be enough to deter someone with malicious intent.
2. Smart lighting
For people who work out of the home, go away on vacation, or simply want an easier way to manage their lighting, smart lighting can help. With smart lights, you can control your lights from afar with a mobile app. Because smart lights have been around for a while, there are a lot of different options to fit every budget and color range.
3. Smart assistants
A smart assistant is just what it sounds like — a voice-activated device that can tell you everything from the news to the weather, control your smart home, play music, and much more. Although each device comes with varying levels of complexity, most of the difference lies in the volume level of the speaker.
4. Smart appliances
These days, you can connect everything from toaster ovens to washers and dryers. Most of these alert you via smartphone when something is finished cooking or a load of laundry is ready to go in the dryer, but certain appliances offer different features. Any homeowner with a busy schedule and lots of chores can benefit from the conveniences of managing appliances remotely.
5. Smart power strips and outlets
Smart outlets are one of the easiest ways to add smart home tech to your home without breaking the bank. Smart outlets can control the flow of power to and from a device. You can monitor the status of an outlet from your phone and turn it on or off. Are you one to leave the house and panic over whether the iron was plugged in? Next time, plug it into a smart outlet and you won’t have to worry.
6. Smart thermostats
Many people are introduced to smart home technology through a smart thermostat. These devices learn how you like your home to feel. If you keep it cooler at night and turn up the heat in the morning, a smart thermostat will pick up on that after a few days and adjust automatically. Like other smart devices, these can be controlled from your phone or via voice input with a smart assistant. They’re also an energy-saver. Homeowners who are concerned with energy efficiency would benefit from this device.
With these devices, you can get creative and customize them to the needs of your lifestyle. Services like If This, Then That (IFTTT) make it possible to connect devices together in ways you never would have imagined. You can also connect them through a smart home hub, like one provided by your internet service provider. For example, program a smart light next to your bed to simulate a sunrise if you have to wake up before dawn, and trigger your heat to turn on. Program smart lights to turn a certain color based on the temperature outside. Set your smart coffee pot to be linked to a motion sensor so that it begins brewing the moment you get out of bed. Make your life smarter, and a lot easier, with the limitless options.
Patrick Hearn is an Atlanta-based tech writer for Xfinity Home. When not researching the latest gadget or home security solution, he can be found at the latest coffee shop trying the newest pour-over.