Home automation may sounds a bit intimidating, but here’s the biggest secret no one’s told you: Home automation is actually much more simple than it sounds. A smart home is simply a home with smart home devices in it that you automate, through programming, to take care of various everyday tasks for you.
Still sound too complicated? It really doesn’t have to be. Don’t let those pesky words like ‘automate’ and ‘programming’ throw you a curveball. Most automation is simply a result of programming and the said programming can be as simple as tapping a few buttons on your phone or tablet.
Think of it this way: If you can make a call on a smartphone, you can most definitely operate a smart home.
You May Already Have Home Automation Started
In fact, you may have already begun your journey in home automation and not even know it. That’s right, many modern devices come standard with smart features as part of how they operate. For example, maybe you upgraded your thermostat to one with a digital readout and various programmable settings or perhaps you use a timer for your your lights when you are away on vacation. These are just a few examples of home automation already hard at work for you.
Automation Sounds Intimidating
The ‘automation’ part of home automation is all about making your home and devices operate around your schedule. You’ll find that with smart devices, many daily, time-consuming tasks can be a thing of a past. It’s not that your home automatically knows how to work around your schedule out of the box, but rather that you can set up your devices to turn on and off, or up and down at times that are most convenient for you. And while it’s true, smart devices may cost a bit more than standard products, once in use they end up saving you both time and money.
Phase I: How to Get Started
To get started, begin to think of some of the mundane tasks you do everyday that you’d love to not have to think about daily. Usually these are tasks you find yourself doing at inconvenient times, such as right when you wake up, or when you leave or come back to your home.
Now imagine how much time you could save if these tasks happened automatically, such as lights that turned on and off when you enter and leave your home. Then throw in how much money you could save if your devices only consumed as little energy as possible, such as a thermostat that automatically goes into energy-saving mode when you aren’t home. Mix these two features of time and energy savings together and you may have trouble finding any reasons not to dive into home automation!
Smart Plugs & Why They Matter
Once you have any idea of the tasks you’d like to automate you can begin to look for devices that allow you to do just that. Often the easiest way to get up and running is to purchase and instal a smart plug. A smart plug allows you to plug in any appliance you like and gives you scheduling control over that device using your smartphone and home Wi-Fi. Most smart plugs have dedicated apps that walk you through the setup process making it super simple to get up and running.
With smart plugs in play, you no longer have to triple check whether you remembered to turn that light or fan off before you left the home. Rather you can set custom device schedules that work with your unique life schedule. Additionally you have the option to manually turn appliances on and off with a few taps on your smartphone anywhere you go, perfect for when plans inevitably change throughout the day.
Phase II: Advanced Programming
You’ll likely find basic smart plug programming to be pretty easy, and once you get the hang of it you might be tempted to explore more advanced programming features, such as using IFTTT.
IFTTT stands for “If this, then that,”. It is a free Web and mobile service that lets you create custom rules and gives you more control over how and when you use your smart home devices. For example you can implement settings such as, ‘If the temperature drops to under 32 degrees fahrenheit, then turn my thermostat to Winter mode.’ You can also set rules between two devices such as, ‘If my thermostat goes into away mode, then turn my Philip Hues light bulbs off.’
The beauty of using smart devices is that the opportunities for exploration and customization are endless. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself getting somewhat addicted to personalizing your smart devices, or continually adding more and more! Luckily there are smart devices in so many categories of products from lights and thermostats to security cameras and door knobs that it’s easy to find the best smart home devices for your needs.
Smart Hubs & Why They Matter
If you already know you will want to control many smart devices around your home, your best bet may be go to with a smart hubs. To break it down most simply, smart devices speak various languages, and not all are compatible with one and other. A smart hub uniquely removes that language barrier and allows you to control different ‘language speaking’ smart devices all from one central hub.
Some popular smart hubs are SmartThings and Wink. These hubs require a little more of an advanced setup, but give you the greatest control over a variety of devices. Once you go down the smart hub route you’ll find some rather amazing smart home capabilities, such as controlling products in your home using only your voice or the option to let devices ‘learn’ your schedule and program themselves accordingly.
These features are really just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll see in coming years home automation becoming a part of standard living. Some Jetson-like features we’re already seeing are refrigerators that ‘know’ when you’re out of milk and order it for you and standing closets that automatically fold your clothes for you. Just like your options with smart devices are infinite, the home automation industry has no boundaries. Because the most popular smart devices have been out for many years now, all the kinks and glitches have already been taken care of making right now an excellent time to jump on board.
As you can see, home automation doesn’t have to be crazy complicated. In fact, it’s intended to be just the opposite. Home automation is designed to make your life simpler, as well as more cost-effective. When you get down to the basics, the term ‘home automation’ is really just a tech-savvy way of saying ‘home customization.’
If you like the idea of devices that do the work for you, you’ll love diving into the exciting, limitless world of home automation. Begin your journey into home automation today and enjoy all the perks that come with a home setup that simply, and ever so smartly, works with your lifestyle.