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The first time I dreamed about smart home design, I pictured a fancy programmable coffee maker. Now, having my cup of joe ready when I wake up feels like an “old school” invention.
Today, smart technology is a 103 billion dollar industry that controls everything from lighting to security.
I realized that if I wanted the best smart home possible, I’d have to come up with a plan. Keep reading to find out how to get the most out of your first smart home design, too.
What Is Smart Home Design?
We call our phones “smartphones” today because they can do everything. Now they can do one more thing, and that is control everything in your home.
That is the magic of smart home design.
Whether you are programming your coffee maker, wifi juicer, dimming the lights, or accepting packages by removing video door answering methods, every technology in your home that makes it run smoother is part of smart home design.
Researchers expect that over 880 million smart home devices will sell in 2019. That includes everything from a smart light bulb to a new, helpful friend named Alexa or Assistant.
If you are rewiring your home or adding appliances or devices to make it run more efficiently, then you probably already have some smart home design features in place.
Even if it is just a Google Assistant or faster-working coffee machine, if you have anything new and “techy” in your home, you have already caught the wave of smart home design. Just thinking about the smart home devices you didn’t even know you needed helps too.
When it comes to smart home design, your only limit is your imagination.
Determine Your Budget
Developing a smart home design is as complicated as any other home upgrade. You need to know what you want and how much you can spend.
Once you determine that, you will be closer to the design you need. Spend as much time as you can in this research.
For your home security system, for example, you can buy a lot of pieces on your own and monitor it on your own if you are looking to save money. But if you have a bit more room in your budget, consider getting a professional system installed with remote monitoring.
Once you are set on how much you are willing to spend, you will find the choices are much easier to understand. Every design plan has the same basics: the main hub, a network, and the appliances you route through both of those components.
So let’s break them down.
First Things First: You Need a Network
Think of all of the wires in your home that help you to turn on one light switch.
All of those wires connect or communicate with the main electrical hub of your home.
Smart technology is no different, with the exception that it is usually wireless. So in order to have a smart home, you need a network from which you plan to run the smart technology.
The most popular networks to use are WiFi and Bluetooth, but smart homes can even get more advanced than that. For WiFi, you are looking for 802.11ac compatibility with at least 2.4 GHz of speed.
One disadvantage of using WiFi is that it can consume a lot of resources (bandwidth) for one appliance.
This is something that you have likely noticed if you’ve ever tried downloading a movie while someone else is streaming something elsewhere in the home.
But if you want to take your smart home design up a notch, you may consider an alternative such as a smart hub for your home. This will control all smart appliances in your home, and you don’t need to turn into the Jetsons to do it.
The Smart Hub
At the center of every successful piece of technology is the brain, the motherboard, or the machine that makes the machine work. You are going to need the same if you are designing a smart home design from the ground up.
One very small place to start is with a wireless hub that most tech giants offer today. For Samsung, that’s Smart Things, Google has Home, Apple has Home Kit, Amazon has Alexa—you get the picture.
There is no specific “best hub” to choose. The best one is the one that meets your particular needs.
The first wrinkle you will experience when planning your smart home design is that of compatibility. So if you already know what gadgets your family uses the most, that is the line of smart hubs that you will want to look into first. You want your smart home to be compatible with your smartphone, as that is the tool you will likely use the most to control the hub.
Once you have decided on a smart hub, you can decide what else you want to do with your smart home. That will give you more creative juice to work with when deciding what smart appliances you are going to buy.
Smart Home Appliances and Applications
Chances are, if you are just now studying the smart home phenomenon, you may not even know everything that a smart home can do. In a nutshell, it can do (almost) whatever you want it to do.
From smart bathrooms to smart lighting, and even your home security, there are many smart home applications. But you can also make everything from thermostats to your egg trays intelligent as well.
Smart Home Lighting
This smart home design feature is good for those nights when you just hit the pillow and dive under the covers, and then lie awake wondering if you turned the lights off or not. It also helps when you are away for the weekend and want the lights left on, old-school burglary protection style.
With the right smart home lighting, you can control your entire home lighting system from your phone.
You can turn the lighting in your home into smart home units, and you can go big or go small. Start with the lighting that you are likely to use the most and build your design from there with your budget in mind.
You can even add sensors to a room that will change the lighting based on an occupancy rate. Occupancy sensors that determine how many people are in a room can adjust lighting for you automatically.
But you don’t have to get that fancy either.
From wall jacks to light bulbs, there are smart lighting options for every budget. A smart jack may begin around $60 and plug into any outlet in your home.
Anything you plug into that can then be completely controlled from your home. But smart lightbulbs are an option as well.
Here is a breakdown of the 9 best smart light bulbs for your home.
In addition to conserving energy through smart light bulbs, you can also conserve energy through your in-home smart thermostat system.
If you don’t keep the air conditioning on during the day, for example, you can have it set to turn on approximately one hour before you come home.
You can manage all of these features remotely. Even if your home alarm system accidentally goes off during the day, you can reset your system from your phone.
Not only do all of these features protect your home and your investments, but they help the environment as well. There are eco-friendly systems compatible with almost every kind of smartphone on the market.
Smart Home Entertainment
Home entertainment is another popular area of smart home design.
There are a number of different terms you will run across during your designing process. If you are new to this entire concept, keep this smart home design glossary handy.
You will see the term “4K” a lot. This tells you that you are getting an appliance that has four times the resolution as standard television displays.
A plasma TV differs in that it varies the intensities of different fluorescent lights on a screen.
Other different types of displays include LCD displays, LED displays, and OLED displays.
An LCD display is one that uses flat-screen and liquid crystals to emit lights for a screen. An LED display uses light-emitting diodes for screen illumination.
OLEDs are an organic light-emitting diode and this is the thinnest kind of TV you will find.
No matter what type of screen display you choose, buying a smart TV will let you control it from your phone even when you aren’t at home. If you often forget to record your favorite show for later or want to monitor what your kids are watching, a smart TV may be a good investment.
Smart Home Security Basics
Security features are launching the smart home design market into a new field. The FBI estimated that in 2015 alone, there were almost 8 million property crimes in America. Larceny accounted for over 70 percent of them, and burglary approximately 20 percent. Property losses in 2015 amounted to approximately 14 billion.
If crime protection is important to you, there are a number of different ways that you can add more security to your home using smart home design. Learn more about the 7 reasons to install smart home security.
Some security companies will do all of the work for you, but you can do a lot on your own.
A basic do-it-yourself system will cost you less. You can connect many of the systems you install on your own to a smart hub like Apple Home or Alexa.
You can install your own cameras around the exterior of your home to help with security.
Even putting your indoor and outdoor lights on a timer can be a security feature.
But another new feature we are seeing more of today are smart locks. These can be as low as $50 and installed on your own if you are handy.
Some smart locks will do everything for you, from locking and unlocking on command, to unlocking when the sensor detects fire or smoke.
This way you aren’t locked inside your home in the event of a fire. But if you are just getting home from a big grocery shop, you can get unlock your home as you are turning onto your own street.
You can also add sensors to your windows, another common entry point for burglars.
Answer the Door
Smart home systems are so advanced today that you can even answer your door when you aren’t at home.
Security systems are often where many families begin their smart home design. Your only limit to your smart home security system is your budget.
One new trend today is a home security system at the front door. These let you greet anybody at your door through a remote camera.
Accept that package you’ve been waiting for from your office through a remote video camera incorporated into your smart home system. You can add this feature can for as low as $500 if you do your shopping right.
You can also configure your outdoor system to water your garden when you aren’t home. If you are out at the big game and forgot to water in a heatwave, just use your smartphone to take care of it with the push of a button.
Smart home design adds to curb appeal and also helps ensure your home never misses a package.
Invest Smart Today
Millions of homes will have at least one smart device in the upcoming years, and most homes will have more than one. That could be anything from a wireless security system to a good old-fashioned programmable coffee maker.
Today, you can get as smart as you want at home, even using smart lightbulbs to improve efficiency and energy use and remote cameras to answer the door.
If this sounds interesting, discover how smart home design can simplify your life and design your smart home from the ground up today.