The Not-So-Basic Guide to Understanding Simple Home Automation Control

Although it may seem overwhelming, automating your home can be an easy and enjoyable process. Setting up simple home automation control can save you time while also bringing your home and lifestyle into the 21st century. In fact, 57% of Americans say that smart home tech saves them around 30 minutes every day.

If you want to join the growing number of people who are keeping their homes connected, then you’ve come to the right place.

Continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about simple home automation control.

Getting Started with Simple Home Automation Control

When we talk about a “smart home,” we’re referring to the various devices and gadgets in a home that are electronic, interactive, and most likely interconnected with each other. The less you, the user, actually have to do to get the device to work properly, the more automated that device is. Coffee brewers, light switches, and door locks are all devices that can be pretty much completely automated.

Every smart device in the home carries out a different task. However, each device will carry out at least one of the following roles:

  • It processes information
  • It detects or senses things like temperature, sound, movement, and light
  • It responds to a situation, input, or command

A large number of smart devices can sense changes to their surroundings, such as light, motion, or temperature sensing. These sensors receive inputs from their surroundings and either pass that information on to another smart device in the house or the device itself reacts accordingly. For example, a security camera might turn on when your smoke alarm goes off.

Compatibility

Unfortunately, not all brands are able to interact with each other. This is one of the most important factors to consider when you’re planning on automating your home.

First, it’s important to know how these devices get connected. Let’s look at some of the most common protocols below.

  • Insteon home automation offers a combination of wireless and powerline-based connectivity. One of the major benefits of using Insteon is that it offers backward compatibility with pre-existing automation systems.
  • WiFi is one of the most common protocols and is involved with a ton of smart devices. One of the biggest benefits of WiFi is that most residents already have a router, so there’s no need to buy special connecting equipment. The drawback is that having so many devices connected to your router could mean connection and bandwidth issues.
  • ZigBee has become increasingly popular over the past few years. Thanks to its far-reaching range, low power consumption, and fast communication between different devices, this protocol uses a wireless communication standard that’s available for all types of devices.
  • Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) is fairly common for connecting wireless devices and, as the name implies, doesn’t draw that much power. Although a lot of products use Bluetooth, this protocol, unfortunately, has a relatively short range. If you’re away from home, or even in a different part of the house, you’ll probably experience trouble getting connected to a specific device.
  • Z-Wave, like ZigBee, has become more and more popular over the years. Now there are over 1,000 different devices that are compatible with this protocol.

Deciding How, Where, and What to Automate

If you’ve yet to do any type of automation to your home, you might be confused as to where to even start. A good way to find out is to pay attention to your daily routine.

Where and when do you spend the majority of your time within the home? Do you perform tasks that often feel tedious or that you wish you were less involved in? These are important questions to ask yourself when first considering automation.

It’s a good idea to begin your smart home automation by getting yourself a smart hub. A smart hub, like an Amazon Echo Plus or Samsung SmartThings Smart Home Hub, are devices that are responsible for controlling the connected devices within your home. The hub is essentially the brain of your smart home automation system.

Whether it’s heating, entertaining guests, activating, lighting, locking, or alerting, the hub helps to activate many of these individual smart devices. There are a variety of devices that can connect to the different brands of hubs out there. And by using smart outlets and plugs, you can turn your existing devices into smart ones.

One of the best aspects of smart hubs is that they are able to connect to devices operating on different wireless protocols. The smart hub then turns those different protocols into something that can be understood by your router.

When you use smart hubs from the largest brands like Amazon and Google, you are able to interconnect with devices from unrelated brands, as these smaller companies all want to be compatible with these popular hubs.

Controlling the Automation Setup

There are two main ways to communicate with your home automation controllers. Most controllers and hubs utilize a partner app that can be operated on your phone. A less common method is to use an actual remote device that is able to pair with the hub.

Hubs aren’t the only way to keep everything connected though. HomeKit by Apple is a solution that is centered around iOS and works to let you manage smart devices with your iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and HomePod.

Smart Home Safety and Security

One of the most useful applications of smart home automation is when it comes to safety and security. This industry has made great strides in everything from lighting systems and security cams all the way to motion sensors, smoke and CO alarms and detectors, and automated door locks.

Like with your traditional setups, installations and prices for security can scale when it comes to these automated systems. For example, you can buy some affordable devices that do nothing more than listen for your smoke alarm to go off and then send you a push notification when it happens.

But you can also get a fully integrated and complete security system filled with video capture and voice commands. This market is so advanced that there are devices available for all budgets and needs.

Some of the best, automated door locks include the Yale Assure, Schlage Z-Wave Connect Camelot, and Kwikset 910. Many smart locks allow you to not only check but to also lock your doors completely remotely, which can be invaluable.

Some of the best security cameras on the market include Nest Cam Indoor, Amazon Cloud Cam, and Arlo Q Plus. These cameras feature things like entryway identification, intruder monitoring, and pet and child monitoring.

Smart Home Lighting

Automating your lighting system is one of the most popular ways to upgrade your home to a smart home. Let’s first talk about smart light bulbs.

The first thing you should ask yourself is whether you want to be able to change the color or just want a white light bulb. Either type can be controlled remotely and connected with the rest of your home. Smart bulbs that change colors literally come with millions of color and shade options, including all variations of white light.

If you have a specific room meant for entertaining, a color-changing bulb might be the better pick. You can then create a lighting environment that is completely ideal for watching movies, playing video games, or just setting the right mood.

One of the best parts about creating a truly smart home is how individualized you can make every piece of it. You can have one room with color-changing bulbs and one with just white. You can just do specific rooms and bulbs to your liking. And so many of these bulbs are energy efficient.

Smart Light Switches

You can replace your standard light switches with smart ones to also get a unique and automated lighting experience. With smart switches, you can remotely operate the lighting from your phone. You can also set schedule lighting times as well.

These switches also allow you to be more energy-efficient. That’s because if you accidentally leave your lights on, you can just turn them off remotely.

Smart Home Voice Controls

Got your hands full? No problem. Nowadays, you can control many smart devices with just the sound of your voice.

And if the specific device doesn’t respond to voice control, you can most likely give a command to your hub which will relay it to that device for you. Let’s take a look at the most popular voice control systems.

Amazon Alexa

Over 100 million Alexa devices have been sold so far. And those sales numbers show no signs of stopping. Alexa can change your lighting, play music, and communicate with a ton of available smart devices.

And you don’t have to touch a single button.

Another huge benefit of Alexa is that it’s connected to Amazon. Are you using an AmazonBasics Microwave but just realized you’re low on popcorn? Alexa will automatically order more popcorn; which you’ll get for 10% off because you have the microwave.

The Amazon Alexa is the leader of smart hubs. It’s currently compatible with other popular smart home brands including WeMo, Ecobee, Nest, SmartThings, Philips Hue, and many more. And by taking advantage of applets and IFTTT, you can do even more with your Alexa.

Google Home

Google Home started in 2016 and has been fighting tooth and nail to claim more of the marketplace. With Calendar, Maps, Gmail, and Chromecast, Google Home and Google Assistant have a lot of functionality.

One of the coolest aspects of Google Home is that it’s able to recognize different people’s voices. This way it’s able to offer personalized settings and recommendations based on who’s talking. Google is also a veteran of connecting with different devices and integrates easily with many of the top brands.

Apple HomeKit

There are over 1.4 billion active Apple devices currently out there in the world. Apple is notorious for getting customers to continuously buy Apple products for increased compatibility. And fans of Apple will be pleased with having Apple HomeKit in their residence.

HomeKit uses Siri to keep everything connected. With HomeKit and Siri, you’ll be able to control heating, lighting, outlets, and more from your iPad, iPhone, or Apple Watch.

The Power of IFTTT

IFTTT stands for If This, Then That and it’s one of the main ingredients for smart home automation. IFTTT is a free online service that lets people link smart devices by using applets. Essentially, IFTTT lets you trigger events on your devices whenever a specific condition is met elsewhere.

For example, your Philips Hue light might turn the color red when your Nest Protect senses carbon monoxide. IFTTT continuously adds more applets daily and is a powerful way to bring your home automation to the next level.

Smart Home Automation for You

Clearly, there are a lot of pieces involved when it comes to simple home automation control. But if you start small, you can figure out which type of smart home automation works best for you. After all, there is a variety of ways to make smart home automation work.

And remember, building a smart home is a cumulative experience. It takes time and is something you discover as you go piece by piece. It’s not necessarily cheap to transform your home but it can save you time and money in the long run.

If you want to learn about other great smart home innovation ideas, check out our site for more!

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