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How to create the ultimate smart home
September 10, 2020
From the kitchen to the living room to even the bathroom, there are plenty of opportunities to automate your home with smart devices. Ranging from simple to complex, smart home devices can make your home more high-tech, convenient, and increase the functionality of the appliances you use on a daily basis. From home security to smart faucets, we’ll help you design your ultimate smart home with this room-by-room guide.
An introduction to smart homes
For many families, smart devices can have a lot of benefits, protecting your home and improving your quality of life by automating chores and other household tasks. Smart devices can help you conserve energy use in your home or make it more efficient by allowing you to set timers and schedules and view your energy consumption. Many of these smart devices are helpful for seniors or other people who need increased accessibility options in their homes. Plus, they’re convenient: using just a smartphone or a voice assistant, you can control your smart home devices from another room, the office, the gym, the store, or even the beach.
How smart devices work
Smart home devices connect via Bluetooth, WiFi, or a smart home hub, which creates something called a “mesh network” that various devices can connect to. Whether they have their own app or you’re using a system, you can control your smart home devices wirelessly from your phone. Smart devices often run on rechargeable batteries or plug into a regular electrical outlet.
Before you start, it’s important to consider devices that will be compatible over the long run. Double-check that your smart device will work with your voice assistant, smart hub, or system of choice — this will help you save money down the road if you decide to expand your smart home.
Avoid costly utilities bills with a smart thermostat that allows you to set temperatures and schedules for cooling and heating your home. Some sense when you leave or enter your home and can adjust the thermostat automatically, based on your preferences. These devices allow you to track your energy usage and can be controlled remotely from a phone so that it’s as cozy or cool as you’d like it to be when you get home.
To prevent the huge cost of a busted pipe or a flooded basement, a leak detector can be a godsend. These detectors will alert you by phone whether you’re at home or away on vacation, allowing you to handle any problems right away. These wireless devices are installed on pipes in your home and can sense temperature and humidity to alert you when a leak is imminent or in progress, saving you from water damage.
Home security systems
One of the best places to start with a smart home system is home security, which can cover everything from preventing home invasions or burglaries to detecting carbon monoxide and fires. Many systems send you an alert if there is any suspicious or unusual activity.
These systems connect and protect your home through WiFi and allow you to monitor your home 24/7 through an app. Some systems also include sensors to monitor when doors or windows open or close. Smart security systems are easy to install and aren't vulnerable to power loss like a wired security system. Another added benefit? Wireless home security systems are easy to transfer if you decide to move.
If you want to enhance your home security system, you can install a smart doorbell, allowing you to see who is at the door without even getting up from the couch. The app will let you know if someone comes to the door when you aren’t at home, allowing you to monitor from anywhere. Waiting for a package to be delivered? Your smart doorbell can notify you when it arrives.
To round out your home security system, a smart lock allows you to lock your home remotely (just in case you forget!). By connecting to your WiFi, you can unlock or lock your door from your phone and add users, like family, friends, pet sitters, or maintenance staff. As a fallback, smart locks also come equipped with a manual option in case your phone dies.
When it comes to watching your favorite shows, there are plenty of options. Many modern television service boxes connect to your TV wirelessly. If you want to cut the cord, a streaming device or smart TV is your best option.
Streaming devices connect to your TV or home theater via the internet and allow you to stream movies, music, sports, and other media. These devices, like Apple TV or Roku, often come pre-loaded with popular streaming channels like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
A smart TV is a television with streaming apps built in. Instead of adding another device, you can stream directly from the TV. If you don’t want to buy another piece of equipment or a new smart TV, check your Blu-ray or video game console. Many have streaming device functionality and will save you the hassle of buying yet another device.
If you want to jam out to your favorite tunes wherever you are in the house, wireless music is the way to go. From Amazon’s Alexa to Google Home, or a complete speaker system like those by Sonos or Bose, you can immediately stream the new Keith Urban album by connecting to these devices via Bluetooth or WiFi. To stream music to a device, you will need a streaming service, like Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Sirius XM, or digital music downloaded to your smartphone or another device. You can also stream music through your computer, tablet, smart TV, or even a video game console.
To get your at-home sound system set up, decide if you want to network the entire house on a speaker system, or if you want to start with just one or two devices. You can always add more if you decide you need to add a speaker to your bathroom so you can sing in the shower.
Some types of gaming are more wireless-friendly than others. Whether you use a PC, console, smartphone, or VR system, the first thing you’ll need is a wireless headset to get your head in the game. For PC gamers, you may also consider setting up a wireless mouse and keyboard. You can also set up a wireless computer monitor to expand your display and eliminate the clutter of wires. Most video game consoles come equipped with one wireless controller, but for playing with friends or family, you may consider adding a few additional controllers to your setup.
There is a plethora of options for adding smart devices to your kitchen, but perhaps the most well-known is the smart fridge. Smart refrigerators can let you see what you have inside without even opening it up, and some can recommend recipes to you based on what you have on hand. They can also notify you on your smartphone if the fridge door has been left open or if a water filter needs to be replaced.
Gone are the days of unevenly cooked or underdone food. With smart ovens, you can cook food to perfection. Smart ovens are small enough to fit on a counter, and allow you choose from an array of settings to cook your meal. They operate by convection, and can be controlled via app.
Wake up every morning to a freshly brewed cup of coffee without having to make it yourself. Smart coffee makers connect to your smart home devices, which means a simple voice command can begin the brewing process for you. If you’d like to jazz up your cup of joe, find a smart coffee maker with capabilities to make a variety of drinks such as espresso, lattes, cortados, and more.
There are dozens of other smart cooking devices like WiFi-fueled Instant Pots, pan stirrers, and toasters. Whatever you want to cook, there is something that can make it easier, faster, and more consistent for you.
Tracking your sleep may be more efficient than ever with smart devices. Smart mattresses and mattress covers can track heart rate and sleep cycles, providing coaching reports so you can improve your sleep. Some allow you to adjust the firmness and positioning of the mattress from your phone so you can get more comfortable.
Want to control the blinds or shades in your home? You can do it via app! Many smart shades come with a device that plugs into your WiFi router and allows you control them remotely. There are even devices that allow you to convert your current blinds into a smart shade, allowing you to raise and lower your them with Bluetooth controls. Smart shades are motorized and customizable, allowing you to set schedules for when you’d like to let in or shut out the light. If you want to wake up with the sun, this is the perfect way to do it.
Like music systems, smart lighting can be simple, from connecting a light bulb to a smart plug to rigging up a complex system throughout the house. A single light bulb can be controlled from an app, and can display multiple colors, allowing you to match your room to your mood. Some smart lightbulbs are also compatible with voice assistants, like Siri or Alexa, allowing you to control the lights in your home with just your voice. You can create smart lighting systems that provide ambient lighting at night, helping you find your way to the bathroom without disrupting your sleep cycles.
If you’re tired of getting scalded or frozen out by your shower, a smart shower might help. The device allows you to adjust and set water temperatures, so you no longer have to fiddle with the faucet. You can even customize your own settings, so every shower is just as great as the last. Want to conserve water? Set a timer so the water automatically shuts off.
Seat warmers, self-cleaning options, ambient night lighting, and many other features make smart toilets an increasingly popular device. Not only are they accessible, they may even use less water than the standard toilet. And with touch-free functionality, smart toilets are a sanitary choice for any home.
Smart washers and dryers can help you stay on track of the laundry, updating you when a cycle has finished and auto-dispensing detergent to suit the amount and type of fabric you want to wash. The smart features also allow you to start the laundry remotely. If you can’t immediately unload your wash, these devices can keep your laundry tumbling to keep your clothing fresh and wrinkle-free.
Picture this scenario: You’re expecting a last-minute house guest, have to get some food on the table for last minute entertainment, and have a bit of clutter around the house that you need to pick up. Enter the robot vacuum. This new wave of vacuums is an excellent start when considering how to make your home a smart home. Several of the robot vacuums on the market allow you to map a floor plan such that the vacuum knows what areas to clean and which are off limits. You can turn on your vacuum to help you dust and keep a tidy space even when you’re away from home!
In addition to robot vacuum cleaners, there is a whole world of smart cleaning devices to help you get the chores done with less effort and less of your precious time spent scrubbing and sweeping. Smart air purifiers also keep things fresh and clean, while mops that connect to WiFi help keep your floors squeaky clean.
Touchless faucets can make all the difference in the kitchen and the bathroom. Connecting via Bluetooth, smart faucets are controlled by voice commands. Add an automated soap dispenser to the mix for touchless and sanitary handwashing.
Smart baby monitors allow you to parent your child the way you choose, with customizable settings and alerts. With these devices, you can see live video of your child’s room from anywhere on your phone or on a separate monitor. You can also point the camera to different parts of the room remotely, and keep tabs on things in the dark with the night vision feed. Finally, some smart systems will allow you to monitor breathing and body temperature, as well as the temperature in the room, so you can ensure your little one is safe and snug.
If you share your home with furry companions, there are several gadgets that can help you improve your lifestyle and theirs. You might be stuck in traffic on your way home from work and it’s past dinner time. Consider investing in an automatic pet feeder. Simply set up a timer and pour the amount of food you’d like to give your pet into the receptacle. This system ensures your pet gets fed at the same time every day, hassle free. This is also an excellent method for providing rewards such as treats.
Tired of cleaning up after your pet? Consider investing in a smart litter box, which will do all the work for you automatically.
The convenience of automating your daily chores and keeping your home safe and sound may sound futuristic, but this reality is in reach for many families. Plus, one of the best things about integrating technology into home design is getting rid of messy wires. With smart home devices, you can keep a high-tech, efficient, and tidy home.
When it comes to smart devices, one thing to always keep in mind is bandwidth. The more devices you have connected to your WiFi network, the more your bandwidth will be spread out and your speed will be affected. You may want to consider a WiFi extender to ensure that all your smart devices can access your network. Finally, be sure to secure your WiFi network, as smart home systems can be hacked. For households with a lot of smart devices or people getting online, fiber optic internet can help keep speeds high and devices running smoothly. With high-speed internet and functional technology, your household will run smarter than ever before.
Sound off: What smart device do you want to add in your home? Let us know @CenturyLinkHome on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
This blog is provided for informational purposes only and may require additional research and substantiation by the end user. In addition, the information is provided "as is" without any warranty or condition of any kind, either express or implied. Use of this information is at the end user's own risk. CenturyLink does not warrant that the information will meet the end user's requirements or that the implementation or usage of this information will result in the desired outcome of the end user.