Fancy setting up your own smart home system but, aren't sure how to get started. We've got everything you need to know from smart home hubs to smart light bulbs.
Not so long ago, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that a smart home system – made up of lights, heating and even robotic vacuum cleaners – that you could control with your phone were things only Marty McFly and Doc Brown were likely to encounter.
But, not any more. According to a YouGov survey done last year, almost a quarter of UK households now own a smart device of some kind.
If you want to embrace the Internet of Things and to set up your own smart home system but aren’t sure what smart home technology to start with, we’ve got everything you need to know; from smart home hubs to smart light bulbs.
So, let’s start at the very beginning…
What is a smart home system?
According to the dictionary, a smart home is “a home that is equipped with lighting, heating and electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by a smart phone or computer.”
But, you don’t have to have a home that’s all singing and dancing; you just need one smart home device to count yourself as being a smart home owner.
Why have a smart home?
Not only is it pretty awesome to be able to control stuff like your heating and lights without even being at home but, it can save you money too.
If you (or someone you live with) are the forgetful type and the heating or lights being left on is a regular occurrence, then you’ll know how much that can affect your bills – not cool.
If you’ve got any smart devices or a smart home system, you can turn stuff off manually, using your phone, even if you’re already on your way to work by the time you remember…
And, some smart thermostats can even learn your habits when it comes to how often you have the heating on and which temperatures you prefer. They use this info to adjust automatically for you. So, your heating isn’t on or turned up when it doesn’t need to be, convenient and saves you money too.
If saving money isn’t enough of a reason to have a smart home system, then remember that it can help to keep your home safe and secure too. A combination of lights, sensors and cameras that can all be checked and controlled from your phone, even when you’re not at home.
How to set up a smart home system
Setting up a smart home system might seem like a daunting task but, it doesn’t have to be. And, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune either.
The beauty of a smart home is that it can be built up at your own pace and you only need some basic smart home technology to get you started. Perfect if you’re keeping an eye on the pennies.
We’ve pulled together some key smart home devices to help get you started.
Smart home hubs and assistants
The best place to start when building your smart home is with a smart home hub. It acts as your control centre, where you can control your smart devices. It can be used to schedule things like the heating or lights to come on at certain times too.
Smart home hubs like the Echo Dot, Apple HomeKit and Google Home all use smart home assistants (Alexa, Siri and Google respectively) so, can be voice controlled too.
And, most smart home hubs have an app that you can use to control your smart home devices from your phone while you’re away from home too.
If you’re looking for the quickest, easiest (and cheapest) way to start up your smart home then smart plugs might be just what you’ve been looking for. They’re reasonably priced and you just need to plug them into a normal plug socket and use as a normal plug; making your existing appliances, lamps, charges, etc… ‘smart’.
You can use the accompanying app to schedule things to come on at certain times. And, you can even switch things on/off remotely – ideal if you think you’ve accidentally left the straighteners or iron on.
Smart light bulbs
Picture the scene: you’ve settled down to do some serious binge-watching. You’ve got your snacks, you’ve built your best blanket fort to date but, you’ve left the ‘big light’ on. It’s ruining your cosy vibe and getting up to turn it off means having to try and get comfy again. Nightmare. If you have a smart light bulb or two, you can dim them (without needing to install a dimmer switch) or switch them off entirely – all from the comfort of your blanket fort.
Smart home security systems
Want to be able to keep an eye on your home, even while sunning yourself on a beach somewhere? Then you need a smart home security system.
Using a combination of smart sensors, cameras and even doorbells, you can make sure your home is safe and secure, even if you’re abroad.
You can set up your lights/TV/music to come on at certain times to make it look like you’re at home.
What’s more, if you’re in one of our 70+ Go Roam destinations, it won’t cost you any extra to use your phone to check your cameras or to turn on your lights.
If you want some more info on smart home security systems, then check out What even is smart home security?
So, all you need to do now is decide how you’re going to start your smart home system.