Over the last few years, Home Automation and Smart Home technology have evolved so drastically. When I first started blogging about home automation 6 or 7 years ago, there was little to no connection between devices. My smart garage door opener was on one app. My thermostat was on another. My light switches had their own app, and so did my smart lock. All that’s changed, and many companies are playing much better together now. In those few years, the devices have become much more adaptable, and there are so many ways your home can be ‘smarter’ now. Let’s take a look at some examples.
Starting with smart locks
The smart lock—a gateway product for creating your modern smart home—is a very simple and DIY way to start transforming your house. Quick to install, quick to set up, and easy to use, finding the right smart lock should be easy. Some locks are straight Bluetooth, while some can connect to your Wi-Fi with some secondary help.
If you take the August Smart Lock, for example, you can connect it to your home’s Wi-Fi through the August Connect Bridge, and this can even enable a connection to the doorbell to greet visitors and let them in remotely.
Getting warmer with smart thermostats
Smart Thermostats are also one of the earliest forms of home automation, but they continue to be one of the most popular. You have a lot of different options out there, like Honeywell and Canada-based Ecobee.
However, the most dominant option in the market right now is Nest. Not only does the Nest Learning Thermostat have a comprehensive suite of options for your home, it also plays with a lot of other home automation companies and products through the “Works with Nest” program.
Before you jump into buying any old smart thermostat, you will need to assess your system at home. Some thermostats only work off 3 wire forced air systems, and if your home is completely powered through electric baseboards, you have to buy separate thermostats for each one (and your options are more limited than with forced air systems).
Getting tough with smart security
Smart Security is the next way you can make your home a smart one. Security has evolved over the years from simple things like in-home IP cameras to full security systems. Nowadays you can even get multi-camera wireless security systems. Solutions like Arlo offer flexibility for multiple cameras both inside and outside the home; they offer weather protection to brave some of Canada’s winter elements too.
There’s more to smart security than cameras, however. There are also smart alarm systems from Ring, and even a smart garage door opener and closer from Chamberlain. The garage door was the first “smart” hook up I ever did in my home, and to be honest, not much has actually changed with it in the last few years. I still use it frequently when I’m taking my daughter to the park or when I’m coming home late and can’t find the garage door opener in my car.
Getting enlightened with smart light switches and lighting
Smart Light Switches and Lighting were among the earliest forms of smart home technology. In fact, I’ve had Belkin WeMo light switches at home since late 2013. What used to be an easy way of setting timers and turning the lights on and off in your house (replacing things like those bulky manual timers my parents and grandparents used to use when they went on vacation) has blossomed into something much bigger. Granted, smart light bulbs and light switches probably make up the bulk of what many of us will use our smart lighting for. I still have my WeMo switches, and I’ve installed a couple of different TP-Link switches at my mom’s house.
Nowadays smart lighting systems can be as simple as the traditional switch or bulb, but they can be something much fancier too! Companies like Philips and Nanoleaf have even dabbled in entertainment lighting, including sets for your living room to interact with sound, and even strip lighting!
Getting organized with smart speakers and virtual assistants
Smart Speakers and Virtual Assistants are by and large the communication gateway between many of our smart devices now. We’ve seen how devices like the Amazon Echo and virtual assistant Alexa have started to enter our living rooms and kitchens.
Google has been hard at work too, making their Google Home system more than just a voice assistant and speaker. You can get the Google Home attached to things like Mesh Wi-Fi systems, and there’s even the Google Nest Hub Max. The Nest Hub Max comes with a Nest security camera, a 10 inch viewing screen, and easy visuals of things like your Google calendar.
Virtual Assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home have become pretty crucial parts of any smart home, since the majority of products can interface with them. You can use your virtual assistants to power things on/off, activate timers, and more.
Getting creative with other “smart” home products
As time has gone on, we’ve seen the rise of other, more unusual smart home products. It hasn’t been very long since smart gardening hit the market and started helping us cultivate a smarter green thumb. As a long time killer of plants (to the point where I don’t even keep them at home), I’ve long waited for a smart self-watering planter—and Botanium has answered those prayers of mine.
In addition to a smart self-watering planter, there’s also the Click and Grow Smart Indoor Garden, which requires even less hands-on work on your end. All you have to do is figure out what you’d like to grow, follow the instructions, and let your garden do the rest. It will provide the right amount of light, oxygen, and nutrients so that they can thrive.
You’re even beginning to see smart garbage cans out there that allow for voice activated opening and closing. Companies like US based Ninestars have had motion activated garbage cans on the market for about 10 years or so, but they’ve required manual intervention to keep the lid open at all times. A smart garbage can allows you to simply tell it to keep the lid open while you’re doing chores and need to empty vacuums and trash into it.
That’s a quick look at some of the ways you can make your home smart. What have you done to modernize your home? Tell us in the comments below.