Making my home … smart! [Part 2]

This is part 2 of a series I am writing titled Making my home… smart! If you would like to go back and check it out, Read Part 1.

How to select your smart home products?

Just to give you an idea of what type of environment I have set up I will talk about my personal preferences and some of the things I look for when picking my products. Make sure to keep coming back to my website and see what new items I will be writing about, cause all of this will take some time to write up.

I am an avid Apple user and my wife is an Apple user as well. I have an iPhone, iPad, and a Mac, so that also typically guides me to products that support HomeKit. I also try not to spend too much money all at once when I get my products so I buy them one at a time, and if the product is good enough I will spend more to get the better product. So keep in mind that my personal preferences are products that are HomeKit enabled so that there is ease of use for my wife and I while also allowing access from my multiple devices.

What do you want to do with your home?

When beginning to setup a smart home, you first need to decide on what you want your home to do. Once you have decided on the things that you want to do, then you can start selecting products based on their requirements and communication method. The first smart home device I wanted was light bulbs. In my old bedroom all of my lights in my room had to be controlled individually by switches on the light, so when I would get home at night I had to walk across the room in darkness then finally get to the light to turn it on. With that reasoning I found out about Hue lights and being able to control them from an app on my phone, that was the start of why I started to get more smart home products.

How would you like it if your home detected the temperature at your home and auto-schedule it to turn on the air conditioning 15 minutes before you got home? There are products that will let you do that. How would you like to turn on and off lights when you leave or come home, or even control them while away from home? There are products for that. How would you like to be able to manually unlock your deadbolt to let someone in that forgot their key? You guessed it, there is a product for that!

Some of the things you can do with current smart home products are and certainly not limited to are:

  • Light controls
  • Deadbolt controls
  • Temperature controls
  • Power switch controls
  • Home security cameras
  • Smart switches

Bluetooth, WiFi, Wired Hub

As you will begin to select your products for the task you want to perform, you will begin to look at the difference between different brands of similar products with similar functionality. One of the biggest things to look for when picking your product will be the method of communication with your tablets and phones. Those different ways of communications will often have you choose between one or multiple ways of connecting via Bluetooth, WiFi, or WiFi with a Wired Hub.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth smart home devices are my least favorite types of smart home products mainly due to the limitations of the connection method. Though they are my least favorite types of smart home devices, if you are trying to save money they can be the cheaper of the options. Bluetooth-based devices will require your phone or tablet to be within Bluetooth range in order to work. That means if you have a power switch that is communicating through Bluetooth you will likely need to be within at least 30 ft to control it, you also will not get remote access while you are away.

Pros:

  • Cheaper

Cons:

  • Short distance communication
  • Lack of remote access
  • Lack of home automation

WiFi

WiFi devices are some of my favorite devices, they address lots of the issues with Bluetooth devices and more importantly they will likely allow remote access and home automation. Setup is usually easy, but can be a little troublesome at times such as when you have a dual-band network and usually connect to 5.0 GHz network. If the device requires 2.4 GHz network you will need to temporarily connect to the other network for setup, but good news is that you can return to the faster 5.0 GHz network when setup is done.

Pros:

  • Communication throughout your WiFi coverage
  • Home Automation
  • Remote Access

Cons:

  • Usually requires a 2.4 GHz network (hopefully you have a dual network by now)

Wired Hub

Wired Hub devices can be a little annoying as they take up more space and plugs, but they tend to be more reliable connection to the products. Wired hubs also typically allow you to run more options for home automation through an app such as IFTTT (If This Then That). With a wired hub product setup is usually easier as you just need to plug it in to power and Ethernet then finish up setup within the product’s app.

Pros:

  • Easy setup
  • Communication throughout your WiFi coverage
  • Home Automation
  • Remote Access

Cons:

  • Takes up space
  • Requires power supply
  • Requires an Ethernet port

Home Automation

Home Automation is one of my favorite parts of having a smart home. This allows you to schedule events with your products to occur using different triggers. These triggers that make things happen can be simple things such as: location, sensor reading, or activation of another device or activity. These are the things that allow your smart home to really shine and work for you.

Things you can do with home automation would be things like: turn on the lights when I get home, turn off the lights when I leave home, turn on the lights when the front door is unlocked, when I trigger good night on my phone turn off all lights and lock the front door, turn on the AC when temperature goes above 79 degrees. With apps such as IFTTT, you can use other triggers to activate events in more ways than you can think of.

Part 3: My Personal Setup at home

I am in the process of writing up Part 3 of this series and should be out in the next week or so. I am also likely to record some videos to show my apartment and the different products I have setup so far and which ones I want to get in the future.

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