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HOW TO MAKE A SMART HOME IN 2020

Smart Home 2020

HOW TO MAKE A SMART HOME

If you are curious about turning your home into a smart home. But if you don’t know where you should begin from? This is going to be the blog for you. In this blog, I am going to take you through how to make a smart home in 2020. I am going to take you through some of my personal experience with the smart home devices. And finally, give you the latest information on what your smart home landscape looks like in 2020.

Let’s Start how to Make Home Smart

Do your Self

Let’s get begin. If you are looking to turn your home into a smart home, you can typically adopt two options. The first is do it yourself options. It is the option where you buy all of the different smart home devices and set them up. And you connect them all through a similar platform which is typically either the Google Assistant, Alexa, or Apple’s Siri/Homekit.

Second Option is Integrator

The second options are to use an integrator. There are a lot of companies that make home automation platforms. They have regional installers that will come out and install an integrated solution for you. Some of the popular platforms use include contorl4, savant, and Creston, which all mainly target this luxury home market. So, which one do you go with? Well, it actually depends on a couple of factors. One, how many pieces of your home are you planning to automate? Two, what’s your budget, how much are you willing to spend? And then three, how comfortable would you be setting up all of this stuff yourself?

Integrator Depends on User Interface Design

The experiences with integrators can vary widely depending on how their user interfaces are designed. And the third-party platforms they can work with. Thankfully, things have been getting better in terms of what these systems can actually integrate into. But there’s also been quite a bit of disruption for the integrators coming from the larger tech companies. For Example, if you look at Google Nest page, it’s obvious that Google, with its nest brand. This is for consumers who want the whole-home solution that the traditional smart home automation companies provide.

Some Big Retailers performs a best role

And now just the luxury home players are offering in-home consultation services and installation services. You have got some pretty big retailers. Now I will talk about best buy. Best buy do a consultation for free and they also offer paid installation services at your home. The Best buy guide customers towards their products that are going to be more mainstream but perhaps now as fully integrated as the services from the high-end home automation companies.

Focusing only on mainstream Companies

Now, I am mainly going to focus on mainstream consumer tech companies. Their products are the ones that I think most people are going to actually buy in 2020. The first part is setting up one of these systems in 2020. Which core platform to go with that all of your smart devices will talk to and be a central point of control for your smart home.

Major Main Stream Platforms

The major mainstream platforms you can choose from out there Amazon’s Alexa devices, Google’s assistance devices, or Apple’s home kit-enabled devices. There are others like Samsung smart things, but I would consider Amazon and Google to be ahead because of the dominance of their voice assistant platforms.

In 2020

Now luckily in 2020, most smart home devices now work with both Amazon and Google’s platform. A lot of devices also work with apple’s Homekit. Apple is actually the company that is going to gain the most out of a new alliance. Because that was announced late last year between Amazon, Apple, Google, and Zigbee called connected home over IP. 

This alliance hopes to form a common standard for the smart home. Because this should make the ecosystem as whole less fragmented. However, it will take years for this alliance and its new standard to be implemented. Which is why my advice right now is to still go with Amazon or Google in 2020. If you already have a lot of apple devices though and want to stay in their ecosystem. Then that’s certainly a reason to stick with Homekit.

I personally use Google assistant to run my smartphone. I do have Alexa and Siri/Homekit as well. But I typically find that the Google Assistant is more useful for my needs. Once you decide on which core platform is right for you to run your smart home. now it’s time to talk about the devices that actually make your home a smart home. You can divide these devices into several categories including music, media, lighting, climate, security, and appliance/ accessories.

 

Start with Music Home Audio

First, let’s look at music with whole-home audio. This functionality allows you to play different music in different parts of your home. Now typically through a voice assistant, you have various options here. Amazon and Apple all make their own speakers that natively play music from various music streaming services. There are also third-party speakers and systems you can buy from companies like Sonos and Bose. They can work with all three companies’ platforms.

Some Bose and Sonos speakers will even allow you to have Alexa and the Google Assistant directly on their speakers. The Next Hub, Nest Hub Max, and Amazon Echo Show have the added benefits of having a screen on them as well. They makes controlling your media as well as your other smart home devices easier even easier

Amazon Echo
Smart Home Media Systems

Next, let’s take a look at controlling your media rooms within your smart home. Typically this involves controlling your TV and associated speakers and the lighting in your media rooms in just a second. Right now, the best integration with your TV from the consumer companies would either come from Amazon or Google. They sell devices that can control your TV, turn it on, and off with an assistant. And deliver content from all of the major streaming services as well. They are relatively affordable.

Google Chromecast

Google’s Chromecast, in particular, is pretty powerful thanks to its casting feature. You can cast media from your android, Iphone, or any Chrome browser over Wi-Fi to Chromecast enabled devices which makes it easy to cast a media from phone to your TV and then pause and cast it to your bedroom TV. Google’s newer versions of the Chromecast devices can also turn off and on your TV and receiver and other devices connected to it through a technology called HDMI CEC.

Amazon Fire Stick

Amazon Fire Stick also has this feature as well. Amazon will even go a step further with integrations with receivers, sound bars, and TVs through its Fire Cube TV Product which will switch HDMI inputs and other functions with your voice through Alexa. Both Companies allow you to use your voice to control your Media hardware as well as tell either Alexa of the Google assistant what media you want to play on a specific screen.

Apple TV

Now the Apple TV, unfortunately, can’t be controlled to turn on and off your TV using Siri. Overall through, I quite like the Apple TV. It has a dedicated remote which the Google Chromecast doesn’t have, and it also has something similar to casting called Airplay where you can stream media from pretty much any Apple devices with a screen to your TV.

 

Amazon Echo
Smart Home Lighting Systems

Next, let’s talk about smart lighting and this category is pretty interesting because neither Amazon, Apple nor Google, produce their own smart lights. Unlike with the speaker and media device categories, there are generally two approaches to doing smart lighting in your home. You either make the light bulb smart or you make the switch smart.

Main Players are Philips

You can also use the combination of these two approaches because some light fixtures you find just are not going to have a smart bulb equivalent to the ball that the light fixture takes. The main players in smart lights right now are Philips, GE, Lifx, Ikea, and Eufy. These smart light manufacturers make LED bulbs that can typically be categorized into three groups: plain white bulbs that go from daylight to warm, white, or multicolored bulbs.

How do they connect?

These types of bulbs either connect through Bluetooth or WI-Fi and some may require a hub that you will need to connect to your WI-FI router. Smart lights save you a lot of time and steps throughout your house. You can turn off of your lights at night with just voice and can make sure you turn them all off while you are away from home through the Smartphone app. Typically it enables you to create routines with them so you wake up with your light dimming up with sunrise colors and you can usually set geo fancy with your lights so they automatically turn on when you arrive home and turn off when you leave.

Smart Switches

There are also other accessories you can get with your smart lights like wireless dimmer switches that you can assign to control a variety of lights in your residence. Philips Hue probably has the most accessories and different types of smart lights available today and they are the brand that I have in my residence. For smart light switches some popular brands out there are wemo, casa, Ecobee, and Lutron.

These switches connect to your home’s wi-fi network and replace the switch you have in your existing wall, allowing you to either the lights with the switch, a phone app, or with a smart assistant, These are a great option if you are doing a home remodel or building a new home where you already need light switches anyways or if you just don’t want to or can’t put smart bulbs into a fixture.

smart thermostat
Smart Home Climate Control Systems Especially: Thermostats

Next, let’s talk about climate control and mainly we are talking smart thermostats here. Those are thermostats that are WI-FI connected and can be controlled by your smart assistants. Some popular ones include the Nest Learning Thermostat made by Google, the Ecobee4 which Amazon has a sizable stake in, and various smart Honeywell thermostats.

Some you can program like more traditional thermostats with weekly schedules, while others like Nest, learn your usage pattern, and use to predict what the temperature should be set up. Most of them allow you to stick sensors in different rooms around your house to aggregate the temperature data in your home to give you a true home temperature. Some smart thermostats will also work with the big three smart assistant platforms and their installation is pretty easy.

home security
home security
Smart Home Security Systems

Next, let’s talk about smart home Security Systems. Home security has been around a while with some brands, but there are also new players in this space now as well, that gives a different type of experience to their customers allowing them to place the sensor, base stations, cameras, and other equipment anywhere in their home that they want.

Main Players in this segment

Three new main players in this space are Nest, Ring, and of course, Simplisafe. Each of these players comes with monitoring services, but they’re optional. Nest’s Monitoring service is through brinks home security where Simplisafe and Ring have their own in house security systems that are cheaper than the brinks service, which is a bit pricier. With all three services, the types of devices offered are somewhat similar.

There is usually a home base Sensors for the doors and windows, motion sensors, cameras, smart locks, smart doorbells, and a key fob to disarm the system. Do note none of these services offer long term contracts. Besides the monitoring services and consumer tech focus, the other benefit of these services is that they typically integrate with the main platform assistants, so you can ask Alexa to arm your alarm, or ask Google to see the downstairs living room camera, etc. Some of these services also offer smoke detection and water leak detection devices etc, they are not just keeping your home safe from burglars but also safe from other issues that can affect homeowners.

home devices
Smart home Apliance

The last and final category of smart devices is appliance accessories. The basic concept is that these are smart devices like your typical home appliances such as your stove, refrigerator, washing machine, but also home accessories that can connect to your smart home platform like smart blinds, robotic vacuum cleaners, smart scales, smart plugs, etc. Smart accessories are typically going to cost you less buy so if you’re just starting your smart home, my recommendation would be to get some smart accessories first that mesh with your smart home platform and then get appliances as you need them over time.

My smart home accessory over the past few years has been smart plugs. They turn any appliance into one that can be simply turned on or off by any of the major smart home assistant platforms. They’re especially handy when it comes to the holidays for decorating. For Example, during the holiday I use five to eight smart plugs from various companies to help link my holiday lights to the Google Assistant. I group all of them into a room called Diwali lights and then when I ask Google to turn on the Diwali lights they all turn on.

Conclusion

Once you choose a smart home platform and start buying devices and accessories for your start home, you’re just going to be amazed at how easy it is to start automating some of the most mundane aspects of your life like turning off the lights in every room of your house with your voice or do things you could only have dreamed of years ago like a thermostat that you never have to adjust because it’s learned how you like to keep the temperature in your home, moving through your house with same music playing on multiple speakers in multiple rooms, or asking your smart assistant for your Roomba(A robotic vacuum cleaner) to clean the kitchen after you have finished making dinner.

Smart Home devices have the power to really change your life for the better. If you like to learn more about smart home products, please read my articles and you have any questions about the smart home then you may comment on this blog. I will answer all of the questions. And if you like this post, then I would like to request you to please share it too on other social media platforms.

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