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3 Ways To Get Started With Home Automation

by Kayla Matthews | September 9, 2017September 9, 2017 6:00 am PDT

Home automation is one of the best way to make more of your time around the house.

Though home automation may still seem relatively new, people everywhere are finding that home assistants and connected appliances can save them tons of time and energy around the house.

But there are already so many gadgets out there. Don’t know where to start?

These seven devices are the best tools to help you jump into the world of home automation and become a pro in no time.

1. Home Assistant Gadgets

Amazon Echo

You’ve probably seen the commercials with people talking to Alexa, Amazon Echo’s voice assistant — and she’s a powerhouse.  You can teach your Echo all sorts of skills, like requesting an Uber, or ordering takeout when you’re not feeling up to it. It can also serve as a hub to connect all the smart-home devices you have in the house.

The Echo is great for music as well. It has solid sound quality for a small speaker and plays music from your favorite streaming services. If you’re on a budget and can’t spring for the full Echo just yet, Amazon also offers the Echo Dot. This one doesn’t have a speaker built in but can still serve as a connector for all your smart devices. It also has Alexa, too.

Google Home

Google Home is as good, if not better in some respects, than its Amazon competition.

One of the benefits of the Google Home is that it comes in a variety of colors to fit in with your décor, while the Echo is limited in that field. It also recently introduced the ability to call phones with the Home.

In addition to being a speaker like the Echo, it’s a bit more conversational compared to Amazon’s Alexa. It lets you call up your favorite shows by voice, something you can’t do with the Echo. Both are solid choices to serve as the basis for your smart home — you’ll just have to see which is the right choice for your household.

2. Connected Appliances

Smart Light Bulbs

A variety of these are on the market, so it’s crucial to pick those that fit your needs and integrate with your hub system. It’s not something many people think of as having to be “smarter,” but they can help a ton — especially if you’re forgetful with turning off the lights.

You can control all your lights with a phone or tablet, meaning you can make sure they’re off when you leave the house or turn them on when you get back, so you aren’t entering your home in the dark. You can also set them on timers, and others can detect when you walk into the room and turn on. Some are color changing to establish the right mood — there are a ton of possibilities!

Smart Thermostat

While your thermostat can always be programmed with the temperatures you want, smart thermostats can learn your habits and heat or cool based on those. It’s based on motion sensors and when you’re home or away. You can remotely access them to monitor the temperature and make changes as well.

One of the best benefits to these is increasing your energy efficiency. Many of them help you monitor how much you’re using your heating and cooling systems. Also, if they’re adjusting the temperature to be a bit less comfortable when you’re away, it’s not wasting energy to heat or cool someone who isn’t there.

Smart Locks

We’ve all had that moment of panic when we’re halfway to our destination and can’t remember if we locked the front door or closed the garage. Luckily, the tech behind smart locks and automated doors has been advancing steadily for years.

An app can allow you to check if your garage door is closed or your doors are locked. You can also let people in if you’re not home, such as if your child got locked out of the house. Smart locks allow you to create virtual keys for your family and trusted guests — and you can delete those keys if they ever become untrusted ones. You also can see who’s coming and going, and at what times.

Smart Plugs

These are a must if you’re serious about energy efficiency. Apps let you see how much power a device is drawing, how long the device is used and the operating cost for the device that’s plugged into the switch.

You can also track power usage over time and make sure you know when and where power spikes are coming from.

3. Third-Party Applets

IFTTT

There are third-party apps out there that you can use to connect your other smart devices to one another. IFTTT is one service that lets you automate pretty much anything you could think of.

For example, you can have the lights flash every time there’s an in-game update from your favorite team through the ESPN IFTTT. It takes your smart home connectivity to the next level, making sure all your devices are integrated and using their full potential.

IFTTT can also enable Echo to brew your coffee in the morning or have Alexa start a party and put your smart lights on a color loop.

Learning how to navigate IFTTT can take some time, but it’s well worth it. Applets are available for more than 500 services.

Even if you weren’t making a move to home automation, you could probably find applets to utilize for your phone or computer.

 

With so many home automation apps and gadgets flooding the market, these seemingly futuristic products continue to become more affordable and user-friendly. Take some time to get familiar with a few of these basic home automation gadgets, and you’ll be surprised just how many aspects of your daily life you can automate.


Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a writer and tech blogger, talking about connected devices and smart tech on websites like MakeUseOf, VentureBeat, Motherboard and...

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