How to turn your home into a smart home

Smartphone and smart home
Smart homes were once seen as a thing of the future. A distant idea of an easier life fueled by the enthusiastic imaginations of scientists. But now, that future is your present. Homes all over Ireland are going smart and we are here to help you to join the revolution.

Smart home technologies have matured to a point where there are hundreds of reasons to get on board. You may be interested in:

  • Home security - Use smart doorbells to see who’s at the door or monitor your home remotely
  • Greater control over your bills - See how much energy your household is using in real time
  • Home-wide entertainment integration - Listen to your favourite music or watch your favourite TV shows anywhere in your home
  • Help with household chores - Set the wash to finish as you arrive home or check on your robo-vacuum
  • A temperature-adjusted existence -Full-control over your heating/cooling in your pocket
  • Remote immersion contrful - Never worry about the immersion again

From voice-controlled lighting to preheating your oven from your phone; smart home technology is for everyone. Here’s what you need to know before you smarten up your home.

Your Home, Your Hub

You already have the perfect start to your very own home network - all brands of smart appliance can be controlled from any smartphone or tablet. The next step is  to consider which of smart home technologies’ many benefits you are seeking most.

For instance, installing smart light-bulbs instead of regular bulbs in different rooms is an inexpensive way to make your home more relaxing, have a light show with your dinner party or host a home rave.

There are several brands of bulb to choose from, all of which can be controlled with an app on your smartphone or tablet. They can be turned on or off from anywhere, whether you’re on the couch and don’t want to get up or lazing by a pool hundreds of miles away but want it to look like you’re at home. Most smart light-bulbs will also let you adjust colour, brightness and intensity of light. Multiple bulbs of the same brand can be controlled with the one app and multiple members of one family can use the app on their own devices.

Most smart appliances work in a similar way to smart bulbs. So long as the appliance is connected to your home WiFi network, you can manage that appliance from your phone or tablet.

Voice-Control

If you really want to feel like you’re in the future, you can add voice control to your lighting set up. With voice-controlled smart hubs such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home you can control your light-bulbs and other smart appliances just by saying the right voice command. While there are differences between the different brands of smart hubs,  - most brands of smart appliance are compatible with every brand of voice-controlled smart hub, don’t worry.

Voice-controlled smart hubs such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home can be used, like your phone, as the centre of your smart home. Hubs can be loaded with ‘Skills’ - skills are just like apps but for your hub. Most of your smart appliances will have a skill that you can download and use to control that particular appliance. Once you’ve downloaded the skill, you can just ask the smart hub to turn on the lights, play a song, or tell you the weather and watch the magic happen.

Each brand has its base model for voice-control and digital assistant interaction, you can get an entry-level smart hub for less than €50. (Or free with a Nest Thermostat from Electric Ireland) The main difference with the smaller smart hubs is the size and quality of the speaker for listening to music – the more you spend, the better the sound quality. However, if you already have a good Bluetooth speaker it is wholly compatible with voice-controlled smart hubs; so you can easily expand the audio capabilities of your setup.

And remember, voice controls aren’t necessary - you can always stick to your smartphone or tablet.

And the best part is…

Smartening up your home is easier and cheaper than ever.

You can even upgrade your existing appliances using Smart Plugs. These simple adaptors work just like timer plugs, you plug the smart plug into the wall and plug your appliance into the smart plug. When connected to a smart plug your appliance can be turned on and off or scheduled from your smart hub or phone.

You probably already stream music or video on your smartphones - by adding other smart devices such as smart TVs or ‘casting’ devices to your network you can cast your media throughout your home as you see fit. Smart TVs have become the standard so you might have everything you need to start casting right now. If not, casting devices for TVs or audio systems start from under €40. These look similar to USB sticks and plug into the back of your TV just like a cable TV box or DVD player. Once you set it up, you find something you want to watch on your phone, tap a button and it plays on your TV.

Smart home technology can be as simple or all-encompassing as you want it to be. You can expand, reconfigure or move components as you see fit and at your own pace. Start as small as you like and before you know it, you’ll be living in the future.

Interested in making your home smarter?

Get started with a Nest Smart Thermostat and free Google Home mini