A Smart Home does not have to mean spending a lot of money and investing a lot of time on expensive home devices. If you are clear with your wants and needs, just replacing your existing gadgets and appliances with connected and automated versions of similar things would be sufficient.
In this article, I will explain to you how to make a smart home and what is a smart home device.
What is a Smart Home Device?
A smart home device is an internet-connected device that enables you to monitor remotely and manage the appliances such as lighting, heating, and security.
A smart home device provides you with security, comfort, convenience and energy efficiency by allowing the device to control from your smartphone or voice-enabled devices like Google Home and Alexa.
Smart home devices also reduce the amount of time that you spend on tasks on a daily basis. For example, having to go back home to see if you have turned off any appliance can be easily taken care of by smart home gadgets, which in turn saves your vital time.
The smart meter in the smart home devices enables you to understand your smart home device better. This way, you know which devices are drawing more power and thereby you can easily turn it off when not required and in turn save your money.
Smart meters also make it easier to educate you and your family members on better ways to stay energy efficient. Thereby turning off energy-inefficient devices helps you to save money and leave a positive impact on the environment. This way, smart home devices can go a long way in keeping you more productive through time and money savings.
How to Create a Smart Home?
Following points will explain how to build a smart home from scratch
1. Finalize your assistant
Virtual voice-controlled assistants enable you to control smart home products by your voice command. They are available on most smartphones and tablets and standalone devices like Alexa and Google Home.
Alexa is the Amazon voice-based smart home assistant and is the name of the AI. By default, all Amazon voice-controlled devices use ‘Alexa’ as their wake word. Amazon devices are easy to set up and plug in anywhere that need to activate Alexa. Alexa has more than 24000 third-party skills.
‘Hey Google’ is the wake word for Google Home devices. In terms of AI, Google Assistant is smarter than Alexa since it is powered by Google search. Google Home has more than 1800 third-party skills, right from scheduling your appointments to ordering food.
Both Alexa and Google assistant listen to your specific spoken commands and answers back. Choose the one that is more likely to work for your needs. After picking the right assistant, you will be able to choose the right ecosystem that will become your primary smart home controller.
2. Choose your Ecosystem
Following are the variants available in Alexa
a. Amazon Echo Dot
The seven microphones and noise cancellation feature of the Echo Dot lets you call and connect with others even from a different room.
b. Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo is designed with a Dolby processor where you can enjoy crisp vocals and dynamic bass response.
c. Amazon Echo Show
The 10.1” HD screen of the Amazon Echo show enables you to make video calls on skype and watch movies and TV shows from Amazon prime videos. Amazon Echo has a built-in smart hub where you can install your smart home devices without needing an additional hub.
d. Amazon Echo Spot
The compact size of the Amazon Echo Spot makes it easy to fit anywhere in your home or office. You can also personalize your Echo spot with custom photo and even connect with social media to relive your photos.
Following are the variants available in Google Assistant
a. Google Home Mini
The voice match feature of the Google Home Mini distinguishes your voice and does not allows others to receive your personalized information, thereby giving you plenty of privacy. You can set up six users with personalized settings.
b. Google Home
Google Home works the same as that of Google Home mini but with up to seven users with personalized settings. Google Home can also set your personalized schedules, commute times and playlists.
The small Echo Dot is paralleled by the Google Home Mini, While the Echo is paralleled by the Google Home. The Echo Show and Echo spot do not have any counterparts in Google Home.
Now that you have narrowed down your right virtual assistant and the ecosystem, it is now time to put your assistant to use to set up your smart home.
3. Configuring the Smart Home Device
A smart light, smart switch, smart plugs, smart security camera, and smart TV are the devices you need to have to set up a smart home.
Let us look at how each device works with your voice assistants
a. Smart Switch
Smart switches when connected to your home network provides access through the wifi to remotely control the switch using your smartphone or voice-controlled devices. The radio wave capabilities allow the switches to connect to a nearby wireless network which gives them an array of capabilities, including app and voice control.
Some smart switches come with extra buttons for more specific light control, while others come with additional sensors and light indicators.
Both Smarteefi Smart Switch and Sonoff Smart Wifi switch are compatible with both Alexa and Google Home devices.
Configuring smart switches with Alexa and Google Home lets you
- Create schedules for your lighting.
- Turn-ON/OFF the lights automatically with the help of the motion sensor.
b. Smart Light
Smart lights replace the traditional light bulbs which can be screwed into the existing sockets in your home. An internet-connected hub connects all the bulbs, providing control over the lighting in your home. This process all enables devices such as Alexa and Google Home to communicate with your lights.
Philips Hue white ambience is the best smart light compatible with both Alexa and Google Home. Philips Hue Light comes with different colour shades and set scenes like concentrate, tropical twilight.
Configuring smart lights with Alexa and Google Home lets you
- Adjusts the lighting in your home from anywhere
- Control over the lighting effects without installing a dimmer switch
- Schedule the ON/ OFF.
c. Smart Plugs
If you use a lot of lights, fans and other small appliances, a smart plug is the secret to smart home to feel seamless and synchronized. All devices you plug to a standard wall outlet can be smartened up with a wifi connected plug.
The power monitoring, way modes and extra charging ports of the smart plug expand the capabilities of your smart home at a relatively low cost.
Thrumm Wifi Smart Plug supports small to a high electricity consuming device without any concern and is compatible with both Alexa and Google Home.
Configuring smart plugs with Alexa and Google Home lets you
- Schedule the ON/OFF of the appliances
- Control the appliance even if you are away from your home
d. Smart Camera
The plug and play installation of the smart cameras enables you to install the cameras wherever you want. The smart camera connects to your wifi network and transmits the video over that connection.
You can control the smart camera, view live video and receive notifications with your voice command as well as with the free app. All the recordings of the smart camera are stored on cloud storage where you have to pay a monthly or yearly fee which varies with cameras.
YI Dome Camera is the best Alexa enabled smart security camera which supports night monitoring up to 3 meters. Mi 1080p wifi security has Google Home enabled security system for you and is equipped with 20 megapixels, 110-degree wide-angle lens.
When configured with Alexa and GoogleHome, you can perform the following tasks
- See and Talk with the visitor on your Alexa/ Google Home device.
- Switch the direction and the angle of the smart camera.
You can check our entire smart security cameras buying guide also.
e. Smart TV
Smart TVs offer internet connectivity and support a range of apps like Netflix and Hulu to watch streaming videos, play games and check social media. All smart TVs include voice recognition tools like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for switching channels and searching for programs.
Smart TVs also have integrated smart home features and are compatible with other connected smart devices such as lights, door locks, and sensors. Some smart TVs have a dedicated dashboard for controlling all the smart devices in your home.
Mi LED TV is compatible with Alexa and enables you to watch Amazon Prime video which comes as a monthly subscription. Since Mi LED TV also has a built-in Chromecast, it is also compatible with Google Assistant.
Configuring smart TV with Alexa and Google Home lets you
- Access range of apps like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu
- Switch channels
- Record your favorite portion
f. Smart Watch
Apart from controlling your smartphone with your Voice assistant devices, you can also control your smartphone with the help of your smartwatch. Your smartwatch can act as a portal into your phone, controlling your phone calls, messages, and music. Apple watch series 3 lets you control your smartphone features within the watch.
Features of Smart Watch
- Optical heart sensor
- Notifications of phone calls, messages, music, and podcasts.
All Smart home devices come with an app that lets you control its functioning using your smartphone. Android smartphones come with in-built Google assistant, so you do not have to install or change any additional settings. You need to download and install the Alexa app in order to run the smart home devices using Alexa.
Using Smartphones you can perform the following tasks on your smart home
- Dim the smart lights
- Warm your house by connecting to a thermostat
- Operate oven
- Make a coffee on a smart coffee maker
- Live to the stream of your security camera
IFTTT is a free way to get all your apps and smart home devices communicate with each other. IFTTT helps your apps and smart home devices to work together by making them understand a cue and how they can respond to the cues.
Few examples of IFTTT processes are
- Making your security camera and locking device to open the front door to welcome someone from your family.
- Making your voice assistant more personal by syncing across your voice-controlled systems.
How to Make a Smart Home with Alexa
- Hardwire all your smart home devices and switch it on.
- Open the Alexa app and click on the three horizontal lines on the top left
- Click on the Skills
- Search the skills you need, example lighting and click on enable.
- Again click on three horizontal lines and select Smart Home
Click on Add Device. Alexa will now scan for devices.
- Select the devices you need to configure.
- Tap on Connect Now. You have successfully connected your smart home device with Alexa and control the device using your voice command.
How to Make a Smart Home with Google Home
- Hardwire all your smart home devices and switch it on
- Download and open the Google Home app on your smartphone
- Sign in to the same Google account linked to the Google Assistant on the Google Home
- On the Home screen, Tap on Add Button.
Click on Set Up Device which has a Plus sign (+)
- Now click on Set up new devices. The app will scan your home for the smart device.
- You will be prompted to join your wifi network. Select the devices which you want to add.
- Tap on Connect Now. you have successfully connected your smart home device with Google Assistant and control the device using your voice command.
The syntax of Google Home is simpler than Alexa. So if you are not a technical person and want to set up a simple but essential Smart Home, configure all your Smart Home devices with Google Home.
If smart home device compatibility is your concern and in future, you look to indulge in configuring more smart home devices, go with Alexa.
Decision Scientist. Digital Nomad. Online Business Owner. Tech Blogger. Building online businesses, exploring technology and travelling the world inch by inch, day by day.