Smart home systems have been around for a long time already but they have only become truly available only in the last few years. In 2013, the smart home automation market was valued at $ 4.4 billion; in 2019, sales in this segment grew to $ 74 billion. Today, we will tell you how to make a smart home, what steps to take, and to what things to pay special attention.
Decide what you want from your home
Before starting a smart house project, make several important decisions that will determine all your further actions. First, answer the question: which system do I want to mount for my home — wired or wireless. Wired systems are usually installed in offices, hotels, clinics, etc. Mounting a wireless system in a city apartment or country cottage is more convenient. You can install it even after the finished home improvements without any dusty cabling work, so the total installation cost and time spent on it will be less than with wired systems.
Second, you should decide on the automation network protocol. Today, the choice of wireless technologies is wide: Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Thread, etc. Choose a smart home protocol carefully: in the future, it will determine which compatible devices you should buy for your project. Evaluate the technology in terms of its popularity, compatibility of devices from different manufacturers, functionality, technical development prospects, and security.
The choice of a protocol influences the choice of devices that support this protocol: a smart home controller (hub) or a network tap, sensors, actuators.
Manufacturers of smart home systems
Next, you should decide on the system where you will embed all the purchased devices. There are a lot of such systems now, here are some of the most famous.
- Google Home
- Amazon Echo
- Xiaomi Smart Home Suite
We have listed these systems in price descending order but this does not mean that any of them is better or worse. In addition, almost all large IT companies, for example, Apple, Samsung, Huawei, have their own developments in this area. This market is also full of niche solutions for creating a good smart home; they are usually more expensive but also more adapted for customization.
Google Home and Amazon Echo
Almost all gadgets running on Android are compatible with Google Home: smartphones and smart watches, set-top boxes, household appliances, etc. However, the system from Google cannot boast of a wealth of devices. However, it can, for instance, go online to order pizza or sushi, and you can use Ok Google voice command for this example of a smart system.
Amazon’s intelligent home solution in the main is similar to Google Home. That same smart speaker, that same voice control interface (Alexa, of course), that same poor selection of gadgets. However, Amazon considered this disadvantage and began to cooperate with companies that manufacture household appliances, gadgets, and electrical equipment. Google did its part, and today you can easily find a lot of devices from third-party manufacturers, and their devices are compatible with both Google Home and Amazon Alexa.
Xiaomi Smart Home Suite
Several years ago, Xiaomi Corporation offered its solution to make your beloved home smart, coming from a completely different edge. There is no voice assistant here; however, a controller, a motion sensor, a door opening sensor, and a wireless button are supplied.
At first, it was not clear how Xiaomi plans to expand its ecosystem but today almost any device from the huge range offered by this company is embedded in intelligent home infrastructure. We are talking not only about a router and modem but also about the whole variety of smart gadgets, such as lamps, kettles, and refrigerators.
Smart home features
Think: what routine things do I have to do every day and whether do I want to make my daily life more automated. The choice of systems and devices is so huge today that it can take a long time to describe them. The most popular are:
- Lighting control systems — all kinds of lamps that work in conjunction with dimmers and various sensors. Thanks to them, you can set up different lighting scenarios in different rooms and simulate the owner’s presence by turning on the light.
- Climate control systems that include a humidifier, thermostats, underfloor heating, and temperature sensors, with which you can regulate ventilation, heating, or air conditioning.
- Security systems — cameras, alarms, smart sockets, sensors for leaks, smoke, movement. Thanks to them, the fire extinguishing system will turn on automatically if necessary, your wiring will be protected from short circuits, and the guard will rush in a matter of minutes if a burglar tries to enter your house.
- Monitoring systems for children, elderly family members, and animals — baby monitors, video cameras, trackers that track health indicators, motion sensors. Even if you are not at home, thanks to these systems you will always know what your dog is doing and if your grandmother needs help.
- Smart gadgets — robotic vacuum cleaners, remote-controlled coffee makers, smart speakers, automatic doors.
However, the champion is smart entertainment. For example, smart TV accounts for 43% of all purchased smart devices.
Once you’ve decided what exactly you want to automate, think about how you will manage your system. Do you need a central control panel with a screen? Do you want to implement remote control of all home devices through a single network, or several intelligent home appliances will work autonomously, outside the network? What is it a more convenient way to control devices, whether is it with a smartphone or virtual assistant, using smart switches, voice, fully automatic mode, or a combination of these methods? And, of course, don’t forget about your budget.
Planning is the key to success
Before the automation itself, analyze the parts of your dwelling that you are making smart. To begin with, sketch out a plan for this room with doors, windows, existing lighting, and sockets. Next, mark the areas where the house will start to get smart. Don’t automate everything all at once, start with separate zones. Write down how exactly to make a smart home, what exactly you want to see.
For example: “The lighting in my apartment should automatically turn on when a person is present in the rooms. If there is no one in the apartment for one hour, put my apartment on security. If there is movement, send a notification to my smartphone.”
Consider the prospect of expanding your smart home in the future, consider how to turn your home into a perfect smart home. Decide on where you want to install smart devices with constant power, and then check if there is an opportunity to supply electricity there.
Smart home design is a guarantee that the finished system will meet your needs, and that you will be able to expand your smart home in the future, within budget. If you are new to the world of home automation, start with smart home step-by-step building. More so that modern wireless technologies allow building up the capabilities of a smart home without expensive and dusty cabling work.