There has been a lot of talk about smart homes lately, but not everyone has an idea of what a home automation system is capable of and what it looks like. This is probably difficult, expensive, and inaccessible to regular people, isn’t it? Today, we’ll tell you about a smart home for beginners.
What is a smart home
It has long been a reality, not a fantasy. It’s just about your wish and budget. 50 million Alexa smart speakers from Amazon are already in English-speaking homes. Google and Apple account for another 25 million. As for the smart home, in the US, 27.5% of homes are partially or fully are equipped.
Our smart home includes devices that can work without human involvement and are combined into a system under single control
Usually, it consists of a control device (the brain of the system), sensors (eyes and ears), and the actual devices that do something (anything from a plug or a kettle to a heated floor or garage door). It can be controlled by a remote control, from wall panels, from smartphones via a mobile application. There is also voice control.
The most famous and most sophisticated smart home belongs to Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook (and the most expensive to Bill Gates). He created artificial intelligence for the house himself and named it Jarvis, after the butler from Iron Man.
Why do you need a smart home
With these smart things, your life will be easier, more pleasant, calmer, and safer. You will also save on utility bills. Only smart control of lighting, heating, ventilation, or air conditioning can reduce energy costs by 15-20%.
- Resources. The smart home synchronizes the light with motion sensors, turns off all devices at one command, and warns if a device consumes too much energy. The same is for heating and water. And if all the owners leave, the system makes your lights turn off and goes into an economical consumption mode.
- Safety. “Did I turn off the iron?” — never mind. The smart home will turn off. It will notice the smoke, if anything, will sound the alarm if someone sneaked into the house in your absence.
- Caring. A smart home will help you keep an eye on those who need supervision, both old and small.
- Convenience. Some of our smart appliances, for instance, smart TV and smart kettle, are maybe pampering. However, not harmful – they save time and effort. But if you use intelligent gadgets to maintain the right temperature and humidity in the rooms, remind you of important meetings, vacuum the floor, and water the flowers this is certainly useful.
How to make your home smart: first steps
- Start with simpler models. You should not immediately buy devices with complex installation and settings.
- Choose gadgets from the same brand. It’s easier to put them together into a single system.
- Buy equipment into your home in stages: buy light bulbs, CCTV cameras, surge protectors, and other separate devices that can work without a control center.
- Whenever possible, choose the gadgets to which you can connect the sensors, then even before buying a control center, you will be able to create rather complex algorithms.
What you don’t need to do at first
- Buy individual sensors: they usually need additional units and getting to know a smart home on sensors is boring.
- Buy devices that you cannot install yourself. By doing this then you need to call an electrician, change sockets or switches, install switches, control units instead of regular ones.
- Buy gadgets from different manufacturers. Individually, the equipment can work perfectly but it is easier to create a complete system with equipment from the same brand.
If you don’t want or have no opportunity to build a smart home and engage in the selection of technical equipment for home improvement on your own, choose ready-made sets from various companies. Reviews will help you find the best products. Different manufacturers have both budget kits, which include only the basic elements, and more expensive ones that contain the whole range of technical equipment. You just need to combine them into a single system using applications and customize work scenarios.
Basic elements and technologies
Smart home systems include the following parts:
- the whole set of household appliances — refrigerator, kettle, washing machine, robot vacuum cleaner, coffee machine, TV, sound system, shower system, and others,
- lighting, both inside the building and the adjacent territory of private dwelling — bulbs, smart plugs, switches, motion sensors, light strips,
- air-conditioning and heating system — thermostats, water heaters, air conditioners, underfloor heating systems,
- security and protection systems — video surveillance cameras, security and fire alarms, smart locks for inner and entrance door, living space sensors of various kinds, video intercom,
- voice assistants — the most popular are Alexa from Amazon, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant from Nest Labs.
Before buying, let’s take a closer look at the technologies that are used in these devices. They use several different communication standards or protocols to communicate with each other and controllers. Some devices are wired, some are wireless, and some are both. Be sure to check which protocol is compatible with your gadget before buying so that all your devices are compatible with each other.
- X10. This is the oldest of the home automation protocols, dating back to the 70s of the last century. Now it is used for both wired and wireless communication, has been debugged for a long time and still many people prefer to use X10.
- ZigBee. Another name for the wireless standard is IEEE 802.15.4. A group of manufacturers belonging to the ZigBee Alliance uses it. The main advantages are increased reliability, stability, and energy efficiency.
- Z-Wave. Another wireless protocol owned by the manufacturer of microcircuits, including for smart home systems Sigma Design.
- Insteon. It combines powerline communication with wireless. The protocol developer is Smartlabs. It is compatible with X10.
- Wi-Fi. This network protocol is very fast and works well. Other protocols use less power and less bandwidth but Wi-Fi capabilities are much more extensive.
- HAI. This is the protocol used in professional installations over $ 50K.
Smart home cost
It’s difficult to name the exact cost of an intelligent home. It depends on what it can do and who and how worked on its intelligence.
Its price can vary from several hundred dollars to several million
Base stations from leading manufacturers cost from $ 50 to $ 150, separate components will cost about the same. Good thermostats start at $ 35, and homeowners will have to pay about $ 100 for a security camera. Choosing packages or smart home kits for beginners are much cheaper. So, you get an energy-saving or safety starter kit for a full price of $ 100 to $ 250 with a base station included.
Home automation systems are an absolute trend in the modern housing market. Every year it is only gaining momentum, improving the functionality, convenience, and ease of use. So use our guide to better smart life for beginners and feel free to join those who have already appreciated all the benefits.