Expert advice for building a smart house or apartment
Setting up a smart home is often seen as an expensive and complicated undertaking. Luckily, it’s more affordable and simpler than you might think. To get an idea of what you can expect, we asked our technical expert, jaime vazquezfor tips on setting up a smart home system, choosing the best virtual assistant, and saving money along the way.
What is a smart home?
Smart homes use technology to automate and improve everyday tasks. According to Vazquez, “When people hear ‘smart home’, they think of a robotic home of the future. In reality, a smart home is just a house that acts as a digital housekeeper. »
In many cases, smart homes work best with a virtual assistant at their core. These voice assistants are not necessary, but they make your smart devices work more smoothly.
How to choose the right virtual assistant
Before you buy smart devices, you’ll probably want to choose a virtual assistant. You can use multiple virtual assistants, but it’s not recommended because they don’t always communicate with each other and use different wake words.
According to Vazquez, “We’re getting to the point where the question is ‘which is better’ and the answer is ‘yes.’ Alexa is the most mature and has the best integration on the market. Google Home has exceptional voice recognition. If you are an Apple fan or want an assistant with a good privacy history, go for Siri.
Is installing a smart home expensive?
You can spend less than $100 for the basics. If you intend to use Amazon Alexa as your virtual assistant, you can purchase a echo dot for $40 or less. Smart plugs cost around $10 and let you turn certain devices on and off with voice commands. Smart bulbs are another affordable way to start using smart devices.
Once you’ve set up your first few devices, you can slowly add more outlets and smart speakers to your system. Eventually, you can consider adding devices that will save you money over time. Smart thermostats, for example, can lead to significant energy savings over time. Sometimes your energy company may even offer rebates for using smart thermostats. Still, according to Vazquez, it’s essential to read the fine print of these agreements. You may inadvertently allow your energy provider to control your thermostat.
How to set up a smart home system
The easiest way to start is to allow your virtual assistant to make recommendations. For example, your assistant may suggest that you turn your lights on when the sun comes up and turn them off at night.
If you want to get more involved, you can start establishing your own routines; it may seem daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it opens up a world of possibilities. Vazquez said, “We were selling our house last summer and wanted to make a good impression on buyers. We put up a sign directing potential buyers to say, “Alexa, we’re here to view the house.” I created a routine that turned on a few lights and played light jazz music. Alexa would then greet them and say, “We’re glad you’re here. Welcome to your next home.’”
Are smart devices easy to hack?
You’ve probably seen at least one story about a hacked smart device. These stories lead many people to believe that these hacks are an inevitable part of using Wi-Fi-connected devices, but they’re not as scary as you might think.
Asked about smart device hacks, Vazquez said, “It definitely happens, and the info-sec community does a really good job of testing, identifying, and fixing vulnerabilities. Many vulnerabilities require proximity, which gives me peace of mind. In general, consumers should be aware of a few key things. It’s a good idea to put these devices on a guest Wi-Fi network; this quarantines them so as not to overestimate your technical environment. Knowing how to disable smart technology is also essential. The most important thing is to take advantage of the privacy controls. There is some risk, but everything is manageable.
Smart home products recommended by our expert
This device is a great choice if you’re looking for an affordable way to start using a virtual assistant. You can use voice commands to turn your devices on and off, play music, set alarms and more.
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The Google Nest Mini is easy to set up and has top-notch voice recognition. They don’t take up much space and are relatively inexpensive. These speakers are compatible with many smart locks and other devices.
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They are easy to set up and are compatible with Alexa and Google Home. They are small enough not to block the exit above or below. The four-pack includes enough outlets to integrate smart technology into multiple rooms in your home.
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These bulbs have adjustable white settings and over 16 million color options. They are compatible with Alexa and Google Home. Some were disappointed with the bulbs’ privacy controls, but most were thrilled with the functionality.
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Installation is simple, requiring only a screwdriver. You can unlock your deadbolt using the Level app, Apple HomeKit, or geofencing technology that automatically opens it when you’re within range. It has a range of 15 feet, but you can extend it by using your Apple TV to communicate with the lock.
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Expanding your system with additional cameras is simple. Unlike other video doorbells, this does not require a monthly subscription. It is easy to set up and provides locally stored 2K resolution videos. You can use it in addition to your old doorbell or replace the old one entirely.
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Cody Stewart written for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their buying decisions, saving them time and money.
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