Smart home technology is a wide and varied ecosystem with options for just about anything. All that flexibility, though, can be a little confusing for a smart home newcomer. How do you figure out what you need? How do you even know what you want?
The key is simply answering the right questions. With these questions, you can get to the bottom of your smart home desires and figure out exactly what products and solutions you need. Read each question below, then find your answer to get recommendations for smart home products to match your lifestyle.
1. Do you want smart home technology for fun or function?
If you’re looking for fun smart home features, start with a personal assistant like Amazon Alexa. Alexa can help queue up songs or TV shows, tell jokes, even control lights and other devices or systems in the home. When you combine Alexa with other smart home tech like smart lighting and sound systems—she can make your home an entertainment central, adjusting the colors and brightness of the lights and adjusting playlists to get your home party-ready.
When it comes to functional smart home tech, Alexa can still help, but home automation devices are where it’s at. Automating blinds in the morning can help you wake up gradually, and can work to control the temperature in your home throughout the day. To help monitor your home while you’re away, smart sensors can send you an alert if you have a water leak or if your temperature drastically changes. And a Control4 system can tie your smart devices together to make them even more convenient and functional, offering unified control from one easy-to-use system.
2. Do you want smart home features to enhance safety or provide entertainment?
Thanks to the variety of sensors and inter-device communication, smart home tech is great at enhancing safety. Smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can talk to each other to pinpoint exactly which room the danger is in—and tell you. Smart locks allow you to lock your door remotely if you forget, and you can grant and revoke access to guests without needing to make duplicate keys. And smart cameras can be accessed from your smartphone from anywhere you have service or a Wi-Fi connection.
If you’re more interested in entertainment, there’s no shortage of options. Streaming gadgets like a Chromecasts let you connect any of your movies or shows to your TV. And again, a smart speaker like an Amazon Echo or the new Apple HomePod makes a great addition that can play music through Bluetooth speakers, provide useful information like sports scores, and even control your TV with just your voice. And if you’re really looking to up the ante with high-resolution music throughout your entire home, a few select rooms, or into the backyard, look no further than Triad Audio and Control4. One tap of a button fires up the perfect playlist from Napster, Pandora, Spotify, or any other favorite streaming service, setting the mood for dinner, a backyard barbecue, or simply a relaxing date night at home.
3. Do you want your smart home to help you save money or save time?
Smart home tech can sometimes seem like a big investment, and it can be—up front, at least. But it is an investment, and many smart home devices eventually pay for themselves in energy savings. Try a smart thermostat like Nest to help save money and get your home’s climate dialed-in automatically. A smart thermostat often pays for itself after a couple of years. A smart sprinkler system like Skydrop will water the lawn automatically according to the weather, time of day, type of soil, slope of yard, etc., helping to create a beautiful, lush yard while offering ways to save on utility bills. And Wi-Fi connected smart plugs like Wemo can even show you what devices are using the most energy. These small savings can add up over the course of a year.
If you struggle to get out the door on time in the morning, a smart coffee maker can save you precious minutes, and a smart vacuum can give you more time to curl up in front of the TV than clean your floors. Plus, if you find yourself in the kitchen a lot, look into smart ovens and appliances that let you schedule baking times and preheat your oven on the drive home.
With these questions answered, you should be well on your way to creating the perfect smart home for you.
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