Smart gadgets were among the most anticipated additions to our future lives for many years. The future is now, and people have the opportunity to automate all sorts of tasks in their home with apps, internet-connected devices and even robots. While this is the kind of technology that will continue to advance at a fast pace, you have to start somewhere. There are so many different options to choose from that no matter where you start; you should have a plan. Below, we go over the steps to take to ensure the cost-effective, worthwhile deployment of smart technology throughout your home.
1. Decide What You Need
The most essential part of all for anyone that does not have an unlimited budget is to decide exactly which parts of their home they wish to automate. The good news is that the nature of smart technology means that it is rarely difficult to make an upgrade, but you’ll still want something to work towards in the planning stages. Consider whether you simply want to control your lights from a mobile app, or want to be able to schedule the cleaning of clothes, floors and anything else with a couple of taps.
2. Consider the DIY Approach
The nature of smart technology means you do not necessarily need to be a home improvement expert to achieve your goals. At the same time, the option is always there to bring in outside assistance, much as you would to install a door or to paint the walls. As with any project along these lines, the cost will be a significant deciding factor. Smart systems and appliances tend to be more expensive than their dumb counterparts already, and paying for the time and labour of hired help will eat into your budget and potentially constrain the plan you put together.
3. Don’t Skimp on the Router
The router is the heartbeat of any smart home as many devices will not work to their fullest potential without fast and reliable access to the internet, backed by a wide-reaching Wi-Fi signal. With a solid signal, communication between hardware and software will be seamless, and it is surprisingly frustrating to wait a few seconds for something to happen after you tap the screen. If you want the best possible solution, it can be worth looking into gaming routers, as while you may or may not play online games, the design tweaks that make them work well for their chosen purpose also improve home networks in other ways.
4. Adapt Your Design in the Building Stage
If you have lived in what will become your smart home for a while, you will rely almost exclusively on standalone devices and external features. If you are in the building process, you can make adjustments to make your home even smarter along the way. This could be as simple as to integrate ethernet cables into walls and sockets, or could even see built-in touchscreens throughout the home. The main consideration is that these items will be difficult to replace, so go for the best you can get and future-proof.
5. Not Everything Needs to be Smart
As we have already discussed, smart products are often more expensive than their dumb equivalents, but not everything needs to be designed as a smart home appliance to play a part. You can repurpose existing items with smart switches and plugs, or let your home controller take care of regular light bulbs by controlling the electrical inputs.
6. Try to Stick with Certain Brands
We have discussed the fact that most smart home tech works with anything else, but this is not always the case. Indeed, it is often best to stick with a couple of brands – get all your lightbulbs from the same brand and keep your smart appliances under the same badge. This ensures that any proprietary communication systems remain on the same wavelength and will work together.
7. Seek Out Expert Advice
Even if you’re largely going it alone, there are enough resources out there to help you along the way. It is also important to know your limitations, and you should never attempt anything that could potentially be unsafe. It is possible to automate surprisingly technical home items like solar panels and electrical systems, but you should bow to greater experience and certification if unsure.
8. Keep Track of Warranties
While smart home systems have been around for a while, the overall technology remains relatively new. When some products come out, we get the impression that not even the manufacturers are fully aware of how long the item will last for. Some kind of warranty will protect you by law and, in a competitive market, these manufacturers know the value that a good warranty carries. Most importantly of all, while paper might be the antithesis of the smart home, know where your warranty details are as one broken part of the network can cause other elements to stop working temporarily.
9. Stay on Top of Updates
A true smart home relies on hardware and software in equal measure, and the latter will be updated regularly to patch security issues and boost functionality. As with any software, it is always a good idea to use the latest possible version, and you can either opt for automatic updates or decide that you will take the time to stay on top of them as required. If you do find yourself with products from numerous companies, it can be worth holding off for a few days in case any compatibility issues arise.
10. Keep Abreast of New Products
More smart home equipment comes out virtually every week, and what is the perfect setup today may be easily improved tomorrow. With a good idea of what can be changed or improved, you keep your setup future-proofed and will reap the full benefits that you may hope for from home automation for many years to come.