What Is Smart Home Technology?
Imagine if all the devices and gadget you have could be controlled with your voice or simple push of a button? Not just computers and smartphones, but everything: clocks, speakers, lights, doorbells, cameras, windows, window blinds, hot water heaters, appliances, cooking utensils, etc.
And what if those devices could all communicate and send you information just like you see in your favourite science fiction movies? Yes, this is possible and the answer to it is Internet of Things (IoT). A key component of home automation and smart homes.
Home automation is automating the ability to control items in and around the house with a voice command or single push of a button. Smart home devices are designed to provide ease and efficiency. The best of them save time and money to focus on the moments that matter most.
Lights that turn on when you wake up, a thermostat that adjusts based on whether anyone is home or not, security cameras that notify you when they detect a person – these are all examples of conveniences you’ll have a hard time living without once you have it.
There are many smart home product categories, so you can control everything from lights and temperature to locks and security in your home. In this article we’ll look at the best products in some categories in no particular order. The categories include:
- Smart Home Hubs and Controllers
- Smart Locks and Home Security Systems
- Smart Heating and Cooling
- Smart Health and Fitness Devices
- Smart Lighting
Before you continue though, please note that the foundation of any good smart home is a strong internet connection and a high-quality internet router to handle all of your smart devices that’ll be on your network. So, you should take care of that first before making a list of smart gadgets and devices to buy when you browse your favourite store next.
Also, items in this article can be pricey but are certainly the best you can buy with regards to smart home technology. Check out our Top cheap smart home gadgets and devices guide for a more affordable list.
- SMART HOME HUBS AND CONTROLLERS
A smart home hub is hardware and/or software that connects devices on a home automation network and controls communication among them. It acts as the heart of a smart home network and, tying together various devices and systems in a centralized platform. Some the best of smart home hubs and controllers are:
1. The Amazon Echo Family
The Amazon Echo is a Bluetooth speaker powered by Alexa, Amazon’s handy voice assistant. Alexa works with a number of smart home devices directly. It’ll take some work, but you can use Alexa to control most of the gadgets in your house by the sound of your voice. Some of the popular devices in this family are Amazon Echo dot and Echo Show.
2. Samsung SmartThings
The Samsung Smart Things serves a central system to integrate and control them all your smart home gadgets. While it has its imperfections, the Samsung SmartThings hub to be the best of the lot. It works with a wide range of devices and now has Wi-Fi built in, so you don’t need to plug it into your internet router; this makes it easier to place in your house for the best connection to all your smart home devices.
Because the SmartThings hub has both Zigbee and Z-Wave antennas, you can pair it with several of the best smart home devices. Using the companion app, you can arrange dozens of scenes and automations. It also has a comprehensive home monitoring component, which can send you an alarm, record video, turn on lights, play sounds, and unlock your doors in the event of an emergency.
3. Logitech Harmony Elite
In case you don’t like talking and prefer controlling things the old fashioned way: by pushing buttons the Logitech Harmony Elite is the ultimate universal remote for a reason: it controls a lot more than just TV and stereo. The pricey unit connects with the included Harmony Home Hub to control other Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, or infrared devices in your house.
- SMART LOCKS AND HOME SECURITY SYSTEMS
These are gadgets and devices that take care of your home security. They make surveillance easy and help you raise alarm if suspicious activities are detected in and around your home. Some of these devices are:
1. Nest Hello
The Nest Hello has the highest recording quality of any of the best video doorbells, making it one of the best smart home devices overall. Its microphone and speaker are exceptional, too. It connects to your Wi-Fi network so you can see who’s at the door in real time. It can also capture and store three hours worth of video clips for free. But the most compelling thing about it is the owner-controlled facial recognition feature.
Unlike many commercial systems which pull from existing databases to make a match, Nest Hello helps you build your own personal facial recognition database based on the people that come to your door. Once you tag the most common visitors, the app will eventually recognize them, and alert you when they show up at your door.
You can also set up specific zones, so you’ll only be notified when a person or object appears in that area of the frame. While you’ll need to subscribe to the Nest Aware service (starting at $5/month) to get all of its features, they’re worth it.
2. Arlo Q
The Arlo Q’s 1080p camera boasts excellent quality video, both day and night for security, has accurate motion detection sensors, and a flexible scheduling feature. Best of all, though, is that you get a week’s worth of video storage for free, so you can review your footage several days out in case you’ve misplaced something or need to check back for some other reason.
Arlo Q needs to be plugged into a power outlet and isn’t waterproof, but it’s the best camera for monitoring the interior of your house or apartment. Although if you want to store videos over a longer period, you’ll want to consider subscribing to one of the Arlo cloud storage plans. They start at $3 per month for a single camera.
3. Ring Video Doorbell Pro
The Ring Video Doorbell Pro offers almost everything you’d want in a smart doorbell. It’s fairly easy to install, sports a slender design with interchangeable faceplates, and delivers sharp 1080p video day and night.
It also uses pre-buffering technology to show you what transpired prior to a motion trigger, and lets you view live video on an Amazon Echo Show device using Alexa voice commands, making it one of the most versatile video doorbells you can buy.
- SMART HEATING AND COOLING
1. Nest Learning Thermostat
Designed with Farsight so you can easily view the temperature, the Nest Learning Thermostat is a smart device that will learn your schedule and automatically adjust the temperature for you. You can also save on your monthly energy bills with this ENERGY-START certified device.
It is very easy to install, generates monthly energy report for you and you can customize its rings colour to fit the design of your home.
2. Ecobee SmartThermostat
Ecobee SmartThermostat is a WIFi-based thermostat that lets you control your home heating and air conditioning system with an app or with your voice. A few features help it stand out.
It comes with a remote temperature sensor in the box with the thermostat. The thermostat itself can read the ambient temperature of whatever room it’s in and adjust accordingly. If you want it to adjust the temp based on the conditions in another room, just switch it over to the remote sensor.
This is a useful accessory if your thermostat install point isn’t in a central location, or if you want to make sure a nursery or your home office is the focal point for the Ecobee’s temperature readings, rather than a far-flung hallway.
- SMART HEALTH AND FITNESS DEVICES
Maintaining your overall health is one of the most important things you can do. From nutrition to sleep tracking, there are many ways to improve your wellbeing. These smart devices will help you achieve your desired results.
1. QardioBase 2
Using technology at home to make you healthier just makes good sense. For tracking fat, BMI, water, muscle mass, bone composition, and even pregnancy, look no further than the QardioBase 2. It shares the info it reads with a smartphone app for your easy access. Plus, it just looks great.
2. Atmotube Pro
Atmotube pro continually monitor the air quality surrounding you, this smart health device is so compact that it can be clipped to your keychain and taken everywhere you go. It alerts you if you enter a space with contaminated air, prompting you to find fresh air.
1. Philips Hue Family
The Philips Hue range of products is the broadest in the category, encompassing standard A19 bulbs, flood lights, light strips, fixtures and most recently an entire range of outdoor lighting options. That kind of variety makes it easy to bring the lighting scheme for your entire home onto the Hue service.
The Philip Hue line delivers with bulbs that let you control not only the intensity of the light, but also the colour. It can get pricey, to be sure, but the Hue ecosystem has been around long enough that it works with just about every other system out there, from Alexa, to IFTTT, to Siri (using the Philips Hue Bridge).
2. Yeelight Smart LED Bulb
Yeelight Smart LED bulb offers 16 million colors, and connects to your home network wirelessly, without the need for a hub or bridge. It supports Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, and Alexa, Google, and Siri voice commands, and it’s relatively affordable at #10,072 ($25.99). It also offers a user-friendly app that lets you configure lighting effects and create lighting schedules. All of this makes it one of the best deals around for affordable smart bulbs.
That’s all for now. What are your thoughts on smart home technology? How do you think they’ll make your everyday tasks easier? Leave a comment about your thoughts. We love hearing from you.
Also check out several other of our blog post that discuss extensively real estate topics and tips such as the 7 real estate investment secrets you’re not suppose to know, interiors design trends of 2020 that’ll transform your home into a paradise, 7 things you must consider before buying a home etc.
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