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A smart home isn’t simply an amalgamation of different technological devices, it’s an avenue to increased efficiency, ease, and enjoyment. From monitoring your home from afar using security cameras, setting up different songs to play in each room of your home, to automatically cleaning your home, a smart home is all about interconnection. Due to the increased usage of the associated technologies, smart devices are becoming cheaper and easier to use, with only a few steps standing between you and a house-turned-smart-home. You can put together a world class smart home for under $500, but first lets talk about the important things you need to consider.
At the most basic level, a smart home consists of devices linked to your Wifi network, which in turn, are connected to each other. This provides a higher degree of automation, freeing you up to do the things you enjoy or to get you out of the house faster in the morning. Smart homes differ between individuals, with some preferring to keep it relegated to voice activated speakers, while others may have a robot vacuum roaming their flooring. There would even be some people who incorporate every type of smart device into their home, for a fully automated network.
The extent to which your home is ‘smartified’ depends on your wants and needs, as well as your budget. Smart devices have been designed to easily incorporate into your home or existing network, so you can purchase pieces of your smart home network over time, without it being a massive out-of-pocket expense at one time. Most smart devices work together seamlessly, particularly the major ecosystems such as Google and Alexa, but it’s always important to ensure your additions can ‘talk’ to each other without any hassle.
Primarily, a smart home is great for streamlining your life, adding more convenience, and allowing you to monitor the security of your home. To put it another way, let’s say you’re working or cooking in your home and it starts to get dark. You may have to break your concentration or clean your hands to go and turn the lights on regularly. Alternatively, you can just ask Google or Alexa to turn the lights on in your office or kitchen.
Or if you’re ready for some relaxation after a busy day, you can tell your hub or smart speaker to turn on your TV, sound system, or gaming console, while you get settled. You can even take your smart home a step further and use the dedicated apps to set schedules, able to activate your desired appliances as soon as you walk through the door.
When it comes to building a smart home a powerful router is a necessity because if you don’t have a stable wifi network, your devices may not be able to efficiently communicate with each other. Not to mention, some smart devices may only work with wifi.
Let’s quickly jump back to the basics;
a router is a device that converts the wired connection from your modem and converts it to a wireless signal.
Data is then transmitted across radio frequency bands to communicate with your wifi-enabled devices. It should be said that while different routers can have a significant effect on the efficiency and communication speeds of your home network, it won’t affect your base internet speed; that’s in the hands of your provider and plan. There are four main types of wifi routers, each with their advantages and disadvantages but it basically runs down to how much you’ll use your network.
The most affordable of the routers, single-band routers operate on a single 2.4GHz frequency band, compatible with most devices on the market. The 2.4GHz band is great for penetrating through walls and floors, ideal for small homes and they tend to be cheaper than their multi-frequency counterparts.
On the disadvantageous side, single-band routers are prone to more interference due to the commonality of their use. They can also deliver slightly slower speeds due to all communication taking place on a single network.
Stepping up a notch, dual-band routers use the baseline 2.4GHz frequency band as well as a separate 5GHz band. The 5GHz band, due to not being ultra-common, has less interference on the network, allowing for faster communication and internet speeds.
However, the 5GHz range is not the greatest at communicating through walls and furniture so dual-band routers allow you to switch which frequency band to utilise depending on what you’re doing and whether you’re using a device that supports 5GHz.
Tri-band routers add a second 5GHz frequency band to the network, alongside the existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. The purpose of this is to further reduce congestion on your network, allowing for faster communication speeds. A tri-band router is great for those who live in areas with a lot of internet traffic, such as cities, or those with a lot of connected devices.
Mesh Networks function by extending the range of your wifi system, for house-wide connectivity, which is why they’re also known as whole home wifi systems. Normally, they function with one primary router with secondary nodes placed around the home to boost the range of the signal. Mesh routers are optimal for larger homes or businesses, where you may get spotty or non-existent wifi in certain areas. The best part about mesh networks is that they can be single, dual, or tri-band systems.
The term ‘ecosystem’ refers to your wider network of connected smart devices, with each device serving a purpose and working with and alongside other smart products. There are a plethora of different smart ecosystems which work similarly in purpose but offer different benefits. Let’s take a look at Google Assistant, Apple Homekit, Amazon Alexa, and Samsung SmartThings.
One of the major smart ecosystems, Google Assistant has been a major staple of Android phones for many years, with the same system operating across phones, Android smart watches, and home speakers. There are two variants of Google Assistant speakers, ones with the codec built directly into the device and devices which can be commanded or controlled by Google Assistant.
Using smart commands, Google Assistant devices can be used to control music, view or hear weather and news reports, control other compatible smart devices, and even take calls. A big focus for Google Assistant as an ecosystem is ease of use with new devices added through tapping a few buttons within the Google Assistant app and scanning a network.
Alexa made a debut in 2014 on the original Echo smart speaker and has since grown to be one of the major smart ecosystems in the smart home sector. Similar to Google, Amazon Alexa has two variations, ones that have Alexa built-in and those that ‘Work with Alexa’, controlled by another Alexa device. If you add a new smart product to your home you can either use the ‘Add Device’ functionality within the dedicated app or simply ask Alexa to scan for new devices, for easy integration.
The number of Alexa-compatible devices is constantly growing allowing the system to identify and control compatible devices on your home network. When it comes to control, Amazon features ‘Skills’, which are essentially apps you can activate and control through voice commands. Through Alexa, you can even create groups of devices and control them with a single voice command, such as turning off lights or shutting down all entertainment devices.
SmartThings is a smart ecosystem designed to connect with a range of different devices. The dedicated SmartThings app allows you to not only view but configure your added devices with a few taps. While you can control and operate your lighting, music, and even appliances with the SmartThings app, you can even schedule times for when your home ‘comes to life’.
Have your lights turn on or music start playing as soon as you walk through the door. With the available selection of compatible devices growing larger by the day, not simply including Samsung devices, SmartThings lets everything work together with ease and simplicity.
4. Apple HomeKit
A little different to the previous ecosystems, Apple HomeKit is a software built into Apple devices such as the iPhone and MacOS. As opposed to having a large number of different smart apps taking up space on your phone, the Home application brings them all together for easy control.
The Apple Home allows you to securely operate and control any smart home device that is labelled as a ‘Works with Homekit’ product. Within the app, you can group your accessories by room, adjust multiple devices at the same time, and manage the functionality of connected devices. Alternatively, you can use Siri to operate and manage compatible devices with voice commands.
With the addition of each smart home device into your home, you’ve added a new node which needs to connect and communicate in order to function. A smart home hub, often referred to as a smart bridge, is designed to collect and translate various communications between smart devices. The hub acts as the heart of your network, simplifying the network and allowing you to control your home-bound devices, remotely. This often comes with a dedicated smartphone app to manage the functionality of compatible, connected devices. For example, the Philips Hue Bridge connects the Philips Hue app to all your compatible smart lights, able to turn them on/off, change their colour, or set schedules.
While some smart devices come with hubs or bridges to exclusively communicate with other products in their range, operating on specific wireless protocols, a large proportion of smart devices have been designed for easy use. To accomplish this, many smart devices connect through Bluetooth or WiFi protocols.
So you’ve got your smart devices connected but how do you get them ‘talking’, so to speak? This is mainly accomplished through access points which connected your wired router and create a wireless local area network, also known as a WLAN. Access points can be hubs/bridges or smart speakers and offer a wider network of control over your smart home.
Smart speakers, for example, allow you to connect and control your devices through voice commands while you’re at home without needing to open an app or manually operate your appliances. These can include turning on and operating your TV, switching lights on or off, or raising the temperature on your heater.
Many smart home devices, such as Philips Hue, Apple HomeKit, and Alexa use their own dedicated apps to offer specialised control over your products. Depending on the smart ecosystem and app you’re using, different functionality will be available. Set schedules for your appliances to activate, group lighting or devices together to control them with a single command or action, or customise their performance.
Along with app control, you can even use your mobile to remotely control or monitor your home, using spoken commands. Take the Google app for example, you can easily operate your devices through both app-based control and voice commands, great for when you are unable to reach your phone.
Evolving from a simple illuminating fixture filling your home with a monotone shade of white or yellow, Smart Lights turn your lighting into an experience. Able to glow with up to 16 million different colours, each of your smart lights can make it seem as if you have a personal rainbow at your fingertips. Controlled through specialised apps, your lighting can be tweaked, grouped, scheduled, and changed with a few taps of your finger.
Not just vessels for recreating incredible audio, smart speakers put the ease and simplicity of having a voice assistant, at your fingertips. Increase/decrease the volume, change tracks, and adjust playback of your audio with simple voice commands, great for when you’re too busy or preoccupied to manually change the song. Beyond just music, smart speakers can read you the top news stories for the day, order food, and allow you to control other compatible smart devices in your home.
Life’s too short to worry about doing mundane chores such as vacuuming your floors or cleaning your windows. At The Daily Sale Shop we have a range of automated robot vacuums and window cleaning robots, allowing you to enjoy a clean home without having to do any of the work. These robots can be controlled, monitored, and adjusted using dedicated apps right from your smartphone. Set cleaning zones, schedule vacuuming times, and more, while you sit back, relax, and enjoy your day or night.
Keep your home safe and secure, with our wide range of smart security devices. With both outdoor and indoor security cameras, any motion, sound, or disturbances can be recorded for later playback and viewing on an array of smart devices. Smart security isn’t simply confined to cameras, with automated lighting, doorbells, baby monitors, and chimes working together for a truly interconnected network. Receive sound and motion alerts on your smart device and see what your camera sees, even when you’re out and about.
As technology has evolved, so too has its ability to incorporate into our lives, which has led to the development of devices to make our homes smarter. No longer just for the technically-minded with an abundance of disposable income, smart devices have become accessible for individuals, couples, and singles alike. Adding smart capabilities into your home can streamline your day, help you protect/monitor the home, and truly sink into relaxation.