Transforming your home into a smart home is nowhere near as hard as many people think. The past few years have been an amazing improvement for us, the consumers. Many of the big brands have made it so easy and user friendly to get started.
Choose your Hub. Yes, I said Hub. Don't let that term intimidate you, it's just a slab of plastic that all your devices connect to and does the hard work for you. There are many devices out there that advertise "no hub required." While some of those devices do work great, they are limited and often use WiFi only. Ever had your phone or any other WiFi device lose connection? Yeah, it can be a headache, especially when you have so many devices going at once.
There are a few popular DIY options out there such as Wink, Vera, and Home Assistant, but my favorite is the Samsung SmartThings Hub. It has an easy to use interface and works with the most broad variety of devices. SmartThings also works with a good variety of protocols: Z wave, Zigbee, and WiFi. You can check out my video on getting SmartThings set up here.
Once you have your hub picked out, (we're going to be talking about SmartThings from here on out) then we need some devices to go along with it. Click here for a good variety of devices that work with SmartThings. Which devices you choose depends on what you want to control, and how. There are seemingly endless options to choose from with a variety of outcomes. Let's simplify this with a smart lighting set-up. Lights can be "connected" a few different ways, we'll cover the most common:
- The bulb itself being "smart." A Philips Hue Bulb, for example, connects to SmartThings directly or through it's bridge. Color variances are achieved this way.
- A smart switch replaces your "dumb" switch to control the lights wired to it. These come in a dimmer, or a standard on/off variety and can be controlled manually, or autonomously.
- A smart plug connected to any lamp could also be used to control your lighting.
Configure your automations. We'll use the example in step two. Using one of these lighting scenarios, automations can be set so we don't have to use our voice, phone, or God forbid, our hands on a switch. The most common automation set up for using lights, is by motion, although connected to a door sensor is a close second. You walk into a room, lights turn on; walk out of the room, a few minutes go by, lights turn off. This is easily accomplished using SmartThings and a motion sensor. Using the "Smart Lighting" smartapp within SmartThings, you could set this automation in a matter of seconds.
Sit back and let your home do the thinking for you. While these simple lighting scenarios may not make your home "intelligent," it opens up the possibility of many more automations:
- voice alerts
- presence detection
- home security
- water detection
- window/door automations
- climate control
- weather reports
- automatic blinds
- and so many more...