SMART HOME AUTOMATION SYSTEM
Smart Home automation is nothing new, but a recent boom in smart-home tech has thrust it straight into the spotlight. Smart-home kits, sensors and gadgets have been a dominating presence at CES for the past two years, with big names like Apple, Google, GE and Microsoft right there in the thick of it. That’s not surprising, given that market experts predict that the smart home’s market share will be worth tens of billions within the next few years.
All that action adds up to a rapidly growing number of things in the “Internet of Things,” along with a variety of platforms competing to control them all. That might make the idea of getting your smart home started a little bit overwhelming, but don’t worry. It’s actually easier than ever to start automating your home — provided you know your options.
What Kinds Of ‘Things’ Can I Automate?
“Smart home” is a pretty broad term, covering a huge number of connected gadgets, systems and appliances that do a wide variety of different things. “Home automation” is slightly less broad, referring specifically to things in your home that can be programmed to function automatically. In years past, those automations were pretty basic — lamp timers, automated holiday lighting and so on — but that’s fast been changing thanks to the recent sprawl of smart-home tech aimed at mainstream consumers.
The possibilities are immense, ranging from lights and locks to cameras and coffee makers. The common denominator is automation, and a promise that these devices can save you time, save you money or make your life a little easier. An automated lamp might turn on by itself as soon as you walk into the room. An automated thermostat might turn the heat down when it detects you’ve left for the day, then back on when it thinks you’re on your way back.
To cut through all of it and figure out what’s most relevant to you, imagine a typical day at home. Are there any devices you regularly turn on and off? Do you regularly adjust your home environment depending on what you’re doing? Those regular habits and activities are typically the best candidates for automation. Figure out which ones are most important to you, and you’ll have a much better idea of what to look for in the smart home space.
Some of the most popular categories along these lines are lighting, home security, climate control and kitchen automation. In the coming weeks, we’ll be exploring all of these in greater detail through a series of additional features, so stay tuned for those.
Mind you, those categories are far from exhaustive. With so much competition, manufacturers are getting increasingly creative in order to stand out from the crowd, which is one of the main reasons that the smart home has diversified as quickly as it has.
How Does Home Automation Work?
Think of the automated home as a human body. It needs to be able to sense things, process information and react accordingly. Different smart-home devices do different things, but all of them fall under at least one of those those three functions.
The first function, sense, is arguably the most important, which is why you’ll see so many smart-home gadgets with built-in sensors for things like motion and temperature, as well as gadgets dedicated exclusively to monitoring them. These devices are the nervous system of the smart home — they’re able to sense the environment around them in some way, providing vital context for the decisions your automated home is going to make.
The devices that make those decisions and actually do things are the muscles of the smart home. A motion detector might sense you stepping out of bed in the morning, but it’s the automated coffee maker that reacts to that information, starting a brew that’ll be ready right as you’re getting out of the shower.
Larger, more elaborate setups with lots of different “nerves” and “muscles” might need a separate device or accessory to manage and process all of that information, especially if the different devices aren’t able to work directly with one another. Smart homes like these need more than just muscles and nerves — they need a brain. That’s where hubs come in.
Smart hubs are designed to control multiple devices, even ones from different manufacturers. A good one will integrate every smart thing in your home into a single, seamless home automation experience, and offer consolidated controls within a single app.
Typically, a hub will include multiple radios for popular smart home protocols like Z-Wave and Zigbee — the wireless “languages” of smart-home gadgetry. This allows the hub to “talk” to everything in its native language, then translate that info into a Wi-Fi signal that you (and your router) can understand and put to use. With the right hub, you’ll be able to expand your system dramatically without things getting too complicated.
Etekcity Wireless Remote Control Electrical Outlet Switch for Household Appliances, White (Learning Code, 5Rx-2Tx)
Command complete control over your outlets The Etekcity Remote Control Outlet Switch lets you remotely control hard to reach appliances and devices. A strong RF signal works as far as 100 feet and through doors and walls without interfering with other electronics, allowing convenient control over small household appliances from across rooms or on second floors. Learning function adapts to your needs This handy feature enables you to program the learning outlet receiver to suit your particular needs. Match any button on any remote transmitter so you can control each outlet individually or all at once. With this level of control in your hands, you’ll increase the efficiency of your household easily and conveniently. Integrate other Etekcity learning remotes and outlets to work seamlessly together.
- Eliminates wasteful standby power and reduce energy use; save on your electric bills.
- Outlets remain off after a power outage to save energy; ETL and FCC approved for safety and quality assurance; Note: it’s not compatible with echo
- Remote Control hard to reach appliances and devices without ON/OFF switches at the push of a button: an ideal ally to those with limited mobility; Integrate other Etekcity learning remotes and outlets to work seamlessly together
TP-Link Smart LED Light Bulb, Wi-Fi, Dimmable White, 50W Equivalent, Works w/ Amazon Alexa & Google Assistant, 1-Pack (LB100)
Control your lighting from anywhere with the LB100. The smart bulb installs as easily as a standard light bulb, and connects to your home Wi-Fi in no time through the free Kasa app. Kasa also lets you manage your lights with your smartphone or tablet, including adjusting brightness and setting schedules and scenes. For added convenience, you can use your voice to control the LB100 when paired with Amazon Alexa.
- 50 Watt Equivalent, 2700K Soft Warm White (Compatible w/ Amazon Alexa & Google Assistant)
- Dim brightness to customize Lighting and suit your mood
- Set schedules, timers, and countdowns and have your lights work around your life, No hub required; works with your Wi-Fi router
Samsung SmartThings Hub, 2nd Generation
SmartThings Routines can turn multiple devices on or off at the touch of a button, at the same time each day, or when activity is detected in your home. Use Amazon Alexa to control your home with voice commands. Ask Alexa to control your smart home using your SmartThings Hub. Make everyday task easier with lifting a finger. Just ask.
- Your smart home needs a brain, so get started with a SmartThings Hub. It connects wirelessly with a wide range of smart devices and makes them work together.
- Use the SmartThings app or Amazon Alexa to control your smart home. Teach your house new tricks by telling it what to do when you’re asleep, awake, away, and back home.
- Requires an Internet-connected router with an available Ethernet port Requires the free SmartThings app for iOS (8.1 or later), Android (4.0 or later), or Windows Phone (8.1 or later)
WeMo Light Switch, Wi-Fi enabled, Works with Amazon Alexa
- The Wemo Wi-Fi Light Switch uses your existing home Wi-Fi network to provide wireless control of your lights from anywhere in the world. No subscription or hub is required: simply install the light switch and start controlling your lights from your phone or tablet. Using the free Wemo app, you can switch your lights on and off and set worry-free schedules no matter where you are.
Schedule your stuff however you’d like: Set the porch light to turn on before you get home. Set ceiling fans to come if the outside temperature hits 80. Sync on and off times to sunrise and sunset, and more.
- Works with Amazon Alexa, so your lights will respond to voice commands.
- Works with Nest Thermostat, so your lights will “know” if you’re out of the house, and can turn on or off as you wish.
Wink Hub 2
The Wink app keeps you connected to your home — no matter where you are. Choose connected products from your favorite brands and control them all from one simple app.
The Wink Hub 2 allows your smart products from different brands to speak the same wireless language so that you can easily control them from the Wink app.
- Wink allows your diverse collection of smart products to speak the same wireless language so you can easily control them from the free Wink app
- A more powerful Wi-Fi radio and Ethernet port connect your products smoothly, while a stronger processor and more memory make your smart home faster
For owners of the original Wink Hub upgrading to Wink Hub 2, you can easily transfer your ecosystem of connected products using the Wink app in under a minute.
Sensi Smart Thermostat, Wi-Fi, UP500W, Works with Amazon Alexa
The Sensi app takes all of the frustration and guesswork out of thermostat installation. Just tell the app which wires are connected to your old thermostat, and it chooses from hundreds of possible configurations to select the one that matches your home exactly.
- Ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Smart Thermostat” by J.D. Power
- No other Wi-Fi thermostat works in more homes (no “C-wire” required for many HVAC applications). Refer to Sensi’s online compatibility resources to verify compatibility in your home
- Quick and easy installation in 15 minutes or less. The Sensi app includes a step-by-step installation guide and video tutorial
GE Z-Wave Wireless Smart Lighting Control Duplex Receptacle Outlet, On/Off, In-Wall, White, Works with Amazon Alexa, 12721
Transform any home into a smart home with the GE Z-Wave Smart Lighting Control Duplex Receptacle. The receptacle replaces your current electrical outlet, uses your existing wiring and provides a Z-Wave enabled outlet for the lamp or appliance that you would like to control and a standard pass-through AC outlet for other electrical appliances.
- Compatible with incandescent, fluorescent, compact fluorescent, xenon, halogen and LED lighting up to 600 watts
- Features one always-on pass-through AC outlet and one Z-Wave enabled outlets
- Easily locate the receptacle in a dark room with the integrated blue LED indicator
- Works with Alexa for voice control (hub Required, Alexa device and hub sold separately)
- White lighting control matches most standard wall plates (wall plate not included)
Wink Relay – Smart Home Touchscreen Control Panel – Intercom – 2x Smart Switches
Lights, thermostats, window treatments. .. Now you, your family, or guests can access your entire smart home all in one place. Put Relay in the room you use most, sync up multiple units, or use the mobile app when you’re away. Relay keeps you aware of what’s going on by playing convenient notification sounds. You can even sync up multiple units to take advantage of its intercom functionality .
- Microphone and speaker for intercom functionality (coming soon) and Replaces most single or double light switches
- 4.3″ multi-touch screen allows access to all your smart products via the Wink app
- Temperature, humidity, and proximity sensors put even more data at your fingertips
- Switchmate automatically turns on lights as you arrive home or enter rooms and is installed through a simple one-second installation, so everyone can enjoy the many benefits of smart lighting without the hassle of complicated set ups. It is the first smart home product that can be use with absolutely no configuration, tools, wiring, or wifi. Switchmate instantly attaches magnetically to existing toggle or rocker switches and is controlled through the free app on your smart phone.
Automatically turns on lights as you arrive home or enter rooms
Portable – take it when you move
Timers- turns lights on/off automatically even when you’re away
One-second install: no tools or wiring
Belkin Conserve Insight Energy Use Monitor, F7C005Q
The Belkin Conserve Insight Energy Cost Monitor helps you measure the true impact of your energy use on your utility bill – and the environment. Find out how much energy your devices really use–including watts, the cost of operation, and the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions–with the Belkin Conserve Insight Energy Cost Monitor. At a glance you can see exactly how much electricity is used by devices like computers, televisions, kitchen appliances and more. The monitor also shows the carbon dioxide emissions produced as a byproduct of your electricity usage. With this monitor, you get a clear idea of the true impact to your wallet–and the environment.
- Tracking feature monitors your actual device usage over time and projects the dollar impact on your electric bill
- Shows power plant carbon dioxide emissions (carbon footprint) from using your devices
- See how much different devices cost to use on a yearly or monthly basis
- Preloaded with US average electricity cost; you can also set your own rate from your electric bill
Automating your home doesn’t need to be daunting. On the contrary, the barrier to entry has never been lower. Today’s tech is clamoring for mainstream approval, with an emphasis on ease of use. Competition is bringing prices down, and legitimate platforms are starting to emerge. In sum, it’s a great time to give home automation a shot.