A smart plug is an easy and low-cost way to make your regular home appliances, devices and lighting into smart home devices.
The market for the smart home is growing fast, although the cost is still a barrier for some to make their homes connected. But one smart home gadget that has grown in popularity over the last few months is a smart plug, a small adapter that can be plugged into a regular electrical wall outlet and can be connected to a Wi-Fi network. It may not be a fancy device to show off but it’s the most basic device needed to make a connected home. But what makes smart plugs intelligent and how do they work? Let’s find out.
What is a smart plug?
A smart plug is seen as the foundation to set up a so-called smart home. All you need to do is to plug the smart plug into an outlet and then connect it to your Wi-Fi network through the compatible app on your smartphone or tablet. Once connected, simply plug an appliance like a lamp or a fan, into your smart plug and then control the appliance either through the app or your voice.
A smart plug is the easiest way to make your home appliances or devices smart. (Image credit: Amazon)
How does a smart plug work?
The idea behind a smart plug is to convert regular devices and appliances into your home “intelligent”. They need stable Wi-Fi and don’t require a hub. Most smart plugs come with a companion app that can be easily downloaded from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Smart plugs may seem slightly bulky, but they immediately blend with the interior of your home.
What are the advantages of a smart plug?
As we have mentioned earlier, smart plugs make your “dumb” devices and appliances smarter at a very nominal cost. The possibilities are endless with smart plugs. Turn the lights off without getting out of bed, control your heater from another room, or schedule your coffee machine even if you get out of bed in the morning.
Smart plugs support Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or both. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)
Does a smart plug support voice assistants?
It depends. A lot of smart plugs do support popular voice assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa but some don’t come with Alexa and Google Assistant either. So before you buy the smart plug, make sure you see the plug can be connected to Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. Voice-controlled assistants like Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa make it easy to control smart home devices by speaking simple commands like “Hey Google, turn on the light.” Though each of the voice assistants has its pros and cons.
Amazon Echo Flex review: A tiny plug-in smart speaker for compact spaces
Things to consider before you choose a smart plug
#Smart plugs are designed to be used for indoor and outdoor purposed. Before purchasing a smart plug, make sure you go through all the features, because smart plugs for indoor use cannot be used for outdoor lights.
#Buy a smart plug that supports Wi-Fi. Having a Wi-Fi-enabled smart plug is easy to set up without any learning curve and does not need any additional hub.
#Most commonly available smart plugs only support Alexa and Google Assistant. However, if you are into the Apple ecosystem and want Siri to turn off the coffee machine or lights, buy a smart plug that is compatible with HomeKit and your Apple devices. The problem is that there are very few smart plugs available in the market that work with Apple HomeKit.
#Choose a smart plug that lets you set a schedule for turning devices and appliances on or off at specific times.
#Not every device is compatible with a smart plug. It depends on the watts a device use, so select the plug accordingly.
A smart plug gives you the ability to control and manage the devices, appliances and lights. (Image credit: TP Link)
How much does a smart plug cost?
If you use Alexa frequently, the Amazon smart plug is a great option. Any device that you plug into an Amazon smart plug can be turned on and off using the Alexa app on your iPhone or Android, smartphone. But there are a bunch of smart plugs that are equally capable. Take for instance, Realme’s smart plug, which costs a mere Rs 799. The Wi-Fi smart plug not only has five-layer safety protection but is compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants. TP-Link’s HS100 Wi-Fi smart plug is another good option, though it is priced at Rs 1399.
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The fast growth of technology has led to the introduction of exciting products for your home. Much like we can download and use applications on our smartphones; the same idea is now available for appliances we use every day in our homes. A home equipped with such technology is called a smart home.
Smart homes are designed to fit the different life styles for each owner. The smart home technology is highly automated, efficient, and convenient for operation in the home. This means that the home owner can control various appliances and the settings for the appliance with a remote control or their smartphone. For example, the home owner can adjust the temperature setting on their thermostat or turn on and off lights in the home by simply using an application on their smartphone.
What is a Smart Home and How Does it Work
According to website where you can find TV electric lifts, the smart home operations can be tracked through the linear motion track system.
Devices hooked up to the Internet on a smart home can be controlled via a smartphone or other remote. As mentioned earlier, controlling the lights or setting the temperature on the thermostat are just two examples of such home automation control.
In addition, if the home has multiple climate zones, each thermostat can set individually to adjust the different zones of the home without even being present in the home. Built in scheduling can provide automation that will automatically adjust the temperature without having to manually change it.
For the security conscious, cameras can be installed that detect any type of movement or other operation in the house. The cameras can either consist of IP cameras, or CCTV cameras. With IP cameras, the owner can monitor the cameras through the Internet to keep an eye on the house while away from the home. Some CCTV cameras may also provide Internet monitoring in a similar method.
In addition to cameras, there are door locks available that can also be controlled from the Internet to ensure they are locked. This is handy when you are unsure if you locked the door to the house when you are a long distance from home. At the same time, if someone forgot their key to the house and needed access, you can unlock the house remotely and then re-lock it when the person leaves the house.
Of course, as with traditional home security, a smart home can utilize security alarms. In a smart home, the security alarms can not only notify the security company, but also yourself if the alarm becomes activated. As with the other devices in a smart home, a security alarm can be controlled via a remote control, such as a smartphone.
Smart homes can be operated using a smartphone, computer and touch screen panels. The control can be done from inside the house or outside the hose through use of the Internet either via WiFi or a mobile data network. By having access from various Internet access points, this ensures there is access to every part in the house at any time.
With the Internet of Things (IoT) becoming more popular for home appliances and devices, we will be seeing more and more smart homes in the future and more ways of accessing the various appliance that we use every day.
June 16, 2019, 6:40am EDT
Smarthomes are like any other home, just with extra control options for lights, plugs, thermostats, and more. But those additional controls introduce complexity, and understanding how they work will help you build a better smarthome.
We’ve covered in the past what a smarthome is, and even offered advice for hubs, voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assitant, and how to set up a smarthome on a budget. But if you’re setting up your first smarthome or upgrading an existing smarthome, it’s essential to understand how they work as you make decisions on what to add to it. And with smarthomes, it’s all about the radios and brains.
Your Smart Gadgets Are Radio-Powered
When it comes to the devices that power your smarthome, they all have something in common: a radio. Whether it’s Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-wave, Bluetooth, or proprietary, the big difference between your smart device and a non-smart version is a radio.
But that radio doesn’t give your bulbs, plugs, and doorbell any intelligence. It’s there for communication. You might think that your devices communicate directly with your phone or tablet and vice-versa, but that’s usually not true. And even in cases where it is, like Bluetooth, that’s always the end of the story. Almost all your smart devices communicate with an intermediary, the brains of your smarthome if you will.
Your Smarthome Requires a Brain, Sometimes More Than One
By now, you should know when you talk to your Echo or Google Home devices; they transmit your voice to Amazon and Google servers for interpretation. Without that process, voice assistants don’t understand a word you say. The truth is, nearly all (if not all) your smart gadgets work similarly. Before your smart doorbell video reaches your phone, it travels through the doorbell manufacturer’s servers. When you press the off button in the Philips Hue app, that signal goes from your smartphone to your wireless router, to the Philips hub. That hub then communicates with your Hue bulbs to turn them off.
Think of the servers or hubs (and sometimes both) as the brains of your smarthome. That’s where the intelligence is. Not in the gadgets themselves, and not in the apps or physical remotes you use to interact with them. And those servers and hubs enable extra abilities beyond on and off. They provide routines, facial recognition, automations, voice control, and more.
But the thing to keep in mind is that your smarthome may have more than one set of brains. Your Google Home connects to Google servers; your Philips Hue bulbs connect to a Philips hub, Lutron to its hub, and so on.
Some manufacturers design devices to communicate with universal hubs, like Z-wave devices that connect to a SmartThings or Hubitat hub. But you may still need to involve other company servers and hubs for interaction between all your devices. Philips Hue bulbs can work with a SmartThings hub, for instance, but they still use the Philips Hub in the process.
More Brains Means More Gadgets, More Complication, and Maybe Lag
Knowing that your smart device communicates with something (a hub, a server, etc.) is essential because smarthomes work best when everything works together. If you prefer to talk to your home to control it, but your light doesn’t work with Alexa, then it may as well not be a smart light.
Thankfully, device manufacturers understand this and usually try to work with as many different services as possible. So if you’ve already settled on a particular light bulb brand when you add motion sensors, you need to doublecheck that they communicate with your bulbs. But just importantly, you want to pay attention to how they interact.
Each additional ‘brain’ in the chain introduces points of failure and chances of lag. For example, imagine you create a routine that turns on your living room lights when you arrive home and unlock the door. If your smart lock works on Wi-Fi and your lights on Z-wave, then the data that you have come home needs to travel from your lock to your router, to the smart lock’s cloud, back to your router, to your hub, then to your lights. Along the way, the cloud and hub will see the data and decide what to do with it.
Those extra trips introduce lag. It can minor or very noticeable depending on the speed of your internet, the devices involved, and the servers and hubs. An entirely locally controlled system (all Z-wave through a cloudless hub like Hubitat or HomeSeer for instance) will nearly always work more quickly than a system that uses the cloud. But giving up the cloud may limit what devices you can use, and even preclude voice control which exclusively relies on cloud servers to work.
Beyond misinterpreted data, another point of failure for “multi-brained” homes is when a device manufacturer goes out of business or changes access rights. Your hub may stop working, or the service you use (like Nest) may cut off access entirely. And your smarthome might break because of it.
Add Additional Devices Thoughtfully
That isn’t to say your home can’t work well with a range and mix of radio types and manufacturers. Sometimes the best solution means stepping outside your current mix. You won’t find Ecobee Light Bulbs (at least not yet), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use smart bulbs in conjunction with your Ecobee Thermostat.
But the more you can limit the jumps you make through different hubs and servers, the better off your home will be. And when it’s unavoidable, try to pick a “dominant” or “control” brain. As much as possible, send your devices through one “hub” whether that be a smarthome hub or a voice assistant. By giving control to one service, you’ll at least limit app hopping when it comes time to create routines, automations, and even basic controls.
And your best bet to keep control of how your smarthome gadgets interact is to start with a good understanding of how they interact, and what controls those interactions.
When you’re not home, nagging little doubts can start to crowd your mind. Did I turn the coffee maker off? Did I set the security alarm? Are the kids doing their homework or watching television?
With a smart home, you could quiet all of these worries with a quick glance at your smartphone or tablet. You could connect the devices and appliances in your home so they can communicate with each other and with you.
Any device in your home that uses electricity can be put on your home network and at your command. Whether you give that command by voice, remote control, tablet or smartphone, the home reacts. Most applications relate to lighting, home security, home theater and entertainment, and thermostat regulation.
The idea of a smart home might make you think of George Jetson and his futuristic abode or maybe Bill Gates, who spent more than $100 million building his smart home [source: Lev-Ram]. Once a draw for the tech-savvy or the wealthy, smart homes and home automation are becoming more common.
What used to be a quirky industry that churned out hard-to-use and frilly products is finally maturing into a full-blown consumer trend. Instead of start-up companies, more established tech organizations are launching new smart home products. Sales of automation systems could grow to around $9.5 billion by 2015 [source: Berg Insight]. By 2017, that number could balloon to $44 billion [source: CNN].
Much of this is due to the jaw-dropping success of smartphones and tablet computers. These ultra-portable computers are everywhere, and their constant Internet connections means they can be configured to control myriad other online devices. It’s all about the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things is a phrase that refers to the objects and products that are interconnected and identifiable through digital networks. This web-like sprawl of products is getting bigger and better every day. All of the electronics in your home are fair game for this tech revolution, from your fridge to your furnace.
On the next page, we’ll take a look at the technology in a smart home.
Home automation has a long and fitful history. For many years, tech trends have come and gone, but one of the first companies to find success is still around.
The genesis of many smart home products was 1975, when a company in Scotland developed X10. X10 allows compatible products to talk to each other over the already existing electrical wires of a home. All the appliances and devices are receivers, and the means of controlling the system, such as remote controls or keypads, are transmitters. If you want to turn off a lamp in another room, the transmitter will issue a message in numerical code that includes the following:
- An alert to the system that it’s issuing a command,
- An identifying unit number for the device that should receive the command and
- A code that contains the actual command, such as “turn off.”
All of this is designed to happen in less than a second, but X10 does have some limitations. Communicating over electrical lines is not always reliable because the lines get “noisy” from powering other devices. An X10 device could interpret electronic interference as a command and react, or it might not receive the command at all.
While X10 devices are still around, other technologies have emerged to compete for your home networking dollar. Instead of going through the power lines, many new systems use radio waves to communicate. That’s how BlueTooth, WiFi and cell phone signals operate.
Two of the most prominent radio networks in home automation are ZigBee and Z-Wave. Both of these technologies are mesh networks, meaning there’s more than one way for the message to get to its destination.
Z-Wave uses a Source Routing Algorithm to determine the fastest route for messages. Each Z-Wave device is embedded with a code, and when the device is plugged into the system, the network controller recognizes the code, determines its location and adds it to the network. When a command comes through, the controller uses the algorithm to determine how the message should be sent. Because this routing can take up a lot of memory on a network, Z-Wave has developed a hierarchy between devices: Some controllers initiate messages, and some are “slaves,” which means they can only carry and respond to messages.
ZigBee’s name illustrates the mesh networking concept because messages from the transmitter zigzag like bees, looking for the best path to the receiver. While Z-Wave uses a proprietary technology for operating its system, ZigBee’s platform is based on the standard set by the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for wireless personal networks. This means any company can build a ZigBee-compatible product without paying licensing fees for the technology behind it, which may eventually give ZigBee an advantage in the marketplace. Like Z-Wave, ZigBee has fully functional devices (or those that route the message) and reduced function devices (or those that don’t).
Using a wireless network provides more flexibility for placing devices, but like electrical lines, they might have interference. Insteon offers a way for your home network to communicate over both electrical wires and radio waves, making it a dual-mesh network. If the message isn’t getting through on one platform, it will try the other. Instead of routing the message, an Insteon device will broadcast the message, and all devices pick up the message and broadcast it until the command is performed. The devices act like peers, as opposed to one serving as an instigator and another as a receptor. This means that the more Insteon devices that are installed on a network, the stronger the message will be.
On the next page, we’ll take a look at the products you’ll need to get your smart home running.
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates’ home just outside of Seattle, Wash., might be the most famous smart home to date. Everyone in the home is pinned with an electronic tracking chip. As you move through the rooms, lights come on ahead of you and fade behind you. Your favorite songs will follow you throughout the house, as will whatever you’re watching on television. You can entertain yourself by looking at Gates’ extensive electronic collection of still images, all available on demand. The chip keeps track of all that you do and makes adjustments as it learns your preferences. When two different chips enter the same room, the system tries to compromise on something that both people will like.
What Is a Smart Home?
A smart home refers to a convenient home setup where appliances and devices can be automatically controlled remotely from anywhere with an internet connection using a mobile or other networked device. Devices in a smart home are interconnected through the internet, allowing the user to control functions such as security access to the home, temperature, lighting, and a home theater remotely.
- A smart home allows homeowners to control appliances, thermostats, lights, and other devices remotely using a smartphone or tablet through an internet connection.
- Smart homes can be set up through wireless or hardwired systems.
- Smart home technology provides homeowners with convenience and cost savings.
- Security risks and bugs continue to plague makers and users of smart home technology.
How Smart Homes Work
A smart home’s devices are connected with each other and can be accessed through one central point—a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or game console. Door locks, televisions, thermostats, home monitors, cameras, lights, and even appliances such as the refrigerator can be controlled through one home automation system. The system is installed on a mobile or other networked device, and the user can create time schedules for certain changes to take effect.
Smart home appliances come with self-learning skills so they can learn the homeowner’s schedules and make adjustments as needed. Smart homes enabled with lighting control allow homeowners to reduce electricity use and benefit from energy-related cost savings. Some home automation systems alert the homeowner if any motion is detected in the home when they’re away, while others can call the authorities—police or the fire department—in case of imminent situations. Once connected, services such as a smart doorbell, smart security system, and smart appliances are all part of the internet of things (IoT) technology, a network of physical objects that can gather and share electronic information.
Security and efficiency are the main reasons behind the increase in smart home technology use.
Smart homes can feature either wireless or hardwired systems—or both. Wireless systems are easier to install. Putting in a wireless home automation system with features such as smart lighting, climate control, and security can cost several thousand dollars, making it very cost-friendly. Hardwired systems, on the other hand, are considered more reliable and are typically more difficult to hack. A hardwired system can increase the resale value of a home. But there is a drawback—it’s fairly expensive. Installing a luxury and hardwired smart system can cost homeowners tens of thousands of dollars.
The global home automation market was valued at about $24 billion in 2016. That figure is expected to grow as more people begin to adopt smart home technology to the tune of about $53.5 billion by 2022. Video entertainment is expected to be the largest component of smart home technology, followed by home security and monitoring services. Smart speaker technology has already successfully penetrated the U.S. market, where roughly 31% of households use a device like the Amazon Echo or Google Nest.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Smart Homes
Installing a smart home technology system provides homeowners with convenience. Rather than controlling appliances, thermostats, lighting, and other features using different devices, homeowners can control them all using one device—usually a smartphone or tablet.
Since they’re connected to a portable device, users can get notifications and updates on issues in their homes. For instance, smart doorbells allow homeowners to see and communicate with people who come to their doors even when they’re not at home. Users can set and control the internal temperature, lighting, and appliances as well.
For the cost of setting up the smart system, homeowners can benefit from significant cost savings. Appliances and electronics can be used more efficiently, lowering energy costs.
While the smart home offers convenience and cost savings, there are still challenges. Security risks and bugs continue to plague makers and users of the technology. Adept hackers, for example, can gain access to a smart home’s internet-enabled appliances. In October 2016, a botnet called Mirai infiltrated interconnected devices of DVRs, cameras, and routers to bring down a host of major websites through a denial of service attack, also known as a DDoS attack. Measures to mitigate the risks of such attacks include protecting smart appliances and devices with a strong password, using encryption when available and only connecting trusted devices to one’s network.
As noted above, the costs of installing smart technology can run anywhere from a few thousand dollars for a wireless system to tens of thousands of dollars for a hardwired system. It’s a heavy price to pay, especially since there may be a steep learning curve to get used to the system for everyone in the household.
Updated November 9, 2020, 1:41pm EDT
Converting to a smart home might seem expensive and complicated at first, but do the benefits outweigh the cost and hassle? Let’s check out why setting up a smart home is a good investment of your time and money.
Convenience for (Nearly) Everyone
When you install smart lights, plugs, thermostats, and more, you add a great deal of convenience to your home. It isn’t that you’re incapable of getting off the couch and flipping a light switch, it’s that you’ve given yourself the option of not heading to the light switch.
We all accept a certain level of convenience in our lives. People generally don’t need electricity and light switches. Yet, you don’t often hear the argument that electrical lighting is the product of laziness, and people should use candles instead. Smart lights and other smart gadgets are just a natural extension of that progress.
When you start watching a movie, only to realize you’d prefer the lights to be dimmed or turned off, you’ll appreciate the convenience of making that happen without having to interrupt the film. Likewise, the first time you answer the doorbell from your office, or even when you’re away from home, you’ll appreciate the convenience of video doorbells.
If you’ve ever tried to teach a family member how to operate your complicated entertainment system, you’ll see the relief in their eyes when you can tell them, “Just say, ‘Alexa, turn on the TV.’” That’s so much easier than, “Hit power on this remote, then that remote, and then this remote,” or handing them a universal remote with dozens of buttons.
Convenience might not be a necessity, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing. Smart homes provide creature comforts you might not otherwise have, and, thanks to routines, they even offer peace of mind because you don’t have to worry if you remembered to turn off the lights in the living room.
Smart Homes Solve Problems
Smart home technology can help you overcome some daily challenges. Take the classic example of asking a child to deliver a message, only to watch them shout it from two feet in front of you.
With voice assistants, you can communicate with everyone in the home, no matter where they are, via the intercom features. Google Home’s version of this is Broadcast, and it’s brilliant. While the initial message goes through every speaker in the home, Google Assistant sends the response to the originating speaker. Sure, you can buy intercoms, but they often cost at least as much as an Echo Dot. Besides, voice assistants offer you more functionality.
As a bonus, when you set up voice assistant speakers in several rooms as intercoms, you also get whole-home music.
Having voice control over your lights and plugs solves some problems, too. For example, young children are capable of saying, “Alexa, turn on the lights,” before they can reach a light switch. People with disabilities will also appreciate it. If you add smart sensors to the mix, you can even program lights and plugs to turn on and off when you enter or leave a room. With just a few devices, your smart home can go beyond solving problems—it can provide independence.
Smart plugs can have secondary benefits, too. Rebooting your router is still the best starting point to troubleshoot your internet. But routers are often tucked away in inconvenient places.
You can buy smarter routers, like Mesh kits, which feature apps that reboot the device. However, those are expensive (Google’s new Nest Wi-Fi starts at $170). Alternatively, if your current router works fine, you can connect it to a Z-Wave plug and reboot the router from anywhere in the home.
If you wake up only to see that every light in the house was left burning all night (again), then you’ve discovered the easiest problem a smart home can solve.
The more people you have in your home, the harder it can be to train all of them to do sensible things, like turning off the TV or lights when they leave a room. If you have children, that challenge often only grows.
It would be best if everyone learned about and remembered the importance of energy conservation, but we’re only human and prone to forgetfulness. So, any extra bit of help to overcome that absentmindedness is most welcome! With basic routines, you can program smart lights and plugs to turn off overnight, or even during the day when everyone is at work or school—which saves you money on your electric bill.
Even if you always remember to turn off the lights and electronics, smart plugs can still cut back your energy usage. Even when they’re turned off, many devices still draw power. For example, modern game consoles use more power than other devices when turned off because they still update in the background.
Vampire energy isn’t always worth tackling, but you can use an electricity usage monitor to find out. It’s best to check either devices that frequently turn on (like dehumidifiers) or areas in which you have multiple electronics plugged into one power strip (like your entertainment center).
You might be surprised how much you can save when you prevent those devices from drawing power. Especially when you consider the eight hours you spend asleep, and the six to eight hours you spend at school or work.
Smart home technology isn’t always easy to set up, and more work needs to be done to bring it into the mainstream. Still, if you go into it with the understanding that you’ll occasionally have to troubleshoot problems, the benefits do outweigh any downsides you might encounter.
What Are the Downsides?
When it comes to smart homes, instability is definitely a problem. For example, your smart home might stop working, and there’s not much you can do about it.
We once praised Wink Smart Hubs for all they were capable of, but we can’t recommend that anyone buy Wink’s hardware anymore. This can happen with any smart device.
Even if a company is successful, many smart home products are challenging to install. You might find yourself troubleshooting the worst aspects of owning a smart home.
Still, despite all the downsides, smart homes can provide convenience, solve problems you regularly encounter, and even save you money. If that sounds good to you, it’s worth the investment.
Home automation may sound kind of magical. But it’s actually pretty simple, logical and straightforward. Automation just means that components in your home you use every day like appliances, thermostats or locks function automatically.
You can do the same with the way you light up your living space. Smart lighting is emerging as a key player in the home automation arena, and it’s rapidly gaining in popularity.
What is smart lighting and how does it work?
Smart lighting, like other home automation features, provides a more efficient way to manage the lighting in your home.
With smart lighting, traditional light bulbs are replaced with smart light bulbs, which screw into the existing sockets in your home. An internet-connected hub connects all of the bulbs, providing control over the lighting in your home from a centralized location. Simple.
And with smart lighting the benefits are immediate. For example:
- Remotely adjust the lighting in your home from anywhere.
- Enjoy greater control over the lighting effects in your home. No need to install dimmer switches.
- Establish automated lighting schedules around your lifestyle.
Why should I add smart lighting to my home?
Smart lighting may be a new concept for you. And we promise it’s more than just a fancy way to control the lighting in your home. It actually helps simplify and improve quality of life. Take a look:
- Smart lighting is convenient. Think of all of the lights in your home, the number of corresponding light switches, and the amount of time you spend each day—especially at night—making the rounds in your home to make sure they’re off. With smart lighting those days are over.
- Do more with your lights. There’s much more you can do with smart lights other than turning them off or on remotely. Set the mood in any room with smart lighting features like dimming and color ambiance (dependent on the smart bulbs you install).
- Automate your lighting. And you really can schedule your lights based on your preferences. Get a wake-up call at 7 a.m. with your lights automatically turning on with gradual adjustments, for example. Or at 10 p.m., make it lights out. Or maybe your lights dim in the early evening to help you wind down.
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Anyone can install smart lighting in their homes, and it’s fairly affordable.
Once you make your initial investment, the cost going forward is minimal—smart bulbs are LED so they last longer and draw less energy to function, which can translate into savings on your monthly utility bill.
With many smart lighting systems, you can scale at your pace, swapping out traditional light bulbs with smart light bulbs where it makes sense and fits into your budget.
Smart lighting with Vivint Smart Home
You can install a smart lighting system that functions independently on its own platform. But integrating smart lighting with a smart home system provides increased comfort, convenience, and control.
Vivint Smart Home integrates with Philips Hue lighting to provide the seamless, long-lasting benefits of smart lighting that also include the following:
- The Philips Hue LED bulb life lasts 23 years.
- Smart lighting with Vivint offers smooth dimming down to 5% light.
- Get white lighting control from any Philips Hue bulb.
- You can connect up to 52 lights to one Phillips Hue bridge.
With Vivint you can get a smart lighting system that gives you what you want—get instant brightness when that suits your mood or dim lights for a softer effect.
You can create lighting groups to coordinate rooms, floors, or even your entire house. And with custom lighting rules you create, your lights are on only when they should be.
- Consider leaving your house for work each day or a vacation and manually switching everything off. Now imagine turning lights on and off with a swipe, whether that’s on your mobile device or from a control panel or hub in your home. Forget to turn something off? Take care of it with your mobile device.
- With a voice-activated speaker like Google Home, powered by Google Assistant, you can control lights with the sound of your voice.
- With greater control over your lighting and the efficiency of LED bulbs, you’ll conserve energy and save money with smart lighting installed in your home.
- Set rules to have your lights turn on when your home is disarmed, when your cameras detect motion, when your doorbell camera is pressed, or each day at a certain time.
- And with a smart home system, you control all components—including lighting—from a single app.
Smart lighting as part of a Vivint system is easy to install and sync. You don’t have to do a thing. Our highly trained and qualified Smart Home Pros will do it all for you and ensure all components of your system work together seamlessly.
Give us a call at 855.822.1220 for a free quote on a smart home system that includes smart lighting.
What is a smart home? That seemingly simple question has many different answers, depending on who you ask. In short, a “smart home” is a residence equipped with a number of devices that automate tasks normally handled by humans. Some are built into the structure itself and some added later, and homeowners operate them with applications, voice commands, automation, or using artificial intelligence.
For some homeowners, turning a house into a smart home can be as simple as buying a connected speaker. For others, it can involve linking several different products, including speakers, cameras, computers, smartphones, tablets, televisions, security systems, appliances, and more.
What is a smart home and why have one?
Why have a smart home?
The first smart home products to buy
Why should I have a smart home?
Now that we’ve explained what a smart home is, why should you set up your house with smart or connected home products?
1. Saving energy (and money)
For many, the driving force behind creating a smart home is the potential to save energy and money with automated heating and air conditioning systems. Smart thermostats, such as those made by Alphabet’s subsidiary Nest, quickly and precisely automate the heating and cooling of a home. This usually reduces the owners’ electric bill. Other products such as connected lights and appliances can use less energy by powering down when not in use. These kinds of products should be high up on anyone’s smart home checklist.
2. Making life simpler
Comfort is key. We all try to have as much of it as possible, so it’s obvious this is one of the main reasons to get a smart home. You can start with things as simple as getting smart lights. These can turn on/off using voice commands, location rules, sensor detection, or even simple schedules.
3. Security and safety
While you can buy alarm systems to protect your home, smart homes can offer added security. Connected lights, cameras, and even doorbells can help make a home safer. If you’re home alone and someone is checking out your house to see if they can break in, having these kinds of devices might scare them off.
4. Handling regular household tasks
If you want to take some of the tedious tasks of home care out of your hands, connected and automated devices have you covered there too. The most obvious device is the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner from iRobot, along with similar products. However, appliances can also come with smart home functions. Picture a laundry machine that automatically starts a wash cycle, or fridge that orders milk online when it senses that you’re low.
5. Making the home more entertaining
What is a smart home if not also a place to hang out and relax? This technology can also keep you entertained and informed in new and exciting ways. Connected speakers, combined with AI-based digital assistants, can play music, offer news and sports scores, and can even help you control other connected devices as well. Connected devices can also find a good film to watch, either at home or in a real movie theater.
Buy your first smart home products
There are tons of products out there that can help make your home smarter. To help you get started, we’ve created a list of just five products we feel would be perfect for starting your journey into the world of smart homes.
1. Get yourself a smart speaker
You can find plenty of smart speakers, the most popular featuring the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa digital assistants. Some can get pretty complex, so we believe your best bet is to go with one of the smaller, more affordable smart speakers. These would be either the Amazon Echo Dot or the Google Nest Mini.
2. Light the way with smart bulbs
Smart light bulbs are probably among the first buys for most users. We recommend Philips Hue lights just because they are pretty much available everywhere, and they aren’t too expensive once you get through the initial purchase of the bridge and first lights.
3. Control the weather with a Nest Learning Thermostat
The leader in connected heating, Alphabet’s subsidiary has created a smart thermostat that keeps your house automatically dialed to temperatures you like. It can also respond to voice commands for both Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers.
4. See who’s knocking with a smart doorbell
The Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus is a solid entry in the video doorbell market. It offers Full HD resolution, a quick-release rechargeable battery, and pre-roll footage for capturing those important pre-doorbell press moments. It’s a solid option for those invested in Amazon’s smart home ecosystem, but other options might be better for Google-based homes or privacy-minded folk.
5. Centralize your smart home
If you want to have one central router that connects all of your smart devices together, you can’t go wrong with the Samsung SmartThings Hub. It supports nearly all wireless protocols, along with Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands and more, for easy home automation.
All about Google Nest’s line of smart home devices
Google Nest is the company’s line of smart home devices. In addition to the Nest Learning Thermostat, the line includes the Nest Hello Doorbell, Nest Hub, and Nest Cam.
Who Owns Nest?
In 2014, Google bought Nest, which added to company’s Internet of Things portfolio. Since then, Nest has become a household name, due in large part to the ease of use of the smart devices. The company officially branded the Nest as Google Nest in mid-2019.
Google Nest Thermostat
The Nest Learning Thermostat, which comes with a variety of colored rings to fit with your home’s décor, has an easy-to-read display. It can control your heating and hot water automatically.In just a week, the thermostat will learn how warm or cold you like your home throughout the day. When you’re at home, it will raise the temperature, and when you go out, it will turn it down, ultimately saving you energy.
The device monitors your activity and builds a schedule based on this data. It will turn down your heating at night and raise it in the morning, so you wake up to a warm house. As you leave for work, the Nest thermostat will detect you’ve left using sensors and your smartphone location, and set itself to Eco Temperatures to save energy.
If you’re out of the home, but your children are on their way home, pick up your smartphone and adjust the temperature remotely via the Nest app.
More Than Just Environmental Controls
The latest version of the Nest Learning Thermostat allows you to control your hot water tank with its hot water schedule, all adjustable from the app. Forgot to turn off the hot water while you’re away? No problem. Got guests staying and need extra hot water? No problem. The Nest thermostat handles this for you.
The thermostat’s Energy History and monthly Home Reports show you how much energy you use daily and when. The report recommends how you can use less. When you set the temperature at an energy-saving level, the unit displays the Nest Leaf.
Another added feature to the latest Nest Learning Thermostat is Farsight. The thermostat will light up and show you the temperature, time or weather. You can even choose an analog or digital clock face.
Working with the Nest Heat Link, the thermostat works with your boiler to control the heating and hot water. The Heat Link can connect with your boiler wireless or using your existing thermostat wires, then ‘talks’ to the thermostat to modulate heat.
The Nest app connects via WiFi, allowing you to control the temperature of your home remotely.
Google Nest Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detection
Google Nest Protect is a smart home smoke and carbon monoxide detector that communicates with you via your smartphone so that you immediately know if there is a problem.
Nest Protect features a Split-Spectrum Sensor, which is the technology used by Nest to detect a wide range of smoke events, including smoldering fires and fast flaming fires. The device also tests itself automatically to ensure accuracy, and it lasts for up to ten years. It includes an alarm you can silence from your phone remotely. A human voice provides early warning if there is a smoke event and tells you where the danger is so that you can act accordingly.
Nest Protect also features a carbon monoxide detector that protects your family from this colorless, odorless gas.
Google Nest Indoor and Outdoor Cameras
The Nest Cam family of cameras that can be used indoors or outdoors mean you won’t miss a second of what goes on in and outside your home. The Nest Cams plug into the main power supply and come with all-glass lenses for close-up tracking view.
The cameras have some useful features, including:
- The ability to distinguish people from objects.
- The system can send you alerts if someone activates the camera.
- It can scare off intruders or allow you to have a conversation with friends and family members.
- Face recognition alerts you to familiar faces and strangers.
- 24/7 cloud storage gives you thirty days of recorded video history, with the ability to create and share clips.
Google Nest Compatible Devices
Nest is also interoperable with a variety of other smart home products through its Works with Google Assistant program (formerly Works with Nest). For broader home automation, a Google Nest-compatible smart home hub can help you connect Nest with other non-Nest products.
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“Home automation” refers to the automatic and electronic control of household features, activity, and appliances. In simple terms, it means you can easily control the utilities and features of your home via the Internet to make life more convenient and secure, and even spend less on household bills. Read on to find answers to some of the most common questions about home automation technology, and get a few ideas for home automation solutions to incorporate in your home.
How does home automation work?
Home automation is a network of hardware, communication, and electronic interfaces that work to integrate everyday devices with one another via the Internet. Each device has sensors and is connected through WiFi, so you can manage them from your smartphone or tablet whether you’re at home, or miles away. This allows you to turn on the lights, lock the front door, or even turn down the heat, no matter where you are.
There are three main elements of a home automation system: sensors, controllers, and actuators.
- Sensors can monitor changes in daylight, temperature, or motion detection. Home automation systems can then adjust those settings (and more) to your preferences.
- Controllers refer to the devices — personal computers, tablets or smartphones — used to send and receive messages about the status of automated features in your home.
- Actuators may be light switches, motors, or motorized valves that control the actual mechanism, or function, of a home automation system. They are programmed to be activated by a remote command from a controller.
What features are available through home automation systems?
Home automation systems offer a variety of services and functions. Some of the more common features available through these platforms include:
- Fire and carbon monoxide monitoring
- Remote lighting control
- Thermostat control
- Appliance control
- Home automation security systems and cameras
- Live video surveillance
- Alarm systems
- Real-time text and email alerts
- Digital personal assistant integration
- Keyless entry
- Voice-activated control
What are the benefits of home automation?
The purpose of a home automation system is to streamline how your home functions. Consider some of these benefits:
- Remote access: Control your home from mobile devices, including your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
- Comfort: Use home automation to make your home a more comfortable, livable space. Preprogram your thermostat with your preferred settings so that your home is always at a comfortable temperature, set up smart speakers to play music when you get home from work, or adjust your lights to soften or brighten based on the time of day.
- Convenience: Program devices to turn on automatically at certain times, or access their settings remotely from anywhere with an Internet connection. When you don’t have to remember to lock the door behind you or switch off the lights, you can turn your attention to more important things.
- Increased safety: Smart fire detectors, carbon monoxide monitors, pressure sensors, and other home automation security features can help protect your home from disaster.
- Energy efficiency: Home automation allows you to be more mindful of your power usage. For example, you can save on energy bills by reducing the length of time that lights stay on, or by lowering temperatures when you leave a room.
Contact Xfinity Home to get a fully integrated home automation system set up in your home today. After the professional installation of a home automation system is complete, you can enjoy the benefits of living in a safer, smarter home.