The whole idea behind smart home technology is that it makes your life easier. Want to listen to music? Just ask your voice assistant to play your favorite band. Concerned that forgot to lock the door when you left the house this morning? A few taps on your cellphone, and you can check on the locks – and engage the ones you forgot.
For all of these conveniences, though, smart home technology can become overwhelming, and even frustrating, if it’s not implemented correctly. Everything from choosing the wrong devices that work on different ecosystems than the one you’re selected to Wi-Fi dead spots in your home can affect the operation of your smart devices and cause you to rethink the entire thing.
With a few tips and tricks, though, you can create a smart home that not only works when you need it to, but also protects your security and privacy. By doing your homework before you buy, you’ll save a lot of time and aggravation, and have a truly smart home.
Start with a Plan
One of the problems with smart technology is that it’s developing very quickly, with new and exciting products released all the time. However, new technology often means adding gadgets and devices, and then trying to retrofit them on to your existing system, which may or may not be able to handle the new planning and determining exactly what smart devices you need and really want. This will help you develop a budget, while also helping guide your purchases. Many people begin their smart home design with a smart thermostat and a security system, but you may also want to consider smart appliances, HVAC, and lighting. Remember that with every smart device you add, you’ll be placing more demand on your network, and that it’s easy to overcomplicate the design. Keep things simple, and really think about what you need.
Prepare Your Network
The centerpiece of any smart home is the Wi-Fi network. Without it, nothing will work at all, so before you purchase any smart technology, you need to consider your home Wi-Fi and how it the new devices will affect it.
One of the best ideas for managing smart home Wi-Fi is to invest in a second router and wireless network to use strictly for smart home devices. This network should be secured and locked down with strict password controls and firewalls and use LAN wherever possible. This not only reduces the risk of your router getting hacked, but also helps keep everything working by reducing the amount of traffic on your home Wi-Fi network. Many smart devices use a significant amount of bandwidth, and when that’s combined with all of the other devices on the network, plus cell phones, computers, and the like, you’re likely to see a slowdown. Keeping your smart home devices on their own network reduces this risk and keeps everything working as it should.
Of course, even with a separate Wi-Fi network, you can’t overlook security. Again, managing passwords for the network and devices and updating firmware will go a long way toward securing your smart home network. Consider investing in a premium services bundle for security tools as well, which will provide strong antivirus protection and assistance monitoring and securing your home network.
Keep It Simple
As you might suspect, not all smart home devices are inherently compatible with each other. Although many will work with common platforms like Google, Amazon, and Apple, not all do, and some may work with one and not others. Before purchasing any device, carefully review its compatibility with common ecosystems and be sure that it will work. It’s also useful to become familiar with smart home ecosystems like IFTTT (If This Then That) which can help bring your devices together and allow you to set up various commands to have your devices work in sync. This type of platform helps fill in the gaps between devices that don’t work together while also letting you create responses to certain scenarios; for example, you can create a command to turn on the lights and unlock the doors at a certain time, so you can walk right in to a well-lit home when you come home from work.
The bottom line is that building a truly smart home requires planning, research, and the ability to determine exactly what you really need without being swayed by the next “cool” gadget. Remember that just because something can be done doesn’t mean that it’s right your home. When you do that, you’ll stay within budget and have a smart home that truly meets your needs.