Your First Smart Home: The Ultimate Guide

Imagine being able to walk into your home, tap your mobile device, and then have the lights turn on, your favorite TV show flicker up, and the heat adjust to just the right temperature. A few years ago, this may have sounded like science fiction, but now it’s happening all over the world! Today, it’s easy to set up a home where almost everything can be controlled from a single, user-friendly interface on your smartphone or tablet. However, like any new technology, there are a number of pitfalls and mistakes that some people make. Here’s a guide to setting up your first smart home the right way.

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Plan Ahead

When you’re taking your first steps into the exciting world of home automation, it’s important to look ahead, and really think about what you need in your first system. Do you just want your lighting and heating to be controlled from your mobile device, integrate your home security system, or go all-out with a home entertainment system? Before you start ordering all kinds of smart home devices and contacting installers, think about how much it will really benefit you. If you don’t think this through, you could just end up with a load of useless, techy gimmicks cluttering your home, and a pretty big dent in your bank account!

Review and Update Your Wi-Fi Router

A good Wi-Fi router is vital to a smart home. When you have a fast and reliable one, everything will work smoothly and exactly as it was intended to. Get a sub-standard one, and you’ll run into all kinds of frustrating problems. Countless people have leapt onto the smart home bandwagon without considering the quality of the Wi-Fi in their home, and ended up having to deal with countless signal drop-outs or packet loss. If you want the commands you’re sending out through your mobile device to work instantly every time, it’s a good idea to change an old router out for the newest, most reliable model you can afford.

Work Around the Rules When Renting

If you’re living in a pre-existing dwelling, particularly in an apartment which is controlled by the rules of a corporate or strata body, there are going to be certain restrictions compared to if you owned the property yourself. The proper processes needed for the installation and integration of smart home technology can often conflict with the rules set out by the governing body. Before you make any major changes to your home, make sure to contact them and ask specifically what you can and can’t do. Bringing these kinds of ruling bodies down on your head really isn’t worth it!

Choose the Appliances and Components You Want, But Don’t Go Crazy!

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There are a lot of smart home devices and brands on the market today, with more and more being developed and released all the time. As with any niche, some of these appliances and components are better than others, so make sure you’re finding a detailed review for every little thing you consider buying. Aside from that, you should educate yourself and take steps to ensure that you’re not paying too much for what you want. It’s just the controlling interface that really matters in your home, not so much the devices and appliances. The air con system, lighting and so on in your home don’t necessarily have to be smart for you to have a smart home. For example, it’s generally more affordable and just as effective to have good old-fashioned lighting in your home and control it from your device, rather than splash out on a completely new array of bulbs and lamps.

Don’t Mix Up Brands Too Much

Obviously, you don’t need to keep all your devices within the same brand. A Samsung TV doesn’t necessarily need a Samsung Blu-ray player for the two to work together. However, when you want to control everything through a smart-home interface, it may be worth buying within the same families for the proprietary networking standards. If you’re planning to make networked audio speakers part of the whole system, for example, you’ll have to buy all the devices within the same brand.

Send in an Expert

Like most people, you probably feel that you’re pretty clued up when it comes to technology. However, smart home tech is uncharted territory. Home automation can be pretty complex to someone who’s never had any experience with it before, so if you want the best possible experience it’s probably a good idea to reach out for some expert help. This is especially true if you’re planning to go all-out with your smart home, making more complex systems like irrigation, solar panels or pool pumps part of a single interface. Most smart home tech companies offer installer services when you buy their components, but at the very least you should make sure you have a number to call if you ever need help with steps in the process.

Leave Wiring to The Pros

This is a piece of advice which applies to all kinds of things pre-dating the dawn of the smart home. However, it can’t hurt to reiterate one more time! If you’re setting out plans for your smart home, and realize that you’ll have to touch your phone line or any 200+ volt wiring, then you need to get a pro to take care of it. Depending on your state, there may be bylaws that say installing certain devices and appliances needs to be carried out by a licensed electrician. Aside from the risk of a fine, I’m sure you don’t want you or your partner to be electrocuted!

Go the Extra Mile with New-Build Homes

Perhaps you’re reading this because you’re fulfilling your dream of building a home from scratch. If this is the case, then planning it out with durable and reliable fittings and fixtures will help you, and your poor installer, immeasurably. For example, even if you know the area’s good for Wi-Fi and you’ll have access to a great model of router, consider getting an Ethernet networking cable installed for at least one smart component in the home. Obviously, this will mean a greater investment, and your budget may be fairly stretched as it is. However, it will also mean that smart home installation, both now and in the future, will be much more flexible and easy.

Remember that Updates Don’t Have to be Done in Person

In a smart home, if you update the model of your TV, for example, from one brand to another, you’ll have to re-program your smart home interface. This is due to it having to accommodate for a new IP or infrared control code. There are various guides and tutorials out there for doing tasks like this, but none of them are going to be exactly straightforward! If you’re struggling, however, don’t think that you need to get the original installer out to your home straight away! Get in touch with them, and there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to update your smart home interface remotely. If your system doesn’t support this feature, you’ll need a visit from the installer, but this is expected to become less and less of a necessity as the technology develops.

If you’re finding the concept of your first smart home to be a little daunting, I hope this guide has smoothed things out somewhat. Although there can be hiccups and minor issues in the early stages, the convenience of a functional smart home is well worth it. Follow these tips, and you’re sure to have a smooth transition!  

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