10 tips to get the most out of your new smart home


Like any new technology, getting up to speed with your smart home can take a lot of effort. If you find yourself confused with the sheer number of options available, my 10 tips to get the most out of your new smart home is here to help.

I’ll break smart home technology down into bite sized chunks so you can make smart decisions about your new smart home.

1. What’s your goal?
Most smart home hubs are modular by nature so you can add to your setup as new technologies evolve but you need to plan carefully so it all works toward the same goal. Do you just want smart lighting? Do you want to concentrate on energy saving? More interested in convenience or the coolness of it all? Knowing what you want to achieve will help decide how to achieve it.

2. The protocol
Once you have an idea of what you want from your smart home, you can begin researching the hardware. There are currently 10 or so protocols used, so make sure your choices are compatible. Make sure all the devices you choose can talk to each other otherwise your smart home won’t work. Current protocols include UPB, X10, Z-Wave, Insteon, ZigBee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Thread.

3. Set a budget
And stick to it. To get the most out of your new smart home you will need to spend money but keep it sensible. It is quite easy to spend thousands of dollars on a smart home but it isn’t necessary. Decide how much you want to achieve, or spend and stick to that. Don’t get seduced by the technology!

4. Consider a starter kit first
Many smart home manufacturers sell starter kits which contain everything you need to begin your smart home. The Phillips Hue starter kit contains smart Hue bulbs and the Hue Bridge necessary to set it up. The Samsung SmartThings starter kit does much the same. Most manufacturers sell a version of this kind of kit and it can be a good place to start your journey.

5. Your router is the center of everything
The vast majority of smart home devices depend on your Wi-Fi network to communicate with each other. That means having a good Wi-Fi router that can deliver a consistent signal throughout your home. It should also feature a hardware firewall to keep everything secure.

6. You also need a smartphone
While everything connects to your Wi-Fi router, most smart devices are controlled from a smartphone app. That means you will need a relatively recent smartphone to run the app and some kind of data plan to control it away from home. These apps don’t utilize much traffic unless you’re using video but good coverage and data allowance is definitely useful.

7. Be aware of security
A smart home is always watching and waiting for you to do something. That means it can be a rich source of data for someone. Adding security to your devices is key so make sure to use a separate Wi-Fi network to your computer, use dual-factor authentication where possible, keep everything updated, use only products from reputable manufacturers, make sure your router has an active firewall, change all default logins and passwords and do what you can to keep people out.

8. Allow your home to learn
Many newer products such as Nest will take a week or two to learn your habits before they become truly effective. Allow these devices that time and they will not only make life much simpler but will also begin saving energy and money.

9. Be patient
Smart homes are embracing new technologies which bring with them foibles and new things to learn. Even the most accomplished products have annoyances and will need to be tamed and bent to your will. Some products and apps will also have a learning curve. Taking the time to learn how everything works, talks to each other and interacts can not only help your understanding but also help you get more out of them.

10. Learn IFTTT
If your smart home products of choice support IFTTT, take the time to learn it. The various recipes available are simply amazing and can do some seriously impressive stuff with smart home systems. Learn it, try a few recipes and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Master IFTTT with these top 10 IFTT recipes for your smart home and secure it all with the Smart home outdoor security guide.
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