Whenever you are working on DIY projects there is always the chance something will go wrong or stop working. But since you did it yourself, where do you go for help? Smart homes are no different. In this article you’ll read about six places you can go for smart home help.
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Why you might be looking for smart home help
It would be great if all of our smart home projects went off without a hitch! But that’s not reality. Sometimes, you have a hard time getting a device to work as you want it to. Other times, something that was working fine for a while suddenly stops working. Other times, you are looking for help for others, like a parent you helped start a smart home.
When these things happen, the “yourself” part of DIY can be a frustrating limitation. The good news is that you aren’t actually alone. Smart home help can come from many places.
Smart device manufacturer support
The company that made the smart device or smart home system you are struggling with may have online support. Many manufacturers include manuals, knowledge bases, and firmware updates directly to consumers from their site. Many times the problems with some of the devices I’ve used have been solved my simply upgrading the firmware.
Look for a technical support email or ticketing system. Some companies even have online chat features where you can get immediate help.
Smart device support forums
Another support channel you often find on manufacturer’s web sites is a support forum. It’s common practice for manufacturers to employ a few moderators and run a forum for customers to discuss and help each other with their products.
Other times, product enthusiasts band together to create, run, and support a community-based forum. Since they have no official affiliation with the manufacturer, you probably won’t find official help, but unofficial help can be really good.
Official and unofficial forums can provide excellent smart home help.
Large (big box) support organizations
So far, all the options I have talked about have been free, but there are good pay options too. Large nationwide chains like Best Buy’s Geek Squad and HelloTech can set up, configure, and troubleshoot smart home equipment. I personally have used Geek squad to help set up A/V equipment I bought at Best Buy and it was a good experience. They also work with equipment you purchase at other places.
Both have minimum charges, so it may be best to have them help you with a few things on a single trip.
Local smart home help companies
Depending on where you live, you may be able to find a smaller local company willing to install, configure, and troubleshoot smart home issues. In fact, many of the technicians that work for places like Geek Squad and HelloTech are associated with a smaller, local smart home help company. You just have to be able to find them. Look at places like Yelp. Don’t just search for smart home companies. Searching for computer repair shops and electricians may yield some leads too.
Although social media is well known for misinformation, it all also contains a lot of good information. YouTube is filled with a plethora of DIY smart home installation and how-to videos. Facebook has private and public groups dedicated to many smart home topics and products. Companies often create YouTube channels and Facebook groups with tons of helpful information. Some even use a Facebook group as their official support channel.
There’s also Twitter. Most companies have an official Twitter account. Twitter usually works better for communicating about service status and new products. But you can also tweet about the problems you are having with the company’s products. I’ve done this a few times and gotten good responses, and sometimes even help in the DMs.
You can also post issues you are having with popular relevant hashtags and sometimes the community will help you and/or point you in the right direction.
Smart home help blogs and web sites
There is a ton of information on smart homes and smart devices on the web. I’ve listed my favorite smart home blogs here. These sites are filled with product reviews, how-tos, and other smart home help from real people who have done the same things you are trying to do. By the way, I’ve got a lot of useful smart home and how-to content on this site as well :).
I have a list of sites that work on similar projects that I do (Home Assistant, LEDs, etc.) that I visit regularly and search before, during, and after my projects. This is something you might want to consider doing.
Making your own DIY smart home can be a joy. Sometimes, however, you may run into problems with a smart device or just need advice. It’s good to know that there are many communities out there that can help you.
Where do you turn when you need smart home help? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.
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