Creating a smart home doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can be done in 5 easy steps. In truth, smart home technology can be pretty complicated. Selecting your devices and planning how to interact with them can lead you into analysis paralysis. I’m here to help! Here are 7 tips for creating your ideal smart home.
Define your short, medium and long term goals
Building a smart home should be treated like other home improvement projects. Plan your goals and timelines before you get started. These goals will help guide your purchase decisions and priorities. Although this section is titled short, medium and long term goals feel free to group your goals differently. The point is to have goals at different stages because you are probably going to build up your smart home in stages. When I started out building my smarthome I had the following goals:
- Short term:
- Reduce energy usage by automatically turning off lights that aren’t in use.
- Medium term:
- Learn more about smarthome technologies and pick the right smarthome hub to control a few more lights and door locks.
- Learn to write some automations.
- Monitor and improve home energy usage.
- Pick a home security system that integrates with my smarthome.
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- Long term:
- Remote control of all of my lights.
- Automate my Christmas lights.
- Integration with Alexa and Google Assistant voice control.
- Control and monitor my A/V equipment.
- Smart control of my HVAC systems.
- Integrate all of my smart home devices.
- Keep thinking of things to automate.
I’m still working on my long term goals. In fact, a lot of what I write about here at HomeTechHacker is about my long term smart home journey.
Determine your budget
Unfortunately, smart homes aren’t free. However, they are worth it! Again, like other home improvement projects, you need to set a budget. Your budget needs to match your goals, and if they don’t you need to adjust your budget, your goals, or both. Here are some guidelines for how much a smarthome will cost you.
Determine how much time you have to spend
Determining the amount of time you have to spend is just as important as setting your goals and budget. A DIY smart home will only move as fast as you have time for. Time limits the progress of my smart home more so than any other factor. You need to be realistic about how much you can get done over time, or you will disappoint and frustrate yourself (and others in your family).
Strengthen your home wifi
This is an often overlooked part of your smarthome plan. Many smart devices work using your WiFi and your Internet connection. Make sure you have a strong WiFi connection throughout the places where you plan to put WiFi smart devices. Also, make sure you have a stable Internet connection. For help with this, check out my article on diagnosing and fixing home network problems.
Plan to secure your home network
Hackers are everywhere. As smart devices grow in use, so does hacking them. Did you know that some smart home devices attract hackers in their first five minutes of being online? You should create a security plan to address the following issues:
- Keeping your home network secure (good firewall, up to date routers and router firmware, strong WiFi encryption and passwords).
- Protect your smart devices from being hacked (keep the firmware up to date).
- Protect your home network from compromised smart devices (use network isolation).
Inventory your current smart home devices
You may already have smart devices and home automation devices in your home. Have you bought a smart speaker? A timer switch for lights? A smart light bulb? Inventory the devices you already have to see how they may fit in your smart home goals. You are probably not starting from scratch. For instance, I had timers for my outdoor porch and Christmas lights. I also had some motion sensor light switches. These worked well, and I didn’t replace them because I didn’t need to.
Pick the right smart home hub
I have already given advice on how and why to pick the right smart home hub. The key is to pick one that supports your goals, fits your capabilities and desired features, and is well supported. I started off with a Vera, but now I primarily use Home Assistant. Luckily for me, Home Assistant integrates with my Vera, and I am running both. You should strongly consider starting with a smart speaker as your hub.
A smart home is right at your finger tips. In fact, after inventorying your house, you may realize you already have a smart home. Follow these tips for planning and building and your home will be smart in no time!
Are you building a smart home? Check out my book, The Smart Home Manual, if you want to learn everything you need to know to plan and build your own smart home. Connect with me on Twitter or in the comment section below to let me know how you are progressing!