If you are a regular reader of this site then you know how much I love smart homes. I’ve written numerous articles about getting started with building your own smart home, and even a best-selling comprehensive book on smart homes. I’ve also written articles about how smart homes can be useful for anyone, including seniors. But, why do I have a smart home? Here are the top five reasons.
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Security is one of the first reasons I started my smart home journey. I have a strong drive to make sure my family and my belongings are protected. A properly configured home security system can be a good deterrent for thieves and intruders.
Smart home devices can augment or even completely replace your security system. You can use cameras, motion detectors, sirens, door and window sensors to replace traditional home security systems. You can go a step further and use smart speakers to play sounds to deter and warn intruders.
But the true beauty of security provided by a smart home is how many different devices can work together. This is especially true with a smart home hub/home automation controller like Home Assistant. Here are a couple of examples:
- When my alarm is set off by an intruder, lights come in, and a voice from my Google smart speakers informs the intruders the authorities have been notified, and then plays a siren noise. LEDs that have been permanently installed outside go into an alert pattern. My smart home also sends notifications to interested parties. Additionally, I can then check the cameras to watch and get an image of the intruder.
- I use smart buttons as panic alarms. If someone is home and there is an emergency and they can’t or don’t feel safe leaving or using a phone, they can press one of the strategically placed panic buttons. This panic button sends an alert to other family members and turns on an outdoor LED to a pattern that indicates an emergency and makes it easier for emergency services to locate the home.
A lot of people use smart devices because they like being able to control things remotely. They enjoy the ability to turn on the A/C remotely to have the house cool before they get home, or check on the garage door and close it in case they forgot to on a busy morning.
I like remote control too. However, I love automation. Having things done for me without even having to do anything is how I strive to develop and configure my smart home. Here are a few examples:
- Hallway lights turn on and off with motion and the absence of motion, respectively.
- I have two different HVAC systems. One that efficiently heats, and another that heats fast and cools. They can’t control each other, but my smart home knows how to regulate temperatures, when to use each system, and how to make sure they don’t work against each other. When it gets too hot, my smart home will even turn off my fireplace if it is on.
- My house has a vacation mode that changes my HVAC system to be less active (we aren’t home, so it doesn’t have to be comfortable for off) modifies some of my security settings, and even turns on lights and noises to make it appear as if we are home. When I get back from a vacation, I don’t have to turn off vacation mode. My house knows I’m home and automatically disables it, and lets me know that it did via voice and text.
More powerful voice control
Smart speakers are becoming ubiquitous and most people (especially readers of this blog) know what they can do. However, a smart home integrated with voice assistants can do even more.
I mentioned earlier that I can have my smart home play messages and sounds via the smart speakers. But I can also set up complicated automations that can be triggered by a voice command. My kids like playing Nintendo Switch. To play it, they have to turn the TV on, put it on the right output, turn the lights on a little (it is in a dark windowless room with dimming lights) and turn on the A/V receiver and put it on the right input.
My kids could do this with a universal remote, but with a smart home, they just issue the command “Turn on Nintendo” and everything is done for them. They just have to grab the remote and start playing. When done, they can similarly say “Turn off Nintendo.”
I’ve got all kinds of complicated automations that can be triggered by voice, or by smart buttons.
You might think that adding devices that need power draws more power, and you’d be right. However, most smart devices draw very little power and can be used to conserve a lot of energy.
I’ve monitored my energy usage over the years, and I can tell you that smart devices definitely have had a net positive effect on my energy conservation. Here are a few ways how:
- My fireplace, lights, and fans have a combination of motion detectors, timers, and other sensors to make sure they aren’t left on unnecessarily.
- I use smart plugs to cut power to vampire devices when they aren’t in use.
- My smart thermostats regulate the temperature efficiently.
- Monitoring the usage of electricity via smart plugs and my electrical panel smart meter has helped advise my family on how much energy some devices used and to be mindful of their usage.
Continually learning and challenging myself
Last, but certainly not least, I love the challenges and the need to learn new things in order to continually improve my smart home. Not everybody wants to keep working at this type of thing, and they just want things to work. And for a large part of my smart home, that’s true for me too.
But sometimes, I want a challenge. Coming up with a new and improved way to do something provides that challenge. Trying to solve a new problem or enable a new feature within my smart home provides that. Automating something that we are doing around the house provides me with plenty of mental stimulation.
A smart home provides ample opportunities for someone who wants to be a lifetime learner like me.
There are many reasons to own a smart home, and these are my top five. And, if you’re interested, be sure to check out my favorite smart home devices.
What reasons do you have a smart home? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.