Turning your home smart does not require anything more than connecting it to the Internet. That is it. If you connect a device to the Internet, it becomes a smart device. So turning your home into a trendy smart home is all about converting your non-smart (dumb would not be politically correct:) appliances into smart ones. This is indeed a lot cheaper than buying new devices. Of course, if you have a malfunctioning fridge, and you want to buy a new one, get the smart version if you have the money. But, in the near future, every home appliance will have the Internet connectivity option, so you will not have to make a choice. You cannot find those CRT TVs anymore, can you?
However, until that day comes, you are forced to buy some additional, third-party gadgets, which will help you smarten up some of your existing appliances. It will cost you, sure, but not as much as you might think.
Where to Start?
To start making your home smarter, first, you have to figure out your budget and pick the priorities. The budget will tell you a lot, and will undoubtedly make your choices easier- cross out the things you cannot afford. But, that does not mean you should go for the cheapest options, more money usually brings better quality products. The good thing about this whole process is that you can take it one step at a time, appliance by appliance, room by room.
Once you have decided which room you want to make smart first (we advise the living room or the kitchen), you should look for the appropriate gadgets that will allow you to turn your ideas into reality.
To make things ultra comfortable, and super smart, you should invest in a hub. Sure, most gadgets have their own apps, but it is a bit complicated to switch between them, and you need to have your smartphone nearby. Hubs (like Alexa and Google Home) allow you to control your home with voice commands, simplifying the whole process. It takes a while to set everything up, but once you do it, you will reach an unmatched level of convenience. “Alexa lights on!” is much easier than finding your smartphone and finding the app you want.
Still, if getting a hub is not an option for you, try to get gadgets that are Alexa or Google Assistant compatible, so you can control them remotely via your phone.
Getting smart sockets is the easiest and the cheapest way to make any appliance smart. Smart plugs allow you to turn your devices on or off remotely. Besides the basic remote control, this has some other benefits too, as it can save you a lot of money on your bills. You can also set timers for your appliances, and monitor their energy consumption. We will now give you a few options for consideration.
These plugs are a perfect option for you if you are looking for something convenient that does the job. Plugs are extra small, only 1’’/ 2.5 cm thick, and will barely stick out of the power socket.
These plugs will allow you to remotely control the connected appliances that consume up to 1100 W, on 10A, AC 110V-240V. This makes them a good option for smaller consumers, but for something bigger, you will need a stronger plug. Mini Smart Plugs are easily connected to your WiFi (2.4Ghz only). Using the app (IOS and Android), you can power your devices on or off, and set timers. This will reduce your bills, but also prevent overcharging. They are Alexa/Google Home compatible, allowing you to use voice control.Mini plugs are quality made, and extremely safe to use. They have built-in sensors that will automatically turn off any overheating devices, and are made using ABS flame resistance materials, reducing the fire hazard.
Another mini plug, Martin Jerry Smart Plug is also compatible with Alexa/Google Home, allowing you to remotely control the appliances you connect to it, by voice. It works over WiFi, but only supports 2.4 GHz connection, 5 GHz is not supported. You can schedule timers, to automatically turn your devices on or off, at given time. The Android/iOS app allows you to group devices, so you do not have to turn them on/off one at a time. This will save you money on unnecessary standby consumption. It is effortless to set up, and everything will be done in under 20 minutes. Plug works on 110-240V, and supports max 1100W appliances on 110V and 2200W on 240 V. Rated current is 10 A (max).
Another good option is iCoostor plug. This one will also allow you to control your home with voice (Alexa/GoogleHome), or using an app. It is very easy to install and use, and will be ready within minutes. The app is simple to use and has all the necessary features, like timers, which will allow you to make an energy-efficient schedule for your appliances, or to brew your coffee even before you enter the house simply. Maximum power output is 2200W, and the amperage capacity is 10 A.
If one smart plug per socket does not work for you, you will like WiFi Smart Power strip. It has 4 AC outlets, and four additional USB ports, making it an excellent option for remotely controlling multiple appliances at the same time. It supports Amazon Alexa and Echo Dot that allow voice control. Each of the four outlets can be controlled individually, but all four USB ports are managed as one unit. It only supports 2.4 GHz Internet connection. A good thing about this socket is built in leakage and overload protection, and surge protection that will prevent any damage to your connected appliances if the power suddenly jumps. The app also supports scheduling, allowing you to set timers for individual apparatuses, preventing overcharge and protecting your devices. It is made out of top quality, anti-fire ABS materials. The cord is five feet long, and the socket supports up to 1250 W (125 V, 10 A).
In the world of smart lights technology, one name towers the competition- Phillips Hue. This is by far the best system available, and so far ahead that it basically has no match, at least, not worth mentioning.
The hearth of every Philips Hue system is the bridge- it lets you connect it to your Amazon Alexa hub and control your home lights by voice commands. You can add up to 50 (!) Philips Hue bulbs on one system, allowing you to control your whole home lighting from your smartphone or tablet using iOS or Android apps. One bridge is compatible with all models of Hue bulbs. This bridge has the same purpose the CPU has inside your PC- it is the brains behind the whole operation. Apps are excellent, and let you set up timers, notifications, alarms and similar features, allowing you to maximize the usability of your Hue system. It is also compatible with Siri.
Once you get your Hue bridge, it is time to gets some light bulbs. You should start with some Hue Whites. These bulbs will fit into your existing B22 sockets, and can be controlled through your bridge, allowing remote dimming. You can also automate the lights (good for security, when you are not home), or set up timers to make energy savings. Of course, through Alexa, voice control is also an option, and you can turn the lights on or off, or dim them, using just your voice. Plus yes, dimming is enabled, no need to call an electrician, so you can fine-tune the intensity of your light just right.
Other options and starter kits
To keep things simple, we have presented you the Philips Hue bridge, and a simple, white bulb, Philip Hue White. Naturally, there are many other options such as colour color changing, or even some fancy lighting strips, but we leave the exploration to you.
However, if you are new in the Philips Hue world, we recommend you get a starter kit- they contain several bulbs (depending on your choice) and a bridge. This will save you a hefty amount, and let’s face it, you will want more than one automated bulb. Check these starter kits- one for the UK (240 V), and one for the USA (110V)
That is it; we hope that you now have a better understanding what it takes to make your home “smart”. All it takes is a few plugs and Philips Hue lights, and you are good to go. Smart home will be not only cool (and let’s face it, this is important, and the number one reason why you want to turn your home smart:), but also functional, as it saves you time and (electric) energy. Overall, an excellent investment.