In this post I will detail the Smart Home devices I use and how they work together. This is a rather long post so I’ve added a table of contents. Feel free to skip ahead to the sections that are interesting or useful for you.
I know that there are simpler setups and much more complicated setups. This is by no means the only or even the best way to make your home smart. This is simply the devices I am currently using. There are always more that I will want to add!
Smart Home Hub
A Smart Home hub is really the brains of the Smart Home. It’s what connects all of your devices together so that they can interact with each other. This allows you to have your home perform automated tasks such as lock the door when you leave, turn on the lights at dusk, turn on a fan at a certain temperature, etc.
Some devices require a specific hub while others will connect to a more generic hub. An example of this would be the Philips Hue hub. In order to use Philips Hue light bulbs you must own a Philips Hue hub. A generic hub would be the Samsung Smartthings hub, many devices from varying manufacturers can connect to this hub.
I own both of these hubs. The Smartthings hub is what does a lot of my automation. Most, if not all of my devices, can interact with each other through this hub. Even the aforementioned Philips Hue hub can communicate with the Smartthings hub.
The Smart Speaker is what you will use to interact with your Smart Home vocally. These speakers have built in assistants that you can ask to adjust your different Smart devices. For instance, you could ask them to change the temperature on your thermostat or turn lights on/off. They also act as your personal assistants. Giving you reminders, playing music for you, and answering your questions.
I use Amazon’s Alexa throughout my home. I have an Amazon device with Alexa built in in nearly every room. This lets me play music throughout the whole house, change my thermostat, change lighting, even see my security cameras on the Amazon Show. I have been very impressed with Alexa. I have a wide range of Amazon’s devices, the Spot and Show with built in screens, Echo’s, and the hockey puck sized Dots. If you are skeptical of these devices I recommend trying out one of the inexpensive Dot’s, these routinely sell for $30.
Lighting might be my favorite Smart Home technology. As lazy as it sounds, there is something magical about all of your lights turning off with a single command or even by themselves. I rarely think about whether I left a certain light on. There are two main types of Smart Home lights: Smart Bulbs and Smart Light Switches.
Smart Light Switches
Smart Light Switches are switches that you install in the same spot as your existing light switches. These are more complicated to setup than light bulbs, however they have advantages. One advantage is that they work like normal switches as well as from your phone. They are also easier to use for friends/family who are visiting. It is recommend that you have an electrician install them. I have a couple of Smart Light Switches, of the GE Z-Wave variety, and they weren’t the easiest to install. They are larger than normal light switches. They have been rock solid though.