Our fascination with science fiction — from Ray Bradbury’s fully automated Happylife Home in his short story, “The Veldt,” to cartoon classics like Futurama and The Jetsons — has long ignited our imaginations with dreams of living in a smart home one day.
Fiction often precedes fact, and many of those farfetched visions are now a reality. Smart homes enhance comfort, convenience, safety, and energy efficiency. You can automate your lighting, thermostats, appliances, security cameras, and entertainment systems. Use voice commands to schedule and control devices remotely. And integrate systems to communicate for seamless operation.
Learn how to make your home a smart home and discover all the ways it can transform your house into a more efficient and comfortable environment.
What is a smart home?
A smart home connects the household devices and applications you rely on for daily living. The term “smart house” was first coined by the American Association of Home Builders in 1984, and the first IoT device — a self-reporting Coca-Cola machine — came to be in the early 1980s. Today, devices like lighting, HVAC systems, smart locks, TVs, speakers, and gaming consoles can now be controlled and automated remotely.
You may currently control some of your smart devices from your phone, laptop, or through voice commands. But managing devices individually can be inefficient and demanding. With a smart home setup, your devices are connected to a network or the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT allows your home’s devices to communicate, interact, and exchange data, which is especially beneficial if you work from home.
Discover the benefits of a smart home
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, using a programmable smart thermostat can save you up to 10% on your heating and cooling expenses. HVAC automation offers the most significant savings, but there are also benefits to connecting all of your devices to control and monitor them from anywhere. If your household already uses gaming consoles, high-definition streaming services, security cameras, smart lighting, or smart locks, you can save time and money by setting up a smart home. A centralized smart home setup helps you avoid needing a different app for each device.
How to make your home a smart home
According to a recent survey of 900 people, the most common smart devices in the U.S. are smart TVs (69%), smart speakers (45%), lights (32%), doorbells (29%), and smart thermostats (25%). Think about the aspects of your home you want to automate.
Popular ways to make your home a smart home include:
- Entertainment systems. Create customized and immersive experiences with TV streaming services, music, and real-time gaming services.
- Lighting. Add convenience and security to your home while you’re away with smart lights that can be set on timers to turn them on and off or dim them on an automated schedule.
- Smart thermostats. These devices allow you to track temperature control and optimize your energy usage remotely.
- Security and surveillance monitoring. Installing a smart home security system lets you remotely access live feeds from the cameras that monitor your home. You can even set up voice commands and security sensors to remotely lock and unlock your home and garage doors.
- Home appliances. Make your home more energy efficient by automating refrigerators, washers and dryers, dishwashers, coffee makers, and ovens.
- Smart plugs and power strips. Cut down on utility costs and optimize energy use by energy-draining devices.
- Irrigation systems. Remotely maintain and revise your watering schedule based on the weather.
- Smart HVAC systems. These efficient systems control the climate throughout your home with advanced automation and optimization features.
Smart home standards
We can expect to see new smart home options and innovative solutions as more manufacturers enter the game. Until recently, the industry was dominated by major players like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Samsung. One example of an up-and-coming smart home standard that’s quickly gaining momentum is Matter. It aims to offer universal connectivity among devices, making expanding smart homes easier for everyone.
Matter’s goal is for one source to bring compatibility with the major brands within a single wireless protocol. Matter has already spurred manufacturers to accelerate the development of new smart devices and solutions. Google, Amazon, Apple, and Samsung have declared that their devices will actively support the standard.
Setting up a smart home
A DIY smart home project can be fun and rewarding. You can customize your living environment to suit your lifestyle and routine. Before getting started, consider the following steps.
- Assess your needs. Take an inventory of the internet apps and devices you and your family use regularly. List the devices you want to automate or control remotely, including future add-ons.2. Choose a compatible smart home platform. If you currently use devices by specific brands like Apple or Google, consider integrating devices supported by your most-used brand. Until industry standards become widely adopted and incorporated into smart devices, sticking with one of the leading brands will make your smart home setup and life more manageable.
- Pick compatible devices. Ensure all devices you add to your smart home support the same protocols and standards. While some vendors’ products, such as Philips Hue smart bulbs, are compatible with Apple HomeKit and Google Home applications, many devices can’t easily connect with others outside their smart home ecosystem.
- Decide where to set up your devices. Strategically decide where to place your pods for shared devices such as smart TVs, speakers, and other home entertainment systems such as gaming and augmented or virtual reality devices.
- Set up your smart devices. If you have devices that don’t integrate with HomeKit or Google Home, download the individual application for each one. Carefully name and establish passwords for each. Locate and capture the serial numbers and QR codes of each device and application to ensure easy tracking and troubleshooting. Share this information only with members of your household.
- Customize settings and test all devices. Generate automation routines and configure voice commands to control your devices. Then ensure each device is connected correctly and compatible with your smart home setup.
Choosing a smart home WiFi network
Find out what your internet provider can do to support your smart home, including assessing your bandwidth requirements. Some, like Quantum Fiber, have expertise in mesh WiFi and high-speed internet options for smart homes.
Dedicated high-speed fiber internet
Many smart devices and services have heavy bandwidth demands, such as 4K+ HD video downloads. Streaming, real-time gaming, and high-resolution security cameras also require significant bandwidth. Dedicated fiber internet offers the most consistently secure and reliable high-speed option. It lets you run demanding applications, services, and devices, such as downloading two or more 4K+ HD movies simultaneously in less than five minutes. When upgrading to dedicated fiber internet, check the reliability rating of internet providers and the terms of their service agreements.
WiFi mesh network
Mesh networks are well suited to smart homes and can help you get the most from your internet connection everywhere in your home. A mesh network helps eliminate dead spots and interference from neighboring WiFi networks. The system is comprised of several connectivity pods that act as a single decentralized WiFi network. Explore more about mesh network solutions at Thread, an open-source IP-based platform that allows devices from different vendors and ecosystems to share the same mesh network. Look for mesh networks that offer 128-bit encrypted connections to ensure that all your devices are protected.
Ready to make your smart home smarter? Consider switching to an internet service provider like Quantum Fiber that offers reliable support to help you optimize, expand, and troubleshoot your smart home internet connections. Then get set to enjoy the convenience, comfort, and efficiency of your smart home.