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Tips for Getting Started with Your Smart Home

Smart home app installing on phone in hands. Smart home control concept.

Smart homes might seem like a far-off futuristic concept, but with the continual advances in technology, they are becoming increasingly popular and rightfully so. With the ability to turn on the lights, set the thermostat, set the alarm system, and even start music with a simple voice command, smart technology is making everyday tasks that much easier.

If you’ve never utilized smart technology in your home, the ideas of a smart home can seem quite daunting but with these simple steps, understanding the process and the technology behind these homes will help you start utilizing these benefits.

Make Sure Your Internet is Set Up

Reliable high-speed internet is essential for getting the most out of your smart home. Most of the devices that are used to verbally turn on lights, controlling a fan, or even starting your coffee maker utilize the internet and Bluetooth capabilities. With a slow internet connection, there will be lags in your requests going through.

Keep in mind that one device won’t require too much bandwidth, but as you add more devices into the network you will need a high data cap in order to complete several tasks at once.

Choose Your Assistant

In order to utilize voice control in your home, you will need to decide on an assistant to help you with it. With so many options available, deciding on an assistant can be overwhelming. The three most popular options are Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google’s Assistant. Although they have similar capabilities (and are all great!) some of the assistants have different pairing capabilities so make sure that the devices you want to use can be integrated with the specific assistant before making the purchase.

Amazon’s Alexa

If voice commands are important to you, Alexa is your best bet! There are also several Alexa products to choose from depending on your needs.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up and can be plugged in anywhere
  • Has over 10,000 skills and capabilities, including third-party integration capabilities
  • Low-cost
  • The Alexa app works with both Apple and Android devices

Cons:

  • The app needed to set up new devices can be clunky
  • Alexa will sometimes have difficulty responding to commands
  • You cannot speak to Alexa through your smartphone, you have to speak to the device itself
  • Amazon will not provide you with information as to which third-party products are compatible with the device so if you want to attach a home device to it, it is your responsibility to do the research

Apple’s Siri

The newest assistant out of the three, Siri has the least amount of third-party integrations but is great if you’re already heavily invested in other Apple products.

Pros:

  • Apple worked with third-party device producers to ensure any data transferred between accessories and the Apple device is secured and encrypted
  • Siri is extremely simple to set up

Cons:

  • With the privacy policies put in place, it is taking a longer period of time for third-party accessories that are compatible with Siri to hit the market
  • Siri will sometimes have difficulty responding to commands
  • Exclusive to Apple products

Google’s Assistant

The middle ground between Alexa and Siri but is the best assistant for asking questions.

Pros:

  • Around $50 less than the Amazon Echo speaker
  • Smarter than Alexa and Siri as it is powered by Google search, making it easier to find information and receive a correct response

Cons:

  • You have to say “O.K. Google” before asking a command
  • Alexa supports far more products than the Google Assistant
  • Google’s privacy policy is incredibly vague

Start Adding Your Devices

Now that you have decided on your assistant, start looking into what devices are compatible with it. The best beginner smart devices are smart thermostats, video doorbells, and lighting.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats provide several benefits and are extremely easy to control! Some benefits include:

  • Learning your preferences so you don’t have to adjust them as frequently
  • Energy efficient
  • Can be controlled from your smartphone

Video Doorbells

Over the last few years, video doorbells have become more popular as they link to your smartphone and you can see who is at the door without getting up and are also a great deterrent to package theft.

Smart Lighting

With smart lighting, you are able to control the lighting and temperature of the lighting in your home via your assistant and smartphone. Another added benefit is that the bulbs themselves use very little energy and can last for years!

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