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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Ask Yourself These Questions Before Setting Up a Smarthome

A two story home with a well-manicured garden.
Alexmisu/Shutterstock

Are you thinking about starting up smarthome? Great! But don’t jump directly in without a plan. That’s how you end up making common smarthome beginner mistakes. Instead, before buying anything, you should ask yourself a few common-sense questions.

What Changes Can You Make to Your Home?

Creating a smarthome involves varying levels of installing new tech. Some gadgets, like smart plugs and voice assistant speakers, are as simple as plugging the device into an outlet. Others entail making a physical change to your home, like changing the locks or doorbells.

But depending on your home situation, you may not be able to make those changes. If you rent, for instance, you may not be allowed to change the locks without permission. In some cases, the answer might always be no.

In other instances, installing tech may call for a particular expertise. Are you comfortable with electrical work? What about working with the plumbing of your home? If you aren’t, that limits you from installing devices that are wired directly into your home or connected to your pipes.  You would have to pay a professional to complete the install, which adds to price.

What Do You Want to Accomplish?

A Nest Hub, wireless charger, lamp with smart bulb, and kindle.
Do you want smart lights you can control by voice? Josh Hendrickson

Once you know what kind of changes you can make, it’s time to ask yourself what you want to accomplish. These days, manufacturers seem willing to slap a radio on nearly anything just to call it smart and sell it to you. For that reason alone, there are all kinds of smarthome devices you should avoid.

But to figure out which ones are right for you, you should have a good idea of what you want your smarthome to do for you. If your chief concern is cutting back on power usage, then smart bulbs, plugs, and a thermostat is your starting point.

On the other hand, if security is your goal, you’ll want to invest in smart locks, video doorbells, and other cameras. Smarthomes technology can meet a variety of needs and desires, and in most cases, they even solve more than one problem. But start simple. Pick one goal to accomplish and go after that first. Then expand.

Do You Want to Do it Yourself?

We often focus on do-it-yourself smarthome tech at How-To Geek, but you don’t have to do it yourself. Various companies like Control4 and Savant offer customized smarthome systems you can purchase. Typically you’ll buy a centralized hub (sometimes a traditional smarthome hub, but more often a full computer like a Mac Mini) and a series of devices like smart plugs, bulbs, and even smart shades for your home.

Control4, Savant, and others offer a single app solution to control your smarthome. And they usually do work with outside services like Google Home and Alexa. These companies do all the hard work for you, but at a premium cost.

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