Smart Home 101

A comprehensive walkthrough of every step of the smart home creation process, from product recommendations to installation to troubleshooting tips and everything in between.

What is a Smart Home?

The smart home is currently the most popular application of IoT because it is the most affordable and consumer focused. Smart home products come in all shapes and sizes and nearly all home goods can now be bought with internet connectivity. From the Amazon Echo to the Nest Thermostat, there are thousands of products on the market that users can control to make their lives more connected than ever.

 

CNET and Coldwell Banker define a Smart Home as:

"A home that is equipped with network-connected products (aka "smart products," connected via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or similar protocols) for controlling, automating and optimizing functions such as temperature, lighting, security, safety or entertainment, either remotely by a phone, tablet, computer or a separate system within the home itself."

 

Simply put, a smart home is one that includes some gadget, system or appliance that is connected to the Internet or your smartphone. (And most likely offers some level of control or interaction by using an app.)

Being able to tell your curtains to raise, coffee to start brewing, and lights to turn on isn't some futuristic concept from Minority Report - you can get start connecting your home today using products we recommend below (that are quite reasonably priced). But setting up a smart home isn't quite as straightforward as it should be, which is why we're here to help!

68% of Americans are confident smart homes will be as commonplace as smartphones with 10 years.

- LeGrand IoT & Smart Home Predictions

Why Setup a Smart Home

Not only can you live a futuristic life right now, but you can also save time, money, and energy.

Industry leaders like NEST, Apple, ADT, and Honeywell are diving into the Connected Home and making a Jetsons-like home a reality for the masses. An IoTC survey of consumers showed that the primary reason for smart home adoption is cost savings, and according to a recent survey conducted by CNET and Coldwell Banker, 45% of Americans say that smart home products save them an average of $98.30 per month.

The true value of a connected device is difficult to understand or appreciate, until it is off the shelf, out of the box, and being fully experienced in your home. Believe me, you'll love your Ecobee thermostat a lot more when it's 0 degrees outside and the heat kicks on 20 minutes before you arrive home.

Let's not forget about automating tasks to save you time and make your life easier. The same CNET survey highlighted that smart home technology products save homeowners an average of 30 minutes per day! Think about what you could do with that time... play with your kids, watch more Netflix, or walk your dog.

And wouldn't it be nice if selling your home were easier? 81% of buyers indicate they'd more opt to buy a home if smart home products were already installed. That's proof it's worth it and your realtor will thank you.

In the end, most consumers don't really care how the Connected Home works, but simply that it does work. Here at Axius, we strive to help our members reach the point where life in a "Smart Home" is very similar to how it is today - just with lots of enhancements.

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How To: Start Building Your Smart Home

If you're interested in automating your home, there are a number of ways to get started, here we'll walk you through the flow that has worked best for our members.

First off, we recommend building your connected home in steps. Also, consider investing in smart home technology that can save you money and time.

Try starting simple. Light bulbs and plugs are some of the easiest and least expensive ways to get started. The advantage of starting with light bulbs and plugs is that they are easy to setup and you can start seeing the benefits right away.

Smart plugs can quickly convert existing household items like lamps and coffee machines into smart devices. You can then turn the lamp on and off by using the app you've installed on your mobile device. You can also set it on a schedule, so that it turns on and off at specific days and time. This is most useful if you are on vacation and you want the light to turn on and off to make it appear as if you are at home.

The next step is installing a smart thermostat. Smart Thermostats are more expensive (and harder to install) than light bulbs, but the device that people associate with a "smart home". In the long run these devices end up paying for themselves in the form of lower electricity bills. Nest looked at a year of its users' data, and discovered that the Nest thermostat could save customers about 20 percent a year on home heating and cooling costs!

Another common way consumers start getting setup with a Smart Home is by installing a security device like smart deadbolt locks, doorbells, and security cameras. Like the thermostats, these devices are more expensive than the light bulbs and plugs and take a bit more effort to install. But if you are looking to add another level of security to your home with additional features and remote control, these options may fit your needs.

How do you take your smart home to the next level? If you get a voice-control device like an Amazon Echo (eg Dot, Tap, Show) or Google Home, you can use it to control compatible lights bulbs and plugs. For example, I have two lamps in my living room and it's difficult for my young kids to turn the lights on and off by themselves. Now that these lamps are connected to my Amazon Echo my kids just have to say "Alexa, turn on living room lights". You can also use Echo or Home as a smart speaker system, playing music throughout your home with services like Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, or iTunes.

Ok, now you have multiple smart devices in your home, and you probably want to consider getting a "Hub". Hubs provide a unified command and control platform for all your smart devices. You can create "scenes" that command multiple devices to do a set of actions. For example, you can create a scene called "I'm Home". So when you unlock your front door, the thermostat increases the temperature to 76 degrees and turns on the living room lights. Or you can create a scene called "Goodnight" to turn off all the lights, lock the front door, and lower the thermostat temperature to 68 degrees.

74% of those who already have smart home devices are very satisfied.

- Homes of the Future, Insurance Quotes

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Around The Clock Peace of Mind.

Your home is your castle - smart devices can protect against water leaks, alert you to intruders, and let you monitor and control your smart home from anywhere in the world.

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Secure Your Home The Smarter Way.

Get 24/7 security with professional monitoring for 24/7 peace of mind. With the press of a button, ensure that your home is secure and everything inside of it, that you love, is well taken care of.

Smart Home Use Cases

Still not convinced? To better understand how a connected home can make life easier we'll take a look how it can free up time, money, and attention to focus more on the things you love.

Automate Temperature.

Lower your monthly bills and ease your eco-conscience with a thermostat that knows when you're approaching, and sets the perfect when you arrive home. Forget to turn down the heat as you rushed out the door - your thermostat can automatically adjust when your home is empty.

Handful of groceries?

Automatically unlock your door with just your voice, or sensor. Smart locks will make fumbling with keys a thing of the past.

Arrive Safely.

By setting up lighting automation packages, you'll be able to turn on lights in specific rooms on a preset schedule, by geo-fence (location tracking) or on demand via your smart phone. You'll never want to flip a traditional light switch again.

Don't Get Up.

With one touch or voice command (Siri / Alexa / Home), you can dim the lights, play music, turn up the heat, lock the doors and arm the security system. Create "Scenes" to perform a group of automated tasks with a simple command.

Check in on your home.

Stay alert on what's happening at your home from your smartphone, no matter where you are. Check to see who is at the door so there aren't any surprises or use smart security cameras to see what the motion was in your bedroom.

Arrive Safely.

By setting up lighting automation packages, you'll be able to turn on lights in specific rooms on a preset schedule, by geo-fence (location tracking) or on demand via your smart phone. You'll never want to flip a traditional light switch again.

Best Smart Home Products

Check out our list of top products that will make your home smarter and life better. We've searched the web, tested products, read thousands of reviews, and picked our favorites.

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Smart Security, Alarm, & Cameras

Smart security cameras let you watch over what you love with remote access, indoors and out, day and night - in an easy and affordable way. Get every angle covered with smart cameras.

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Smart Lighting

Brighten your space with the help of wireless, plug-and-play smart lighting solutions. Control your lights and select the perfect shade and brightness, all from your smart device.

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Smart Locks & Doorbells

Your smartphone is now a smart key—and more. Lock and unlock your door, create virtual keys for guests, and keep track of who comes and goes, all from your iOS or Android smartphone.

 

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Smart Plugs & Switches

Smart outlets, plugs, and switches are great way to make 'dumb' devices smart. Turn any appliance on/off remotely, set automation rules, timers, and save money on power consumption. Switch on your home.

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Smart Security Sensors

Setup security sensors to notify you when things are out of order. Smart sensors detect smoke, motion, gas or water leaks, helping you stay alert.

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Smart Thermostats

Keep your cool by saving money on utility bills. Smart thermostats are the perfect balance of energy savings and comfort - some can even learn your habits and preferences!

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