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What is a Smarthome?

  Hands holding a tablet with smart home features displayed
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All homes can be smarthome, whether it be a studio or a mansion. It's the powerful connections that make it smart. Here's what you need to know about smarthomes and how to start creating your own if you're interested.

Smarthomes are all different

An official definition of "smarthome" does not exist. What began as more of a buzzword has gone into common use, but no person or company invented smarthomes, nor can they claim total domination in the field. Smarthome technology is still in its infancy. Even among those who have adopted it, a smart home can look very different from another. The differences include which smart devices are in the home and also how many of these devices are available.

In fact, a smarthome is probably best defined as a living room with connected technology to improve the home. It can include smart thermostats, smart lights, smart plugs or sockets, smart doorbells and locks or voice assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa. It can be a combination of the above, all of the above or be completely different smart devices altogether.

What a smarthome is for you depends on what you want to get out of it.

Smart Thermostats can program itself

 Ecobee smart thermostat on the wall

] A few years ago, smart thermostats were probably the first device most owners put in their home. The promise was straight forward; The thermostat would save you more money than it costs to buy.

Through artificial intelligence, a smart thermostat will teach you when you usually go home, when you get home, what is your desired temperature in winter and summer. Then, all on its own, it will begin to control the temperature of your house based on that information. The teaching is as simple as changing the temperature when you feel the need.

The process should be much easier than programmable thermostats provide. And by just running your heating and air conditioning when needed, you would save money. We don't think you need a smart thermostat, but if you like the idea of ​​a simple interface, automatic controls and remote control you can't go wrong with either a Nest or Ecobee.

Smart Lights and Plugs Offer Voice Control and More

 A Philips and Eufy smart lamp side by side.

Smart lamps and smart plugs are available in various forms. Light bulbs and plugs do not require installation knowledge, while switches and sockets replace your existing traditional light switches and sockets. Whichever you choose depends on your comfort level with electrical wires and possibly your house. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Smart bulbs, such as the Philips Hue series, come in a variety of colors that you can change the flight. But you need one for every light you want to make smart, which means that the cost can settle quickly. A smart light switch, like those made by Lutron, can cost about as much as a smart light bulb or two while controlling many or all of the light in a room. But you will not get color change functions. Usually, either the option has voice assist integration, but sometimes a hub is needed.

Smart jacks and smart plugs generally have the same functions – which can include automation, integration of voice assistant and energy monitoring. The main difference is simple installation and space. To use a smart contact such as Sonoffs, connect it to a socket and then connect a device to it. No cables needed. But it will stand out from your outlet, and depending on the model, you pick up a room. TopGreener's smart outlet replaces your existing outlet, so the management is involved. [19659000] Smart doors and locks Give digital mail

 A kwikset smartlock.

It is not just inside your house that you can connect to your phone and tablet. With a smart lock like Schlage's, you have greater control over who can enter your house. Rather than handing out keys just to never get them back, you can grant pin or app access to your lock. And when it is no longer needed, you can recall that access. Installing a smart lock is not much harder than replacing a standard lock, so this is an easy way to get into smarthomes.

Smart door bells can be a bit harder to install. You will want to judge whether you have worked with the doorbell's wires to begin with, as it will determine some of your options. If you have a job cable, you can use everything from Nest to Ring, and your existing chimes will still work. If you do not, you need something battery powered. In either case, these door bells will give you video when someone approaches your door, or another movement is detected. If you have a wired doorbell, you can record video at any time.

Between the doorbell and the lock you can see who is in your house and, if appropriate, provide access. For example, a family member may fall when you are out and you may want to release them immediately.

RELATED: Which Smart Lock should you buy?

] Voice Assistants Tie All Together

 An Echo Spot, Google Home Hub, GE Smart Bulb and iclever smart plug

You may notice we have not mentioned hub. That's because voice assistants like Google Home and Alexa kill the smarthome hub, and that's a good thing. With a voice assistant, you can pull your various devices together to make them work in conjunction.

That means you can control a whole suite of units – or a whole house – and can create automation routines that take care of things for you. If you often forget to turn off the lights or lock a door before you go, a daily routine can solve the problem.

Just like a smarthome hub, any device connected to your voice assistant can be controlled from a single app. It is much better than remembering which manufacturer app controls a device.

And while some may say that no one needs to talk to a house to check light, the first time you have your hands full of groceries and you speak to turn on the kitchen is magical. You don't have to go back to just having light switches as an alternative.

Smarthomes need not be expensive

It's a common myth that smarthomes are expensive, but they don't have to be. While smarthome units cost a little money, you also make other household purchases that you don't need, such as floor mats and decorations.

You can always save money by not buying anything. The question should be if the cost is worth what you get out of it. Once you have done the cost-effective mathematics, you can handle yourself. We think a starter smarthome can be put together for less than $ 400, and more importantly, you don't have to buy everything at once. Start with a single voice assistant, like a Google Home Mini or Amazon Echo Dot, and then sprinkle in a light bulb or two. Build your smart home over time, and you won't feel the cost so much.

Almost every smarthome is different, and it is no surprise because the homes themselves are very different. Whether you live in an apartment house or apartment block, you can connect your living space to a network and re-control your home. At the end of the day, a smarthome is what you want it to be.

RELATED: The cheapest Smarthome equipment to get you started

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