Ideas for home automation
Also called smart home technology, home automation is the electronic control of household activities. More advanced automation connects home features to a network, to control, schedule, and monitor their use. The backbone of the network is usually Wi-Fi. This network of devices is called the Internet of Things.
Automated homes use a centralized system for simple and more complex household functions and appliances, such as controlling lights, locks, heating and cooling systems, indoor and outdoor cameras, security systems, blinds, audio systems and even coffee makers.
Most products use software that remotely controls home features through an internet-connected device. for example, a homeowner can lock their front door from their office using their smartphone. They can fill a cup to the appropriate level using a voice command. Home automation also refers to the use of sensors, such as an HVAC system that automatically turns on and off based on home occupancy.
There are several ways to control these devices. Sure, you can control your thermostat the old-fashioned way, but you can also control it from your phone. You can tell your Amazon device to make all your wishes come true with Alexa. The same goes if you want to use Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri. Let’s get into what you can do.
Home Lighting Automation Ideas
Some of the earliest smart technology came in the form of light bulbs – perhaps because there’s something appealing to the human ego about being able to say “let there be light” and turn on a bunch of lights smart connected.
The gold standard in this area are lights that can change color within a spectrum so you have complete control over the ambiance of your home at all times. Although they are the most customizable, they also tend to be the most expensive. White bulbs are often less expensive. These bulbs usually allow you to control the color temperature as well.
Another consideration for everything is whether you just want it to connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth or need it to connect to Wi-Fi. If you want to be able to control devices with smart assistants, you need to make sure you have Wi-Fi enabled lights or a bridging device.
Of course, not everything has to depend on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when it comes to lighting. If you just want motion sensors, this is definitely something that can be accommodated as well. Homeowners sometimes use them on a patio or porch for security purposes, but you can also use them indoors to turn on a light when you enter a room.
Heating and Cooling Automation Ideas
In the heating and cooling space, the smart thermostat allows you to control the temperature and turn the heating and air conditioning on and off remotely. You can also program the thermostat to maintain a certain temperature during the day when you’re at work and adjust it when you get home.
Nest is owned by Google and was a pioneer in this area, but similar competitor thermostats are available from Sensi and Honeywell. Nest and Honeywell claim to offer the ability to learn your preferences over time, depending on which model you get.
Home Security Automation Ideas
Home security is another area that has been revolutionized as technology has become cheaper and more connected. You can get everything from traditional motion sensors and security cameras to video doorbells and smart locks.
For example, you have the ability to see who is at your door without leaving the bathroom if someone shows up with a delivery at the wrong time. You can communicate with them and tell them where to leave it.
Some companies sell things like water level sensors so you can be alerted to a potential leak even if you’re away from home. You can also get smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Smart locks work by allowing you to enter at least one code. Some of the more advanced allow you to grant someone access temporarily or permanently when a device they own is within the appropriate Bluetooth range.
If you have two Amazon Echoes or Nest Audio speakers, they can be used as an intercom to talk between rooms. It seems a little old fashioned, but it can be useful. I’ll continue for now, but I’ll give you some personal experience later.
A note of caution here is that this is probably an area where you don’t want to mix up systems. If it’s a security system, you want to be sure everything is going to talk to each other. You will also want to know more about redundancy. What kind of backup is there in case of power or internet failure?
Home Entertainment Automation Ideas
This is where things get really fun for me. There are several ways to do this. However, by way of illustration, allow me to tell you about my personal configuration. I have a smart TV, an Amazon Fire TV Stick, an Amazon Echo, and a Harmony Hub.
This allows me to accomplish the following in about 30 seconds:
“Alexa, turn on Kevin’s TV.”
“Alexa, play the program on [streaming service].”
The Harmony Hub is the really cool part of this entertainment setup. It lets you take devices that otherwise won’t connect to any other hub and connect them with Google Assistant or Alexa. So I can tell it to play discs on my not-smart Blu-ray player.
Home Kitchen Automation Ideas
Another area people spend a lot of time in is the kitchen, and that too has its fair share of smart gadgets. One of them I will talk about even claims to cook for you.
Let’s start with the faucets. There are now several brands of smart sinks that will allow you to do things like request specific measurements of your sink at a certain temperature. This can be especially useful if you don’t have measuring cups handy. You can also have a preset for plant watering.
There are also smart refrigerators. It’s the one that seems the most forced to me. There are features like cameras so you can see what you have. Maybe if you’re at the grocery store, it’s useful. Samsung’s fridge has a music streaming feature, but it would be cheaper in my mind to just get a speaker.
Ovens get a little interesting. There are ranges that will remember your cooking presets for given dishes. You can also connect it to Wi-Fi to give it preheat commands and also receive temperature notifications from your phone.
Then there’s the superstar air fryer with toaster oven. Breville’s most advanced model has an autopilot mode that claims to help you through all the finer points of anything you might cook in the device.
Outdoor home automation ideas
There are a few different outdoor gadgets worth mentioning. I suspect the former could be used indoors as well, but when I think of temperature probes, I think of grilled meats. There are several probes that will allow you to monitor temperatures wirelessly from your phone.
I’m also a big fan of anything that converts your existing system into something connected. It is often cheaper to convert than to invest in brand new technology. It also keeps perfectly good devices out of landfills. myQ Smart Garage™ control lets you convert leading garage door openers sold after 1993 into smart doors that can be controlled remotely.
Convenience Home Automation Ideas
There are some things that are just practical that don’t fit anywhere else in this article.
One of my favorite gadgets I own is this system that converts my blinds into motorized smart blinds. Depending on how many windows you want to do, it can get a bit pricey, and the Wi-Fi bridge for voice control is separate (it’s a Bluetooth connection by default), but it’s great to be able to give a command vocal and to have the blinds obey.
Not everything has to be overwhelming to be useful either. For example, it’s really nice to receive a notification when you receive a new package or to be able to find out about the weather before going out for the day. Voice assistants can even make home shopping easier.