What to Know About Smart Home Automation

A smart home automation system links and controls your thermostat, lights, appliances, doorbells and more. This is your home, only better.

You’re hearing and seeing a lot about home automation everywhere you go. But what does it really mean?

Home automation refers to everyday home electronics and appliances that can be controlled remotely using an app or voice commands. Whether you’re home or away from home, the app lets you turn them on or off, or you can schedule them to do it automatically. Some devices with these capabilities usually have the word “smart” in the name to let you know. You may see products labeled as smart thermostats, smart locks and smart bulbs. Older (dumb) devices without the smart technology can be automated by adding a smart plug.

How you put it all together into one working ecosystem of devices is important. Here’s what you need to know.

Types of Home Automation

When you automate your home, there are two ways to go about it, but the end result is the same — you want devices to work together, automatically, to make your life easier. For example, you can set up an automation so that at bedtime each night lights in your home go off, the doors lock and the thermostat is set to the perfect sleeping temperature.

One way involves buying different devices, like a video doorbell and smart lights, and running each through their apps. That’s fine if you have only two or three smart devices. But to automate your whole home, keeping track of a gaggle of the home automation apps could become a problem.

The second way: Find a series of products meant to work together that can be controlled through one app. Smart devices labeled as “compatible with Alexa” can all be controlled through the Alexa app. Other apps that can connect and automate multiple devices include Google Home and Apple HomeKit. Some product manufacturers that offer a line of smart devices, like Ring, provide one app that can control them all as well.

How Much Does a Smart Home System Cost?

This depends on what you want to achieve. You can spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. But no matter how you decide to automate your home, it is completely up to you how far you want to go. You can purchase just a few smart light bulbs and automate your lighting, or you can go all-out and automate everything from your lights to your floor cleaning system.

Smart Home System Devices and Appliances

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of smart devices on the market that you can use to build your smart home system. How do you get started?

First you need to consider what aspects of your life you want to automate. Here are some ideas:

Next, research what types of devices work best for each area you want to automate. Our guides can help you pick the right one. If you’re researching the best options for starting or expanding your smart home system, check out this Raspberry Pi home automation system.

Alina Bradford
Alina Bradford is a technology and internet safety and security expert for SafeWise.com and has contributed her insights to dozens of national publications, both in print and online. Her goal is to make gadgets less mystifying, one article at a time.