Smart Home: A Comprehensive Guide
With the technology progressing on a rapid-fire, not only are our gadgets getting smarter but our houses too. That being said, it allows you to automate your house core activities.
For instance, a Wi-Fi doorbell helps you monitor your door when you are out on holiday. Similarly, if you forgot to turn off lights or heat while going to the office, you can do all that while sitting at your office chair by using a smart home technology system. That's cool, isn’t it?
We are a team of smart home geeks working in this industry for over a decade. Every now and then, we come across many questions our customers ask, like what is a smart home? How does a smart home work? And how can I build my smart home?
At iSmartHomeSecurity, we are always open to answering your queries related to a smart home. So let's answer your questions first!
1. What is a Smart Home?
Home automation means automating your household activities. By doing so, we use smart technologies that make our homes smart.
You have to connect Smart Home devices in the house that enable you to control certain activities remotely. The best thing about a smart house is that everything is under control at your fingertips.
Smart home devices work on these principles:
- Smart home technology is about connecting smart home appliances and devices to the Internet. You can remote control or monitor the home system via your smartphone, computer or tablet.
- Since all devices are interconnected through the Internet, you can manage them using one device to trigger another for specific tasks. Such as, you can set up a Wi-Fi light to turn on using a Smart Home assistant.
- If connected with the IFTTT, then they communicate seamlessly with each other. It helps in having a better user experience as one device will tell others what you need.
- Other smart home technologies are becoming more and more popular due to artificial intelligence (AI). It allows devices to adapt to human preferences and the environment. For example, Amazon Echo, a voice assistant, makes your life simple with just voice commands. With it, you can call anyone in the home while not leaving your space.
1.1 Smart Home examples
- According to situations, from a single touch, you can adjust specific lights for a friendly get-together, a romantic dinner, or a family movie night.
- Smart TVs connect to the Internet to access content through applications, such as on-demand video and music. Some smart TVs also include voice or gesture recognition.
- A thermostat allows you to control air temperature with voice commands.
- Smart Grill alerts you on your smart device: when your grill is preheated, the internal meat temperature, and when your meat or fish is fully cooked.
2. Where Does Smart Home Benefit Us?
● Remote Monitoring
You can manage, control and operate your smart house devices anywhere, anytime. You can also have a real-time check-on on multiple elements at your house.
● Save Cost
You can save costs by remotely controlling smart home devices via apps on your smartphone and even monitoring usage to control consumption.
● Energy Management
Managing utilities such as heating, cooling, and lighting can save on energy costs.
● Video Analytics
One of the most significant features of the smart home is video analytics.
● Appliance Safety
Smart stoves and grilles turn off appliances automatically. This provides real-time monitoring of hazards, such as being left on a hot stove, grill, or oven.
● Increase Home Safety
Smart home devices come with a built-in alarm system, especially door locks and smart cameras, double the home security. You can check in your house from anywhere in the world and lock it from there.
3. How Does Smart Home Work?
Smart home works in 3 main steps.
- Devices: The first step is to connect smart devices to the Internet.
- Transmit: Wi-Fi, ZigBee, and Z-Wave are some of the most common smart home communication protocols in use today.
- Cloud: Finally, seamless communication between smart devices is made possible through Cloud. Cloud processes the vast amount of data that these devices generate. It acts as a bridge in the form of a mediator or communication facilitator.
One of the most powerful ways to make smart home devices work together is by connecting them with your IFTTT account.
3.1 What Is IFTTT?
It is derived from a programming statement that stands for "If This, Then That."
IFTTT is an automation tool that links different devices together.
Why do you need to look at IFTTT when you buy a smart home product? Because smart homes are really a big catalogue (all of home use). Only devices that work with IFTTT can know each other.
3.2 How Does IFTTT Work?
Normally manufacturer or brand companies will integrate the IFTTT function into their product before going to market. In most cases, as a user, we just need to find the product with IFTTT marked.
For some DIY person, if you really want to build IFTTT by yourself, IFTTT works in 4 simple steps:
- Create a free account.
- Browse the IFTTT website or app to find what interests you.
- Connect the services that are involved in the Applet or connection.
- Find more Applets and connections, and repeat!
4. Smart Home Device Type Categories
- Smart Lighting
- Smart Locks and Entry
- Security Camera and System
- Smart Plug and Outlets
- Smart Climate Control
- Smart Detectors and Sensors
- Smart Home Entertainment
- Voice Assistants and Hubs
- Smart Kitchen products
5. Which Devices Are More Popular (2021)
According to valuepenguin, smart home devices are getting more and more popular among Americans. In fact, research further states that 65% of Americans have a Smart Home Device, especially those who are concerned about climate change. Smart Home Devices are environment friendly. The most popular smart device for consumers is the Speaker. This is because they use smart speakers to facilitate daily tasks.
Many users have integrated the devices into their daily routines, relying on their Echo or Home to facilitate seamless communication between two ends.
6. How To Get Start If You Want To Build Your Smart Home System 2021?
Building a smart home is too technical, but it doesn’t mean it’s hard to do so. However, it would be best to hire professionals who can set up a perfect smart home for you.At iSmartHomeSecurity, you will get a team of highly trained professionals who will set up your Smart Home efficiently. They will cover each and every corner of the installation.
6.1 Build Smart Home Yourself
Firstly if you’re a technical person and want to convert your home into a smart home then these steps will help you.
- First of all, buy the devices you want in your smart home. Along with them, also buy a Raspberry Pi micro-computer. It would cost you around $30.
- Download the Prota OS on your laptop. It is just 3.8 GB. Then download Etcher software. The Prota OS will be in .img format and Etcher will extract it.
- Now, connect your webcam to the laptop through Raspberry Pi. Open app libraries on the Prota OS and download the Webcam app. Then open the app to convert your webcam to a smart cam.
Get a breadboard with jumper wires that will not be more than $5. Connect the button to the board and then the board to Raspberry Pi with jumper wires. Download and open the GPIO app on Prota. Click on GPIO4, and then select INTERRUPT and PULL UP.
After that, connect it to the Phillip Hue Lights, or integrate it into the smart switch. Or it could be any device that supports Prota OS and IFTTT.
- Get your music on a USB and connect it to Pi. Connect your speakers with AUX to Pi. Download and open Volumio. Now, put the music on your speakers. Lastly, connect the speakers with motion detectors.
You can use it to get greeting music when you enter the room. It will help to surprise your guests or uninvited visitors.
- Download the IFTTT app on your smartphone and Prota OS. Open the app on your phone and create an account. Find Prota and connect your account to it. Now you can control the IFTTT supported software.
6.2 What Are The Best Areas To Start With?
You can start with smart cameras for surveillance and protection. Then get to the smart doorbell. Afterwards, connect the other smart devices with the smart speakers. Although it is not the pattern, you must stick to, but better to start from it.
Additionally, if you want to buy finished smart home products then iSmartHomeSecurity will provide you the best products according to your niche.
6.3 Calculate Your Budget Before You Start
The most important thing is to calculate your budget before you start building your smart home. It is easy to get into temptations and go over the limit. So, make a list of what you need, what will be their cost, and how you can cut costs if possible?
7. What Do People Care About Smart Home?
According to a recent YouGov survey, U.S. consumers have several concerns about smart home appliances. The hefty price tags, fear of hacking, and cyber-attacks are the most common complaints.
(Privacy concern % illustration according to information given in the link).
● Price Sensitivity
44% (22.5 million) of Americans said that the price is too high.
Pricing hasn't been a key issue in the market for some time; greater barriers are complexity, availability, and consumer awareness.
National Average Cost
● Privacy Issues
According to the study, the lack of need and privacy concerns in terms of reasons why smart homes have not been purchased.
If a service is priced attractively and perceived to be valuable, privacy is not a major concern for many consumers.
● Hacking Attacks
News5cleveland shows how an ethical hacker Rob Simon was easily able to hack into people's home/smart networks, even by reading passwords off the flash memory within a smart light bulb that was thrown out in the trash.
Ways of Preventing:
Here's how you can prevent such issues:
- For each device, use a different password.
- Restore them periodically.
- Destroy any smart home devices that you throw out.
- Don't share sensitive data over your smart devices.
7. What is Home Security?
Some people are usually confused between a smart home and home security. Home Security is a subset of Smart Home.
It is a method to secure your house through a system of interconnected and networking security devices.
The home security system is a network of integrated electronic devices working together. They have a central control panel to manage and operate every device with just one button. It protects against burglars and other potential home intruders.
8.1 How Does Home Security Work?
When there is an emergency in your house, the alarm system triggers and sends an emergency message to the central station of your service provider. It acts as a bridge.
When the central station receives the message, they respond immediately. They contact the authorities and inform you about the emergency.
8.2 What You Should Know Before Buying A Home Security System
If you decided to buy a home security system for your house but lost where to start, here are a couple of tips. They will help you to understand the process much better.
You can buy a DIY alarm system or a professional alarm system. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages.Let’s check them.
DIY Alarm System
A DIY alarm system is suitable for those who don’t have a multi-story building. They are also suitable for those with fewer residents in the house. But as the name suggests, you have to do the installation and maintenance all by yourself.
In a DIY alarm system, you are not confined to buying all equipment at once. You can buy the most needed first and other parts later. This also helps to manage the cost and expense.
Typically, this type of system costs you less as you are only paying for the device. And all the installation work is done yourself. The price starts from $100 and goes up depending on the device and its type. Spend once, and then just do the maintenance.
- It costs less
- Flexibility to buy devices depending on your budget
- Select the device on your own
- Control your appliances from anywhere
- Installation is sometimes a hectic and time consuming task
- Sometimes maintenance also becomes difficult
Professional Alarm System
A professional alarm system is suitable for multi-story buildings and with more residents. A company’s skilled team workers install the whole system in your house, don’t expect any mistakes or issues in installation.
In this type, you have to buy the whole set of appliances at once. In this way, it becomes quite expensive, isn’t it? Besides that, you’ve to pay extra monthly charges to a company for maintenance and security.
If you can afford, it’s the best option you can go for, because you don’t have to worry about anything. Now, it’s all on them; you just relax.
However, the cost may vary from company to company, and of course, the state too. But they usually start from more than a couple of hundred dollars along with monthly fees of around $25.
- Handled and installed by professionals
- All devices perfectly set with each other, making the Smart Home system an Intercom System
- Get instant help and maintenance whenever needed.
- Quite expensive
The Common Devices
The must-have devices in a security system include a control panel, sensors, motion detectors, wireless security cameras, smoke detectors, and keypads.
Check out some tips on how to install them by clicking here.
8.2 Can It Be Hacked?
Unfortunately, all of the smart home devices can be hacked.
In the last five years, smart home-related cyber-crimes have increased by a factor of 70, and it keeps growing.
Recent research indicates that the number of global attacks on smart homes is 12,000 times a week.
8.3 Tips to Prevent Your Smart Home Device From getting Hacked
Here are some crucial tips to make your Smart Home safer:
- Keep your smart home devices on a separate Wi-Fi (if possible
- Use a unique and different password other than your regular one for the devices
- Check the default privacy settings. Change and disable those which you don’t need
- Use multi-factor authentication. So, if an intruder hacks the Wi-Fi, he can’t get into your smart home devices
- Use the latest firewall for maximum protection
- Use motion detectors to get alerts when someone approaches the door
- Install high-resolution cameras so you can zoom in on the intruder’s face
9. What Are Compatible Devices for Smart Home?
Smart home devices must be able to exchange information on multiple devices. To do so, they need to speak the same language and communication protocol.
Common Communication Protocols:
- Infrared light
There will be no incompatibility as long as you choose a smart home with the same communication protocol. Learn more about smart home device's protocols by clicking here.
You don't have to worry about this if you choose a professional installation.
10. Final Words
Houses are getting smart, and they are reducing our efforts. They are becoming ease of mind as most of the tasks are at our fingertips. In fact, they are the future today.
Now you need to decide which device you need in your smart home. Whether it's a light bulb, lock, security camera, or thermostats.
As I said earlier, DIY means you can do the installation yourself. If you choose a professional installation, you will have to pay an extra fee. So keep the installation cost under consideration while forming your budget.
Here we have given you the most comprehensive guide to understanding a smart home and home security system. Click here to get the beginner's tips on the smart home. Start living in your house of the future now!