Smart Home Ideas (If You've Never Bought Smart Home Tech Before)
Keen to join the smart home revolution, but unsure where to start? The number of products out there can be a bit overwhelming, but the benefits of a smart home can be plentiful, so it’s well worth getting clued up about what’s what. From being able to turn on the heating ready for when you get back, to keeping your home and family safe, there are lots of rewards to reap.
In this guide we’ll list some smart home ideas that are great for beginners, covering each key area.
What’s the best starting point? Home automation for beginners
Smart home devices allow you to automate and control appliances remotely via an app on your smartphone or tablet, making your day-to-day life easier. They can help you save money and enjoy peace of mind when you’re away from home, amongst other things.
Many of them are compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Homekit, so you can simply tell your lights to turn on via voice commands, ask for your favourite song to be played on your smart speakers and more. Almost everything in our range is compatible with Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomeKit.
Smart home devices you should consider right away
With our key smart home categories, we’ll help you decide which products to invest in based on what’s important to you. Whether you’ve got no idea how to get started or you already have a few bits of tech and want to see if the full experience is for you, this guide will walk you through what’s available and how it can benefit you.
Smart lighting devices allow you to control your lights from your smartphone - whether
you just don’t want to leave the sofa or want to create the impression that someone’s home while you’re away. You can also set schedules for your lights, so it never looks like your home is unoccupied, or even create your ideal ambience by choosing your preferred brightness.
The TCP Smart WiFi Dimmable Warm White LED Light Bulb is a good choice for beginners. It allows you to set timers and routines for specific lighting needs, whether this is for cosy evenings, morning wake-ups or social occasions. You can also control your lights in one room or your whole house with a single tap, amongst other great features.
The TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Colour-Changing LED Light Bulb is a step up from the TCP model, offering a colour-changing feature to create the perfect atmosphere for every occasion, and a circadian mode that mimics natural light patterns.
With a smart speaker, you can enjoy having your own personal assistant and control other compatible smart home devices by simply asking questions aloud and giving voice commands.
The most iconic is the Google Home Smart Speaker. It offers impressive sound, a built-in far-field microphone for out-of-room use, and lets you keep up to date with weather, news, and commuting – all without having to lift a finger. Plus, you can control your compatible thermostats and lighting with it too
The Google Nest Mini is essentially a smaller version of the Google Home and is ideal if you primarily want to use it as a voice-enabled assistant.
Smart security devices will give you peace of mind whether you’re inside your property or out and about, as live streaming lets you keep an eye on your home wherever you are. Different devices give you options such as keeping yourself and your family safe by checking who’s at your door on your smartphone before you answer (see our Smart Doorbells Guide for more), or easily alerting the emergency services if there’s an intruder - even if you’re not home.
This is one of our best smart security cameras for beginners. With the 340-degree horizontal, 105-degree vertical rotation pan and tilt feature, you can see everything in the room. If it notices something moving, the camera will track the movement automatically across the room, providing the best footage possible. This can also be manually moved around via your EZVIZ smartphone app.
The Ring video doorbell is a highly popular choice. It lets you answer the door from anywhere, sending you instant alerts when anyone steps onto your property, so you can see, hear and speak to your visitors - or intruders - from your smartphone or tablet.
Other smart home devices
As well as all those listed above, there are plenty more products to choose from.
With smart energy devices, you can control and monitor how much energy you use in your home, which helps you identify problem areas and keep your bills low. The Netatmo and Bosch thermostats are great for controlling your heating, while the Intempo Home UK Smart Plug allows you to monitor how much energy a specific appliance is using.
Control your appliances from anywhere with our smart power devices - that is, sockets and plugs that your non-smart appliances can be controlled from. The TCP Smart Wi-Fi Plug requires no hub, is easy to install and can be controlled either via the app or with your voice. Products like these are ideal if you often forget to turn your hair straighteners off, for example, or want to set timers for specific appliances like Christmas lights and heaters.
Smart home set up: 5 things you need to consider
Setting up your smart home should be relatively straightforward. Here are the key things to consider.
- Router. Make sure you have a wireless router that reaches all areas of your home. You can always expand your Wi-Fi with a Wi-Fi range extender if you want to. (Read our guide to find out how much bandwidth is needed to keep a smart home running quickly.) - add this when guide is live
- Installation. Most devices are easy to install yourself, though some may require professional installation.
- App. Download the relevant app for your device/s to control it/them.
- Virtual assistant. Connect your device to your chosen voice command system, if using.
- Hub. If you have more than one device in the same system, think about getting a hub. This will act as the heart of your ecosystem, connecting all your devices and providing you with a single user interface to control your system.