What Makes a Smart Home: What’s Smart in 2021?
Simply put, smart homes are fully automated homes with everything controlled from a single device such as your computer or smartphone, in order to save time, energy and money. Properly set up, these devices are also secure, and can help you protect your home and family.
They’re becoming ever more popular - in fact, the number of smart homes globally is forecast to grow and surpass the 350 million mark by 2023.
At Robert Dyas we offer a range of smart home technology and systems to help you manage your property and time, and these devices can be connected in many cases to other devices in your space.
What is a smart home?
A smart home is one that includes devices that can be controlled via the internet. There’s a vast range of technology to choose from, spanning across areas such as security, speakers, lighting, energy, monitoring and power.
Whether it’s a smart doorbell that allows you to see and speak to whoever’s at your door while you’re out (see our smart doorbell guide for more info), or a plug that lets you turn appliances on and off remotely, there’s a device to make your life easier.
You simply need Wi-Fi access and an app on your smartphone or other smart device to be able to manage and control your smart technology.
What is the latest smart home technology available?
There are lots of different smart home devices out there, the key categories including smart lighting, heating systems, speakers, security cameras and video doorbells. New developments in each category arrive continually - here are a few features and products to look out for:
Better resolution. Cameras can now record in 2K - like the Eufy Video Doorbell 2 - or even 4K, giving better picture quality, more definition and the ability to zoom in for greater detail, which is especially useful if trying to identify somebody.
Pan and tilt. Cameras are no longer static - they can pan and tilt like this EZVIZ model. Some also have tracking technology if activated.
Person detection. AI improvements now enable cameras to only activate if they recognise a human shape, rather than activating at every car or animal that passes. You can also now set designated areas for the cameras to scan, so that somebody just walking past your drive won't trigger an alert.
Self contained systems - no need for the cloud. Previously, smart products required you to sign up to a subscription for a monthly or yearly fee to ensure any info captured was stored and that you could recall it if required. A lot of systems now give you a hybrid option or a dedicated hub where you can store captured data onto a memory card.
Battery power. Fitting wired products can be daunting, and getting specialist electricians to fix cameras and doorbells etc. can be expensive. As a result, more manufacturers now do battery versions that have a battery life of between 6 months and 2 years. This gives you more convenience and means you can put them on outbuildings without the hassle of cables.
The smart home systems you can implement
It can be confusing trying to work out what device will be compatible with your existing network if you have one, so we’ve added filters on our smart home page to help you quickly identify compatible products. Nevertheless, here’s a summary of a few brands we stock below.
Middle of the range
Top of the range
The smart ecosystems from different brands aren’t inter-compatible, although there are many smart products that are compatible with multiple ecosystems. There are a lot of ecosystems to choose from, and selecting which one you want to use is an important first step to take before you make any purchases.
To decide on the best ecosystem, look at which products you’re most interested in and be led from there. Check if the system as a whole is at the right sort of price point for you, and whether the devices are compatible with your preferred voice command service, e.g. Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple Homekit.
How to make your home a smart home
First of all, you need a wireless router that ideally reaches all areas of your home. You can always expand your Wi-Fi with a Wi-Fi range extender if you want to.
Then choose one or two products you like and take it from there. That way, you’ll learn which type of features suit your needs best. For your first device or two, it’s a good idea to choose ones that are widely compatible with different smart home devices, so that you have more freedom if expanding your system later on.
Voice assistants are a great addition to a smart home so you might want to think about which voice command service you want your devices to work with, e.g. Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple Homekit.
Once you’ve established a few devices, you may also want to look into getting a hub. A hub acts as the heart of your smart home ecosystem, connecting all your devices and providing you with a single user interface to control your system. Aside from this key point, they do have a few differences, for example: some may plug into your broadband router (like Hive); others may offer local storage instead of cloud (like Bosch).
The benefits of smart home technology in your home
There are lots of benefits to having a fully smart home, including:
- Managing all of your devices and appliances from one place, saving you time and hassle. This is hugely convenient for the busy lives that most of us now lead and simplifies daily life.
- Managing your home remotely wherever you are in the world, whether you’re at work, on holiday or just in the other room. Fretting about whether you’ve turned your lamps or hair straighteners off? You can simply check your phone.
- Keeping your home secure and your family safe. You can install a video doorbell to alert you to the presence of intruders, access home security cams at any time from anywhere, or set schedules for your lights so it never looks like your home’s unoccupied.
- Improving energy efficiency due to the easy monitoring of your appliances. You can control and monitor how much energy you use in your home, which helps you identify problem areas and keep your bills low.
- Maximizing home comfort. You can turn the heating on before you get home, dim the lights without having to leave the sofa, or simply voice-command your virtual assistant to enact tasks.
- Home insights. You can monitor your energy consumption, how much TV you watch - helping you change habits if you want to improve your lifestyle - or control internet usage for your kids, turning it off easily at mealtimes or setting schedules for night time, for example.
All this and more is possible with a smart home. And the best thing is you can tailor it to suit your needs, providing you with the lifestyle that you want. Explore our range of smart home technology today.