SMART Homes - Our Top 5 Smart Home Devices

Smart home technology, also known as home automation or home control, is becoming more and more a part of our lives. So where do you start if you want to make your home a smart home? If you’re just entering into the world of smart home systems, we’ve done the thinking for you and put together our top 5 product categories.

What is a smart home?

Before we set you off on the path to a smarter home, it might be worth looking at what one actually is. Think smart home and you probably imagine a space from a sci-fi movie, where you simply need to clap your hands to make a coffee, turn on the washing and mow the lawn.

And while technology is being developed to automate routine tasks, in it’s simplest form it can be defined as “A home equipped with lighting, heating, and electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by smartphone or computer.” (oxforddictionaries.com). So how and where do you get started?

1. Choosing a hub

This is probably the biggest decision to make when entering the world of smart technology. Having a hub means that you have 1 place from which to control all your other smart devices, much easier than remembering which SMART home app does what, in our opinion. And with some hubs you can even set commands (or recipes), for example turn the thermostat down when the light are turned off, saving you energy when a room’s not in use.

When choosing a hub you need to think about the products that you already have and the ones that you intend to buy. Will this hub be compatible with them, are you an Apple, Android or Windows fan? If you’re not sure yet, then it might be best to start with one or two of the products below before deciding on the ideal hub for you.

Connectivity is also a big consideration. Think about where you want to place your hub and the strength of your wi-fi. If the wi-fi signal in your house can be a bit patchy in places, then you probably want to have your hub connected to the router to give it a strong stable connection. 

2. Entertainment

Entertainment systems range from buying an entry level smart speaker to fully integrated entertainment for each room in your home.

Depending on the level of sophistication you opt for you can control what you listen to and watch using simple voice commands. Have your favourite music follow you through the house as you get ready, set parental controls or play different programmes in different rooms. You can even upload your entire DVD collection meaning you can access your favourite movies at any time and say bye bye to the clutter.

3. Light control

Once you install smart lighting into your home, you’ll be able to control any of the smart light bulbs remotely through your smartphone or hub. Depending on the level of sophistication you go for, you can turn your lights on, off, up and down or even change the colour of your lighting. You can also set ‘recipes’ for lighting depending on what you’re doing in the room, movie night, working, cooking – just tap to change or ask your voice-activated speaker to do the ‘hard work’ for you.

4. Thermostat

Say bye bye to the days of coming home to a freezing house after a long day at work. With a smart thermometer you can set the heating to come on and off and determine the temperature remotely from your smart phone. Great if you have to return home unexpectedly. Some systems are intelligent enough to allow you to set the temperature in different rooms and to control your hot water. Whilst others can detect when you’re coming home or heading out using the GPS on your smartphone. And if being toasty warm wasn’t enough, these devices can also save you time and energy by making your heating use more efficient

5. Security smart

security cameras allow you to keep a watchful eye over your home and the things in it while you’re away. Wonder if your dog is secretly taking a snooze on the sofa, need peace of mind that the kids are actually doing their homework or just want to check that your prize car is safely tucked up in the garage still.

All of this can be achieved using a smart surveillance system, simply place a smart camera into the areas of your house you need to monitor and then access the images from any location using your smartphone. Some systems also offer cloud-based storage to record footage in a similar style to CCTV, should you ever fall victim to a burglary. And if this piece of kit really appeals you can also get cameras with night vision, 2-way audio and alarms.

As with most technology, the world is your oyster when it comes to the possibilities of running a smart home. Bear in mind that functionality usually comes with a larger price tag and do your research well. It can be easy to get carried away creating a state of the art, voice activated home. If you’re not sure where to begin why not start off small and add to your technology as you need it.

As it stands, this technology doesn’t affect your home insurance policy provided you continue to follow your policy terms and conditions.