Setting up a smart home is easier than you think. All you need to do is choose a smart assistant, pick out a couple of smart home devices, and install them. Here’s everything you need to know about how to set up a smart home, which smart devices to start with, and how to secure your smart home from hackers.
What Is a Smart Home?
A smart home is any residence equipped with smart devices (such as smart lights, video doorbells, smart thermostats, etc.). These smart home devices can be controlled remotely through an app, with voice commands, or automated to perform tasks at a certain time.
For example, if you set up smart lights in your home, you can use an app to turn them all off without getting up from bed. Or you can ask your smart thermostat to turn up the temperature with a simple voice command like, “Alexa, turn the temperature up to 75 degrees. Also, you can save energy by setting your smart thermostat to automatically turn off when you leave for work.
How to Set Up Your Smart Home
Do a WiFi Speed Test
Before you start setting up your smart home, you need to make sure your WiFi is strong enough to support your smart devices. To do this, you can run a WiFi speed test on your smartphone near where you plan to install your smart home devices.
To run a WiFi speed test on your smartphone, go to hellotech.com/speed and tap the “Go” button. Once you get the results, make sure you are getting a download speed of at least 0.5 Mbps (megabits per second) for each smart home device. However, some smart devices require faster WiFi speeds. For example, the Nest Cam IQ can use as much as 4 Mbps.
The first thing you should do when setting up a smart home is to choose which smart assistant you want to use to control all your smart devices. The easiest way to choose a smart assistant is by getting a smart speaker.
These days, a smart speaker works as a hub that connects all your smart home devices and lets you control them with one app or voice commands. However, you can only use your smart assistant to control your devices if they are compatible with each other. So, before you buy a smart home device, you should make sure it is compatible with your smart assistant.
The most popular smart assistants these days are Alexa, Google, and Siri.
Alexa is a smart assistant that comes built into Amazon Echo smart speakers and other smart home devices. Alexa is one of the most popular smart assistants today, and Amazon claims there are currently over 140 thousand smart home devices that work with Alexa.
Since Alexa is so popular, having an Echo smart speaker means it will be easy to find lots of smart home devices that are compatible with your smart assistant. Plus, the Amazon Echo Dot is one of the cheapest smart home speakers that you can get, and it’s really easy to set up.
The Google Assistant comes built into Nest smart home speakers and Android phones. Since Google has been working on its smart assistant technology for years, it is better at answering questions than Alexa or Siri, according to tests.
However, the Google Assistant does not work with nearly as many smart home devices as Alexa does. Google claims there are more than 5 thousand smart home devices and apps with work with the Nest smart speakers.
Siri is Apple’s smart assistant that comes built into HomePod smart speakers, iPhones, iPads, Mac computers, and lots of other Apple products. With Siri, you can use almost any Apple device to control your smart home devices with the Home app.
Apple is still new to the smart home game, and, so far, there are only around 600 devices that work with the HomeKit, Apple’s smart home system. And while Apple devices are more expensive than Alexa and Google devices, Siri also has more features designed to protect your privacy and security.
Once you choose which smart speaker you want to use, you can then add compatible smart home devices. Here are some of the best types of smart home devices you might want to start with:
Add Smart Home Devices
Some of the best smart home devices to start with are smart light bulbs, smart plugs, and smart thermostats for added comfort. Then you can add a video doorbell, smart locks, and smart security systems for added peace of mind.
Smart Light bulbs
Smart light bulbs look just like any other light bulbs, and they will fit in your regular fixtures. But, unlike normal light bulbs, you can turn smart lights on or off from your smartphone or with voice commands.
Some smart light bulbs also let you adjust the brightness or change the color of your lights. Plus, you can schedule them to turn on or off at certain times, so you won’t waste any energy lighting an empty room.
Smart plugs let you turn any appliances or electronics into smart home devices. These small devices fit into any regular power outlet. Then you can plug your lamps, fans, and other small appliances and devices into your smart plug to control them with your smartphone.
Smart plugs are a cheap alternative to buying new smart home devices. For example, you can plug your old coffee maker into a smart plug and set it to turn on just before you wake up in the morning.
Video Doorbells let you see who’s at the door before answering. These smart devices will send you a notification any time someone rings your doorbell or sets off the built-in motion detector. Then you can listen and talk to your visitors with the built-in two-way audio system.
Most video doorbells will also record short clips of anyone who approaches your home. These videos will usually be saved to the cloud, so you can review them anytime and anywhere. However, most video doorbells require you to sign up for a subscription to view your cloud recordings.
Smart locks are a simple way to protect your home and belongings. These smart home devices let you lock and unlock your doors when you’re away. Some smart locks come with geofencing technology that detects when you approach the door with your smartphone, and they will unlock automatically.
With a smart lock, you won’t need to use your keys again. Plus, you will get notifications every time your door is locked or unlocked. And, if you have a video doorbell, you can see who’s at the door before deciding whether to unlock it for them or not.
Smart thermostats connect to your heating and cooling system with the same wiring that your regular thermostat uses. Then, you can control the temperature in your home with an app, voice commands, or set up a schedule.
You can also set your smart thermostat to turn on as you leave the office, so your home is comfortable before you get there. This can save you a lot of money in energy bills since you don’t have to heat your home all day to keep it warm. Also, some smart thermostats will learn your preferences and keep the temperature just the way you like it at certain times of the day.
Every smart home device requires a different installation. While smart plugs and smart light bulbs are easy to set up, smart thermostats and smart home security systems can be a little more complicated.
Some smart home devices are battery-powered, while others need to be plugged into a regular electric outlet. So make sure that you have an available electrical socket nearby where you plan to set up your smart home devices.
A few smart home devices will also use your existing device’s power supplies. For example, many video doorbells can be powered by your existing doorbell’s wiring. So, you should make sure to check the manufacturer’s website before you decide to purchase a smart home device.
Set Your Smart Home’s Privacy and Security Settings
Once you set up your smart home devices, you should make sure your network isn’t vulnerable to hackers. You can do this by creating a strong username and password for your WiFi networks, changing your router’s security settings, and using two-factor authentication.
Smart devices are made to be accessed remotely, so it’s important to protect your home from hackers. If someone is able to breach your network through your smart devices, they can control your smart devices or steal your personal information, such as your bank details.
Change Your Default Usernames and Passwords
When you get a new smart home device, it’s a good idea to change the default name and password for that device. It’s also a good idea to change the default name and password for your WiFi network and router.
The FBI recommends that you should never use names and passwords that are associated with your address or any other identifiable information. You should use strong passwords and usernames that are hard for anybody to guess.
Since most smart home devices don’t have strong security settings, it is a good idea to change your security settings on your WiFi router. The FBI also recommends that you use WPA2 encryption to protect your home from hackers.
When you set up your smart home devices, go into the settings on the companion app, and make sure that you use two-factor authentication. This will protect your devices from hackers, even if they have your username and password.
With two-factor authentication, you will be required to enter a code sent to you via email or text message any time you want to make any changes. Plus, you’ll get notified if someone is attempting to access your systems.