A brand-new home is the perfect opportunity to create a smart home. Many first-time buyers are opting for smart building options like Wi-Fi enabled appliances, smart thermostats, and keyless entries, all with the expectation that these upgrades will make their lives easier. And that's exactly what the smart home is all about — convenience, comfort, security.
But trying to retrofit an existing home into a smart home is challenging if not impossible, depending on the age of the home. As David Humphries, chair of the Consumer Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) and principal and president of Atlantic Integrated in Rockleigh, N.J.. explains smart home tech depends on the mechanics of the home: "The home has to be completely wired with CAT 6 or CAT 7 wiring or fiber-optic cables. This is the single most important part of a [smart] house. If the network doesn't work, nothing works."
That puts new home buyers at an advantage when designing a smart home. If you are interested in a smart home, be up-front with your builder about that from the start so the home can be constructed to meet the networking needs of smart devices.
Another thing to keep in mind: Even though more and more builders are offering smart options, most of your smart investments will come after you move in. Creating a smart home is very similar to decorating a home. It's a very personal experience; not every smart option will resonate with every home buyer. You'll need to consider how you live, what's important to you, how much to budget, how you use your devices, and whether you want them to be connected to your home at all times. The good news: You have plenty of smart devices, tools, and tech to choose from to create your personalized smart home.
Defining the Smart Home
SmartHomeUSA defines a smart home as "a residence that has appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, entertainment audio and video systems, security, and camera systems that are capable of communicating with one another and can be controlled remotely by a time schedule, from any room in the home, as well as remotely from any location in the world by phone or Internet."
Although a fully smart home where everything is automated and managed remotely or automatically with no input from humans sounds pretty sci-fi, the reality is that it's here! According to Microsoft, there will be 30 billion connected devices and a smart home will generate 50 GB of data every day by 2020 — at the time of this writing, that is just a bit over a year away!
That means there's no time like the present to start adapting your home to our new smart world, and we've got just the list to get you started.
Turn Your New Home into a Smart Home With Fun Tech
- Voice Assistants. One thing all smart homes have in common is hands-free control. Voice assistants like Alexa, Google Home, Echo and Siri are crucial to helping homeowners get there. Although set-up can be time-consuming, depending on how many smart tools you're incorporating, once complete, voice assistants will greatly ease your life. Voice assistants are already being used to control lights, music and entertainment, and temperature in homes all around the country. As more smart devices become available, expect the capabilities of voice assistants to grow.
- Temperature Control. Programmable thermostats already allow us to set schedules for our thermostats, but smart thermostats take things a step further by allowing you to control your thermostat from your phone. Controlling your home's temperature is a terrific way to save on energy costs, but it's something most of us simply forget to do. Now, you can schedule the heat to kick in before you get out of bed in the morning and go cooler at night. Did the day turn hotter than you expected? Turn the A/C on from the office! These are great tools for busy travelers or for people who like different temperatures for different activities or rooms in the home.
- Water Controls. Speaking of energy savings, water is another area where homeowners like to conserve. Smart faucets and shower meters can help reduce wasteful water usage. Yes, you can bring automated, hands-free, motion-activated faucets right into your own home! Most come outfitted with water conservation features in addition to the smart auto-on, auto-off function.
- Smart Appliances. Imagine instructing your oven to preheat from your phone or via your voice assistant to get a head start on dinner or receiving a box full of food that your refrigerator ordered for you because it noticed you were low on certain items. That's not far-fetched. Those are examples of the types of things smart appliances are already doing for people. The smart home is all about making the mundane aspects of running a household more convenient.
- Home Security. Home security has been a leader in the smart home industry from long before the term was ever coined. Way back when, before smartphones, homeowners were able to review security footage or see who was at the door by looking at the camera rather than opening the door. Today, those security systems have been updated to allow homeowners to see what's happening at their home from afar, be it the office or a tropical vacation, via their phones. Baby monitors and smart doorbells are available that work very similarly.
Building for a Smart Home
If you're building a new home, you’ll want it to meet your needs for decades to come. That means if you're interested in smart homes, even down the road, the time to think about what smart options you want and what those devices need to operate is now so the home can be built to accommodate them.
The list above is just the tip of the iceberg, and we know there will be advancements in technology and new products to come in the future. Just as when you are selecting features for your new home, choose the smart features that are most important to you and use that as your guide to building or outfitting your smart home. Otherwise, you run the risk of becoming overwhelmed with all of the options out there!
Take a deep breath and tackle your smart options function by function. Soon, you'll be kicking back in your brand new smart home enjoying all of the comfort, convenience, and security it offers.