Smart Home Systems

Very few of us live in smart homes, and that is the whole truth.

What is a Smart Home?

This souped up term has been doing rounds on the internet with technology companies striving to innovate products that fit this niche.

There are a variety of smart home systems already available in today’s market, and some technology review sites have even put up prototypes homes donning the smart, intelligent home capabilities.

From the smartphone to the smart-home, we are quickly making every component of our lives automatic- as they say, charity begins at home

What makes a smart home, therefore?

Before cramming up devices in one’s place of residence, it is necessary that we understand the whole idea behind smart homes.

Just having multiple devices that perform different functions that have been automated does not translate to it being a smart home. In a smart home setting, there has to be synchrony among the various available devices.

In other words, all these devices that comprise a smart home must work in synchrony for it to be said that the house acts in a smart’ fashion- as is the case with phones.

Smart homes, therefore, comprise a variety of electronic devices working in synchrony to produce the desired effect- which in most cases is giving the homeowner or the people living in the home the ability to monitor activities and even devices in the home from a remote location. What this means is that there are categories in the smart home systems which collectively work together to produce the desired effect.

The home- even in the traditional setting- has always been divisible into categories where there are the lighting systems, the security systems, the environmental control systems (comprised of thermostats), the notification systems (composed of such devices as a wireless doorbell), the kitchen systems/devices and so much more.

Integration of these systems on a platform that can coordinate messages or notifications from one system or device to another system or device without human help is what comprises the smart home, and the devices that incorporate this functionality make up the smart home systems.

What are these devices then that comprise the smart home systems? These devices are ever increasing in number with additional features improved on existing devices giving them more functionality while eliminating the need for other separate devices. The categories common in smart homes include:

Smart Lighting Systems

There are a variety of lighting systems with plug-in devices connecting between the light source and the wall outlet. This makes it simple to control the light, since altering the state of the lighting can be done wirelessly- whether one is dimming the lights or lighting them.

Additionally, one may add motion detectors to increase the functionality of the lighting systems. With Insteon lighting solutions, the constant distraction created by home lighting systems are outside the worry of the owner.

Philips recently announced their development of smart lighting capable of integrating with the Apple ToolKit and Siri for a diverse functionality, a feature which should soon be made available in most of the smart home lighting solutions.

Who are Leading Makers/Brands in Smart Lighting Systems?

Biggies like Phillips, GE Lighting, have an excellent range of products dominating the market in this segment. It doesn’t mean that others are not popular, Flux Lighting makes some really cool smart LED bulbs that can be controlled by a smartphone.

How much a Smart Lighting Setup Costs?

Smart lighting is a vast segment and the price of the particular device substantially vary across brands and choice of products. However, smart lights are comparatively cheaper when compared to their next level automation systems such as smart hubs.

One can get a smart LED light for as low as $35, and a complete light dimmer kit can run in hundreds of dollars.

Need Recommendations for a Best Smart Lighting Kit? Here Are Our Favorites

If you are looking for individual lights, then you need to choose based on your purposes such as whether you need the lights for just general use or a more fancy version of it.

Phillips Hue is a great choice if you are looking for a stylish light that boasts ‘smart’ features. GE Link is an inexpensive, yet excellent LED light for general use.

Smart lighting kits have more integrated features and models such as Phillips 426353 Hue, Wink Connected Home, and Lutron Lighting Dimmer Kit are great picks.

Smart Hubs and Kits

With different devices cramming up the home, it eventually becomes imperative that the owner of the home simplify the control mechanism of all the devices in the home. Thankfully, there is a solution in the market for that.

There exists a variety of electronic equipment providers who offer devices capable of synchronizing the whole smart home environment, one being Samsung’s SmartThings hub. This device is capable of connecting with a whole multitude of smart devices to create organization amidst the clutter of network-operated devices comprising the smart home.

The Amazon Echo also comes with a digital assistant Alexa, which in addition is able to scan the news for one based on the instructions given, tell the weather and listen in on conversations in and around the house to determine what to do while at the same time being able to discriminate between a human’s voice and the television.

It takes on the shape of speakers and therefore gives the feeling that one is talking to speakers. To enable the device to take instructions from all corners of the home, Amazon has developed a smaller device- called the Amazon Echo Dot- which can be stuck on walls of corridors and rooms thereby maximizing the power of the original appliance.

How Much a Smart Home Hub Kit Costs?

A starter kit can be yours for about $250, and it can go upwards depending on the options you need and the brand you choose.

Leading Brands in Smart Home Hub Kits

There is fierce competition out there in this hot segment. Amazon, Samsung, Logitech, Efergy are just some of the names, and there are many more companies who have a vast range of innovative products to offer in this category.

Need our Help in Choosing a Smart Home Hub Kit?

We had a challenging time in picking up few good smart hubs because there are just so many of them. We looked at essential features, price and product’s compatibility with other smart home devices.

Our top Picks for Smart Home Hub Kits (not in any particular order)

Smart Temperature Control

With Nest’s latest idea of a smart thermostat, the home environment is going in a new direction regarding not only maintaining a convenient temperature for those within the home but also regarding cutting down on energy costs. These smart thermostats can sense movements within the home and regulate the temperature in different rooms depending on whether there are people in the room or not.

Equipped with the all new far-field sensors, these new devices can detect temperature from a distance and act on it depending on the preferences of the homeowner.

Typically What’s the Price-point of Smart Temperature Controllers/Thermostats?

These days, products are made not just to sense/control the temperature, but other events as well, such as motion sensing. However, for about $150 – 250 you can get a high-quality smart temperature controller.

Who Leads the Segment Here?

Clearly, it’s Nest, Period. Nest’s thermostats have garnered rave reviews from customers, and it works with the voice assistant Alexa as well. Other favorite brands that make high-quality thermostats are Honeywell, Emerson, and EcoBee.

Our Recommendations for the Best Smart Temperature Controllers

Nest’s self-learning thermostat would be our first recommendation for sure. It’s futuristic, looks great and packs some really cool features. Honeywell has some excellent thermostats to offer ; like this one and this one.

Emerson’s programmable Wi-Fi Thermostat is impressive as well and EcoBee3 doesn’t lag behind either.

Smart Home Security

How about being in the center of things even when you are not at home? This is what is offered by smart home security systems. Devices in the smart home security niche come with features enabling one to monitor locks, doors, cameras and other security features from a remote location while at the same time allowing one to grant access to one’s home remotely. These devices range in the market, including the Canary

All-In-One Security pack, or the iControl Networks which take the dirty work of monitoring home security by providing a quick access interface via the smartphone application or any computer system that can connect to them.

How Much You Need to invest for a Smart Home Security?

$250 is where you will start getting some decent smart home security systems. The cost will further go up slightly if you are looking for more sophisticated features and integrations.

Leading Brands in Smart Home Security

Again, multiple brands lead the segment here. Prominent ones are Zmodo, Samsung, SimpliSafe, Honeywell, Blink and few others.

Top 3 Recommendations

If you are looking for an All-in-one kind of smart home security then Zmodo’s Pivot (read our review) is a just right selection. SimpliSafe’s Wireless Home Monitoring System (read our review) has carved a name for itself over past years and it’s another great choice.

Blink’s home security wireless camera system offers some excellent features.

The question then remains: how smart is your home?

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