With increasing numbers of consumers buying smart-home devices these days, prices have gone down while choice has increased. This means it’s now easier, cheaper, and more fun than ever to turn a house into a smart home.
If you’re interested in this kind of home improvement for your property, whether today or sometime in the future, make sure you go about the project in a smart, strategic way. Here are important things you need to do to make the conversion a success.
Have a Budget, Set Goals, and Plan
With so many cool products on the market, it’s easy to spend more than you should on smart-home gear. To avoid ending up in debt or blowing through too many savings, set yourself a budget early on. When determining this budget, factor in the potential cost of installation, too.
Once you have a final amount in mind that you feel comfortable spending, consider your goals for the project. What kinds of products are you looking for, and how do you want them to change or add value to your life? For example, are you looking to lead a more productive life, enjoy the fun side of using smart-home products, or are you hoping to reduce home running costs, such as electricity?
It pays to do some planning, too. If you don’t have an unlimited budget to go crazy with (and most people don’t!), plan out which items you should buy first, and then build from there over time. For instance, one of the most important pieces will be the smart-home hub device.
Take Your Time Researching Products
Of course, one of the essential elements of creating a smart home is choosing the gear. To get value for money and buy the devices that will get you the results you want, take time to research properly. Don’t just go out and buy the first interesting items you see. Compare gear carefully, keeping in mind not only budget but also the functionality you require, how the different products might “speak to” and work with each other, and scalability, security, and compatibility with your current networking or Wi-Fi setup.
To select the best products for your needs, whether you’re after lighting, cameras, door locks, fridges, TVs, or air conditioners that can be controlled from an app on your smartphone, read numerous reviews and testimonials. These days you don’t have to look far to find a plethora of information about how other consumers have found using devices. Take a look at sources such as social media websites, tech blogs, product comparison sites, manufacturer forums, and magazines.
It also helps to ask people in your circles about the internet-connected devices they have and how they like them. Friends, family members, colleagues, etc. will be able to give you honest, detailed feedback to help you understand the pros and cons of devices. These people might also bring up benefits, key features, or installation or usage tips you hadn’t yet thought of.
Keep Devices Secure
Setting yourself up in a sophisticated smart home doesn’t just stop once you’ve purchased products, either. Unfortunately, hackers have worked out that smart-home gear can provide them with an “in” to many computers, hard drives, and networks, so they’re increasingly targeting them. Cybercriminals can sometimes use internet-connected products to break into homes physically, too, if they compromise the smart locks on doors. This means you have to take steps to protect your home and information from those with nefarious intentions.
Start by putting a hard-to-crack password on your Wi-Fi router and on the devices you use to control smart-home gear, such as your smartphone and tablet. Also, use security software and firewalls as these add another line of defense. Keep software regularly updated, particularly that on smart-home products themselves. Manufacturers release new versions of software when they find and plug security holes, so run the latest versions to stay safe. Don’t forget to update the default usernames and passwords that come pre-installed by manufacturers on smart-home products, too.
If you grew up watching and loving The Jetsons or other TV shows or movies that depicted fun, futuristic lifestyles, you’re sure to be thrilled about how far smart-home products have come in just a few years. Now is the time for you to start making your dreams a reality, in a way that won’t compromise your budget, security, or pleasure.