I just installed my first Smart Home device. What’s next?
Perhaps you picked up your first Smart Home product over the holidays and have it up and running. It might be a thermostat, lighting product, garage door opener, door lock, smoke detector, an irrigation controller or something else. You’ve managed to get a strong enough WiFi signal to connect it to your home network and you’ve installed a phone app to control your new device. You may or may not also have used a web interface that either has the same or more functionality as the app you use on a day-to-day basis.
Now that you have discovered how to turn things on and off from your phone, program an automation and get notifications of different events, you might be wondering the best way to add more Smart Home gadgets in your home, building on what you have already. Remember it should get easier and we want to avoid the frustration of things not working together.
Each type of device that you add to your home will typically require its own app, but things will certainly get complex creating automations if you are using many different apps for day-to-day use. Ideally, if you had one app that allowed you to control lighting, temperature, door locks etc. it makes your Smart Home experience much easier to use as it grows.
If you are an iPhone user, this is relatively easy to do. Most often the best products in each Smart Home category will be from different companies. Apple, however, created something called HomeKit and the Home app for your iPhone or iPad. It allows all HomeKit compatible products to be controlled and programmed from one place, the Home app. Apple maintains an up-to-date link of all HomeKit compatible products by product category to help you narrow down your choices.
A couple of other things to note: If you want to access your products remotely and set automations using the Home app, you will also need either and Apple TV (4th generation or later) or Apple HomePod to act as the central control of your HomeKit setup. Also, it may not be important that ALL of your Smart Home devices are HomeKit compatible. Things that you would turn on and off every day make good candidates, but things like sprinkler controllers that you set once and then run themselves aren’t all that important to have HomeKit compatibility.
Are you and Android user? Your solution is not as simple but stay tuned for some tips in future posts.
A more comprehensive, yet simple guide “How to Make Your Home a Smart Home” is available on amazon.com that will help you choose the right products, ensure that you have the right kind of home network to make it all work, and how to make all these products work together.