Connect 101: How to Set up and Connect a Smart Home
Technology| By Stephen Fenech | October 15, 2020
Want to set up a smart home but don’t know where to start? Here’s a simple guide on how to connect a smart home and the products and devices to get you started.
Smart homes are on the rise. A study by technology analyst firm Telsyte suggests that by 2023 there will be an average of 37 connected products in Australian households, up from 17 in 2018. Making your home “smart” has numerous benefits: convenience, security and cost savings. But it’s more than just being able to turn on a light from your phone – it’s about connecting an ecosystem of products that work together so they can be easily controlled. There’s no shortage of products at a range of price points – here’s what you need to know to connect and set up your smart home.
Checking Your Wi-Fi Connection
The foundation of any smart home is a solid network with strong wi-fi. Your first step should be ensuring you have coverage in every corner of your house. The easiest way to do this is to perform a speedtest with your smartphone using the Speedtest App in various areas of your home to determine your wi-fi quality. Ideally, those speeds should be close to the speed listed on your NBN plan.
If you live in a large or multi-level house, consider investing in a mesh networking product, such as a TP-Link, Netgear Orbi or Google Nest system. These products are typically made up of two or more routers, placed in different areas of your home, that connect and communicate with each other and boost the wi-fi signal to create solid and consistent wireless coverage.
What To Try
Achieving smart home status is not just a matter of buying a bunch of lights, switches and sensors. A smart home is a cooperative link between products, apps and smartphones so you can control connected devices through an app – or your voice – and easily monitor things such as security cameras and water and power usage.
The other goal for connecting your home is convenience; the right products swinging into action as soon as you come home, when you go out or when you want to watch a movie.
What Products do You Need?
Start simple: connect one device then build on that with more and more connected products. Begin with basics such as a smart light and a smart switch (for example, the Brilliant Lighting Smart Globe E27 and the Brilliant Lighting Smart WiFi Plug with Energy Monitoring). The smart light’s companion app allows users to set up the product, connect it to their home network and control the device, including turning it on and off from your phone.
A smart switch (also known as a smart plug) is first connected to a powerpoint, then connected to the product you want to control (such as a lamp, fan or heater). The app gives you control of the connected item so you can turn it on or off, check to see if it's on or off (handy when you can’t remember if you switched off the iron!) and even see how much power it consumes. Setting up a smart device with an app is easier than you think and usually only takes a couple of minutes.
Then you’re ready to start expanding your ecosystem using the same set-up, control and monitor concept. For example, smart cameras allow remote monitoring and can send motion detection notifications to your phone; motion sensors can alert you when movement is detected near its location; a smart doorbell with a camera lets you see who’s at the door and talk to them through your phone; and a smart smoke alarm can send a notification to your phone before it sounds the alarm.
What To Try
How to Make Your Products Work Together
Once you have a range of products connected, it’s time to tie them together and make it possible to control them with your voice. The key product to look for here is a smart speaker or a smart display. You might already own a smart TV – this can also control and manage your switched-on home. More recent models can act as your home dashboard, where you can see and control all your connected devices in one place. You can also use the Google Home app to turn up the music or turn down the lights.
Team Google or Team Alexa?
You’re going to have to pick a side. The most popular smart speakers and displays, such as the Google Nest Hub Max or the Amazon Echo Show 5, are compatible with the Google Home app and Google Assistant or Amazon Echo and its Alexa voice assistant.
All smart products will have a Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa logo on the packaging – this lets you know which smart speaker it can be controlled with (some devices are compatible with both). Some models are even more advanced, with display panels that allow you to access content and monitor your security cameras. Even speakers without a display panel can be useful for making voice commands to turn lights on and off, access digital radio stations and music services and activate products such as robot vacuums and smart locks.
What To Try
- Google Nest Hub Max Charcoal
- Google Nest Mini 2nd Generation Charcoal
- Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Gen Smart Speaker Charcoal Fabric
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