Where do I start?
What do you want for your home?
Have to think about how you want to interact with your home, and how the house should feel for yourself and your family.
E.g. I want to feel comfortable and safe and have something that works and doesn’t need me to reboot and or check on it all the time.
I would like to keep our traditional light switches on the wall in case the inlaws come to visit, so they can use it as a traditional home.
I want 1 app only to control the house, needs to be iPhone compatible so I’ll be able to press 1 button and multiple things will happen in the house.
Writing a list
Right down a list of all the things you would like to control and add MUST on the ones you truly want and MAYBE on the ones you are willing to compromise
- Main living spaces lights when we forget to turn lights off MUST
- The garage door in the case is left open MUST
- The 3 split systems in the living and bedrooms MUST
- The alarm system so I can arm and disarm it when we are away MUST
- Motorized blinds, to open and close with the sun MAYBE
- CCTV cameras so I can see the entrance front and back yard areas. MAYBE
- Intercom, so I can pick it up from anywhere.MAYBE
Allocating your budget
Allocate a budget, how much money are you willing to spend and decide if you want to be involved in using DIY products or if you want a Done-For-You home automation solution.
E.g. Our budget is $5.000 and I want a Done-For-You option.
Congratulation you can proceed to obtain quotes or purchase a solution that is suitable for your home.
Do still need more information?
There are a number of competing “standards” in the wireless smart home space, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and countless more. In our (knowledgeable) opinion, Z-Wave currently stands head and shoulders above the other options if you are looking for a reliable, robust and “complete” smart home ecosystem. That’s not to say it’s for everyone if you are looking for a DIY small smart solution, then some of the other options may be more suitable.
Understanding smart hubs
Decide if you are going…..
Hub or Hubless
This is one of the biggest choices you will need to make. Is your smart home going to be driven by a little black (or white) box that lives in your home – or will you rely on Wi-Fi and a “cloud” setup?
Read more about your hub options below:
Smart Home Hub
A smart home hub is essentially a small computer to which you connect your smart home devices. All processing of scenes, schedules, automation and triggering of devices is done locally – in your home. There are many advantages to this over a cloud (hub-less) solution – including security, responsiveness, reliability, scalability and more. Here are some of the best smart home hubs
Fibaro Home Centre, Aeotec Smarthing hub, Homey Pro.
Smart Home Cloud (hub-less)
A “hub-less” smart home solution simply means your smart devices are connected to your Wi-Fi router and then to a “cloud” service that runs your smart home. Excellent examples of this are Shelly devices, Home Assistant, TUYA and IFTTT to name a few. If all you want to do is control a few lights and perhaps a couple of power-points, then hub-less is fine. Where you will run into trouble is if you “overload” your Wi-Fi router with more wireless devices – or if your internet goes down, guess what so does your smart home system! Smart Wi-Fi devices are usually a cheap and easy way to set up a very focused small smart home system or solution. Just keep in mind, if you want to expand your system in the future, it may become “fragmented” – with 15 different apps to control your smart home and your smart devices not playing nicely together.
Choose what you want to control
There are 2 main types of smart lighting options
Smart bulbs such as LIFX and Nanoleaf (or the countless other cheap Wi-Fi smart bulbs available) have ‘the smarts’ built into them, and are designed to be the modern replacements for the conventional light bulb.
They require you to leave the physical switch on, meaning control is only possible from the app or voice commands – if you turn off the light from the wall switch, the bulbs “drop dead” – they are no longer smart or controllable.
Smart bulbs have their place (lamps and supplemental lighting), they are easy to install yourself without the need for an electrician – but they are not ideal for main “over-head” lighting. For this, it is far better to use Smart Lighting Module.
Smart Lighting Modules
Smart lighting modules are small, wireless devices that can be installed behind virtually any light switch to ‘add smarts’ to any type of connected lighting. These modules can be retrofitted (no special or new wiring required) and enable you to use your traditional light switch to control the light as well as smart control. The wall switch and smart control always stay in sync. Smart lighting modules can often be a better option than smart bulbs (even after factoring in installation by an electrician) as you only need one module to control multiple lights connected to a switch – rather than needing to replace each bulb individually.
Smart Sensors: Smart sensors can perform different functions like turning lights on and off, detecting occupancy, and triggering scenes and automations. They can run on batteries or be hardwired into your electrical system.
Smart Access Control
Keyless entry, smart locks and smart garage door control.
Smart locks are installed in your entry doors allowing you to use pin codes to enter the house, depending on your type of door can be done by your home automation technician but sometimes a lock smith is required. No more children losing keys and calling the locksmith, now they just enter a PIN code to unlock the front door. Also, receive a notification on my phone letting me know they have arrived home (huge peace of mind as all you parents would know).
A smart garage door controller is installed at the garage door motors allowing you full control and status of your garage door.No more worrying about if you left it open when you left home.
The smart intercom is also really handy. You can answer your video doorbell from anywhere, so you can always keep an eye on who’s at the door, even when you’re not home. This way, you can see and talk to visitors and make sure your home stays safe and secure.
Smart HVAC heating and cooling systems
Heating and cooling system are very easy to automate, but not really easy to integrate, the ideal goal with heating and cooling systems is that it’s automated and integrated so it can sit on the same 1 APP for you to control the rest of the house with the other devices, for example, to turn on and off based on motion in rooms time d the day and or any other condition from the rest of the house, there is no point on having your HVAC system automated with the individual and property-limited option, such as Sensibo, Izone A/C, Airsmart, My Air, Daikin wifi, with no integration into your main HUB or home automation system home. Integrations are available for some HVAC systems but not for all of them.
The best thing you can do is to provide the HVAC contractor with the information of the system you have selected and confirm it will integrate into that system, don’t just accept what they will offer you because that is all they have.
Smart Blinds and Curtains
You can set a schedule, control them with your voice, use a smart remote, or have them open and close based on the temperature.
There are two main options for automating blinds
The Hard wired version with a Z-Wave Roller Shutter motor controller, this option requires special “dumb 4-wire” blind motors, which you need to request to the blind contractor yes no smart no control the Zwave module will add the smarts. Don’t let the blind company convince you into using their handheld remotes it will only work with those remotes, not with your home automation home system.
The DIY version battery option if you’re looking for a simple and affordable solution, Ikea has motorized Zigbee blinds that can be a great DIY option. Another great option is the Rollease Acmeda Automate range, which is a professional solution that you can still install yourself. Keep in mind you will have to recharge the batteries of your blinds and not all of them integrate with other systems.