Nowadays you only need a do-it-yourself smart home hub like Samsung SmartThings if you want to take a more ambitious home control [19659007IntheearlydaysofthesmarthometwowirelessstandardsZigbeeandZ-WavewouldbethefutureTheseenergyefficientradiosoffermeshnetworkingfeaturesdesignedtomakeiteasytocoveryourentirehomewithsmartdeviceswithoutworryingaboutgapsincoverageorcongestionissues
The main problem with Zigbee and Z-Wave devices is that they need a special hub that acts as a bridge to your Wi-Fi network so you can communicate with them via a smartphone, tablet or your computer (while you are at home and when you are away, via the Internet). Samsung SmartThings is currently the only valuable do-it-yourself product in this category; the only credible competitor used to be Wink, a company now owned by its third owner that has a dubious future at best. The Ring Alarm system has both Z-Wave and Zigbee radios on board, but it is much more focused on home security than home operation.
Mentioned in this article
As simple as SmartThings and Ring Alarm are, you will still face a learning curve to master them, and if your home management ambitions are simple, you might find it easier to use devices (and the apps they control) that connect directly to your Wi-Fi network and rely on one of the three platforms mentioned above for integration. It's worth noting here than the 800-pound gorilla in the world of smart lighting – Signify, with its Philips Hue product line – now offers families of smart lights that rely on Bluetooth instead of Zigbee, so they have the $ 50 Hue Bridge not necessary.
That said, however, you are limited to controlling 10 Hue lights via Bluetooth. The Hue Bridge is further required, and it is also required if you are setting up Hue lighting fixtures
including the outdoor lighting line.
The bottom line at this point: Unless you want to build from a highly sophisticated smart home system, I recommend sticking to products that connect directly to your network via Wi-Fi, eliminating the need for a central hub .
3. Range issues can cause big problems
The downside of installing only Wi-Fi equipment is that everything in the house has to connect directly to your router. If your router is not centrally located and your house is spread out, it can cause range issues, especially in high-interference areas: the kitchen, bathrooms, and everything outside.
It is best to check your Wi-Fi Fi coverage both inside and outside the house before installing equipment. Make a map with dead zones and decide if you can live with it. If not, consider moving your router or switching to a mesh Wi-Fi network with two or more nodes. You can read more about mesh Wi-Fi networks here.
Mesh network routers, such as Netgear's Orbi product line, connect multiple wireless nodes to cover your home with Wi-Fi
Interference can also be a worrying problem in the changes over time. If your neighbor upgrades or relocates his router, you will find that part of the house with a once solid signal has suddenly become erratic. You can tinker with the Wi-Fi channel settings in your router's management tool, but deploying a mesh network is a surer solution. Netgear even has an Orbi mesh node that can be installed outdoors to cover your backyard.
4. You don't need smart stuff everywhere
many a smart home enthusiast dreamed of wiring his entire house from top to bottom with smart products. A smart switch in every room and a smart socket on every wall sounds like a high-tech dream; in reality it can be a nightmare.
The main problem is that while smart equipment can be amazingly useful, it also makes your environment more complex because everything has to be managed carefully. Does installing 50 firmware updates sound like a great way to spend the weekend? Or how to troubleshoot that one switch that just doesn't suddenly plug in correctly? Using smart speakers around the house so you don't have to shout to hear one also sounds like a great idea – that is, until the speakers struggle to decide exactly who you're talking to.
Michael Brown / IDG
Devices such as Leviton's Decora Smart Voice Dimmer with Amazon Alexa make it easy to put Amazon's digital assistant in any room, what a great idea sounds until they fight each other to answer your commands.
First consider the need to choose where to install smart equipment. The hard-to-reach outlet you always plug your Christmas tree into is a perfect place for a smart outlet that can be set on a recurring schedule. The kitchen is a great option for voice control, so you don't have to touch anything with dirty hands. My living room function is illuminated by three lamps that normally have to be switched on and off separately; with smart lights and Alexa, it's easy to turn them on with a few spoken words. But should the overhead light in the main cabinet really have any of these functions?
And finally there is the obvious problem: smart equipment is not cheap and equipping a large house with smart equipment can quickly become excessively expensive. Think what happens if your equipment becomes outdated (and out of warranty)?
The bottom line: While it's a great idea to install everything you think you'll use at the beginning of your project, don't overdo it. You can always expand your system on the go. Install smart equipment only if you are sure you will use it.
5. Consolidate Suppliers
Michael Brown / IDG
This Leviton Leviton wifi fan speed controller is installed next to the company's Z-Wave dimmer, but only the first one can control the My Leviton- use the app; the Z-Wave device expects to be connected to a smart home hub.
It may sound like well known to suggest that you try to stick with one supplier when it comes to all of your switches or light bulbs, but it's easy to be criticized for a product that promises new features or better performance. Avoid the bait: Over time, bouncing from one supplier to another will make you manage multiple apps, and you're likely to get confused as to which one belongs to which device.
Many smart outlets and switches don't have a visible brand logo, so it's not always as easy as just checking the hardware itself to see where to go. (To make matters worse, many smart products use a management app with a name unrelated to the name of the hardware.) And while most HomeKit-compatible apps can control third-party HomeKit devices, you usually still need the official app to set things up initially and perform regular maintenance.
The good news is that TechHive has a lot of buying guides in almost every category of smart homes to take the guesswork out of figuring out which brands to build your home, so you don't have to experiment to find the best products on the market. find.
6. Give your stuff short, logical names
Michael Brown / IDG
Give your smart home devices unique names, but also remember that you
may speak their names to a digital assistant.
Many smart products give themselves a name during installation that consists of generic terms and random numbers, none of which will be useful for later identification. It is best to give your stuff a short but logical and easy to remember name when you first set it up.
Start by naming all the rooms in your house in the management app, even if they don't have all the stuff in them. (You could install equipment there later.) & # 39; Bedroom & # 39; is not a good name unless you only have one. You want to use the most logical but unique names here: & # 39; Master Bedroom & # 39 ;, & # 39; Zoe & # 39; s Bedroom & # 39 ;, & # 39; Guest Bedroom & # 39; and so on.
When installing a product now, standardize the names using both the room name and description of the item – or what controls the item. For example: & # 39; Master bedroom lighting & # 39; for a wall switch or & # 39; Desk lamp & # 39; for a smart plug that is connected to the lamp. In rooms where you have multiple products, you can use a longer descriptor, numeric ID (1, 2, 3 …) or something similar. In my living room, the three-bulb smart lights are called Living Room Lamp left, center, and right, so if someone isn't working in the app, I can easily figure out which one is.
Doing this work up front will save you time if and when you connect your equipment to a voice assistant. Not only does having a standardized logical naming system make it easy for you to remember what to say, changing the name of a product in the app generally means rediscovering the product in your voice assistant app , which is a hassle.
7. Wiring Never Looks Like The Pictures
Manuals and online guides make wall wiring always look like a standard, well-organized affair, but I can assure you that many an electrician has taken considerable liberties with the way switches and sockets are wired in the average home. Don't be surprised to find multiple black line / charging wires when you expected to find just two, odd hardware in the wall that doesn't look like the picture, and wiring that just doesn't make sense.
For help in situations where the answer is not clear, take photos and – as a first step – ask the supplier for advice. If there's no tech support, consider an online forum like Doityourself.com or DIY Chatroom, where tons of DIYers are on hand to lend a hand. Your photos are invaluable in situations like this – twice as much as you decide to give up and just put your existing switch back in place.
Michael Brown / IDG
The neutral wire required by the vast majority of smart switches and outlets is
typically white. So which of these two white wires is neutral?
Of course, you can always experiment as long as you are patient. There is little risk of damage to the product if you miswire it the first time. Make sure to turn off the power at the circuit breaker before touching anything.
As a final tip on wiring, note that neutral (usually white) wiring is essential for most smart switches on the market. If your home is older and doesn't have neutral wiring, look for the handful that don't need it, like these C by GE models or certain Lutron switches.
8. Expect problems to occur without warning
Do you know how your computer suddenly crashes every day or your printer disappears from the network abruptly? The same sort of thing happens with smart home gear, which is after all its own miniature computers, all prone to the same kinds of problems. Expect the occasional product to abruptly disconnect from your network, disappear from the management app, or stop working altogether – even after months or years of otherwise trouble-free operation, for no apparent reason. In many cases, you will need to manually reset the product to make sure it reconnects to the app. Sometimes the app will walk you through this process, otherwise a quick Google search can save you squared.
9. Note the battery life
Devices that are not directly connected to the mains supply depend on the battery. Door / window and motion sensors, smart locks, smart door bells, lots of cameras, smoke detectors and more will all need to be replaced or charged regularly, and while many devices claim to last for several months or even years, the reality is often shorter than that.
Michael Brown / IDG
The apps that come with most devices will check battery life, but don't count on them to give a warning before battery runs out.
Take stock of the batteries each of these devices uses – some of them really eccentric cells you won't have in the junk drawer – and have spare parts on hand when they die. Devices that use a rechargeable battery like the Ring Doorbell should notify you through the app when the battery is low, so you can charge it before it's completely drained, but my experience is that these alerts rarely actually go off (or end is ignored).
If your Ring Video Doorbell battery is depleted, you will never know if someone rings the bell (which in my case usually means a "FedEx missed delivery note"). I check my Ring's battery life once a week in the app (it is under Device Health), and when it reaches about 35 percent I remove the cell and recharge it (you can also buy spare Ring batteries and just change an empty battery) for a freshly charged one)
10. Dimmers can be particularly problematic.
Electric dimmers like the classic wall-mounted school model work by decreasing the amount of electrical current sent to the charger, which will, for example, reduce the brightness of a light bulb or slow down a fan. Unfortunately, dimmers pose special problems for many devices. Smart home devices are especially problematic when dimmers are connected, as they contain electronics and radios that simply don't work if the power doesn't come through at full power. As such, it is a bad idea to connect devices such as smart lights to circuits connected to a dimmer.
On a similar front, you need to be extra vigilant when replacing an old toggle switch with a smart dimmer. . As a shortcut, switches are sometimes wired with feed-through circuits intended to transmit power to other devices (such as a nearby power outlet). If you swap this switch with a dimmer, you may accidentally plug the dimmer into those outlets, causing them to lose all or part of their power, resulting in a complicated troubleshooting session.
11. IFTTT almost always has a solution
Having several smart home appliances work together is one of the most rewarding facets of having a smart home. If you've merged vendors and select products based on compatibility with your master platform (tips number 1 and 5 above), you can easily get things working together, whether that's turning on music when you open the garage, or syncing lights to turn off switch when someone locks the front door.
But those are pretty straightforward examples of smart home automation, and if you want to get really creative, you will probably need to delve into IFTTT, the foremost “like this, then that & # 39; platform. IFTTT applets can be pretty go wild because they can contain products that go far beyond what you would think of as part of the smart home – you can even connect devices to activate based on Twitter posts, RSS feeds, Instagram posts and more. Flashing a light red when someone tags a picture of you on Facebook IFTTT is the best – and perhaps the only – way to make this possible.
12. You get what you pay for