Smart home technology is a guaranteed part of our very near future. In fact, the components and overall structure of it are already here, they just haven’t been implemented thoroughly in most people’s homes.
What’s much more common is a trend in which many homes integrate small parts of an overall smart home technology structure and add to them as time goes by, integrating together their home’s different electronic components more and more with each new addition.
This works well and also makes a lot of financial sense for most of us, since fully building a comprehensive smart home from scratch, or even renovating an existing house for complete intelligent control is extraordinarily costly.
Thus, given the slow integration option, let’s cover several key selections you can install in your house for the sake of taking yourself progressively in the direction of being the owner of your neighbourhoods most advanced and intelligently controlled house, and enjoying the benefits of a sophisticated futuristic abode where you can control everything from anywhere.
Making your smart home a reality
Oddly, many of the technologies that can today be easily integrated into a smart home have been around for quite some time at least in simple form – some of them for at least a couple of decades even. However, the chief problem with actually using them was the lack of a way to remotely control these intelligent devices.
Thanks to this, it wasn’t until the arrival of the broadband wireless Internet and powerful wireless enabled mobile devices that things really took off and let regular people use daily technology to finally start buying the tools for an intelligent home at decently affordable prices. As you read through my recommendations, you’ll notice this in many of the items I recommend.
Also, it needs to be repeated that the following are mostly wireless add-on technologies that you can easily and cheaply install wherever you live; creating a much more sophisticated and full integrated smart house would also be a lot costlier than wireless additions. But don’t worry; even with the following, you’ll likely be well ahead of almost all of your neighbours in terms of how wired and intelligent your home controls are.
1. Vivint home automation system
My first suggestion is a great all around system that incorporates several key smart home aspects into one tidy and surprisingly cheap package. The Vivint system consists of a smart home wall installed control panel that can be controlled either directly or remotely via mobile app on your wireless device.
Installation will cost you roughly $200 and the monthly fees thereafter will also run at about $70 per month before taxes, but when you consider all the automation systems that get rolled into this one single, easy to install package, these costs come across as totally worthwhile.
Vivint’s system includes: a touch panel, remote door lock controls, remote temperature regulation, alarm systems, appliance management tools, Web connected weather alerts, electronic security systems, energy saving recommendations and electronic smart thermostat controls amongst select other components. Additional features can also be installed and it goes without saying that all of them, including the above listed are remotely controllable through a mobile application.
2. ADT Pulse
Much like the above-mentioned Vivint system, ADT Pulse offers you a one panel plus mobile app controlled home automation and security system that allows for control and intelligent automation of lighting, temperature, door locks, various security systems and even home appliances.
In contrast to Vivint, ADT Pulse is more focused on security and some of its comfort based intelligent management tools are more limited but you’re still looking at a very robust and easy to install all-in-one piece of intelligent home technology. The monthly price for ADT’s system is higher than what Vivint charges at $99 per month, but there seems to be no installation fee attached. A bonus of the ADT system is that it also allows for remote video monitoring of your rooms and property, right through the accompanying mobile application.
3. Nest smart thermostat
This extremely acclaimed but surprisingly simple little intelligent thermostat can be attached to your home HVAC system and remotely controlled right from your iPhone or other mobile OS and device. What makes Nest stand out from so many competitors is that it is extremely easy to install, use and adjust according to your needs. It can be enabled for manual remote control of your home’s thermostat settings or allowed to manage them on its own through a series of built-in algorithmic conditions. Either way, the reported electrical cost saving enjoyed by Nest users have supposedly been as high as 30%. Nest is reported to cost roughly $240.
4. Philips Hue, LED lighting
Smart lights that look like perfectly ordinary modern home bulbs! That’s what the Hue light bulbs from Philips really are. Despite their appearance, they offer an excellent and highly sophisticated level of remote manipulation, you know, considering that we’re just talking about what looks like an ordinary light bulb here.
Installation is simple; buy the lights, install them into your sockets, download the iPhone application that comes with your purchase and set their parameters however you prefer them. These can include brightness, turn on/off times, and even lighting colour. Best of all, since these are LED bulbs, their lasting power runs into the decades while requiring only 6% the power of regular incandescent or even fluorescent bulbs. Although priced at nearly $300 for a single box of bulbs, the long term electrical cost savings can be a major bonus.
5. Lockitron keyless entry system
The Lockitron system is another simple, powerful and very easy to install intelligent home automation gadget. As the name suggests, Lockitron is all about making your home’s entry points both more secure and more smartly manageable. Instead of fumbling over locks and keyholes, simply have the Lockitron device installed on each door of your home and control it remotely through your smart phone from then on.
You can set the parameters so that your doors lock behind you as you leave, unlock ahead of you as you approach your home and send you tweets or application based updates any time any of the Lockitron enabled doors has been opened without your permission. Also, if you’re worried about malfunctions that leave you stranded on the street or inside your house, no problem, since using old fashioned keys in an emergency is still a perfectly valid option. This smart keyless entry system will empty your wallet by about $180 per door lock.
The above devices and intelligent automation platforms are only some of the main smart home tech gadgets available on the market right now. New ones are coming out all the time and plenty of other, more esoteric intelligent home technologies already exist. Thus, if you want to make your home really feel like something from the future, go for what I’ve outlined and work your way forward from there as new stuff comes out. Since none of it requires heavy duty renovation, both addition and removal will be easy, cheap and mess free.