The term ‘smart home’ refers to a home arrangement where appliances and devices can be automatically controlled from anywhere – all you need is internet access via a mobile phone or other device.
Every appliance in a smart home is connected to each other via the internet, allowing the user to remotely control functions such as home security, temperature, lights and home cinema.
How do Smart Homes work?
Devices in a smart home are interconnected and can be reached using a single central point – a smartphone, tablet, laptop or game console. Door locks, cameras, lights televisions, thermostats, home monitors, and even appliances such as refrigerators can all be managed by a single automated system, installed on a mobile (or any other web-connected) device.
When linked, services such as smart locks, smart security systems, and all smart gadgets become part of the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, which is a network of physical things that can gather and share electronic data.
Smart Home benefits
As a bonus, smart homes may help you save on energy costs. Because technologies such as Z-Wave and ZigBee restrict the operation of certain devices, they may be put to sleep and reawakened with the right command.
Electricity costs are reduced when lights are switched off automatically in unoccupied rooms, the house may be heated or cooled depending on who is there at a certain time.
Some gadgets are capable of tracking how much energy each appliance consumes and issuing commands to the energy hogs to use less power.
The smart home technology has the potential to provide significant advantages to elderly persons who live alone. A smart house might inform the resident when it is time to take medication, contact the hospital if the person collapses, and monitor how much the patient is eating – all at the same time.
For example, if an elderly person is prone to forgetting things, a smart home might help them out by turning off the water before a bathtub overflows or turning off the oven if the chef has walked out [of the house?]. The cost of such a system, according to one constructor, should not excceed $20,000, which is less costly than a full-time nursing facility.
This arrangement also helps adult children who may reside in different locations to assist in the care of their elderly parent. Automated devices that are simple to use offer comparable advantages to those with movement impairments
Smart Home Disadvantages
Home automation systems have had a difficult time reaching a wider customer base, in part because of their technological nature. One disadvantage of smart houses is their presumed complexity; some people have trouble with technology and will give up on it if they experience troubles when setting up or using their new devices. Users of all technical levels would benefit if smart home manufacturers worked together to simplify the system and improve the user experience.
It is necessary for devices in home automation systems to be compatible with one another and to utilize the same protocol (or at least complementary protocols) in order for the systems to be really successful. Due to the fact that home automation is a relatively young industry, there is no gold standard for the time being. In order to guarantee interoperability and a smooth user experience, manufacturers should be working in partnership standard protocol developers.
Another significant problem is the security of smart homes. According to a 2016 study by NTT Data Corp., 80%of customers in the United States are worried about the security of their smart home data. If hackers are successful in infiltrating a smart device, they may be able to switch off the lights and alarms or open the doors, leaving a house vulnerable to a burglary.
Hackers may possibly get access to the homeowner’s network, which can lead to a personal information leak.. A series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) assaults carried out by the Mirai Internet of Things botnet in October 2016 left much of the internet inaccessible on the U.S. east coast, everything because of the poorly protected cameras, DVRs, and routers as entry points.
Apart from home security concerns, many opponents of smart homes are worried about data privacy. According to the NTT Data survey, 73 percent of customers are worried about the privacy of the data provided by their smart home gadgets. Smart home devices and platforms manufacturers may gather consumer data in order to better customize their goods or provide new and enhanced services to consumers, but building trust and rapport with customers is essential for attracting new ones.
Best Smart Home Devices & Systems of 2021
There are many smart home product categories, allowing you to manage anything from lights and thermostats to locks and home security systems. They also make excellent presents, whether you are shopping for Christmas or birthday gifts or looking for a housewarming present.
The Difference Between Smart Devices vs. Smart Systems
Before we begin our list, we must first take a look at the smart home terminology. A smart system is essentially what you talk to when you want something to happen. Think of Alexa or Google Assistant as the overall command center that manages your various items. A device, on the other hand, is a standalone product that communicates with the system – think Amazon Echo or Philips Hue lightbulbs.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the top smart home gadgets and systems, so you can determine which solutions could improve your daily life the most.
The Finest Smart Home Systems
When looking to buy a smart-home system, you should consider user reviews and integrations. While the customers’ opinions will tell you if the technology is high-quality or not, the information about product integrations will tell you how many items you can really connect your system to.
While investigating integrations, remember to keep in mind if the smart devices you currently own are compatible or incompatible with the system. The most effective smart home systems nowadays are driven by a cutting-edge technology and provide a multitude of third-party integration options.
For example, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant can communicate with smart thermostats such as Nest or Ecobee, rather than focusing only on the thermostats created by their respective manufacturers.
Your smart home experiences will be much more enjoyable if all your gadgets are connected properly, function well, and are simple to use.
Here are the three major smart home systems:
1. Amazon Alexa
Alexa is, without a doubt, one of the most comprehensive smart home ecosystems available today, with hundreds of millions of compatible devices.
While you have probably heard of using Alexa as an Eco-speaker (“Alexa, what’s the weather today?”), you may be surprised to learn that it is now integrated into a variety of other smart devices, like thermostats and television sets. Alexa makes it simple to access and manage any element of your smart home. You can ask Alexa to switch off the lights just as easily as you can ask her to open applications like Spotify.
Because Amazon’s ecosystem is one of the most dominant in the business, most smart devices, including those manufactured by Philips, Samsung, Nest, and Schlage, connect smoothly with Alexa. The system can now shut your garage door, lock your doors, and change the temperature in your house.
Simply check for the ‘Works with Amazon Alexa’ note to see whether Alexa will function with a certain gadget.
To sum up, Alexa’s ability to connect and communicate with the majority of other smart devices and applications makes her one of the finest options for your smart home.
If there is a real competitor to Alexa, it is Google Assistant.
Despite having fewer third-party integrations, Google Assistant can often answer queries and execute commands that Alexa cannot – thanks to Google’s dominance in the search engine market. Google Assistant has a 92.9 percent accuracy rating, whereas Amazon Alexa has a 79.8 percent rating (ZDNet).
When it comes to understanding people’s natural speech, Assistant ultimately triumphs.
For example, if you use Spotify and tell the Assistant that “I don’t like this song,” it will skip to the next one, while Alexa would simply inform you that “Thumbs up and down are not supported on Spotify.” Small differences like these may sway you toward Google, since it is often more useful (and less literal) than Alexa.
Assistant can also work with most major manufacturers’ devices, including Philips, Belkin, August, Nest, and popular applications like Spotify and Uber.
This Samsung system connects with a broad range of smart devices from many manufacturers, such as smart thermostats, Wi-Fi routers, lightbulbs, and security gadgets. Users of the smart system gain full access to the smart devices linked to the hub through the SmartThings app for iOS or Android.
For the last several years, Samsung’s SmartThings Hub has been expanding its own smart-device capabilities. For example, the SmartThings Wi-Fi plug, SmartThings Lightbulb, and SmartThings Cam have been just recently added to the Hub’s product portfolio.
By using the SmartThings Hub, you may also program compatible smart devices to perform different actions, such as turning on or off when you enter or exit a room. While you can use the SmartThings wall hub or app to issue voice commands, you can also incorporate Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant into the system.
The Best Smart Home Devices
The best smart speaker: Amazon Echo (Fourth Generation)
It’s likely that you won’t have to seek much further than Amazon Echo for a gadget that can meet your everyday demands at a reasonable price. Echo is still the countertop king, thanks to its redesigned sphere-like shape, excellent sound output, and a few forward-thinking capabilities.
“It is 6 p.m., and it is time to head to your tennis lesson,” says Alexa as the speaker connects to it., With the help of Alexa, the speaker can also play your favorite music, make phone calls or send messages, answer queries, and set alarms for you.
This device can also communicate with other smart devices in your home, allowing you to utilize it as a link between you and your smart television. You can sync the speakers together for the multi-room sound with a powerful voice control.
Without ever leaving your couch, you can use Echo to control the television, order a pizza, and generate a shopping list.
The best lights: Philips Hue
The Philips lighting kit offers 16 million colors, including 50,000 white hues, helping the customers always find the right atmosphere. The Philips Hue bulbs allow you to control the intensity, as well as the color of your lights.
You can create color-coordinated moods – for example, by choosing the “energize” theme on your app for a specific room you’re in, or syncing it with your music. You can also set color-coordinated alarms to ensure you wake up in a bright pink bedroom every morning.
These bulbs are compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit, making them the most adaptable option.
The best smart plug: ConnectSense Smart Outlet 2
The ConnectSense Smart Outlet 2 is not the smallest smart plug on the market, but it provides separate control for two outlets, has a convenient USB charging connection, and informs you how much power each outlet is using.
To switch the outlets on and off, you may use an Android or iOS mobile app, or you can use your voice with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri commands. Users of Apple HomeKit may also build Scenes and Automations to have the outlets react to triggers from other HomeKit devices.
Although IFTTT applet support would be great, the ConnectSense Smart Outlet 2 still earns its renown.
The best home security system: SimplySafe
SimpliSafe’s quick and easy installation and easy to understand DIY home security system is fantastic. It comes with a complete package of functions, security cameras, and a excellent combination of battery-powered sensors.
Starter kits start at $200, or you may design your own personalized alarm system with the precise combination of gadgets you want. A professional monitoring plan begins at $15 per month, but you’ll almost definitely want to upgrade to the $25-per-month plan, which includes mobile app controls and voice assistance through Alexa and the Google Assistant.
The best smart home automation for your dog: Furbo Dog Camera
Every element of Furbo is designed for dogs. Furbo is recommended by vets and dog trainers and can help alleviate your dog’s separation anxiety. Furbo’s life-saving Smart Alerts can detect dog-related events and alert you about what’s happening at home. Providing excellent 1080p footage even in low light, as well as barking alarms and two-way audio so you can hear and speak to your pet.
Perhaps most importantly, it allows you to throw goodies to your pet while you’re out and about.
The Furbo Dog Camera is expensive, particularly when compared to conventional security cameras, but it is as practical as it is entertaining, and it offers you peace of mind that your dog and house are secure.
The best smart kitchen appliance: Brava Oven
Smart ovens are becoming more and more popular, with a range of microwave-sized smart appliances available that can sear, broil, bake and reheat, among other types of food preparation.
The Brava Oven is one of the most advanced smart ovens available.
It can prepare food in ten various ways, has a variety of automated cooking settings for both ingredients and meals, and has built-in cameras that let you to monitor the progress of your food on your smartphone.
So, Are Smart Homes Really The Future?
After all that we have said, the future of smart homes is really looking bright.
According to Statista, there will be about 75.4 billion gadgets linked to the internet by 2025.
In today’s world, both industrial and commercial infrastructure are being equipped with IoT technology, which is powered by Power over Ethernet (PoE). With that in mind, it’s no wonder that residential infrastructure is next on the list.
Devices like as Google Home and Amazon Alexa are becoming more prevalent in the typical American home. With the appropriate smart home network setup, these devices can manage HVAC, lights, door locks, windows, music, and more.
The popularity of smart homes seems to be growing in the future, which implies that the way we live our daily lives is going to alter dramatically.