Getting started with the latest smart devices to turn your house into a more convenient, comfortable place
Home is where the heart is, and smart home devices offer tremendous savings, convenience and security for your family. No matter the age of your home, now is the perfect time to bring your household into the future with smart devices. Here’s a handy guide to get you started.
The Walmart Smart Home Starter Guide: Smart Home Basics
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘smart home’ before but what exactly does it mean? In a nutshell, it’s a home featuring devices such as heating, lighting or appliances that connect to the internet and are controlled via your smartphone, tablet or computer.
There are many great reasons to make your home smarter; doing so has the potential to save you money and make life easier. Not to mention the wow factor—who hasn’t wished for a low maintenance Jetsons-like home from the future?
The best part is that most smart tech gadgets are simple to install, saving you the need to invest in costly renovations.
Should I get a Smart Home Speaker or Smart Home Hub?
Before setting up your smart home, the first step is to decide how you want to control your devices and appliances. One route is to use voice-enabled smart speaker hubs that allow you to give commands like “turn the heat up.” Your other option is to go with a smart home hub, which serves as a central hub all your smart devices connect to. You then access the smart hub on your smartphone and operate devices with a flick of your finger.
Either choice will add a new layer of convenience, putting you at the centre of your home.
If the smart speaker route appeals to you, Google Home is a popular, powerful device with a simple setup. This voice-activated hub harnesses Google’s world-renowned search power, giving your family the ultimate virtual personal assistant. The hardware provides the convenience of hands-free help, using only your voice to control smart devices in your home. You can get traffic, weather and sports updates while washing the dishes or relaxing on the couch just by asking something like, “Hey Google, what’s the weather like this week?” Google Home also connects to other smart devices such as thermostats, light bulbs, and security systems.
Alternatively, a smart home hub like Samsung SmartThings lets you control your smart devices using your smartphone or tablet. This is done by wirelessly connecting your smart devices to the SmartThings Hub and controlling them using a single SmartThings app. Within the app, you can monitor your connected devices from anywhere, and receive notification alerts of unexpected activity. The hub even enables some smart devices to work together, automating your home in ways never before possible.
Walmart has many smart home solutions to fast track you to a more intelligent, energy-efficient home.
Smart Thermostat: A Warm, Cozy Nest
Now that you’ve chosen your smart hub, it’s time to think about which smart device(s) to introduce into your home. The most common starter pick is a smart thermostat, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat. This device will help your family save on energy costs and keep your home at an ideal temperature, all without you lifting a finger. It does this by learning your household’s heating and cooling habits, automatically turning off your central air system when you leave home.
The Nest Thermostat also offers a layer of protection to your home, sending an alert to your phone or tablet if things get dangerously hot or cold. This really adds peace of mind when you are away for a few days or even weeks.
I had a friend who went travelling during the wintertime and forgot to set his thermostat properly. Unfortunately, a cold snap hit while he was out of the country causing his pipes to freeze and burst, resulting thousands in property damage.
If he was using a Nest thermostat, a warning would have been sent to his phone notifying him to the dangerous dip in temperature. He would have been able to remedy the situation in seconds, adjusting the temperature while he was out of the country, avoiding costly repairs.
Being a homeowner can involve a lot of worry and guesswork, but a smart home helps to alleviate some of that stress.
Getting more connected: Pairing Google Home and Nest
For even more convenience, you can adjust your Nest thermostat with your voice using Google Home. Through a simple connection process, Google Home can interface with Nest devices, allowing you to adjust temperature zones in your home by asking Google Assistant to raise or lower the temperature.
If you aren’t a fan of adjusting timers and setting schedules Nest is a welcome change to streamlining your home’s efficiency. Its auto-schedule feature means no more programming, or fiddling with timers, it learns the temperatures you prefer and schedules itself.
Connecting the Nest to Wi-Fi also allows it to monitor local weather making adjustments to keep your home’s temperature right where you want it. Gone are the days of needing to crank the AC during cooler summer days—Nest will know when to kick in your central air to give you optimal temperature and savings.
Take a look at Walmart’s smart thermostat offerings, and start saving on those energy bills!
The Smart Home Pro: Install Smart Light Bulbs
Another bright idea is smart lighting control, giving you more comfort and security in, and around your home.
Smart bulbs allow you to automate and adjust lighting straight from your phone or tablet. Imagine hearing a loud crash in the middle of the night and being able to turn on every light in your home with a few swipes of your phone or via voice command.
Smart lighting also allows you to schedule timers to make it look like you are home when you are actually away, all from the convenience of your phone, anywhere in the world.
One of the best places to get started with smart lighting is the Philips Hue White A19 Starter Kit which gives you everything you need to begin your setup. The kit includes 2 smart bulbs and the bridge, which acts as a transmitter to communicate with the bulbs themselves. For extreme lighting capabilities, pair the Starter Kit with the Hue White And Color Ambiance Bulb capable of instantly changing between 16 million colours. Pair it with Google Home and you’ll also be able to control your Philips Hue lights using just your voice.
Hub-less options, like the Merkury Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb, are also available and compatible with Google Assistant. Offering excellent value, and next to no setup, these lighting options connect directly to your home’s wireless router.
Smart Home Security and Smart Home Monitoring
In addition to automating your lights, smart home security gives you a more direct route to safety and security.
Being able to monitor your home, and alerted to random motions, gives you that extra peace of mind knowing your household is secure.
Video surveillance devices are a great solution and range from wireless quick setup options, to multi-camera, 4K video setups. These cameras allow you to check your home at any time to ensure the safety of your family, pets and property.
If you want a streamlined setup, look no further than the Netgear Arlo Security System. The wire-free system allows you to set up the 2 included cameras anywhere indoor or outdoor. The battery on the camera lasts up to 6 months, enabling you to place the cameras in many different areas without the need to hard wire. The motion detection feature will send an email and push the images directly to your phone. If you are looking for a solution to test the smart surveillance waters, Arlo is a great choice and the system can be expanded with more cameras.
For an indoor camera solution, the Night Owl 1080p Wireless Security System offers two-way voice communication and wireless recording to its hub with an SD card slot. The 2-camera system requires AC power connection, but its wireless recording and upgradable storage provide extra value.
The Swann 1080p HD Wi-Fi Outdoor Security Camera offers a range of features including audio recording and an Ethernet port if Wi-Fi range becomes an issue. The Swann camera set also does not require a hub or DVR featuring an app on both iOS and Android to view, control and listen to areas around your home.
The future is now, and making your home smarter is an upgrade away.