What is a Smart Home?

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Kitchen at the HGTV Smart Home 2013 located in Jacksonville, FL

The smart home is becoming a reality thanks to the power of technological advancements. The basic concept of the smart home involves the ability to control the devices and systems in your home from one source. Ideally, this source should be accessible by you from anywhere in the world.

The initial concept was to make it easier to sit in your home and adjust the heating, lights or even close the curtains without the need to move. This has since extended to allow the control of these systems even when you are outside the home.

How the Smart Home Works

Many modern devices are created with smart technology. This means they already have the processors needed to connect to a smart home hub. The smart home hub is a central device which usually needs to be connected to your internet hub. All hub devices can then be accessed via the central hub which connects to your app.

The app is loaded onto your cell phone and can be accessed anywhere; providing you have internet access. You will be able to connect through the hub wirelessly to the device and adjust its settings.

If you have devices which are not already equipped with smart technology then it is still possible to connect with them. However, you will need to add sensors and possible an additional control panel linked to the existing one. Most of these additions can be completed by an amateur; although there are always some parts which you may prefer to be handled by an expert.

In its simplest form the smart device simply manages the power to a specific item, such as the light, or even the thermostat for your heating. This allows you instant control. For more advanced options you will need to use timers; which are generally built into the smart devices.

Origins of the Smart Home

The smart house has been gradually developing for many years. It can be argued that the addition of electronic devices into the home was the first step in a smart home. Instead of washing clothes by hand or dishes; machines arrived which were capable of doing the job. This automation may be manually controlled but it is automation!

The future will, undoubtedly, lead to advancements in this technology. As well as just controlling the devices at home you will shortly be able to access them, evaluate their performance and even be alerted to any strange behaviour within your home. The logical extension of this technology will be to merge it with voice activated technology; such as Siri and Alexa. You would then be able to access all the information you need and control all the equipment around you; just by using your voice. This is certainly something that not long ago would have seemed like a science fiction dream!

Integration into New Builds

Whilst it is possible to add all the necessary components into your home, it can be difficult to fully integrate the systems without extensive remodelling. It can also be an expensive option as you may need to buy each piece if kit separately and then interlink them.

However, if you are looking to build or buy a new property then you will be able to take advantage of this opportunity to integrate all the necessary smart systems into your home. The result will be the smart house of the future. The essential difference is that you can run wiring behind or in all the walls which will allow every room in your house to be on the smart system. This is the way in which new houses are increasingly being built; homes where you can control everything through one app on your phone or even with your voice!

Advantages of Smart Home

There are many advantages to this new technology; these include:

  • Convenience – Being able to control your home remotely is more than just a gimmick. You can ensure the house is at the right temperature, the music is on and even the oven comes on. Not only will this prevent you from wasting precious time at home; it can also be beneficial to anyone who suffers from atmospheric changes; the system can prevent large changes in air quality or temperature.
  • Security – Smart homes can be easily adapted to include security cameras, motion detectors and even autonomous locks. The result is a secure home, you can check on your property at any time and the system will alert you if anything happens; such as someone entering.
  • Energy Efficient – Surprisingly this type of system can help you to save energy! All you need to do is monitor the house and make sure all systems are off when you are out. In addition, instead of leaving your heating on timers or even on a low setting, you will be able to tell it exactly when to turn on. This will inevitably result in more precise use of the heating system and less energy used.
  • Futuristic – Having a smart home, particularly a new build, will allow you to be flexible as new technology emerges. Is no doubt that this technology will be improving over the coming years, your system can be expanded and adjusted to move with these developments.

Disadvantages of the Smart Home

Of course, any system has disadvantages as well and it is important to be aware of these:

  • Hacking – This is one of the biggest risks at present. Your smart home connects to a hub which is then accessed remotely by you over the internet. Because this is an internet based app it is open to being hacked; allowing someone else access to your home and its systems. You will need a good firewall and anti-virus software.
  • The smart home is an advancement in computing. Anyone who struggles to master the simpler technology, such as cell phones, will struggle with installing and operating a smart home system. At best this can be frustrating; at worse life threatening.
  • Price – The current cost of a smart home or system is high. This is much of the reason why the technology has not yet been taken up on a huge scale. Prices will be likely to gradually come down but at the moment it is too expensive for the average householder.

The smart house is the house of the future, although there are still a few issues which need to be resolved; it will not be long before this is standard in every home.