Home sweet, automated home

Home automation has always piqued my interest. Over the last few years, I have added several smart devices to my home to take advantage of the conveniences they offer. As of today, I have added five Amazon Echo devices, a Nest smart thermostat, nine Phillips Hue light bulbs, eight Feit Wi-Fi light bulbs, six smart light switches, smart garage door openers, three smart electrical outlets and a home assistant server.

While this may seem like a lot of devices, in the ecosystem of a smart home including cameras, doorbells, door locks and appliances, it’s really not much. If you add all the lights, electrical outlets, switches, etc. in your home, it can be overwhelming if you are looking to convert everything over. Here are a few things I can do with my smart home setup.

Change the mood

Changing the colors to complement a birthday party or holiday is fun and adds to the festivities. Likewise, being able to change the color temperature and brightness can change both indoor and outdoor appearances. During Christmas, for example, I can have the porch and outdoor garage lights complement the Christmas decorations.

Control from anywhere

The ability to control everything while away from home was not one of my top priorities; however, it has proven to be convenient in several cases. Opening the garage doors remotely for a friend who needs to borrow something has become handy. Also, remotely managing the lights while on vacation so it appears someone is home adds a bit of security. When leaving for an extended time, we will lower the thermostat to conserve energy. Prior to retuning home, we can turn the thermostat back to our preferred temperature, so the house is comfy upon arrival.

Set schedules/routines

In my opinion, setting schedules and routines brings home automation and smart devices to life. Based on my location via cell phone, I can turn the garage lights on when I arrive home and turn them off when I leave. My outdoor lights are scheduled to slowly turn on starting at sunset and automatically turn off at 10 p.m.

Having a forgetful teenager can be expensive. My son has a small space heater in his room that he consistently forgets to turn off. After installing a smart outlet, I can set it to turn off shortly after he leaves for school, which makes running the space heater less expensive and safer!

Voice control

Initially, voice control was somewhat of a novelty. Today, “Alexa” is a household name. “Alexa, turn on the lights” has become a common phrase. Maybe we have just become lazy, but the ability to tell Alexa to turn off a device, dim the lights to a certain percentage, or change the color of a room without lifting a finger has proven to be convenient.

Buying a fancy color changing light bulb and installing it is simple. Unfortunately, the world of home automation is still being developed. If you are considering implementing home automation, you should know it is a journey. It will take time and significant effort to research the different devices, what is compatible and what is not.

To build an ecosystem of smart connected devices that all work together seamlessly and can be configured with one interface is difficult. There is simply not enough standardization yet to deploy a system easily and efficiently, especially if you are looking to have a system that operates without a third-party internet cloud provider that talks to all your devices. This is a real concern from a security/privacy perspective and should be considered when implementing home automation.