When I started this blog I thought that someday I might put together a list of the smart home automation tips. You know, make it an all-inclusive guide. Well, that day is here and that’s what this article is all about.
This is a great list for anyone beginner or expert. Hopefully, you find something you can take away with you and I hope it helps you out.
1. Strong Reliable Network
If you have a strong and reliable network, whether it is wireless or wired then you will never be left wondering why your Philips Hue lights aren’t working when you ask Alexa to turn them off at the end of the day. You may want to consider picking up a Mesh Network router set up to strengthen your wifi if all else fails. In fact I’d strongly recommend it.
2. Watch Your Batteries
Be aware of the different types of batteries you may need when it comes time to replace them. In some of your battery operated smart devices. You will find not all battery powered smart devices use the same type of batteries. Some are long and cylinder as the AA, AAA, or CR123 and others may require are a flat type of battery that is found in watches, like the CR2032.
3. Check For Neutral Wires
If you are thinking about adding smart home light switches into your lighting array. Check to make sure you have a neutral wire behind that wallplate. When in doubt, you should hire an electrician to find out if you have neutral wires. When you need them, electricians can pull up neutral wires wherever you need them.
4. Know What You Want
Decide up front whether you want a truly smart home or just remote control capability with some basic automation. This will save you time and money in the long run. If you don’t want to truly automate your house then you won’t need to buy a smart home hub or any of the extras.
5. Position Your Echo Correctly
A lot of people incorrectly place their Echo. Due to that, they might find themselves yelling at Alexa when they really don’t need to. Mount your Echo Dot on the wall with a wall mount. You’ll find that you have much better luck.
6. Buy Smart Light Switches
It’s a lot cheaper than smart lightbulbs for each individual socket. I highly recommend the Lutron switches. However, if you don’t need more than 4 or 5 light bulbs for your entire project and they are in different rooms. Then you may want to look at buying separate Singled lightbulbs for each.
7. When You Need Help
Join a smart home automation group on Facebook and ask other people for help. If you need help in person, see if there is a meetup group focused around IoT near you.
Add multiple ways to control the device. Sometimes you will have that option if the devices you are using also have an app (like Ecobee for example). Also do not be afraid of having multiple smart hubs if you feel the need.
9. Mailbox Motion Sensor
Put a motion sensor in your mailbox. Some people use a contact sensor on the lid of the mailbox. When the box is opened it will send an SMS to your phone (via a program called Stringify). This would not work for an apartment style mailbox.
You can use a motion style sensor on the inside of the box. When the sensor detects the motion of mail being put into the mailbox the sensor can send an SMS to your phone the same way a contact sensor will via Stringify. I like this one from Amazon.
10. Check For A Common Wire
When installing pretty much any smart home thermostat you will want to ensure that you have common (or C) wire prior to purchasing. This will make sure that you are compatible right out of the gate without having to call an electrician or make any wiring changes after purchasing your thermostat. I’ve actually run into this many times myself. Just read my article about installing thermostats without a c-wire.
11. Return Policy
Make sure that wherever you are purchasing your smart home products from has a good return policy. There are times that you may run into incompatibility issues. That is why I primarily purchase my products from Amazon. I have never had a hard time returning something that didn’t work in my array when using them to purchase my products.
12. Pets and Sensors
Be aware that your motion-sensitive equipment can pick up on anything that is going on around it. Pets are one of the biggest false positives that you will run into when it comes to motion sensors. Most systems will allow you to adjust the sensitivity. Therefore eliminating most of these false alerts.
13. Cold Weather and Cameras
One of the most overlooked things to consider when purchasing smart security cameras is cold weather. If you will be placing your smart home cameras outside. Make sure that they are rated to be used in a cold weather scenario. Both Arlo Pro and Blink XT cameras can be used for this purpose.
14. Smart Lighting Won’t Save Money
Gone are the days of parents freaking out because their kids would leave the lights on and run up the electricity bill. One LED light bulb costs less than 2 dollars per year to operate under regular use. Smart thermostats will save you far more money and energy usage.
15. Check on Rebates
Check to see if your power company will provide energy credits for buying smart thermostats. Sometimes these companies run deals where you can even get a new smart thermostat for free.
16. Voice Control For Your TV
This is something I am regularly asked about. If you haven’t already, then you should check out my review on the Logitech Harmony Hub. It’s really the best option for automating any entertainment devices you have in your home.
17. Don’t Be Lazy
You can tell IFTTT to integrate your smart TV with your fitness tracker. It’s just an extra kick in the rear end to remind you to finish your steps before you can sit down to watch TV.
18. Turn On The Lights
Set up motion sensors for your lighting so that it knows which rooms you are in. You can set it up to turn the lights on automatically when you enter the room and off automatically when you leave the room.
19. Light In The Dark
Set up your Philips Hue or any other lighting system to use geofencing. This way you can automatically turn lights on when you arrive home after dark.
20. Compatible or Not?
Figure out if you want to connect with Alexa, Siri or Google, and make sure the devices that you choose are compatible. There are a lot of devices out there and not all of them are compatible with the smart assistant platform you are using.
21. Do I Need A Smart Home Hub?
Pick a smart hub that fits your needs. If you want something extremely simple get a wink smart hub. However, if you want something more advanced I highly suggest the Samsung Smartthings Hub. I would suggest taking a peek at my article about the best smart home hubs to get a better idea of what will work for you.
22. Start Small and Simple
I usually suggest that you start with smart home lighting as it can be the easiest and most functional to implement. You could also pick up a Samsung Smartthings starter kit over on Amazon to get you going as well. It’s a really good place to start.
23. Read Privacy Policies
With Smart Home devices that are monitoring, sharing and potentially selling your data, some smart security cameras, refrigerators and thermostats now come with privacy policies that you should read. It is up to you, the consumer, to read these agreements for each device. It’s important to understand how your data from your smart home devices are used and shared.
24. Secure Your Smart Home Network
There are quite a few things you can and should do to secure your IoT network. I actually wrote an entire article on this subject called 13 Surefire Ways to Secure Your Smart Home.
25. Set Holiday Lights To Music
This goes for any holiday, not just Christmas. Set your lights to turn on and off to Trans-Siberian Orchestra. You just need a raspberry pi, a little elbow grease, and a little creativity, and you can do this yourself. No smart home gear needed. Just remember to turn the volume down when your neighbors are asleep! Check out the video below of what the Johnson’s did!
26. Alexa’s Hidden Secrets
Did you know that Alexa has dozens of hidden secret easter eggs that you can have a lot of fun with. Party games, jokes, and much much more. Check it out on my post about Alexa’s Secret Easter Eggs.
27. Learn About IFTTT
IFTTT, which is otherwise known as “If This Then That” has really been a game changer and is something you should take the time to learn about if you have even the simplest of smart home technology in your house. It can automate many different tasks for you.
28. Make It Sleek
If you are setting your smart home equipment up around a desk or a shelf then you can attach 3m or binder clips to the back and then run the cords through the clip to keep them cleaned up. If wires are hanging on the floor you could use a decorative basket or box and simply store that mess away. Try to buy cords that match the color of your baseboards and/or walls to keep them as naturally hidden as possible. I’ve even gone to the extent of painting the cords the same color as the wall!
29. Phone Call Alerts
You can sync your smart lighting to your phone number, that way you are alerted by your lights blinking when someone is calling you on your smartphone.
30. Give Your Old Roomba Wifi
If you happen to have an older Roomba it won’t have wifi built in. Does that mean you can’t smarten it up? Absolutely not! Get a RooWifi and step forward into the world of seriously smart cleaning!
31. I Don’t Do Windows!
Well, not anymore! No more climbing dangerous ladders or looking at nasty windows that you can’t reach! The Alfawise S60 Window cleaning robot works on framed and flat glass. It’s a seemingly necessary smart home tool! You can check out the current pricing on Amazon.
I hope you enjoyed the tips I have provided here. If you think I missed anything major please leave it in the comments. Also please check out the rest of my blog for useful lists, reviews, and articles. You can also follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, etc. with the links at the bottom of the page.