Smart home – taking your home to the next level
The way we live is changing and adapting continuously to our needs. Thanks to rapid technological advancements, smart homes are now quite common. You can turn your own home into a smart home in no time at all just by following a few handy hints – even if you're on a tight budget. Find out everything you need to know about intelligent homes – from the basics to the latest innovations.
What is a smart home?
A smart home is a house or apartment in which various electronic devices and sensors exchange information with each other, creating automated workflows for technical processes in living areas. For instance, you can control your blinds or the lighting in a smart home via an app on your smartphone.
How a smart home system works
A smart home works on the basis of interconnected, remote-controlled devices and installations. The control center is the heart of the system. Depending on the provider, the technology in a smart home may be based on a different system. There are two types of system:
Open systems:·Interconnectivity in an open system is managed via one or more wireless networks such as WLAN or Bluetooth, and can be controlled using voice assistance. In most cases you also need a smart speaker in which the voice assistant is installed. Examples include Amazon Alexa in conjunction with the Amazon Echo speaker or Google Assistant in combination with the Google Home speaker. The devices are operated via a corresponding app. Third-party devices can in theory also be connected to the system, but in practice there are often compatibility issues.
Closed systems: Manufacturer-specific technology, such as radio solutions, is used with this type of system. In most cases, only components from the same manufacturer are compatible. Examples of this type of system include Homematic IP and Eve Systems. Corresponding apps are also used for this type of system.
What a smart home offers
As technology advances, new devices are continuously being brought to the market. Below is a summary of what is already possible:
Shade and privacy
Automated blinds, for instance, provide shade on sunny days. Not only is this kind of automated mechanism practical, but it also protects the blinds against environmental influences in the long term and provides the privacy you need.
Audio and video
Film lovers can really get their money's worth with state-of-the-art technology. Various devices such as TVs, speakers, and headphones can be combined in one system, creating a holistic entertainment system.
What's more, multi-room audio can be used to connect various speakers to a mobile phone, for instance, and play music throughout the entire house.
If you don't have a green thumb when it comes to taking care of the plants in your home, you can set up your smart system to take care of watering them. There are plant pots and entire watering systems that can be connected to the internet in order to reliably perform this task.
Security and safety
When it comes to security, you can do a whole lot with a smart home system. Sensors on doors and windows can detect whether they have been properly closed at night. Presence detectors can tell you whether there is someone in your home. You can have smart locks fitted, so you don't need to worry about someone gaining access to your home if you lose your keys. There are also new systems on the market that can simulate the presence of residents when nobody is home.
Smart homes can also be equipped with safety devices that detect smoke or the presence of carbon monoxide. Last but not least, you can add security cameras for additional protection.
Save energy with a smart home
Sophisticated technology can be used to automate energy management in your home. Lighting can be set to the right level in the morning and in the evening, creating a positive impact on your energy balance and mood.
The energy from a solar panel system or a heat pump, for instance, can be distributed intelligently throughout your home via a central control point. This means that heating or cooling energy in summer can be directed where it is needed in an energy-efficient way.
Is a smart home expensive?
Intelligent technology doesn't have to be expensive: You can still give your home a technology overhaul even if you have a limited budget. There are various smart home system devices that can be operated using a voice assistant, for instance. This includes lamps with color gradient settings, audio devices, and streaming devices. There are also smoke detectors, weather stations, and washing machines that you can use to do the laundry even when you're not at home thanks to a smart home ecosystem.
The downsides of a smart home
Your coffee is ready first thing in the morning and your bathroom is nice and warm in winter. Surely there must be a catch? Unfortunately, there is. Data protection is one potential downside of a smart home. The volume of data collected by smart home apps varies depending on the smart device provider. Connecting to the internet means that sensitive data could be vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Last but not least, you need to find out about compatibility and the technology side of things. If you opt for a smart home ecosystem, systems and devices from different providers may not always be fully compatible. So if you need to add another device, you will only be able to buy products from the same manufacturer.
Furthermore, if you have an older mobile phone, you may not be able to use the latest version of an app with it. This is due to the smartphone's operating system.
Turn your own four walls into a smart home
You don't need to fill the whole house with cables and connect it to the internet in order to turn it into a smart home. Smart home conversions generally involve integrating various technologies and devices in order to make living areas more comfortable, safer and more energy efficient. So anyone wanting to benefit from such technology today can set up various smart devices. Even simple WLAN lamps offer some of the benefits of a smart home by automating lighting controls. Other options for those with a limited budget include intelligent thermostats, speakers, cameras, and household appliances.