When you are designing a smart home system for your house, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the options. There are so many different types of smart home devices. Since home automation and smart homes have become such a hot topic, it seems like everyone is offering something. You might be wondering…
Which is best?
What are the best features?
What are the things to avoid?
Will everything work together well?
Researching everything can take forever, make you feel overwhelmed, and eventually lead you to give up. Fear not though, this is what we’re here for.
There are seemingly infinite variety in every category of home automation. In this guide I’ve broken it down by individual types of devices. As new devices come onto the market, I’ll update this guide to explain them as well.
In each section below you’ll find a description of every type of smart home device and some important information to keep in mind about them. You’ll also find a link to a much more in-depth post about each type.
Now I know that right now this guide doesn’t look very complete. It’s a work in progress, but I didn’t want to wait until it was done to start sharing it with you. I’m going to keep at it and I hope you’ll come back soon to see everything I’ve added.
Do you see a type of smart home device I’m missing, please send me a message and let me know.
What are smart home hubs?
When you want all your smart home devices to work together, you’re going to need a hub.
A hub is a device that communicates with and controls all the other devices in your smart home system. All other devices send their statuses to the hub and receive instructions from it.
This allows the hub to know the complete status of the smart home system and respond to certain events, such as turning the outdoor lights on at night when a motion sensor detects motion.
Now you don’t need a hub to have a smart home system. If all of your devices communicate through WiFi, then the manufacturer likely has a smartphone app or website you can use to control the devices. I
f you have multiple devices from multiple manufacturers though, that means you’ll be working through many different apps or websites. The hub takes care of this by letting you control everything through one central location.
What are smart light switches?
Probably the most common and simplest of the smart home devices. A smart home light switch is installed in your home’s wall, just like any other light switch, but it can be controlled by a hub or your smart phone.
If you want…
- A room to light up when someone walks in
- Your outdoor lights to turn on at sunset and off at sunrise
- A light to turn on automatically at night when you are away so your pets aren’t left in the dark
- Your garage lights to turn on automatically when you arrive home at night
…then you’re going to want a smart home light switch.
From your smart home hub you can schedule your lights to turn on at specific times, or in response to events from other devices like motion sensors. If you don’t use a hub, then your options will likely be much more limited.
What are smart dimmer switches?
Dimmer switches in a smart home are a lot like typical dimmer switches: A light switch with more features.
In addition to all of the features of a light switch a dimmer switch can also…
- Automatically set the light level very low late at night, so you don’t wake the baby or get blinded getting out of bed, and back to normal levels the rest of the day.
- Reduce the electricity flowing to your light bulbs to make your home more energy efficient
- Have some mood lighting
- Increase the lifespan of your lights
With a typical dimmer you just move a little slider or turn a knob until you get the light level you want. With a smart dimmer, you can actually specify the percentage of light you want.
What are smart light bulbs?
A smart light bulb is a light bulb, most likely LED, that communicates directly with your smart home system.
By having your light bulb communicating directly, it means you don’t need to install a smart light switch. This can be very helpful, or essential, if you cannot install the light switch because of money or lack of required wiring.
Unfortunately since smart light bulbs use standard light switches, you need to always leave the light switches on and providing power to the light bulb. If you don’t, then the light bulb won’t get any electricity and the electronics that communicate with your smart home system will turn off.