What Does a Smart Home Look Like in 2020?

Customer Service/ November 9, 2020/ Technology

When you think of smart homes, you may picture the 1999 Disney film Smart House. Today’s smart homes are nothing like that…well they don’t have a mind of their own, that’s for sure! Let’s talk about the current technological components to today’s smart homes.  

First, let’s touch base with our minorly nerdy side and talk about how smart home devices communicate. Believe it or not, this conversation can help steer you in the right direction when you are searching for products to use in your own smart home. There are a few ways that smart home products communicate, Bluetooth, Zigbee and Z-Wave being the most used. There are pros and cons to each way of communication, but what you need to know is that Z-Wave and Zigbee are currently leading the smart home industry in device communication. 

After choosing which communication style you would like to go with, you need to start looking at a hub. A hub is a communication network that will bridge the gap between your devices and commands. A hub simply allows you to communicate with your devices. To have a smart home, you have to have a hub, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! IOn Technologies can help you choose a hub that will meet your needs! 

After selecting a hub, you can start looking at devices that you would like to incorporate into your home. Just make sure that your devices and hub all communicate the same way, so they can interact with each other.  

Light Switches 

If you want to turn your lights on, off or dim them remotely, you need to look for light switches, or dimmers. Switches are recommended over bulbs for a more permanent solution to smart home technology. Switches will work with any light fixtures or bulbs, and are simple to replace in a house. Dimmers will only work correctly with dimmable light bulbs. A licensed electrician will likely have to pull local permits before preforming any work and have their work inspected after installation. IOn Technologies can take care of all installation and programming for you.  

Electrical Outlets 

Electrical outlets come in handy for products that aren’t smart yet, like your coffee maker, lamp or stove. Once installed, you can remotely turn on or off power to this outlet from anywhere. No more worrying if you left the stove on. Just don’t forget to turn the outlet back on afterwards, or you might be a little confused the next time you try to use the oven. One thing to note- this could get annoying if you have a clock on your oven as it is essentially losing power each time the outlet is turned off. Losing power to the outlet to turn off the stove can give you peace of mind that your house won’t burn down, but may not be the ideal way to control your appliances. This is often used as a last-ditch effort. The only other option is to completely replace all of your existing appliances with smart appliances that offer remote access as they come onto the market. At this time, these products are mostly Samsung products. The products on the market today are quite expensive. Check your local appliance suppliers to see what smart products they offer, as new products are added frequently. 

Plug-in Electrical Outlets 

You can get these for even cheaper and they are easier to install than electrical outlets. They are bulky and quite unattractive, but get the job done if you don’t want to add a permanent structure to your house, or live in an apartment. Plug in devices also don’t require a licensed electrician to install and are often less expensive than hardwired devices.  

Motion Detectors  

Motion detectors are AMAZING! I hate having to turn on my light in the hallway or closet. Plus, I only use these spaces for a few minutes at a time. This is where motion detectors come in. They can sense motion and will turn on your light for you. Programming will take this a step further and allow a shut off timer after a certain amount of time. Proper placement will stop your pets from triggering the motion sensors.  

Blind Controllers 

Do you find yourself opening and closing the same set of blinds day in and day out? We can stop that with blind controllers. They are solar powered and come with a battery back-up so that they always work. It fits with existing blinds, so you don’t have to replace yours, but you will need one per blind. This is seriously my FAVORITE thing in my smart home. Unfortunately, it is one of the most expensive devices too! 

Thermostats 

Programmable thermostats are pretty popular now. There are tons of brands on the market from Echobee, to Nest, the learning thermostat. Each thermostat comes with different features. It is really up to you so decide what your needs are and find a thermostat that will make you happy. It is definitely a must have for a smart home though! 

Garage Door Opener 

This allows you to open your garage door from anywhere using your smart phone. There are different brands on the market that offer different solutions, like automatic garage door entry when pulling in the driveway. Take a look at what the market currently offers to find a solution that works for you. 

Door Lock 

Forget to hide a spare key? No worries, just use your smart phone to unlock your front door for your friend or neighbor while you are out of town. Or provide them with a code for convenience. Afraid you forgot to lock the door? Just use your smart phone to lock it. We can also create programs to lock your door nightly for peace of mind.  

Leak Sensor 

These are easy to install, but are battery operated and will need checked yearly. We recommend them for anywhere that might leak like the bathroom, kitchen, laundry sink, washing machine, or hot water heater. This could potentially save you a huge amount of money, as leaks can be messy and expensive. You can get the alerts on your smart phone in real time. There are no monitoring fees with any of our services, as we design our smart systems so that you can monitor them from anywhere, as well as receive push, email or text alerts if a leak is detected. 

Digital Voice Assistant 

“Computer, turn on the living room lights.” If you want to be able to use voice commands when you need something, you will need a digital voice assistant. The top products on the market for 2020 are Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home.  They come with several different options to fit every budget. 

Other Considerations 

Once you have picked out your smart home products, you have to get them installed. Check your local laws and regulations to see if the company you have chosen to install these products is properly licensed. Also, check to see if their insurance is up to date prior to signing any contracts.  

Programming 

This is the most important part to a smart home, and where most people are at a loss. Once you have installed your products, they need programming to work automatically, otherwise you have an expensive remote access system. You have to name all of your devices and set up scenes to group devices together. IOn can do this and also create programs that run on sunrise and sunset data, or are timed. The possibilities are endless. Programming is the extra step that takes a connected house and turns it into a smart home. 

There is a large market of smart home products and it can allow you to feel lost. That is where we come in. Let us help turn your house into the smart home of your dreams today! Give IOn Technologies a call at (904) 894-1562 to find out how we can help you.  

P.S. Are you thinking about adding a product to your smart home that is not listed? Give us a call to see how we can help you incorporate it into your system today!