While we may not have the robot maids predicted on The Jetsons, smart home technology has quickly transformed into a household staple for many families. From turning lights on and off with your voice to identifying small leaks before disaster strikes, there are endless ways that smart products can make your life easier. Check out our guide on how to make a smart home work for you.
Looking for info on a specific type of smart technology for your home? Use these links to skip ahead to the section you’re looking for:
What is Smart Home Technology?
Smart home technology is any innovation in your home that makes day-to-day tasks easier through communication or automation. From turning on your lights automatically to warning you about plumbing leaks or security risks, making your home smarter can save you time, hassle, and money.
Smart Home Features to Look For
A big part of learning how to make a smart home function well is finding the products that make your life easier, not harder. Here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you get the most for your investment.
Voice Assistant Integration
If you already use a voice assistant like Siri, Alexa, or Google on your phone and around the house, you should look for smart home products that are compatible with your assistant of choice. While many major brands integrate with several voice assistants, some may be a hassle to get up and running with the assistant you already use.
Wi-Fi vs. Bluetooth
Most smart home technology runs on one of two network types: WiFi or Bluetooth. When purchasing new smart home products, it’s important to understand which network it’s compatible with and what to expect when it comes to performance.
Here’s a quick comparison of WiFi and Bluetooth when it comes to smart home tech:
|Range/Effective Distance||Can cover your whole home with a good router||30 feet|
Essentially, WiFi-powered smart home tech is best, but Bluetooth can be an affordable option that runs through your smartphone in isolated spaces like a home office or movie room.
Finally, it’s no shock that brand name matters when learning how to make a smart home function seamlessly. While the big brands may cost more than “dupes” available on Amazon, they’re typically more highly rated, more reliable, and offer more support when things go wrong.
You may also want to consider the product and the level of security you expect. For example, an off-brand smart toaster might be fine, but when it comes to smart home security systems, the extra money is worth it to know your data is being managed safely.
Every smart home brand you use is also another app you’ll likely need to download on your phone, so you’ll also want to condense the number of brands you use. Opt for brand names that offer a broad suite of smart home features so you can manage everything easily.
Smart Kitchen Features
There’s no question that the kitchen can be the most hectic room of the house. Finding little ways to simplify and automate your daily to-dos can add up and make a big difference in your routine.
Smart Kitchen Appliances
Smart kitchen appliances are often a big investment, but they can reduce stress in the kitchen and provide added resale value to your home.
Imagine a refrigerator that could:
- Show you what’s inside without opening the door
- Help you create shopping lists and plan meals
- Offer a gathering space for your family to leave notes for one another
- Allow you to watch TV and listen to music
All of this (and more) is now possible with smart fridges on the market today. If you are part of a busy family looking to streamline weekly grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking prep, a smart refrigerator might be just what you need.
Smart stoves and ovens can also help make cooking simple and convenient. Some smart cooking features include:
- Notifications and/or auto shut-off if your smartphone leaves your neighborhood
- Remote preheating and temperature control
- Presets and built-in cooking instructions
- Voice activation for hands-free timers and cooking
While a smart oven isn’t for everyone, it can make a big difference for foodies and diehard bakers alike. The convenience of pre-heating on the go is especially helpful for busy families rushing to get dinner on the table. And, these smart appliances provide an extra layer of safety from kitchen fires.
In addition to larger investments like a smart fridge or stove, there are also dozens of smart small appliances from kettles to coffee makers. A few of our favorites include:
- Kettles you can boil remotely (giving you more time to sleep in!)
- Coffee makers that can make a variety of custom drinks at the push of a button
- Pressure cookers you can turn on and control remotely during the workday
- Toasters that give you the perfect crunch every time
- Kitchen scales that sync with recipe apps to help you advance your cooking skills
When learning how to make a smart home, these small investments can make a big difference in your daily routine and make mealtime hassle-free.
Smart Kitchen Faucets
While they’re a bit newer to the smart home market, smart faucets have become a must-have for the kitchen. Some offer hands-free control with motion sensors or voice activation, while others can actually pour the exact volume and temperature of water you ask for!
Our favorite use? Filling baby bottles at just the right temperature every time with no measuring or stress.
Smart Bathroom Technology
While kitchens have led the smart home revolution, bathroom tech is quickly catching up. Check out a few of our favorite smart products for the bathroom.
Smart leak detectors can be placed either at your main water line or directly in your bathroom under the sink. When the sensor gets wet, it sends a signal to your smartphone that there is a potential leak in the system. Even better, some detectors have a smart shut-off feature that allows you to turn your water off remotely, preventing flooding and damage while you’re away.
Our Pick: Flo by Moen
Enjoy a day at the spa in the comfort of your own home with a luxurious smart shower. These nifty devices can control every aspect of your shower, including:
- Water pressure
- Waterflow pattern
Some even allow each member of the family to save their own shower profile, so that each time you turn on the shower, the temperature and pressure are perfect.
Other Smart Home Essentials
Smart home technology isn’t just for the kitchen and bathroom. Check out these ideas on how to make a smart home in every room.
Smart Home Lighting
Lighting is an easy way to dip your toes into smart home technology without a major investment. Smart bulbs, switches, and fixtures can offer voice automation as well as features for security and fun.
Smart outdoor lighting systems can integrate with cameras, doorbells, and more to start recording or alert your phone when motion is detected on your porch or property. Indoors, you can use colored smart lighting to set the mood, whether you’re entertaining or having a movie night with the kids.
If colored lights aren’t your thing, smart light bulbs also offer a spectrum of white lighting options from warm to cool for the perfect lighting for doing your makeup, reading, or creating a cozy evening atmosphere. And, motion- and voice-activated lighting can easily light the way for a midnight snack or bathroom trip.
If you’re not ready to invest in a full-on smart lighting system, you can always opt to add smart plugs and switches to easily turn on lamps alongside your hardwired lighting.
Smart Home Security
Smart home security is one of the most popular smart investments homeowners make. It can give you peace of mind while home or away and deter potential incidents from happening in the first place.
Many systems are all-in-one these days, featuring a doorbell with a camera and perimeter monitoring at other entry points in your home. Everything can be monitored and managed from your smartphone for easy access anywhere.
If you’re not ready for a full smart home security system, you can start with a simple smart lock. Lock and unlock your door remotely from your phone (or with your voice). And, get notifications so you can see when the kids get home from school and more.
Smart HVAC & Thermostat
Another popular smart home upgrade is the smart thermostat. These devices learn your heating and cooling habits over time to save you money on electricity and keep your home comfortable for your entire family.
Does Smart Home Technology Improve the Value of Your Home?
In a survey of Coldwell Banker realtors, 64% said that potential buyers are more interested in smart home features than they were two to five years ago. While you might assume that millennials are the most interested demographic, Gen Xers (roughly age 35-49) actually lead the way with 57% interested in buying a home with smart technology.
When learning how to make a smart home, return on investment is a factor for many homeowners. And it’s clear that smart technology can be a selling point when it comes to listing your home. But at the end of the day, choose smart home devices that add value for you!
Creating a smart home is all about choosing features and functions that will simplify, automate, and speed up the daily tasks you dread. Whether you’re dreaming of a spa-like shower every morning or would love to save time at dinner by preheating your oven during your commute home, you can’t go wrong by following your heart.