You’re interested in building a smart home.
And you’re currently on the hunt for the best tips to start this setup.
Luckily, I got you covered.
After years of being a smart homeowner…
I now know almost all the ins and outs of this setup.
Continue reading to find out:
- 67 practical tips to build your smart home.
- How you can make a money-saving smart home.
- 15 essential pointers to keep your smart home safe.
- And a lot more…
67 smart home tips
9 tips for the preparation phase
#1: Have a decent network
Here’s the first thing you need to do when building a smart home:
Ensure your network can support your smart devices.
After all, the more gadgets you have…
The heavier your router’s workload will be.
And the slower your WiFi signals become.
Pro tip: Your network speed should be at least 100 Mbps when you have a smart home.
#2: Know your house’s dead spots
These are the places in your house where the WiFi signals can barely reach.
And you bet it…
They’re the worst locations to place your smart devices in.
So, you should find your home’s dead spots.
And remember to avoid placing any smart gadgets on them.
Note: You can use a WiFi Analytics app (Android/iOS) to do this process.
#3: Map it out
Smart devices can take up quite a huge part of your living space.
Hence, it’s best to map out where to put specific gadgets before buying them.
This way, you won’t overcrowd your rooms.
And you’ll maintain your home’s aesthetics even with new devices.
#4: Use wall mounts
Let’s be honest…
You can only place so many gadgets on your shelves or tables.
So, consider getting wall mounts for some of your smart devices.
They’ll help make your home look less crowded.
#5: Decide on a budget
Smart devices aren’t exactly cheap.
So, it’s best to have a general idea of your budget before starting a smart home.
This way, you can easily decide how much you want to spend on each gadget.
#6: Start simple
Building a smart home is no race. So, start your setup simply.
First, buy the basic devices you have in your mind.
And expand your smart home as you see fit.
#7: Make your smart home family-friendly
If you’re living with someone who’s not too tech-savvy…
Try to use smart devices that are easy to operate.
Or, give your family/friends a little rundown on how to use your new gadgets.
After all, you don’t want to be the only person who can turn ON your smart lights.
#8: Expect regular maintenance
I don’t want to disappoint you…
But smart devices don’t always stay true to their “plug-and-forget” promises.
Many gadgets need battery replacements after a couple of weeks.
And dozens of devices frequently have network errors.
So, before you build a smart home…
Be prepared to do regular maintenance.
#9: Know the pros and cons of smart homes
Time-consuming maintenance isn’t the only downside of smart homes.
In fact, I can think of at least 6 reasons this setup isn’t a good idea.
So, do your thorough research before committing to building a smart home.
9 tips for picking smart devices
#1: Opt for hard-wired devices
Don’t want to constantly replace your gadgets’ batteries?
Then use hard-wired devices.
Or gadgets you have to directly plug into the outlet.
Because as long as your house’s electricity is fine…
You won’t have to worry about these devices’ power sources.
#2: Don’t forget about smart speakers
Smart speakers are the home and vessel of voice assistants like Alexa.
So, if you want to comfortably give voice commands and hear your AI…
Don’t forget to add these devices to your buying list.
Read next: Alexa vs Echo: The #1 Difference (Updated Guide)
#3: Make thermostats a priority
Thermostats are the smart devices with the fastest return on investment.
They curb your heating and cooling bills by a huge margin.
In fact, it’s estimated that a Nest thermostat can pay for itself in under 3 years.
Because most people save $131 to $145 yearly with this device.
#4: Try smart lights
Smart lights don’t just allow you to save energy.
They also boost your house’s mood.
After all, these devices can emit millions of colors.
And they also let you control the level of your bulb’s brightness.
#5: Automate your faucet
Smart faucets can dispense water with precise measurements.
Plus, you can control them with voice commands.
So, if you’re someone who loves getting this added convenience…
Don’t shy away from adding smart faucets to your sinks.
#6: Try smart sprinklers
Got a lawn to take care of?
Try smart sprinklers.
These devices water your grass regularly based on the schedule you set.
But they’ll skip doing so once there’s heavy rain approaching.
So, you’ll save both time and money while keeping your lawn healthy.
#7: Upgrade your refrigerator
Regular fridges keep your food fresh.
But smart refrigerators have so much more to offer.
These devices can:
- Reorder groceries for you
- Monitor what type of food you have.
- Keep track of your goods’ expiry date.
So, I really can’t recommend it enough for kitchen lovers like me.
#8: Protect your house with smart devices
If there’s 1 category regular houses can’t beat smart homes in…
That would be safety and security.
So, don’t forget to add those smart locks and cameras to your smart home setup.
#9: Customize your smart home based on your needs
Don’t let media pressure get to you.
There’s no need to buy every smart device you see in advertisements.
So, just customize your smart home based on your needs and wants.
You don’t have to buy a smart curtain if you don’t really need one.
You might also want to know: 17 Easy Ways To Make Your Home Smart (How-To)
10 tips for comfortable living
#1: Be comfy with voice commands
Talking to your gadgets may be hard to get used to at first.
But trust me, after several days of practice…
The touchless setup will make your day-to-day life much easier.
So, talk to your voice assistants when you finally set up your smart home.
#2: Enable geofencing
Think of geofencing as an invisible barrier around your house.
Once crossed, your smart devices will know you’re home.
So, they’ll prepare and adjust their settings accordingly.
This way, you’ll be as comfortable as you can in your house.
#3: Use smart switches with your smart lights
With smart lights, you need to avoid using the physical switch.
Because if you turn them OFF this way…
You won’t be able to control them remotely again.
Unless you turn your lights back ON using the switch.
So, if you want to avoid accidentally stopping your lights’ smart features…
Add smart switches to your smart home.
Because they won’t limit your freedom to use a physical button to control your bulbs.
#4: Add sensors
Sensors operate your devices based on the movement detected.
They help save you time and energy from physically turning your appliances ON/OFF.
And, of course, sensors also help you save money.
Because they’ll turn OFF your device if there’s no movement detected.
#5: Save time with IFTTT
If This Then That.
That’s what IFTTT stands for.
And honestly, it’s 1 of the best software you can use for your smart home.
IFTTT connects your devices together.
So if 1 gadget activates, others will also follow. According to how you set them up.
#6: Set up Automation
Automation is usually a built-in feature smart home systems have.
It activates your smart devices together when you do a trigger. Which could be:
- An action.
- A voice command.
- The time of the day.
And since you don’t have to operate each of your gadgets individually…
You’ll save tons of time and energy.
#7: Give devices identifiable names
If your camera’s in the living room…
Call it the “Living Room Camera.”
And don’t give it a generic or standard name like “Camera 1.”
Because if you give devices identifiable names…
It’ll be much easier to recall your gadgets when you control them through voice commands.
#8: Don’t limit your smart devices indoors
Your comfortable smart home life can also extend outdoors.
Because there are hundreds of weather-resistant smart devices.
So, feel free to grab yourself some outdoor smart plugs, lights, and cameras.
#9: Make robots clean for you
Vacuuming and mopping are some of the most important household chores.
But let’s be honest…
Most of us don’t enjoy any of these activities.
So, why not grab a robot vacuum and a smart mop so they can clean for you?
#10: Buy high-quality batteries
If you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars buying battery replacements…
Buy high-quality ones. Or those from well-known brands like:
Avoid getting cheap and unpopular battery cells.
Because they won’t really save you money in the long run.
10 tips to save money and electricity
#1: Smart plugs are the key
Plug any regular device into a smart plug.
And you’ll be able to:
- Control the gadget remotely.
- Monitor how much electricity your device is using.
- Schedule when you want your appliance to turn ON/OFF.
See, a smart plug can turn your regular appliances smart.
So, use them as a cheap way to upgrade your old gadgets.
#2: Wait for big sale events
If you’re not in a rush to transition to a smart home…
Wait for big sale events like Black Friday or Boxing day.
Because on these occasions…
The prices of smart devices can go down by as much as 50%.
#3: Buy older versions of devices
Yes, it’s tempting to buy the newest released versions of gadgets.
But really, older models aren’t always that bad.
For example, Amazon’s Echo Dot releases new generations regularly.
Yet the 3rd one’s still my top recommendation for anyone who wants a smart speaker.
Because it’s still high-quality despite its lower price.
Warning: Smart devices that are too outdated are prone to more security risks.
#4: Maximize off-peak hours to get discounted rates
You can schedule smart devices to turn ON during specified times.
So, research if your utility provider offers discounted rates during off-peak hours.
And turn ON/charge your gadgets during those times of the day.
With this tip, you’ll drastically lower your electricity bills.
#5: Schedule smart plugs to turn OFF at night
Devices have a phantom load.
Meaning, as long as they’re connected to power…
Your gadgets will always consume electricity.
So, schedule your smart plugs to cut OFF your appliances’ access to power at night.
You’ll lower your total electricity consumption this way.
#6: Buy leak detectors
Almost 10% of households in the US experience water leakage without them knowing.
Hence, they end up paying for water they don’t even use.
Wanna avoid this?
Buy smart leak detectors you can place behind sinks or the toilet.
They’ll notify your phone if there are any signs of water leakage.
#7: Cheap doesn’t always equal garbage
If you’re on a budget…
Don’t be afraid of trying out cheaper smart devices.
Because I’ve tried several gadgets that cost less than $50 but had high-quality.
Just ensure you do your own research before buying from less-known brands.
#8: Track your energy consumption
The best way to save energy is to know how much you consume.
And noting which of your devices uses the most electricity.
So, purchase an energy monitor for your household.
Then, track where and how to make lifestyle changes to reduce electricity usage.
#9: Use your gadgets’ power-saving mode
Most smart devices have a power-saving mode.
Which is a feature that lets your device save energy by reducing its performance.
Activating power saving mode is very helpful in cutting down your electricity bills.
So, buy devices with this feature. And enable it as much as possible.
#10: Check rebates
Many utility companies have programs that give rebates when you use smart thermostats.
These can range anywhere from $25 to over $100.
So, check if your utility provider offers these programs as well.
15 tips to keep your smart home safe
#1: Strengthen your router’s password
Think of your network as the storage room holding all your smart devices’ information.
And your router’s password is the only lock protecting this space.
Now, lots of hackers are always trying to break into WiFi networks.
So, protect yours with a strong password containing symbols and numbers.
#2: Don’t reuse passwords
If you use the same password for all your accounts…
It’ll be a walk in the park for hackers to control your entire home after just 1 break-in attempt.
So, use unique passwords. And only use the same one for a maximum of 2 accounts.
#3: Use multiple WiFi networks
Most routers allow you to create several networks.
For example, you can separate your main WiFi from your guests.
Does your router let you do this?
Then divide your devices over different WiFi networks.
This way, even if 1 of them gets hacked…
You won’t compromise all of your smart devices.
#4: Always update your gadgets
Developer updates equip your devices with the latest:
- Fixes against current bugs/glitches.
- Patches that prevent hackers’ access.
- Improvements to make your gadgets run faster.
So, always keep your smart home up to date.
#5: Choose cameras that don’t rely on your WiFi
Unfortunately, you can’t always avoid Internet-related problems.
So, you should get smart cameras with local, not just online, storage.
This way, even if your WiFi goes down…
You can still record your surroundings and protect your safety.
#6: Use smart locks
These devices allow you to:
- Lock your door remotely.
- Use multiple unlocking mechanisms.
- Check when someone opened your door (and who did).
So, use smart locks to protect your house’s entrance better.
#7: Regularly check if your alarms work
You have the choice to disable your security alarms.
And unfortunately, hackers can do so too.
So, it’s best to regularly check if your alarms work.
After all, you don’t want to be off guard during emergencies.
#8: Be wary of used smart devices
You never know what viruses or bugs 2nd hand gadgets contain.
So, be extra careful when buying them.
Or, best, avoid purchasing used smart devices at all.
#9: Utilize the 2-Factor Authentication
This feature requires you to verify every new log-in attempt using your:
- Phone number.
- Other smart devices.
So, it’ll make it extra hard for hackers to access your accounts.
Watch this video to learn more about 2-Factor Authentication:
#10: Keep your phone safe
Most people make their phones the ultimate keycard for their smart home.
Meaning, they use it to unlock the front door and control all their smart devices.
If you’re the same…
You need to keep your mobile device extra safe.
Because you’ll be exposing your entire home to danger if you lose your phone.
#11: Factory reset devices before letting them go
This process deletes all your information from your gadget.
Hence, it prevents strangers from gaining unwanted access to your data.
So, don’t forget to do a factory reset before you before disposing or storing them away.
#12: Be careful of the links you click
Inside a smart home…
Most of your information is stored inside the cloud. An online storage that hackers can easily access with the right tools.
So, be extra careful of your online footprint.
Specifically, be aware of what you click on the Internet.
Don’t fall for phishing emails and texts with links or cellphone numbers attached.
#13: Use smart smoke detectors
Regular smoke detectors usually warn you of danger when damage is already done.
But smart models?
They inform you of possible smoke/fire-related hazards before they even happen.
#14: Upgrade to safer kitchen appliances
Many smart stoves and ovens contain motion detectors.
They’ll automatically turn OFF if you don’t return to the kitchen after 30 minutes.
So, smart kitchen appliances are better at protecting your home from fire accidents.
#15: Avoid keeping your phone in silent mode
Smart devices send alerts during emergencies or when something unusual happens at home.
But you won’t be able to notice these notifications if you’re phone’s always silent.
So, whenever possible…
Avoid using your mobile device’s silent mode.
Further reading: 9 Vital Tips To Secure Smart Homes Devices (How-To)
5 tips to protect your privacy from smart home companies
#1: Read before agreeing
It’s tempting to get pop-up notifications out and over with.
But don’t agree to anything before thoroughly reading.
After all, most companies will ask if they can study the data they’re collecting from you.
And that can include your stored media files, including your voice recordings.
#2: Research possible risks before buying
Not every smart device is secured.
Unfortunately, some have even been reported for hacking accidents dozens of times.
So, always research gadgets before buying them.
#3: Don’t fall for big promises
Every smart home brand promises that your data is safe.
But don’t immediately fall for their words..
Most companies will use your data for their research purposes.
So, don’t let your guard down and thoroughly inspect the settings and features you enable.
Even if your devices are from reputable companies.
#4: Deactivate unused features
Think of it this way:
Companies can access every device feature you turn ON.
So, it’s best to disable any function you’re not using.
May that be the camera, mic, or motion sensors.
#5: Consider using IoT without the Internet
Smart home brands get access to your data through the cloud.
So, if you don’t use the Internet…
They won’t have access to your information either.
That said, consider setting up your IoT devices without the Internet.
5 tips to make smart home entertaining
#1: Use a multi-room audio system
Do you know what’s better than blasting your favorite tunes across the room?
Making your music audible all throughout your house.
Luckily, it’s very easy to link several smart speakers together.
So, try setting up a multi-room audio system in your smart home.
#2: Include a Smart TV or streaming devices
Entertainment rooms without Smart TVs are like…
A billiard table without the white ball.
It just wouldn’t work.
So, buy a Smart TV, or if you’re on a budget…
Use streaming devices to turn any regular TV smart. These ones are my favorite:
- Apple TV.
- Roku stick.
- Fire TV stick.
#3: Grab a gaming console
If you’re into online games…
Adding a gaming console to your smart home setup is a must.
Not only will you be able to play as many games as you want…
You can also control your gaming console with voice assistants.
So, you’ll have a fun and comfortable entertainment setup.
#4: Try LED strip lights
LED strip lights can make any space pop out.
But they’re exceptionally a perfect addition to smart entertainment rooms.
See, you can place LED strips:
- Behind the TV.
- Across the ceiling.
- Inside your cabinets.
So, your entertainment room will more or less look like an arcade.
#5: Experiment with Alexa skills
Alexa has tons of entertainment-related skills.
You can ask her to:
- Play BINGO.
- Crack a joke.
- Enjoy jeopardy.
And the list goes ON.
So, don’t underestimate your little voice assistant’s entertaining ability.
4 tips to avoid stress while building your smart home
#1: Buy devices you can manage
Some smart devices aren’t that easy to use.
So before you go and buy new gadgets…
Ensure you know or can learn how to manage them by reading or watching reviews.
#2: Join communities
Transitioning to a smart home isn’t always easy.
But joining local or online communities will help make this process more enjoyable.
After all, you can share your smart home journey with other people.
And you can see how others started their setup as well.
Who knows? You may also find your favorite smart home trends.
#3: Ask questions when needed
Not everything about smart homes is easy to understand.
You may experience various issues related to connectivity or security.
And there’ll be times when a smart device is simply too confusing to use.
When any of these happen…
Don’t be afraid to ask questions in smart home communities or official brands’ helplines.
#4: Remember there’s no “wrong way” of starting a smart home
You can randomly buy any smart device in the world.
And you’ll still have a home you can refer to as smart.
So, to remind you again…
Feel free to customize your space however you see fit.