Have you fantasized about living in a futuristic world with flying cars and artificial intelligence? While we aren’t quite to the future depicted in Star Trek, you can certainly enjoy cutting edge technology from the comfort of your own home.
In today’s world, innovators use smart technology to enhance every aspect of life. Smart home devices in particular provide convenience and helpful features to enhance the experience of living in your home.
But a smart home offers more than just convenience.
Smart home devices play a role in home appraisals and can improve its sale value. Some industry experts suggest that smart homes sell faster, too, since younger generations–who appreciate smart tech–are now entering the housing market.
Key Point: In this guide, we provide everything you need to know about smart homes, smart devices, and how to upgrade your home to a smart home by either purchasing appliances or building your own the DIY way.
Smart Home Guide Quick Links
- Smart Home Hubs
- Benefits of Smart Homes
- Upgrade to a Smart Bathroom
- Upgrade to a Smart Bedroom
- Upgrade to a Smart Kitchen
- Smart Devices for Home Improvement
- Are Smart Homes Worth the Money?
What is a Smart Home?
First, let’s be clear about what we mean when we say “smart home.”
Because smart homes represent an emerging class of technology, there isn’t any universal definition. Suffice to say that a smart home is defined by the inclusion of appliances, fixtures, and other items that employ smart technology.
How many smart home devices does a home need to be considered a ‘smart home,’ you might ask?
Well, there isn’t a clear answer to this. The factors differ depending on the context of the question.
For instance, if you’re a techy then a smart home to you might mean linking up your favorite appliances to a smart home system. Connected devices can then be easily controlled by voice commands and customized from your smart phone.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to raise your home’s value by converting it to a smart home, you might focus more on the big upgrades such as:
- Smart thermostats
- Smart home security systems
- Smart security cameras
- Smart refrigerator
- Smart mirrors
- Smart toilets
- Smart TV
And if you want the smartest home possible, building a smart home might mean including all the smart devices you can find.
Bottom Line: Because smart homes are an emerging development the definition of smart homes is permeable. At the most basic level, a smart home is a house that utilizes smart systems to provide increased convenience and function.
What is a Smart Home Hub?
A smart home hub works as the central control for connected devices.
A smart home hub usually connects to multiple smart devices through your wi fi network.
While not all smart home hubs are created equal they all aim to provide a similar function. That is, they allow you to integrate things like google home, amazon alexa, and voice assistant to streamline the use of your favorite smart home devices.
So if you enjoy using google assistant and amazon alexa, then choose a smart home hub that’s compatibility.
Not all smart devices will be compatible with every smart home hub though. This means that you need to do your research when you want to start building a smart home.
That being said, some smart devices offer a built-in voice assistant. So while not all smart devices can connect to a smart home hub, they don’t all need to.
Bottom Line: Smart hubs work as the central mainframe for your smart home gadgets. This hub streamlines the use and control of connected devices conveniently on your phone.
What are the Benefits of a Smart Home?
The benefits of a smart home can be assigned to two categories, value and usability.
As mentioned in the introduction, a smart home will receive a higher appraisal than a house without smart appliances so long as the smart home offers increased value and usability.
What does this mean?
Well, a smart home with only a few affordable smart gadgets likely won’t retrieve a higher appraisal. This is an argument for targeting more impactful smart appliances if you’re goal is to sell your house in the future.
A smart home needs both value and usability to increase its worth.
Smart homes employ technology to improve just about every aspect of your home.
From turning off all the lights with a voice command to monitoring your home while you’re away with a smart security camera.
Smart locks allow your to control your door locks from your smart phone. Smart mirrors allow you to display all sorts of useful information to a smart display that doubles as a mirror.
Bottom Line: Smart home device manufacturers look to innovate and improve the functionalities of your home. Another big upside is that including smart tech in your home can increase the value of your home.
But let’s breakdown some other benefits to consider.
The Benefits of Smart Home Devices
While certain smart home devices focus on providing specific benefits, we can give you a general idea of the benefits of a fully functional smart home.
Better User Experience
An improved user experience is the hallmark of smart technology.
The best smart devices provide more ways for the users to customize the device with personalized settings. Voice control functionalities also make smart devices ideal for those with mobility issues or other impairments.
Some smart home devices like smart thermostats focus on optimizing function. In the case of a smart thermostat, this means the home will waste less energy heating or cooling when unnecessary.
Smart wood stoves optimize the burning of wood to create the perfect output of heat according to its settings. Smart plugs (for an outlet) monitor use and cut down on wasted electricity.
While these savings might be slight on their own, when combined they can be quite significant.
One major benefit of using smart home systems is that you can streamline your home security system for increased security.
A smart lock allows you to check whether a door is locked while you’re away. You can then lock it remotely if it’s not. A smart doorbell sends a notification to your mobile device when someone approaches the front door.
Smart doorbells are perfect for letting you know when your deliveries have arrived.
Smart security cameras provide all sorts of heightened security functions. They can employ remote room sensors to detect entry into your home and can even track movement when a person enters its frame.
You can even access the streaming security footage from your phone while you’re away.
Controlling home appliances with smartphone apps offers loads of convenience. In some cases you can automate tasks completely.
For instance, with a smart oven you can tell it to begin preheating in advance with your mobile device.
We take our phones with us everywhere. So being able to control smart devices with your mobile devices marries these two technologies seamlessly.
The other major benefit of using smart devices is that they often employ better safety protocols.
For instant smart smoke detectors employ remote sensors that detect heat, smoke, or other problems and can even notify emergency responders in case of emergency.
Other smart devices can detect if anything does wrong with the device itself and can turn themselves off accordingly. This is great for appliances with potential safety hazards like stoves and ovens.
Bottom Line: By optimizing your home with the best smart devices you can save money and improve safety and security all while improving convenience and user experience.
Now let’s talk about how to make your home smart room by room.
Smart Devices for Your Bathroom
One of the most cost-efficient ways to upgrade to a smart home is to upgrade room by room.
Especially when it comes to making a smart bathroom, costs can really add up if you don’t optimize your approach. You can minimize the cost of upgrading to a smart bathroom by planning out exactly what you want.
And, in terms of the smart devices available, upgrading to a smart bathroom will provide more benefits than upgrading any other room of your smart home.
Here are our favorite smart technologies to elevate your home’s bathroom:
What are smart mirrors? They’re the mirrors of the future.
The best smart mirrors provide many functions. Primarily, they provide two functions: they act as a typical bathroom mirror but they also use a smart screen to display useful information through two way glass.
You can choose to display the whether, your calendar, and with some smart mirrors you can even stream YouTube videos or Netflix.
If you’re on a budget you’ll be glad to know you can even build your own DIY smart mirror.
Smart Toilets and Bidets
What are smart toilets? They’re the new generation of toilet technology.
Smart toilets employ a variety of awesome features. Smart toilets use special sensors, remote control functions, and heated toilet seats to improve the user experience.
Many smart toilets come with bidets with customizable spray settings, warm air drying, and temperature controls for the water spray.
Smart toilets also employ smart flushing to minimize wasted water. And some of the best smart toilets on the market even offer a self-cleaning function (check out our guide to toilet cleaning hacks).
Check out our smart toilet buyer’s guide for a full list of features.
While they can be quite a bit more expensive than traditional toilets, smart toilets are worth the money in our opinion (and with our guide to installing toilets, you can install them yourself!)
Additionally, if you’re on a budget, you can even choose to purchase a smart toilet seat that converts a regular toilet into a smart toilet. Read more about the difference between smart toilets and smart toilets seats here.
Gone are the days of boring analogue scales that display your weight and noting else.
Smart scales measure all kinds of useful information that help you develop a deeper understand of your health.
Of course smart scales measure your weight, but they also employ smart sensors with bioelectrical technology to analyze things like your body composition. Specifically, the best smart scales can measure important physiological markers:
- Body Fat Percentage
- Muscle Mass (even skeletal muscle)
- Bones Mass
What is smart lighting?
While worthy of consideration for anywhere in your smart home, smart lighting is a popular choice for a smart bathroom.
You can find chromotherapy lights in your bathroom to set a relaxing mood to help you unwind while you go through your bathroom routine. Smart lights will link up to your google home app, amazon alexa, or other hub app to allow for voice commands.
Smart lights offer superior control and customization and can bet set to turn off when not in use.
Smart showers use a combination of smart water pressure and settings with things like LED lights and smart speakers.
Smart showers optimize water pressure so that you don’t waste as much water while you shower. They can also preheat so that the water feels perfect as soon as you step in.
Our favorite innovation is the inclusion of smart speakers. Smart speakers connect to your wi fi network and allow you to control music with voice control.
Isn’t it great to jam out to your favorite tunes while you shower?
Heated flooring is one of the most luxurious upgrades you can make for your smart bathroom.
While expensive and often requiring a contractor, heated floors have improved in recent years.
Specifically, smart sensors allow for optimized heating for superior temperature control. This cuts down on wasted energy and ensures your whole bathroom floor is heated evenly.
Installing a steam shower in your smart bathroom can really elevate it to the next level.
Steam showers use smart technology in the form of steam generators that provide an alternative to traditional showers.
While steam showers can be quite expensive, we’ve created a guide on how to build your own steam shower.
Smart Hair Dryers
While they won’t improve your home’s value, we want to mention quickly that smart technology has recently spurred innovations in hair dryer technology.
The best smart hair dryers on the market employ various sensors and features to protect your hair while providing excellent drying ability.
Honorable Mentions: We also love smart bathrooms that include smart faucets and soap dispensers, and smart toilet paper dispensers.
Making a Smart Bedroom
Upgrading to a smart bedroom will ensure your get a good night’s sleep in your smart home.
Here’s our favorite smart bedroom technologies:
What is a mattress cooler and what are its benefits?
Basically, a mattress cooler an air conditioner attached to your bed!
By pumping cool air either directly into the mattress or under the sheets, a mattress cooler ensures that you sleep cool throughout the night.
Mattress coolers provide a great alternative to cooling your bedroom exclusively with air conditioning. This can really cut down on utility costs, especially in summer months.
And you may be pleased to learn that with our guide, you can build a DIY mattress cooler for under $50.
High-end modern mattresses are great, but you might wish to experience the newest mattress technologies.
Have you ever wanted the features and controls of a hospital bed that offers the comfort of the best modern mattresses?
If so, then you may want to consider a smart mattress and/or smart bedframe.
So what is a smart mattress?
A smart mattress employs various features and smart technologies to improve the sleeping experience:
- Biometric sensors track sleep habits, patterns, and even your breathing
- Adjustable mattress positions (some offer independent controls for each side of the mattress!)
- Temperature control
- Air pockets automatically adjust to enhance support while you switch sleeping positions
- Integration with smart applications through wi fi
Smart beds and smart bedframes are typically sold separately.
A smart bedframe is a multifeatured innovation that allows you to control the position of your mattress. These are often paired with either a remote control or an application.
While you won’t need to pair air a high-end smart mattress with it, you will need to make sure your mattress allows for adjustable positions like so:
Making a Smart Kitchen
The benefits of upgrading to a smart kitchen will be alluring to many, as they consist of smart appliances that improve cooking, cleaning, and even cleaning and maintenance.
Upgrading to a smart kitchen is a great goal for busy families and cooking enthusiasts.
Here’s the most popular upgrades for a smart kitchen:
What is a smart refrigerator?
A smart fridge connects to the cloud and provides all sorts of useful information and functions.
Some of the best smart refrigerators use sensors to track the condition and amount of food–notifying you when certain items run low. Some refrigerators can even be programmed to order new items as they start to run low!
Many smart refrigerators come with smart displays where you can set calendars, make notes, watch recipe videos, and more.
These awesome smart appliances also track temperatures and conserve energy when possible.
What is a smart oven?
A smart oven employs various features to make your oven easier to use. For example, smart ovens allow you to do the following:
- Preheat on your way home
- Turn on or off remotely
- Operate with voice command through amazon Alexa or google assistant
- Send settings to the oven remotely from a chosen recipe
Honorable Mentions: Countertop smart ovens, smart smoke detectors, air fryers, smart microwaves, and sous vide cooking machines.
Smart Home Devices for General Home Improvement
While it’s a good idea to focus on upgrading to a smart home room by room, there’s also some great options that provide general home improvement.
Let’s take a look.
A smart thermostat connects to your HVAC system and provides helpful features that a traditional thermostat doesn’t.
Sure, a traditional thermostat can help you save money if used optimally. But according to researchers, 89% of people do not go through the trouble. That’s where smart thermostats come in.
A smart thermostat looks at a variety of factors such as weather conditions, user preferences, and air flow to determine optimal settings. By automatically adapting to conditions, a smart thermostat will save you money in the long run.
A smart thermostat connects to wi fi and allows for remote access. This is perfect for controlling your home’s heating, air conditioning, and ventilation while you’re away.
Smart plugs are outlet adapters that provide more functions and convenience.
A smart plug allows you to integrate voice control to any device plugged into it, so long as the smart plug is compatible with amazon alexa or google assistant.
You’ll only be able to turn it on or off with these commands, but this is a great hands-free convenience. This makes a smart plug great for the elderly and those who might have limited mobility.
Additionally, a smart plug allows you to program settings and schedules through your phone or virtual assistant.
Smart Water System
Smart water systems come in a few forms and each smart device provides a different benefit.
- A smart water heater optimizes water pressure and temperature controls to cut down on wasted energy.
- A smart water meter utilizes innovative technology to better monitor water usage throughout a household to cut down on waste.
- A smart water meter monitors a home’s water system and notifies the owner if any leaks are detected. This smart device is great for individuals with large homes with extensive plumbing.
Luxurious Options for Your Smart Home
While these items may not be typically considered smart devices, they will make tremendous additions to your smart home.
Massage chairs and saunas have both improved tremendously in recent years due to technological advances.
The best home saunas are surprisingly affordable compared to pricing ten years ago.
Today, you can pick up one up for just a few thousand dollars. If you’re investing in your smart home for function, leisure, and health benefits, then a home sauna should make your list of considerations.
We recommend installing a home sauna in your smart bathroom if you have the space and the budget.
Smart Massage Chairs
We also want to bring to your attention recent innovations in massage chair technology.
Previously many individuals preferred traditional massage due to the superior feel of human touch. Today though, new generations of massage chairs employ amazing technology for a massage experience that human hands can’t replicate.
This means the newest generations of massage chairs are worth the money, provided you buy a massage chair from the right place.
This makes purchasing one of the best massage chairs on the market a great option for your smart home’s living room or recreation room.
Is a Smart Home Worth the Investment?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here, we can point you towards one.
Whether a smart home will be worth the investment comes down to what you want in return.
If you’re only goal is to increase the appraisal value of your home, then you’ll want to invest in only the most popular and sought after smart devices.
If you’re goal is to improve the usability and function of your home, then focus on the upgrades you find most appealing. Being able to integrate amazon alexa or google assistant improves the usability of countless home devices and appliances.
If you’re on a budget, consider the DIY path. You might surprised how many smart devices you can build yourself for much cheaper than you could buy them. You can also check out our guide to affordable smart home devices for under $50.