Tips and Best Practices for Optimizing the Smart Home

Tips and Best Practices for Optimizing the Smart Home

A smart home allows homeowners to operate appliances, thermostats, lighting, and other equipment from anywhere using an internet connection and/or smartphone. Wireless or hardwired technology can be used to create intelligent houses. Homeowners benefit from innovative home technology in terms of convenience and cost savings. However, makers and consumers of innovative home technologies continue to be plagued by security concerns and flaws. Here are some of the tips and best practices for optimizing an intelligent home.

In the Beginning Choose A Master Platform

There are three major innovative home systems on the market, and at least one of them will likely be installed in our smart home: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple Home Kit. The intelligent home business currently centers on these three platforms, and nearly every significant intelligent home gadget that hits the market will support at least one, if not all, three. However, of course, these platforms are distinct. Alexa and Google Assistant are first and foremost voice assistants/smart speakers, but their ability to manage our intelligent gadgets has become a significant selling point for both. Home Kit, on the other hand, is more of a hub that simplifies setup and management. However, because Home Kit works with Siri, it may also be used as a voice assistant if we have an iPhone or an Apple Home Pod. All three systems will coexist amicably, but we do not need both Alexa and Google Assistant in our house, and maintaining both will become a hassle as our smart home expands. It is also perfectly acceptable to utilize Home Kit to set up goods and then operate them using Alexa or Google Assistant. We will want to utilize a Home Kit hub device (either an Apple TV or a Home Pod) if we have one since it dramatically simplifies the setup.

To Get Started We Should Not Need a Smart Home Hub

Two wireless technologies, Zigbee and Z-Wave, were predicted to represent the future of the smart home in the early days. These low-power radios include mesh networking capabilities that make it simple to blanket our entire house with smart devices without worrying about coverage gaps or congestion. The biggest issue with Zigbee and Z-Wave devices is that they require a specific hub that operates as a Wi-Fi bridge to interact with them using our smartphone, tablet, or computer. At the moment, Samsung SmartThings is the only good DIY product in this category; its only real competition was Wink, which is currently on its third owner and has a shaky future at best. Although the Ring Alarm system has both Z-Wave and Zigbee radios, it is primarily designed for home protection rather than home control.

The bottom line on this topic is that, unless we want to develop a complex smart home system, we recommend sticking with gadgets that connect directly to our network through Wi-Fi, eliminating the need for a central hub.

Range Concerns May Be Quite Problematic

The disadvantage of using Wi-Fi only equipment is that everything in the house will need to connect to our router directly. In addition, range difficulties might arise if our router is not centrally positioned and our home is dispersed, especially in locations where interference is high, such as the kitchen, bathrooms, and anything outside.

Interference may also be a vexing issue that evolves. For example, if our next-door neighbor improves or relocates his router, we may notice that a formerly stable signal has become inconsistent in one section of the home. We can fiddle with the Wi-Fi channel settings in our router's administrative console, but setting up a mesh network is a safer bet.

Don't Need Smart Gear in Every Situation

Many smart home enthusiasts dream of smart-wiring their complete home from top to bottom. At first glance, a smart switch in every room and an intelligent outlet on every wall may appear to be a high-tech dream, but it might swiftly turn into a nightmare. The primary difficulty is that, while smart technology may be beneficial, it also adds to the complexity of our environment since it all has to be managed appropriately. When determining where to deploy innovative technology, priorities necessity. The difficult-to-reach outlet where we always plug in our Christmas tree would be great for a smart outlet that can be set to turn on and off regularly.

Vendor Consolidation

It may seem obvious to recommend sticking with a single vendor for all our switches and light bulbs. Still, it is easy to get seduced by a product that promises additional features or improved performance. Do not fall for the bait: Bouncing from one vendor to the next over time will leave us maintaining many apps, and we will quickly lose track of which one is for which device. Because many smart outlets and switches lack a visible brand identification, figuring out where we should go isn't always as straightforward as glancing at the equipment. While most HomeKit-capable applications can operate other manufacturers' HomeKit gadgets, we will almost always need the official app to get things up and running in the first place, as well as for routine maintenance. The good news is that TechHive offers lots of shopping recommendations in practically every smart home category to help to figure out which companies to design our house around without having to experiment.

Give the Gear Simple, Sensible Names

Many innovative goods, by default, will assign themselves a name during setup that is made up of general phrases and random digits, none of which can help to recognize them afterwards. So when we initially set up our gear, please give it a brief yet reasonable and easy-to-remember name. Begin by naming all of the rooms in our house in the management software, even if none of them contains any hardware.

Wiring Should Be Done Perfectly

In-wall wiring may appear to be a regular, well-organized affair in manuals and online instructions. Still, experts can guarantee that many electricians have taken extreme liberties with the way switches and outlets are connected in the standard home. So expect to find many black line/load wires where we anticipated to find only two, weird in-wall hardware that does not appear to be the broken one, and wiring that makes no sense.

Expect Troubles to Pop Up Out Of Nowhere

Do we know how our computer begins failing every day, or our printer disappears from the network without warning? Smart home devices, which are, after all, tiny computers in their own right, are subject to the same kinds of problems. Even after months or years of mostly trouble-free operation, expect the rare product to disconnect from our network unexpectedly, vanish from the management app, or cease operating altogether for no apparent reason. In many circumstances, we will have to reset the device to reconnect it to the app manually. Sometimes the app will walk us through this, but if not, a quick Google search will get us back on track.

Keep an Eye on the Battery Life

Battery power is used by devices that are not directly linked to the grid. Numerous devices, such as door/window and motion sensors, smart locks, smart doorbells, many cameras, smoke alarms, and more, will require regular battery replacements or recharging. While many gadgets claim to last for months or even years, the reality is usually far shorter.

Dimmers May Be Very Troublesome

Electrical dimmers, such as the old-fashioned wall-mounted dial kind, function by reducing the amount of electrical current provided to the load device, dimming the brightness of incandescent light or slowing down a fan, for example. Unfortunately, dimmers are problematic for a wide range of gadgets. For instance, smart home gadgets are incredibly complicated when dimmers are used since they contain electronics and radios that will not operate if the electricity is not delivered at full intensity. As a result, connecting gadgets like smart light bulbs to circuits connected to a dimmer is a terrible idea. Similarly, replacing an outdated toggle switch with an intelligent dimmer will need to be extra cautious. Controls are sometimes connected with pass-through circuitry to transmit electricity to other devices as a convenience (such as a nearby power outlet). If we replace this switch with a dimmer, we risk accidentally connecting it to those outlets, triggering them to lose all or part of their power, making troubleshooting more difficult.

Last updated: 2021-December-17

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