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Putting Your Smart Home Together
With the many conveniences of a fully- functioning smart home — from voice-controlled air conditioning, to app-controlled garage doors, the benefits of smart home life aren’t hard to see. But just how far should you go?
Smart home devices are designed to add convenience and enhance the security of your home. But a fully-wired smart home with an overabundance of devices can be overwhelming. Think you get frustrated when you can’t find your TV remote or its batteries are low? Imagine how you’ll feel when your phone is dead, you can’t turn off your fan and you’ve forgotten how to turn on the air conditioner without asking Siri or Alexa.
A smart home can make your life easier — and with proper preparation, you can ensure that it will.
Assess Your Smart Home Needs
Strut into the smart home section of an electronic store with your credit card in hand and you could be at risk to both overwhelm yourself and overspend your limits. Sure, a three-pack of smart lightbulbs might be a good investment, but do you really need three smart toasters and a smart toilet paper holder?
Sit down with your family and figure out which items will actually come in handy. Are you looking for more security in your home? Are you often wondering if you forgot to close the garage door? Identify areas in your daily life that you find cumbersome and see if there’s a smart device that can help!
Set Your Budget
We understand how exciting it is to make a home your own, and how the latest tech can fuel your smart-home dreams. But like any big purchase, consider setting a budget. The best part? Smart-homing on a budget doesn’t mean you’re settling for lower quality!
Smart home items are meant to be conveniences, not absolute necessities. It’s better to build up your home with smart devices over time as you identify more opportunities for easier living — embrace your journey to a smarter home.
Centralize Your Smart Home
There are many smart home accessories, from countless companies, on the market today. It’d be easy for you to grab 10 new accessories and think you’re ready for the easy life. But in reality, these items may need different installations, are controlled by different apps, or are powered by different power sources.
Giving your smart home a centralized hub, such as an Amazon Echo Dot or a Google Home, allows you to find compatible accessories that can be controlled from that hub, enhancing your smart home experience.
Some hubs will allow you to control all of your apps through voice control, while others can aggregate all your devices’ functionalities into one app.
Make sure you do your research, since some hubs might not support all technologies. For example, some smart home devices connect directly via Wi-Fi, while others may need a gateway or a bridge — a piece of hardware that allows the device to communicate with a wireless network. Look for a hub that supports the gateways your devices use to avoid purchasing additional adapters.
Systems vs. Individual Smart Home Gadgets
To make things as easy as possible, consider purchasing a complete system instead of individual gadgets and a separate hub. Smart security systems such as the ADT smart home security service are highly customizable with features such as water leak detection, motion sensors, security cameras, smart locks and more.
It could be more of a hassle to buy, set up and operate all of these items individually, but by aggregating them into one easy-to-use system, you can have full visibility into the safety and security of your home.
Prepping Your Smart Home
Prior to installing all of your devices, you’ll want to make sure that you have the network capabilities to support their activity. As Wi-Fi networks get more crowded, the more potential there is for them to lose connection. Check with your internet provider to see if your network will be able to support your smart home devices.
In addition to having optimal connectivity, you’ll want to make sure your network is secure. Whether you’re using smart home devices to turn off your lights via your phone, or controlling your home’s locks via your tablet, make sure you can keep digital intruders out with proper protection. Consider taking these steps to keep your smart home secure:
Be stingy with your Wi-Fi password. Unless someone has a legitimate need to use your home internet connection, refrain from handing out your Wi-Fi password. Remember, any device connected to your router can be used to gain access to your network — and potentially your smart home devices.
Create a complicated Wi-Fi password. Use uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols to create a complex password that no one would be able to guess.
Firewall your network. Firewalls protect networks from unauthorized users. Refer to your router’s instruction manual for information on setting a firewall within your network.
Remove guest access on your router. Your router’s factory settings may allow users to access a guest network by default. Refer to the instruction manual for information on disabling it.
Keep your router updated. Refer to your router’s manual on checking for important updates.
Installing Your Gadgets
When installing your smart home devices, follow the instructions closely and carefully. Refer to our guide to setting up your smart home for more advice on getting your gadgets up and running.
If frustration sets in and you can’t seem to get your new gear to work, don’t fret! American Family Insurance has partnered with HelloTech to make your smart home installation process stress-free.
Testing Out Your App(s)
Congratulations! Now that you’ve got your smart home installed, you’re all set for a life of security and ease. Download the app to control your hub, and/or any additional apps you’ll use to control your devices.
Practice using each app and device, and be ready to show off your smart home to visitors. And don’t forget to contact your American Family Insurance agent to discuss any changes you might want to make due to your newfound home security.
This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources.