Best home automation products
I have been building my home automation/smart home for a couple of years now and there are most definitely some products I would and would not suggest. So today I am going to showcase a few of the products that I feel I have got the most use out of. This could be how handy it is to use, how much of a difference it has made to my lifestyle and most importantly how easy it was to install. So lets take a look at what I think are the best home automation products.
The Amazon Echo Show
For me the start of any smart home should include a voice activated personal assistant of some kind and there are a huge selection of these devices available. You could get the small echo dot versions which are designed to be cheap enough to scatter around the home or the larger echo which is for a better sound experience.
The Echo device that I have chosen here was a stroke of genius and the reason I include it is that I feel I get more use out of this device than all the others. Amazon decided to expand the range of smart assistant devices they have by adding a screen. Sounds really simple but the added dimension of having this screen makes a massive difference.
For starters you can use it in all the usual ways you would use a smart speaker except it offers a more visual aspect to it which lets face it us humans do have an affinity for this. Your music can not only display the album art work but on the screen you can also have the lyrics displayed for that epic sing along.
Not only can you listen to your music you can watch your prime content, read books, listen to audible and the radio. It is a beast of a personal assistant but also a major entertainment hub.
You also have the ability to watch step by step cooking recipes and with the ability to set timers you will find cooking a breeze. This is where my echo show is in my home. I use it in the kitchen while feeding the baby or cooking and we both like to have a sing and a dance with the timers running in the back ground. It makes no sense to have a television in my kitchen in all honesty so the echo show works perfect. Having the Echo show has given me a little more help to streamline the cooking and entertaining me in the process.
It obviously controls your smart home too, you can switch lights on or off, dim them or set a schedule for them. You can raise or lower your heating with a voice command and the most impressive thing for me is camera control. Do you have a ring doorbell? Then when someone rings it you can see them directly on the screen and also talk back to them using the 2 way intercom. It isn’t limited to door bells either any smart camera you have in your home for example a camera in the baby’s nursery you can just request to view it and there it is on the screen.
Another bonus of having this device is it includes a Zigbee hub inside of it. This means that any smart device that uses the Zibee format can automatically be connected to the Alexa device. You won’t require an external hub so things like Phillips Hue will work straight out of the box.
The addition of a screen here was a great addition to the Alexa/Echo family and with it being so easy to set up I instantly fell in love with this device. It is versatile and flexible the only problem you will find is where is best to place this device to get the most out of it.
Philips Hue smart lights
You can’t have a smart home or any form of automation without the lighting in my opinion and Philips Hue have really led the charge in this area. They have a selection of smart light bulbs from the standard ceiling lights, to lamp lights, accent lights and light strips.
These lights have not only made smart lighting an incredible thing but also allows all you would be home decor designers and nice way to express your self. The light strips behind the television is now more popular than ever and I would be lying if I said I didn’t have them. There are also discreet up lighter lamps that can project whatever color you are in the mood for blue for calm or red for romance etc.
You can choose between the standard white bulbs that you can change the Hue of from a warm white to a cool one but the color bulbs are where I was most excited. The color selection is simply amazing and you can pick whatever you are in the mood for either by selecting it yourself or going for one of the presets available.
You can set schedules for when the lights come on and off which is also handy for when you wake up in the morning. Perhaps set the alarm in the morning and schedule the lights to come on at the same time which is very handy for someone who struggles to wake up in the morning like me!
Another amazing feature is the fact you don’t actually have to be home to turn the lights on and off. It will work over the internet via the app and you can make it look as if you are home. Which is a good thing for a bit of extra security to protect your valuables.
Finally the whole point in having a smart home is to be able to communicate with via voice alone and obviously smart lights have this. You can just say to turn off/on a certain light or when you get tucked in to bed just ask to turn off all the lights and off they go. This is perfect for someone like me who before having smart lights used to go round switching lights off that the teenager neglected to do.
Nest learning thermostat
This was a product that I delayed in purchasing because I thought it was quite expensive. Especially with installation I just thought it was something I wouldn’t use very often. However once I did get one I realized that I didn’t use it very much and it was actually a good thing. The benefit of having the nest learning thermostat is, well it learns. It knows your ideal temperature at particular times and will lower and increase it in the back ground without any need for human intervention.
You will never have to go to work worrying that the pipes will freeze (assuming you are in a cold country). You will never have to return to a cold home because with Geo fencing it will know when you are coming near and apparently you will save money in the process. In all honesty I am not sure whether I have saved money or not because I moved to a larger home and had it installed straight away so I am not sure about that one.
You can also do the usual things like turn it up or down manually with your actual hands. You can use your voice with your personal assistant device or control it with your phone/tablet. This device is a must have for any smart home but due to the price is a bit of a scary investment.
Nest smart cam
I believe I have saved the best for last here because this device has made a huge impact on my life. When my son was born premature at 29 weeks we went through a hell of a time. He was in hospital for eighty-two days and when we finally got him home I was a nervous wreck. I have had kids before but never felt like this so I decided to get a camera that I could see him at all times to ease my mind.
So I got the nest camera which first of all gives you an amazing picture whether it is night of day. You can hear whatever is going on in the room you are viewing and you are able to talk back, which is handy with a little one who has just woke up. With this device it also triggers when there is motion and it can notify you via email, your phone or believe it or not a smart watch.
It of course works with voice control and if you use it with one of the screen smart assistants you can view it on that device. You will be able to access up to 3 hours of triggered footage and you can do this also from many devices.
It can be used like I have with a baby but it can also add security around your home or keep an eye on your pet while you are away. This product has been amazing for me and I do believe every smart home enthusiast should have one.
Here is just a small sample of the amazing products available for home automation or a smart home. I believe all these products are worth the money either by how much you are going to use it, the amount of personal expression it gives or just pure convenience. Having a smart home is no longer the realm of the super rich and we can all have a home that helps us in the process of our busy lives. I hope you found this article helpful and if you wish to know more please don’t hesitate to get in the comments.