Smart Home Technology

Basic Smart Home EquipmentIf you’ve been paying attention to the world of smart homes and home automation, then you have most likely heard about Smart Plugs, Smart Switches and Smart Lights. But if you are like many homeowners today, you may still be scratching your head trying to figure out how these devices fit into your home using these voice-enabled devices.

Introducing Smart Home Technology with Smart Plugs, Smart Switches and Smart Lights:

What Exactly Do You Use These Devices For?

These devices are small players in the greater plan of home automation and Smart Home Technology. Smart automated lighting can deter burglars and will make it look like someone is moving around inside. For people who come home after dark, and for those that leave home overnight, a Smart Home using automation will give the appearance that you are there.

Another great way Smart Plugs, Smart Switches and Smart Lights can help is allowing people with disabilities to live more independently. Smart homes can be adapted for each person and their particular disability.

Smart Plugs, Smart Switches and Smart Lights can literally change the lives of people from every walk of life and ability level.

Here’s the Scoop on Smart Plugs, Smart Switches and Smart Lights

Having voice-responsive or WiFi-connected plugs, switches, and lights may seem like they all perform the same function, but when you walk around your home, be it “smart” or “dumb,” pay attention to what sort of items you have plugged in versus what’s on a switch and you will be able to see the subtle differences. So, let’s talk about the pros and cons:

Smart Plugs. Smart plugs are the most flexible of the three. You can plug in just about anything, such as a lamp, a crock pot, a radio. When the plug is switched on, the activated device will power up. (You of course will need to keep the device in its “on” position.)

Since smart plugs generally use a regular outlet, they are easy for anyone to install. You don’t need to rewire anything or make a mess adding new wiring. This is definitely an A+ for ease of use. Another handy feature of smart plugs is that they monitor your energy use. There are some, however, that take two outlets since they are so large and turn them into a single smart plug. You should seriously consider how many things you want to plug in and whether or not you have a limited number of outlets in your home.

Smart Switches. A “smart” switch can give you control over a lot of “dumb” bulbs, commanding them with one click. For people with disabilities, this makes it easier to activate switches that might be across the room or too high for them to easily reach from a seated position. Smart switches can also be programmed into complex routines for voice-activated assistants such as Alexa. For example, you could set up a routine that tells Alexa to turn on the switch in the kitchen, start the coffee pot, and play your favorite music first thing in the morning.

As great as smart switches can be, they can be a challenge to install. They will actually replace your existing light switches, and if your home wiring lacks a neutral wire you may need a licensed electrician to correct this. However, it may be possible to hunt down special switches that can run without the neutral wire. Check out these wiring specifics, to better understand what you want installed in your home.  Obviously safety is very important.  You sure don’t want to burn your house down because of an improperly-installed smart switch!

Smart Lights. Smart lights give more people more options, especially in older homes. There’s no rewiring required. Simply pop the bulb into a socket and poof! You now have instant smart lighting. Some smart lights even have bluetooth speakers built in to create a little extra ambience. What’s not to love about that?

Smart bulbs are only as smart as the people living in the house, however. If you switch the fixture full of smart features off, suddenly your “smart” bulb becomes a regular “dumb” bulb. You no longer have any control over it, and the bulb has been rendered very “dumb.” Since most switches are controlled through another device like Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Home Assistant, even when switches are left in the “on” position, there can be significant lag between command and execution.

The Bottom Line About Smart Home Technology

Although Smart Plugs, Smart Switches and Smart Lights still have some limitations, they are a world ahead of their old-fashioned counterparts when it comes to ease of access and remote control. There will certainly be updated versions released in the future, designed to solve many of the current problems, but in the meantime don’t be afraid to try out these bits of smart tech in your own home.

I’d love to hear your comments about how you implemented Smart Home Technology in your home!  Contact me with questions or comments.

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