A Buyer’s Guide to Home Automation

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If you’ve bought an Amazon Echo or own a smart kettle then you’ve taken the first baby steps towards fully automating your home. In fact, it needn’t be daunting if you’re prepared to do a little research and try things out to see what works for your home.

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What Can You Automate?

Home automation refers to anything in your home that can be programmed to respond automatically to a command, whether that’s from a switch or a voice. Clearly the possibilities are endless, from locks and lamps to switches and thermostats, but the easiest and most effective way to automate your home is to decide which processes it would save you time, money and effort to automate.

How Does it Work?

Just as your body senses different things, so automation works by sensing, processing information and then acting on that information. Perhaps the most important function of these smart gadgets, built in sensors allow the transmission of information around the home. For example, a motion sensor in the bedroom might activate when you get up and tell the coffee maker to start your morning brew.

The only real limit to what a home automation system can achieve is your own imagination, as long as you bring all your separate sensors and devices with a ‘brain’ to integrate them all.

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Will I Need a Hub?

A smart hub will give you the ability to talk to all your devices, even those from different manufacturers that speak different wireless ‘languages’. However, if you’re prepared for a little trial and error, a device like the Amazon Echo is capable of communicating with an ever widening number of gadgets including thermostats and smart switches.

In fact, hub technology is increasingly being incorporated into devices like routers and smart TVs, and becoming invisible. Then there’s the rise of IFTTT – If This, Then That – which allows you to create your own automation recipes for anything from saving your photos to the cloud to unlocking the front door.

Getting Started

The key to automating your home is to keep it simple. Think about which repeated actions can be automated to save you time and money and start from there. Using voice activation and IFTTT plus some compatibility trial and error, you’re well on the way to living in a fully automated home.

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