What do you need to make a smart home?

If someone asked you to build a smart home, would you think they might as well ask you to build the Tardis from scratch?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone! While more and more people are getting on board with smart home technology, it can still be confusing for the uninitiated.

That’s why Hey! is here to help make building your own smart home as simple as possible. We don’t believe it should be an expensive and time-consuming task - just a few useful products can set up a perfect foundation for your smart home to grow over time.

Not convinced? Take a look at our easy guide to making a smart home!

Where Do I Start With My Smart Home?

There are a couple of ways you can start making a smart home:

   1. You have an integrated system installed into your house by a professional company

   2. You buy your own smart home accessories and create it yourself

The first way is typically expensive and tends to be chosen by those who take their smart home tech very seriously - we’re talking everything from motorised curtains to automatic door locks!

If that sounds a little too intense then, like most people, you’ll probably go for the second way. When dipping your toes into the world of smart homes for the first time, buying a few DIY devices not only means you won’t blow your budget on intimidating tech, but will also allow you to experiment - and actually enjoy using it!

How to Make a Smart Home For Beginners

Don’t be put off by thinking you need to be an IT expert to make your smart home work.

Sure, there are a few bits of information you would benefit from knowing to get things up and running, but overall it can be an incredibly easy process.

In fact, we think just about anyone can get to grips with making their very own smart home. All you actually need is:

● A wi-fi connection

● A smartphone

● A choice of compatible smart home devices

● A smart speaker, hub or smartphone app

Just take a look at these main points to consider and you’ll be ready to go...

1. Understand how smart homes work

When shopping for smart home products, it’s easy to feel a bit like you have been thrown in at the deep end. There’s a lot of jargon and tech talk going on that can really put you off if you just don’t get what it all actually means.

But, once you get to grips with a few basics, you will find it a lot easier to make your smart home!

We have a blog explaining exactly what a smart home is and how they work, which is an easy starting point.

The main point to take away though, is that different brands of smart devices ‘speak’ to each other in their own different ways. So, a light bulb from one brand might not be able to send the correct signal for a smart plug from a different brand to understand.

For beginners making their first smart home, it is often recommended that you stick with one ecosystem for the time being. For example, at Hey! all of our devices connect via wi-fi, so you should have no issues using them together in one seamless smart home.

2. Do You Have a Voice Assistant?

If you have a smart speaker, or voice assistant, you are already well on your way to getting your smart home in action.

The great thing about using a smart speaker is that they can act like a ‘hub’ for all your devices - more about this later.

Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Nest are ideal for beginners as they are both compatible with a huge range of smart accessories such as light bulbs and plugs. You then also have the perk of being able to use voice commands to control your smart home, too.

Connecting your smart devices to your smart speaker is usually pretty straightforward. Once set up, simply head to your smart speaker’s app, which should have an area where you can scan your home for any devices that are ready to connect.

From here, you can also usually ‘group’ them together into rooms to organise them and make them even easier to control.

3. So, Do You Need a Smart Speaker or Smart Hub?

We find that smart speakers become the heart of many smart homes. But, what if you don’t have one - or just don’t want one? Can you still make your home smart?

There are two alternatives to using a smart speaker to control your smart home:

  1. Use a ‘smart hub’
  2. Use an app on your smartphone

In the early days of smart homes, a smart hub was pretty much essential. Like a smart speaker, they can receive a range of different signals, allowing you to make all your devices compatible with one another. You could then access your smart hub app and control everything from one place.

When smart speakers came along, they all but took the job of smart hubs - after all, they can do the exact same thing, often in a less complicated way and with the added bonus of voice commands!

However, if you are just starting out with your smart home, it’s likely you don’t actually needany type of smart hub or speaker. This is because many of today's smart home devices simply connect over your wi-fi with their own smartphone app.

At Hey!, for example, you don't have to worry about setting up a hub or speaker at all. We’ve got all the devices you need to start making your smart home, which all simply connect over your wi-fi through our smartphone app. If you want to expand your smart home over time, you can always go on to setting up a smart hub or speaker later.

4. Is Your Wi-Fi Strong Enough?

Now for a word on your Wi-Fi signal.

A strong connection across your home is almost essential when making your smart home. If your Wi-Fi coverage isn’t great, even the best smart home devices can experience issues!

This is where smart hubs can sometimes help out. If your internet router can’t handle the new load of devices you have connected to it, a hub can help out by taking on some of the strain of it.

Or, if you are finding that some spots of your home aren’t picking up your wi-fi signal, you can set up something called ‘mesh wi-fi’.

Without getting too far into the nitty-gritty, mesh wi-fi routers can be set up around your home, allowing you to extend your signal further than a traditional single router.

However, so long as your house isn’t particularly large and you are just getting going with a few smart home devices, one router with a decent signal strength should be fine.

5. Choose the devices you would like to use

Finally, once you have done your homework and decided on the best set-up for your needs, you can get to the fun part - choosing your smart devices!

If you aren’t sure where to start, we’ve put together a blog on the best smart home devices for beginners with some great advice.

Typically, we think light bulbs and smart plugs are a brilliant starting point, though you might also want to experiment with smart sensors or even cameras.

At Hey!, we also have a handy product picker that allows you to build up the perfect smart home for your needs. Simply tell us what you want to do, and we’ll put together a box of products that work together seamlessly to get you going!