Are you afraid of smarthome systems? Try this easy starter kit
When I first started installing smarthome products, I was!
You might find that home automation systems seem complicated, expensive and scary.
You have to make choices about which eco-system to use, which products to buy, and to figure out how to get them all to work together.
Being afraid to make the wrong choice, it is easy to fall into analysis/paralysis and simply avoiding doing anything.
Try a simple approach
There is no substitute for doing. No matter how much reading you do, talking with friends, or watching Youtube videos, it is harder to understand smarthome products without experiencing it yourself.
Why not try experimenting with some hands-on tests first? Don’t worry about choosing the perfect system, the ideal products, or having everything work together flawlessly.
The key to jumping in headfirst is making it affordable and easy. How much do you think you need to spend to give it a go?
Five thousand dollars, one thousand dollars, one hundred dollars, fifty dollars? Is it worth it?
What if you could get started for less than 8 dollars? Yes, I’m not kidding. I’ve put together suggestions for trying out a real smarthome product spending as little as 8 dollars.
Some ground rules first
You will need to have a good Wi-Fi network in your home. Solid networking is the foundation for any home automation system.
No worries, in this case I’m not suggesting run out and upgrade all your networking and Wi-Fi gear.
Just take a pragmatic approach – with your smartphone and laptop I’m sure you already know where your Wi-Fi is the best. Just pick a room or area for this project where you don’t have dead spots or slow Wi-Fi.
Spend only what you can afford to throw away
Set a budget for smarthome products – $10, $50, $100 or whatever you can afford, with the simple rule that this will be a learning experience.
If things don’t work out, you can return all the products, or even just give them away or throw them away.
You probably won’t, but spending less than what you might have paid for a night out on the town at a movie or theater, plus dinner at your favorite restaurant, removes the stress of a high-ticket purchase.
No long discussions with the household “chief financial officer” or tough decisions on not buying that new coffee maker, smartphone, or other must have purchase.
I’ve picked a family of smarthome products all from one company because that insures everything works together easily.
I’ve picked Wi-Fi technology because we all have it already in our homes. No added complexity learning about the limitations of Bluetooth or setting up Z-wave, Zigbee, or proprietary wireless network stuff.
I’ve picked a product line that doesn’t rely on owning existing Apple, Amazon, or Google devices so it doesn’t matter what kind of smartphone, laptop, tablet, or computer you are currently using.
I’ve picked an eclectic mix so you can experience a little bit of different kinds of smarthome tech – lighting control, security systems, and voice commands.
The eight dollar lightbulb
Wyze, a leader in low-cost smarthome tech, has a smart LED lightbulb that costs only $7.99 or a four-pack for only $29.99.
Don’t let the low price fool you. These are Wi-Fi enabled so you can control them from inside your home and they connect to the free Wyze cloud servers for remote access from anywhere.
The LEDs are fully controllable from the easy to use Wyze app. You can turn them on or off, and they are dimmable across a wide range of brightness.
I have found all Wyze products to be very easy to set up. The app guides you through everything step-by-step and it takes only a few minutes to get it working.
Amazingly, these inexpensive LEDs have adjustable white color temperature. You can adjust them from the warm/yellow tones (like a traditional incandescent bulb) to the cool white and daylight blueish tones of other LEDs.
Tunable white LEDs is a whole topic unto itself. If you haven’t heard of these before, just let me clarify that these are not colored LEDs. They can’t be set to red, or green, or purple, but that’s ok.
The more the merrier
You really can get started with a single bulb, but I suggest getting two or three of these and using them in a bathroom vanity or perhaps a few lamps in a living room or family room to get the best experience.
The Wyze app allows you to set schedules so you can have the lights turn on or off at different times each day or certain days of the week. You’ll have to experiment to see what you can do and how to make use of it.
The important thing is you don’t need hubs, bridges, controllers, or extra software. Everything you need to fully experience an automated smart lighting system is included starting at only $7.99
To be continued….but try this great tip on adding voice control lights.