Starting a Smart Home, Part One

This is the first of a series of articles on how to begin setting up your smart home.

A lot of people nowadays have begun to equip their homes with “smart home” capabilities. However, I have still met people, including personal friends of mine, who are reluctant to have an Amazon Echo or Google Home connected to their house, citing primarily that they don’t want something listening to their every conversation.

There are solutions to this issue, as not all smart home products require a hub of any sort.


Although I have the Philips Hue bridge along with plenty of hue bulbs in my house, I have decided to not install Hue in my living room, as the recessed lights need the larger BR40 bulbs, a size which Philips doesn’t make. I simply installed regular LED BR40 bulbs from Home Depot, and instead I installed a smart switch to control all four lights. This smart switch will require a neutral wire, and I would recommend getting an electrician to help you install it if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself. If you’re sure you have a neutral wire, and are good with mid-level DUI, installation shouldn’t take more than ten minutes. Make sure also that you know the difference between a one-way and a three-way switch. Smart three-way switches exist as well, so be sure to check those out if needed when shopping for them.

Using the Smart Life app, I can now control all the lights with my smartphone or tablet. There is an option to hook it up with Amazon Echo or Google Home, so that you can use voice control, but it is definitely not mandatory. I can set timers so that the lights turn on and off each evening. This has come in especially handy during a recent family vacation. Neighbours would never have known that we were gone. I used my security cameras from overseas to confirm that the lighting schedule worked, and it just gave us peace of mind that our house was safe. What’s also great about this type of switch is that, unlike using smart bulbs with a traditional switch, it has a “push” on and off feature that no one can mess up. (For example, my smart bulbs become useless if someone turns off the traditional switch.)

For new home potential buyers, many developers are making their houses smart from the onset. Precondo has a great list of condos that are equipped with advanced smart home tools. For those of us who live in older homes, outfitting them with smart capabilities is very doable.

The smart switch is just one of many ways to automate your home. If you are still wary of tampering with the electrical but already have an Amazon Echo or Google Home, try getting some smart outlets to control lamps, Christmas lights or small appliances. This is even easier and handy in many instances.

Turning your house into a smart home won’t necessarily be a quick process, and it doesn’t need to be. Home automation can be achievable to establish over time. It does not have to be a difficult thing, and perhaps with some help from a friend who has done it already, it will be fun and you will definitely be pleased with the results.

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