Published July 3rd, 2024

What is a smart home?

Written by Level Home Staff

What is a smart home?

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about smart devices on sale for Prime Day and other big sale events this summer, but if you’re like me, you want to do a bit of research before actually buying any smart home tech. Well, you’ve come to the right place!

In this article we’ll explore:

  1. What a smart home is

  2. How smart homes work

  3. Smart home features

  4. How to create a smart home of your own

  5. Advantages and disadvantages of a smart home

  6. The cost of a smart house

  7. What smart home devices and systems exist today

Smart home definition

A smart home is a residence equipped with a variety of interconnected devices and systems that can be controlled remotely or automatically to enhance convenience, security, energy efficiency, and overall quality of life. These devices often use bluetooth or internet connectivity to communicate with each other, though other connectivity options, like Matter, are becoming more prevalent. Smart home devices can typically be managed via smartphones and watches, tablets, and/or voice assistants.

How do smart homes work?

While each smart home system and device operate uniquely to the manufacturer’s design and specifications, generally speaking, they function similarly. As we mentioned, smart homes work by using interconnected devices that communicate via various channels like WiFi, for example, and are often controlled through centralized systems such as smartphone apps, voice assistants, or hub devices like Apple TV 4K. Smart home devices can be set to follow specific schedules or respond to voice commands from a device like an Amazon Alexa, usually they can do both.

The unrivaled convenience of smart home technology comes from the ability to automate and schedule the devices to perform tasks based on routines, time, sensor data, user location, and more. One example of this would be robot vacuums – imagine scheduling your vacuum to run automatically while you’re at work every day, so you always come home to clean floors and have one less thing on your plate to worry about.

An example of interconnected smart home devices could be setting a wakeup routine to help you through your early mornings; you can schedule a smart speaker to wake you up at 5:00am by playing your favorite song and then automatically transition to tell you about the weather and traffic on your commute, simultaneously your smart lightbulbs will turn on and gradually get brighter to simulate a sunrise, and your coffee pot will begin grinding beans to brew you a fresh cup for the road. All of this and more is possible with smart home devices.

Smart home features

Smart homes typically include, but are not limited to, some or all of the following:

  • Voice control

  • Security and alarm systems

  • Thermostat control

  • Appliance control and monitoring

  • Smart lights and door lock systems

How do I turn my home into a smart home?

By carefully planning, selecting the right devices, and utilizing automation, you can transform your home into an efficient, convenient, and secure smart home. Start by identifying your needs and areas of frustration that could be solved with smart technology. Begin by considering what aspects of your home life you want to enhance, such as security, energy efficiency, or convenience.

Common starting points for people looking to dip their toes into smart home systems include smart lighting, thermostats, and smart locks. Once you know what devices you want to incorporate, do some research on the different available models and manufacturers. Remember to select devices that work well together, preferably those that support common communication protocols like Wi-Fi, Matter, Zigbee, or Z-Wave. Investing in a smart hub or central control system, such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomeKit, can help integrate and manage multiple devices from different manufacturers.

Once you have purchased your devices, it’s time for installation and setup. Many smart home devices are designed for easy installation, often requiring only a smartphone app for configuration. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to connect each device to your home network and control system. After setup, take advantage of automation features to create routines and schedules that suit your lifestyle. Remember to regularly update your devices and software to ensure optimal performance and security.

Pros and cons of smart houses

Smart home tech and automation have many benefits, but a few drawbacks to keep in mind too.

Pros

  • Convenience

  • Energy efficiency

  • Security and peace of mind

  • Accessibility

Cons

  • Potential learning curve

  • Initial costs

How expensive is it to have a smart home?

The cost of a smart home depends on many factors, including the extent of automation, the quality of devices, and the level of integration desired. If you choose to have your smart home devices set up by professionals, that could add to the cost as well. Additionally, the cost can drastically differ if you purchase smart devices that require a subscription plan or decide to pay for additional services like home monitoring with a security system.

What smart home devices are available?

A wide range of smart home devices are available, catering to various aspects of home automation, security, entertainment, and energy management. Here are some common categories and examples of devices within each category:

  • Smart Lighting
    • Smart Bulbs

    • Smart Light Switches

    • Smart Light Strips

  • Smart Security
    • Smart Security Cameras

    • Smart Doorbells

    • Smart Locks

    • Smart Alarm Systems

  • Smart Plugs and Outlets

  • Smart Power Strips

  • Smart Hubs and Controllers
    • Smart Hubs

    • Smart Remotes

    • Smart Speakers and Voice Assistants

    • Smart Displays

  • Smart Appliances
    • Smart Refrigerators

    • Smart Washing Machines

    • Smart Ovens and Microwaves

  • Smart Home Entertainment
    • Smart TVs

    • Streaming Devices

    • Smart Sound Systems

  • Smart Home Climate Control
    • Smart Air Conditioners

    • Smart Air Purifiers

    • Smart Fans

    • Smart Thermostats

  • Smart Health and Fitness
    • Smart Scales

    • Smart Blood Pressure Monitors

  • Smart Home Cleaning
    • Robot Vacuums

    • Robot Mops

  • Smart Garden and Outdoor
    • Smart Sprinkler Controllers

    • Smart Outdoor Lighting

  • Smart Home Energy Management
    • Smart Meters

    • Smart Solar Panels


By choosing the right combination of these devices, you can customize and enhance your home's functionality, security, and convenience to best suit your specific needs and preferences. If you're not quite ready to fully invest in a smart home, check out these 5 easy smart home upgrades you can do yourself.