Smart homes are all the rage. Everyone loves the idea of a voice-automated home that can keep your grocery list and play music on command. But every time you research smart homes, all you see are installation-heavy solutions. Sure, a smart thermostat and a video doorbell might be great, but aren't there ways to get started that don't involve a screwdriver and your home's internal wiring?
Absolutely. In fact, despite the hype, smart homes are primarily designed to be plug-and-play. There are dozens of small ways you can make your house "smart." Here are the top six quick and easy ways to smarten any house.
1) Pick up a few smart speakers.
Every smart home starts with a smart speaker or five. One Echo or Google home hub is all you need to get started. However, a really interactive house has one smart speaker per room or section of the house - so that your AI can hear you from anywhere indoors. You only need one hub, the rest can be simple smart speakers that hear and interact with the family.
Smart speakers are easy to install with a simple plug and app setup - and they are the core of your smart home experience. Here, your AI can play music, answer questions, keep lists, set timers, serve as an intercom, and learn handy skills. Link up your smart speakers for multi-room music and even stereo pairs.
2) Twist in some smart light bulbs.
Smart lights are also simple and easy to install - they go in just like normal light bulbs. Get yourself a starter pack of 2-4 smart bulbs with an RGBW (red green blue white) color range and just swap out the bulbs. You can even keep your old bulbs for emergencies. These energy-efficient LED smart bulbs will connect via an app (and are really easy to reset) and then link to your smart home app via the appropriate skill.
Once installed, you can dim the lights and set colors for moody evenings or dance parties - or brighten up the lights when it's time to clean and work. All with voice commands or through a touch of your app.
3) Place a WiFi camera or two.
If you're concerned about home security, or want a baby/pet monitor, you can set up smart home wifi cameras. These are also "plug and play", just power, point, and use the app to connect to your wifi and smart home in a few easy steps. The great thing about wifi cameras is that you can monitor them away from home due to the internet connection element of the smart home. If you want to check on your front porch package delivery or what your cat gets up to while you're at work, that's what wifi cameras are best at.
4) Plug appliances into smart outlet converters.
Want to make a "dumb" lamp smart? That's easy with simple outlet converters. These are smart wifi outlets that plug into your normal outlets without any bother with house wiring. The wifi outlet acts like a mini power strip that responds to smart commands. Name the outlet and then use voice commands to turn it on and off. In this way, any simple switch appliance like lamps or fans can become smart without investing in all-new smart appliances for the home.
5) Plug in a smart TV dongle.
If you don't yet have a smart TV, you can "smarten" your television with a dongle-remote combination. Plug the wifi dongle into one of your television inputs. The dongle can then be controlled and provide smart TV functionality using its connected remote. Alternately, you can buy a smart TV which is also plug-and-play - all you have to do is plug in and then log into your chosen streaming services.
6) Put a smart control box on the sprinkler hose.
You can even smarten-up your sprinkler system with relative ease. They make twist-in control boxes that can be easily installed between the spigot and the hose. Like the smart outlet, the box uses a wifi signal and internal app timers to control when your sprinkler is provided water through the valve. This is a great way to optimize your watering hours without installing an old-fashioned timed sprinkler system into the house. You don't need to open up your walls to install new thermostats, doorbells, or even locks to smarten up your home. Anyone can delight in the joys of a smart home with the many plug-and-play devices available. Just keep your phone handy, each new device will take somewhere between 30 seconds to 5 minutes to set up through the apps.