What are smart home appliances? Chances are you already have a smart appliance at home. It could be those lights that you can dim or switch on/off from your phone, that kettle that comes with its own app or the Amazon Echo speaker on the table.
Smart home appliances are basically devices and machines that can communicate to each other and to you via a network like WiFi or Bluetooth.
These days, almost anything in your home that’s connected to electricity can be made into a smart appliance. We have smart TVs that are internet-connected, smart door locks that you can open and close from wherever you are, smart fridges that alert you that it’s time to go grocery shopping and so on.
But perhaps the most important smart devices of the last few years have been smart speakers. There are two popular ones: Amazon Echo and Google Home. Apple recently released their HomePod.
These speakers are connected to intelligent personal assistants that can be used with simple voice commands.
In this quick explainer, you’ll learn the basics of smart home appliances, how they work, their benefits and how to get started on creating a smart home.
How Do Smart Home Appliances Work?
Smart homes are based on wireless communication. That’s why smart appliances usually have to be connected to your home’s WiFi network.
But it was not always this way.
The first smart home technology came about in 1975. It was called X10. It utilised existing electrical wires to send signals between appliances.
Today, wireless communication within a smart home is mainly based on ZigBee and Z-Wave technologies.
Devices like Echo or Google Home act as smart home hubs. They can send wireless signals to any smart appliance that is connected to them. If you’ve linked your thermostat, you just need to tell Alexa (the personal assistant in Echo) to turn up or lower the temperature.
Some apps like IFTTT can also be used as a central control hub for smart homes.
A smart appliance will usually come with its own app through which you can control it from anywhere.
What are The Benefits of Smart Home Appliances?
Smart home appliances are all about convenience. They aim to make your life easier.
Take for instance a smart thermostat. Traditional thermostats require you to stand up and fiddle with buttons every time you want to make the room cooler or warmer. If you are lucky, you might get a remote control you can use from the comfort of your couch.
But a smart thermostat takes things to a whole new level. You can change settings right from your phone and you don’t even have to be at home. You can also monitor the current temperature and humidity and set a schedule.
Advanced smart home thermostats like Nest thermostat have sensors that tell them when there is no one at home and they automatically adjust settings to save energy. Some can also learn from your preferences and schedule and automatically set the right temperature at different times.
It’s not just smart thermostats.
A smart door lock allows you to let in the cleaners or a guest remotely. Smart lights can sense your presence and automatically come on. A Sonos music system lets you play different tunes in different rooms. A smart kettle or coffee maker will know to have your hot beverage ready by the time you are waking up.
The Best Smart Home Appliances
If you want to start creating your own smart home, I recommend starting with Amazon Echo or Google Home. These are the gateways to the whole world of smart appliances.
From there, the appliances you get will depend on your needs. But there are some basic ones for every home.
- Smart lights like Philips Hue or Hive Lights.
- A smart thermostat like Nest or Ecobee.
- A smart lock or doorbell system.
- A WiFi connected robot vacuum cleaner like Ecovacs Deebot N79 or Roomba 890, 960 or 980.
- A smart security camera for your indoors or outdoors.
- A smart kettle for your kitchen.
Note that you don’t always have to buy a new smart appliance. Some existing appliances like your TV, lights, fan and coffee maker can be made ‘smart’ using smart plugs or switches.
Smart home appliances were once for rich or nerdy people. Now, getting them is a no-brainer for most homes.
The best thing about them is that they are easy to setup and use. There is no learning curve, just more convenience.