How to Automate Your Home from Anywhere: 10 Simple Steps and the Best DIY Devices to Get You Started

Rajat Hardy
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Step 1: Set Up Smart Lights to Turn On/Off on Schedule

A smart light is a light that you can control from anywhere or at anytime. It’s controlled using a wireless app that can be set up on a smartphone or a computer.

Simple Ones (Amazon): You'll find that this is the best-selling on the market. It connects to your home's Wi-Fi and you can control it from your smartphone. If you're a bit of a techie, it's very easy to set it up too.

Philips Hue Lightbulb: This smart lightbulb has a few different features. First of all, it is controlled using a wireless app so you can turn it on/off from anywhere. The light itself has different shades of lighting, so if you're after a specific lighting look, you can set it as you need. Lastly, they do offer special features that can be added on, one of which is a motion sensor.

Smart Outlet: This can be connected to any existing electrical outlet. It’s also a computer-connected device so you can control it from anywhere using your smartphone. The great thing about this is you don’t actually have to take apart your existing electrical outlet because it’s hardwired into the circuit. It’s a nice, convenient way to control the devices plugged into them.

Step 2: Program Your Thermostat for Energy Efficiency

Embed your thermostat with an internet-based system that’ll let you operate your heating and cooling remotely. Some of the best smart thermostats for home automation are:

· Nest¸ which can control the temperature in almost any Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat, and also connects to your smartphone. You can change the temperature from anywhere.

· Ecobee3¸ which also works in tandem with a smartphone and various web-based home hub devices such as Amazon Alexa and Apple Home Kit.

· Sky¸ an innovative thermostat operated by radio waves rather than radio frequencies, which means that it can connect to a home’s existing HVAC system without installing any new wires.

Step 3: Automate All Your Electronics, Appliances and Devices

Why bother automating control of your lights? Lighting is a great place to start when you’re setting up your smart home because it’s easy to set up and the results are immediate.

The first thing you have to determine is whether you want to maintain control of your lighting through a remote, app-based or voice-activated system. Let’s briefly cover all three.

Remote-Based

If you choose to control your lights with a remote, there are numerous options available to you. You can go with a simple remote that would fit in with your existing key chain for only a few dollars or you can splurge on a remote control that can be used for more than just lights.

Touch-Activated

A touch-activated system is probably the easiest way to go, as it doesn’t require you to purchase anything. Just purchase a touch-activated wall switch and you’ll instantly be able to turn on your lights with the snap of a finger.

Apps for Smartphones and Tablets

This is probably the best approach to take, as it allows you to automate your lights from anywhere at any time.

Step 4: Install Smart Locks on Doors for Security

Amazon’s smart lock Echo integrates with a number of smart home security systems, but it can also work on its own.

As you walk up to your front door, simply say “Alexa, lock the door,” and your door will lock itself. Echo also can schedule your front door to lock or unlock via an Amazon Smartapp. Setup simply requires pairing the lock with the app and telling it which times of the day you want your door locked or unlocked.

You can also use your voice to lock Echo to ensure it doesn’t accidentally open your garage door to the UPS man. Just walk up to Echo and say “Alexa, unlock the door” and it unlocks your front door.

Step 5: Switch to Smart Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors for Better Safety

While you’re working on automating your home tasks, let’s make sure you have the basics covered … safety and alerts. Be sure to add some smart safety features, including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, into your smart home system. Smart smoke detectors can do a lot more than your plain old carbon monoxide detectors, too … they can watch for signs of a fire and alert you before it gets too big to handle. You don’t have to worry about checking your smoke detectors regularly … they’ll tell you how they’re doing. If something isn’t quite right, they’ll let you know right away.

Another plus? There’s no faulty batteries. Smoke detectors equipped with smart sensors will automatically reset themselves when the batteries are running low and will move right along with the smart home system.

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Step 6: Get a Programmable Irrigation System and Automate Your Landscaping

Even if you love gardening and landscaping, you also love sleep. Unfortunately, watering your lawn and plants can be a big chore if you have to do it manually.

Let the Arroyo irrigation system do it for you. With this automated system, you can program your garden to water automatically so you never have to do it again. To set it up, you simply download the free Arroyo app onto your phone. Plug in the system’s connection wires, put them in the water lines and set the timers to when you want the irrigation system to kick on.

The Arroyo controller is a small box that powers the whole system and can run on a battery if you lose power. If you live in a place where it’s hard to schedule watering since it’s so unpredictable, the Arroyo system will make it easier to keep your plants healthy.

Step 7: Schedule House Cleaning with a Smart Vacuum

A cleaner for the house is something most of us simply don’t have time for. Automation can be a cost-effective way to remove this hassle.

One solution is to set a schedule for your Roomba. By scheduling your vacuum to run every day, it will take care of your floors without you having to lift a finger.

You can schedule your Roomba to start cleaning at a certain time in the day, so you can have it clean while you’re at work or wake up to a freshly cleaned home. There are many types of Roomba models, so setting them to run different times and days will make it a more effective time saver. For example, you can schedule your Roomba to clean in the morning, so you don’t have to worry about a messy floor after you’ve spent time tidying up the house.

If you’d rather not purchase a Roomba, there are other similar solutions to tackle the dust bunnies. You could buy a smart vacuum cleaner, which is a vacuum cleaner with added features that let it route itself around your home. While a smart vacuum cleaner will cost you more than a Roomba, you may be able to automate your home more with other smart devices.

Step 8: Automate Your Garage Door for Peace of Mind

Your garage is like your second entrance. As such, when you leave the house, you should make sure the garage is locked and secure. But, what if you are away from the house, and you want to make sure that your garage is secure?

This is where automatic garage door openers come in handy. With a garage door opener, you can call your garage door from anywhere. Here’s what you need to do to automate a garage door with a DIY device.

Step 9: Install a WiFi Video Doorbell for Security

You might already have a doorbell or door chime. It’s a surprisingly simple way to answer the door. Now, with some technological innovation, your doorbell can be a security system. All you need is a wifi doorbell and a WiFi camera.

Consider a wifi doorbell if you want to know who’s at the door before you open it, especially if you live in a neighborhood where scam artists are on the prowl. It’s a good idea when you’re expecting a package to know who’s ringing the bell before you leave the house. Likewise, if you’re home alone and you aren’t expecting anyone, you can use the video screen to see who’s at the door without having to get the door. It’s also helpful when you want to make sure if the kids are home from school before you leave the house.

Step 10: Connect and Control Your Home Entertainment with One Device

You can automate your home in many different ways, and home theater systems are popular options. Most modern home theater systems come with an HDMI output, which means you can hook it into your computer and program it to do whatever you want. The possibilities are endless, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

If you have a flat screen TV, you can turn it into a computer monitor with a program called Air Sharing. Then you can control it using Visio, a program that allows you to move your computer’s icons on the TV screen.

If your home theater system is hooked up to your computer or other multimedia devices, you can use MyDesktop, or something similar, to control it from wherever you are.

You can also use Skype to make phone calls. This way, you can play a movie, turn on lights, and answer your phone in one simple step.

Play, pause, rewind, fast forward and do it all with your home theater system. You don’t have to depend on your remote to do it for you.