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What is a Smart Home?

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

Philips Hue smart lights

You’ve probably heard that term thrown around in the tech industry like crazy. It seems like pretty much everything now is “smart,” so every device begins to be lumped into the “smart home” category if it goes in your house. The term itself is pretty ambiguous, encompassing everything from a thermostat to a completely voice-controlled automated house.

First, why do people want smart homes? The overall goal of these systems is to make home tasks quicker and easier. This idea isn’t new: people have been finding ways to improve home life for centuries. It wasn’t until the 1900s when electrical appliances and devices started to become common in homes that the opportunity for electrical automation came about.

Google home mini smart home

We won’t go through the history of home automation, but it has certainly come a long way since the 1900s. As computerized systems started to become achievable for homeowners (still not affordable), that’s when home automation began to form what we imagine today: multiple devices in a home controlled at the touch of a button.

In short, a smart home is a network of devices in a home that can be controlled by a single user interface. Even if that means a smartphone with multiple apps to control devices, that can still be considered a smart home system.

Typically, these devices control “lifestyle” aspects of a house, like temperature, lighting, sound, and video, but this can also spread to security and access control systems as well.

To fully understand a smart home, you also should understand the Smart Home Spectrum, shown below:

Smart Home Spectrum, Elevate Technologies
The Smart Home Spectrum by Elevate Technologies

The Smart Home Spectrum showcases the breadth of devices that can go into a home to make it a “smart home.” As you can probably tell, there are so many devices types that it would be complicated to get all these to work together. That’s where you’re wro---correct.

This is where smart homes become complex to design. Getting multiple devices across the entire Smart Home Spectrum to work together, across multiple manufacturers, connection methods, and distances, takes an expert touch.

Of course, if you only have a couple devices, or devices from only one manufacturer, it’s straightforward to set all that up. But what if you want a Ring security system and a Google video doorbell? Google and Amazon (Ring) don’t play nicely together, so you’ll have to have multiple apps to control access to your home. What if you want your SimpliSafe security system to sound the alarm if your Wyze floodlight camera detects a person? That will be a real challenge if not impossible.

It's easy to get overwhelmed, so many homeowners go for the traditional home automation route, using one of the Big 3: Savant, Control4, or Crestron. These manufacturers create highly specialized and robust control systems for smart homes that streamline ALL the smart devices in a home into a single app. The process for doing this is complex, which we’ll discuss in another post.

We can tell you that even with the most expertly programmed systems using one of these Big 3 control manufacturers, there is a very good chance that you STILL will need separate apps to control certain devices. These are devices that stretch to the edges of the Smart Home Spectrum that just haven’t been adopted by the Big 3, or even Google Assistant or Alexa.

At the end of the day, every smart home is unique, filled with devices from varying manufacturers in different locations and connected using different methods. Each homeowner is unique too: some may want more automated control; some may want to keep it simple.

No matter how complex or simple a smart home is, homeowners continue to get these devices because they are fun, impressive, and easy to use. We have installed smart homes varying from a simple smart thermostat to automated “movie star” feeling smart homes, and in all cases, our clients think it’s worth every penny.

Check out our Smart Home Automation section to find out more about creating your dream smart home.

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