The idea of the smart home has its roots in science fiction. We’ve all seen movies from decades past in which characters simply walk through the front door of their “home of the future” and lighting, temperature settings, music, TV news updates, and even instant messages all happen automatically. Flash forward to today, and all of this is not only possible, but it’s also actually becoming fairly common given all the available smart home systems and accessories. For those interested in building a smart home, we’ve put together a primer on how to build a smart home. We’ll take a look at some of the smart home essentials, estimate costs, and provide a few helpful tips along the way.
Just What is a Smart Home, Anyway?
Simply put, smart home systems use what’s sometimes called the “internet of things” to connect all sorts of in-home devices. This allows you to monitor and control them with the touch of a button from your smartphone, even when you aren’t at home. Everything from security systems and temperature controls to refrigerators and stoves can be made “smart” in this manner, allowing you more control over your home, greater energy efficiency, and improved peace of mind. Just imagine being able to check with a glance and see if you left the stove on or remembered to let the dog out. Even if you’re out of town, you can monitor your thermostat settings or see who is ringing your doorbell.
Types of Smart Home Systems
All sorts of (sometimes surprising) devices have “smart” equivalents that can be added to your home to increase convenience, control, security, and ease of use. Here are just a few of the smart home systems available to someone building a smart home today:
- Smart outlets work with your existing wiring. Just plug them into your regular outlets for greater control over appliances and lights. They also provide surge protection and other safety features.
- Smart lightbulbs and switches allow you to turn on or off, dim, or in some cases even change the color of the lightbulb with a touch of your phone or—if your smart bulb is hooked up to Alexa or another home assistant—a voice command.
- Smart speakers featuring digital assistants like Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, or others act as a sort of concierge for your entire smart home, interfacing with other devices and allowing you to turn things on and off with voice commands.
- These days it may seem like all TVs are smart TVs that can stream media, access the internet, and even interface with those digital assistants we just mentioned to, say, remind you when your favorite show is on.
- Smart thermostats (also known as “learning thermostats”) not only give you control over your home’s temperature with the touch of a button even when you’re not at home, they can also adapt to your family’s habits and lifestyle to improve energy efficiency.
- Smart doorbells and locks can let you know if you locked the door when you left the house and tell you who’s on your porch before you answer the door—or when you’re not home at all. You’ll always know when that Amazon delivery arrived.
- Smart robot vacuums can literally patrol your house for dirt, working on a set schedule so you can let them go and not think about it anymore, giving you more time for everything else.
- Smart security cam systems let you monitor your home when you’re not there and keep you apprised of what’s going on in your yard when it’s dark outside, to name just a few of their uses.
How Much Will Building a Smart Home Cost?
Those are just a few of the many smart home systems and devices that are available now, and new ones are being introduced every day. Besides giving you a wide range of options for building your smart home, this also means that you have a lot of choices when it comes to just how smart you want your home to be. If you only want to control one or two items, you can dip your toes into the smart home waters for as little as a few hundred bucks, while upgrading everything in your home may cost as much as a few thousand. It really depends on what you want and what you hope to accomplish.
The low end of a smart home budget is probably something like $200 unless all you’re doing is replacing a few lightbulbs or adding in a smart outlet or two, while the high end could be upwards of $4,000 or more, especially if you start replacing appliances. Here’s a breakdown of roughly what you can expect to spend for some of the more common (and popular) smart home systems and devices:
- Bulbs and lighting: $20 to $100 or more
- Outlets: $20 to $100
- Robot vacuums: $200 to $1,000
- Security cameras: $35 to $350
- Smart doorbells: $100 to $350
- Smart locks: $150 to $400
- Smart thermostats: $150 to $300
- Smart TVs and streaming media players: $50 and up
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: $50 to $150
- Speakers and digital assistants: $200 to $900
Tips for How to Build a Smart Home
Whether you’re building a home from the ground up or simply making an existing home smarter, the best way to build a smart home is to start from the 10,000-foot view, as they say. Figure out what you want to accomplish and what you’re looking for in a smart home system, then research all the components, taking special care to understand how they work together, how they’re managed, whether they work with existing apps or home assistants or need special proprietary controls, and so on.
The most expensive option isn’t always going to be the best one for your needs, and the cheapest option isn’t going to be the best deal if it doesn’t do what you want it to do. You’ll also need to be sure that you have a really good wireless router to handle all the connections of these smart devices since it’s what they’ll use to communicate. If you’re going all out, you might even want to consider a mesh network made up of a single main router and a number of satellite nodes all around the house for more consistent coverage.
Finally, if you’re building a new home from the ground up and want to make sure that it has all the “smart” conveniences you crave, be sure to talk to your builder. Many builders already install some “smart” options or offer optional upgrades that you can include as part of your home plan. Your builder can discuss with you the best ways to optimize your home for the addition of “smart” technologies down the road.
Speaking of smart new homes, we’re building new ones in Mantua, a community for families searching for an enriched lifestyle surrounded by the natural beauty of Texas. To learn more about homes at Mantua and discover a life you’ve always dreamed of, just contact us today and schedule a tour!