Making a Smart Home sounds daunting but it doesn’t have to be anymore! There are 100’s of different things you can use to make your home automate things for you. In our house, we are using Philips Hue light bulbs and bridge to automate lighting. A Samsung SmartThings Hub with presence sensors, Smart energy Plugs & motion sensors & Amazon Alexa to make it all happen! Here is a brief run down of the various components and how they’re used.
Amazon Alexa controls our Smart Home
The Amazon Echo dot or Alexa as she is known in our house is at the heart of our Smart Home, she is the voice controlled sentinel which makes the entire operation so convenient to work with.
Using the Echo Dot meant that we could just mount the unit to the wall in our hall way and now, alexa is at our beckon call to order from amazon, play music, order an Uber, or even pop the kettle on!
All we have to do is say “Alexa, do something” and she does whatever it is we ask.
Samsung SmartThings manages our smart home
The next component of our Smart Home is Samsung SmartThings. Now for this part we have purchased the SmartThings Home Starter Kit which cost quite a bit but was well worth it as it came with many different components, all of which have found their home within our Smart Home.
As you can see, you get an energy usage monitoring connected electrical outlet, a motion sensor & a door sensor too (my kit also included a presence sensor for my keys though some do vary. The energy monitoring part of the connected plug is a little lost on me as I have no real use for it at the moment but the rest of the things are used to automate the security and functionality of our home, for example we have rules setup in the SmartThings App which allow us to do things like turn the lights off when everyone leaves or, turn them on when people arrive. Because every mobile phone with the app also acts as a presence sensor, the companion presence sensor I have on my keys is a little redundant though, using the app for this does rely on your phone having a good GPS chip. We use the door sensor to tell us if the front door opens if we are not home and also if we have the house set in night mode to alert us of any intruders. The motion sensor is used for this purpose too but also automates the status of the Hue Bulb in our kitchen, if there is motion & the time of day is right, the light comes on, if there is no motion for a few minutes, the light turns off.
Side Note about SmartThings:
Using SmartThings meant that I could also use SmartTiles. SmartTiles is a great little web based service which allows you to have an interface for your smart home, I have a couple of tablets dotted around the house which allows us to turn things on and off using them as well as by using voice control, SmartTiles looks a like this when setup…
Now this is a generic dashboard taken from their website, ours also includes live footage from our security cameras and all the lights in our house.
Phillips Hue lights our smart home
Without the Phillips Hue Bulbs & Bridge, this whole setup would be totally pointless really, this kit was the first part of our purchase we then bought more bulbs as needed for all the other rooms in the house. I have opted to just have plain white bulbs everywhere for now, though I may add colour & strips in the future as needed to really set the scene in our rooms.
Using Hue means that we have compatability too, hue talks to SmartThings which talks to SmartTiles & everything talks to Alexa out of the box (Bonus)!
Building your very own Smart Home is no where near as hard as it sounds & in using the tools in this post, you could be completely setup and working within an hour or so of receiving all of the parts! My advice is to setup SmartThings first, Then Hue & finally Alexa, this way you have everything talking to everything out of the box without any need for any real configuration as each component will find the next in the sequence.