How to Build a Smart Home

The recent technological developments advanced our lives and it will advance it more and more. Being able to control all devices at your home through the internet is an example of such development. And by devices, it’s not just computers and mobile phones, it includes clocks, speakers, ect..

8/4/20226 min read

1) Introduction

The recent technological developments advanced our lives and it will advance it more and more. Being able to control all devices at your home through the internet is an example of such development. And by devices, it’s not just computers and mobile phones, it includes clocks, speakers, lights, switches, doorbells, door locks, cooking utensils, furniture, TVs, security cameras, windows, heaters and you name it! This bless of being able to control all of these devices through a button or a voice command is possible due to recent developments in Internet of Things (IoT) technology. In this blog, we will state how to use the best of IoT to make your home smart.

2) Smart Home Configurations: Hub & Hub-less Homes

Before diving deep in the components of the smart home and how to make or build a smart home, we must know the two main configurations of a smart home.

There are two types of a smart homes, a hub and hub-less smart home. A hub refers to the device that connects all of smart home devices’ signals and data in single platform to analyze them and take the required actions and commands.

An example of that would be ZigBee Hub which connects all ZigBee Devices such as Smart Bulbs, Light Sensors, Thermostats, Security Cameras and Smart Plugs. The system working principle is that the components will send signals to ZigBee Hub through a localized ZigBee Network and the actions will be taken accordingly. For instance, The ZigBee Light Sensor will sense that the place is dark at night and will send this signal to ZigBee Hub. Then, ZigBee Hub will send a signal to Smart ZigBee Bulbs to switch on or increase the brightness.

With respect to Hub-less homes, there will be no Hub with a localized network where the devices will communicate through. The devices will directly communicate with each other through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or RF networks.

We explained the difference between each system in a different blog, please check this blog.

This been said, now we can talk about what components or devices to buy to make your home smarter.

2.1) Smart Speaker System

The smart speaker system is considered as the heart of every smart home. You will use it as your virtual assistant to do almost anything with your smart home devices. You will use it to control your Lights, Air Conditioners, TVs, Switches, appliances and etcetera. It can also help you to schedule your day, play music, search online, tell you about the weather, stocks and everything! There are several options below to get voice assistance, and Google Assistant. .

2.2) Smart Lighting

In my opinion, smart lights are the 2nd best IoT devices after the smart speakers. As you will have the ability to control lights remotely from anywhere, create scenes depending on your mode, make sleep routines to gradually wind down at night and wake up in the morning, schedule based on your needs and more!

The smart lighting is really fascinating thing, it can enhance your life and even change your behavior to the better! It is helping me to sleep well, study well and even party well with friends!

There are a lot of smart lights brands and suppliers, famous ones include Philips hue lights, Wyze Bulbs, Sengled Smart Wi-Fi LED and others.

2.3) Smart Security System

2.3.1) Smart Cameras

Cameras are widely used around the world to provide essential security to commercial buildings, homes, public spaces and etc. However, security can be enhanced and costs can be significantly reduced by using smart cameras.

Smart cameras will have the ability to recognize patterns and faces which will reduce the costs of human monitoring. We mentioned on a previous blog that savings of yearly USD 6 billion can be achieved through smart monitoring in 2025. For more information about IoT impact on worldwide markets, check this blog.

For domestic use, smart cameras with wireless technology, high resolution video capturing, color night vision, voice control, built in sirens, local and cloud storage, motion and voice detection and angle control through phone are available with reasonable prices. Recommended brands are Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight camera for optimal features and Wyze Cam V3 for affordable price.

2.3.2) Smart Locks

Smart door locks market is getting bigger and bigger due to its advanced features such as remote opening/closing through internet, fingerprint sensors, face recognition, camera, voice commands, push and email notifications, fingerprint identification and integration with other platform such as Google Assistant, Alexa and Apple HomeKit. Great three smart locks are August Wi-Fi Smart, Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro و Kwikset Halo.

2.4) Smart Energy Management

One of the main benefits of a smart home is the smart energy utilization which leads to significant costs reduction. A study published by University of Bahrain in 2018 states that the main energy consumption at homes in Bahrain is due to cooling systems. Other consumption factors are lights, heaters, refrigerators, freezers and washing machines.

The smart home occupant can enjoy the reduction of all these energy consumption sources by smart scheduling of all devices and equipment. For instance, a smart home owner can utilize the lighting system to be on during occupancy only. As a result, when someone enters or leaves the room, the light will switch on or off. Also, the lights can be dimmed to work on partial load when there is no need for high brightness at the room. This can be combined with the usage of natural lighting produced from the sun to reduce lights usage further and further especially in large spaces.

Another solution to reduce energy costs in lighting is by smart scheduling of the lights. The smart home sensors can learn from your behavior and can turn on/off based in your needs using artificial intelligence and IoT technology.

Besides lights, the use of smart thermostat to control cooling system can enhance occupant comfort while reducing energy consumption costs. The thermostat can understand when you are entering and leaving the house to turn on/off accordingly. Also, you can schedule the thermostat to be on during certain times in the day or to be on at certain areas within the house. Smart scheduling can reduce cooling costs by approximately 45% depending on user needs and behavior.

Some smart thermostats like Ecobee-4 have their own voice control function using Alexa assistant which will ease cooling control significantly. Other great thermostat brands include Nest thermostat which has to ability to learn from user behavior and of course Wyze Thermostat as an inexpensive thermostat solution.

2.5) Others

Other devices that will ease your life and enhance your comfort are Smart Curtains will open and close through Wi-Fi or as per predefined schedule or even your behavioral patterns. Also, smart plugs and switches are integral part of every smart home which will increase controllability of wide number of devices of your choice and it is considered as a good alternative to smartly control large number of traditional lights instead of buying multiple expensive smart lights.

Other integral smart home devices are smart TVs which will give you access to various streaming platforms such as YouTube, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and etc. In addition, you will be able to stream your own videos and pictures from your mobile phone or Laptops.

You will also be able to control other smart home devices like washing machines, smart lights, thermostats and more through a smart TV. Smart furniture like smart coaches with multiple sensors to analyze your sleep patterns, adjust with respect to your mode and have voice commands are in R&D phase and shall be out in the near future.

3) To Sum Up

There are a lot of devices to pick to smarten your home. The first thing you should think of is what type of configuration you need? Hub or hub-less house? Then, you should choice the devices that fits your needs and enhance your comfort. Smart speaker system coupled with smart lights, curtains, TVs and home appliances for example is a nice combination. But will it fit your requirement? Will leave the answer to you.

4) Resources

Hanan Albuflasa, (2018), “Smart Energy Management Systems for Households in Bahrain” in Sustainability and Resilience Conference: Mitigating Risks and Emergency Planning, KnE Engineering, pages 135–149. DOI 10.18502/keg.v3i7.3078

Rebecca Ford, Marco Pritoni, Angela Sanguinetti, Beth Karlin, Categories and functionality of smart home technology for energy management, Building and Environment, Volume 123, 2017, Pages 543-554, ISSN 0360-1323.