How to Build a Smart Home

Beginner's Guide to Home Automation

Once you've learned what a smart home is and what home automation can do for you and your family, it is time to get started putting a system together. It can be a little daunting and there are a lot of opinions about what products are best, but I will lead you through the steps in a simple manner in this beginner's guide.

Our goal is to help you build a system that only does what you need today, while also letting you come back and add devices when your needs change or technology improves. If you agree with our thoughts about an ideal system, then this guide is for you.

The steps below will get you started, but remember that you can always skip any of these steps or change the order to suit your needs. I started with a thermostat and built from there. There is no need to buy thousands of dollars of fancy gadgets or multi-colored lighting. You don't have to talk to your house with crazy voice commands if you don't want to (and you can definitely make sure it won't talk back). Check out this guide and choose your own path.

However, we recommend that you read through the entire guide so you can make intelligent decisions about where to start. That way, you don't go down the wrong path and waste a lot of money.

Let's build your smart home. Click the steps below for more detail.

Step 1 - Choose a Smart Home Platform

A flexible platform that works with your mobile devices and a wide variety of add-on components is important. There are a few options for how to deal with the main communications hub in your system and we will take you through the things to consider and point you to the best option based on your preferences.

Step 2 - Install a Smart Thermostat

Many people start with a WiFi thermostat as their first component and then add more devices when they see how helpful it is. A smart thermostat can help lower your utility bills (so it pays for itself) and can alert you to problems with your heating and cooling system so your pipes don't burst in the winter.

Step 3 - Upgrade Your Lighting

Lighting is usually added as a preliminary security feature. You can have the lights turn on and off randomly while you are away from home. The lights can also turn on automatically when you arrive after dark.

Step 4 - Add Detectors

There are a wide variety of detectors that can help you avoid large costs and avert major disasters. Two common additions are smart smoke detectors and leak detectors. However, there are many different types of sensors that you may want to include in your setup.

Step 5 - Secure Your Home

Security is another popular feature that people add, but the offerings vary widely. Popular devices start with cameras and doorbells, but can reach as far as fully monitored home security systems with door and window sensors. You can also start small with security and grow as your needs change.

Step 6 - Select Entertainment Devices

Many people already have streaming entertainment devices in their home so this is late in the guide. However, they have a place in the connected home and can even serve as the main hub that connects everything together. It is likely that your streaming device will one day be your main home controller.