Setting Up Your Smart Home

Installing connected devices can be as simple as screwing in a light bulb or as complex as rewiring your thermostat to your heating and cooling system.

Do you embark upon the installation yourself, or use a trusted professional?

In this article we’ll explore your options and the different levels of expertise needed.

Smart Home Installation Considerations

Some items, like lighting, are relatively straightforward. Others, like thermostats, require knowledge of wiring and your home’s heating and cooling system to avoid damage.

For any connected device you plan to install yourself, you will need to be comfortable with home networking and adding devices to your system. A lot of devices come with apps that can help you, but you need to be able to troubleshoot connectivity issues if anything goes awry.

Locks can also present a challenge based on your door, size of the existing hole cut and space to your door jamb. Always measure and research before buying any locks to ensure they will work with your door.

There are a number of options for professional installation and support. In many cases you can find a local electrician or HAVC professional to help you. This can cost a few hundred dollars per device, and more if you need them to return to fix any issues.

One great option is to start with a smart home solution that includes the devices that are important to you and include professional installation as a part of the service. The leading providers of smart homes today are security Service Providers.

Smart security systems are a foundation for the smart home, with solutions that regularly include smart thermostats, lights, locks and garage doors. These systems are professionally installed and supported so you can get your home up and running quickly.

These solutions have also become very affordable, thanks to new technology, and they include a mobile app to control every device in your solution. For less than the cost of some stand-alone thermostats, you could have a whole home system installed and setup. There is a service fee for the professional monitoring and security services, but these are less than the average cell phone or cable bill.

The main challenge with installing a smart thermostat is the amount of variety in the age and type of heating and cooling systems.

Before you attempt a self-install, know what type of system you have. If you install the wrong device, wire it incorrectly or configure the wrong settings, you could damage your HVAC system resulting in significant costs. Here are some of the key considerations:

  • Does your system use a common wire?
  • Does your system have a heat pump?
  • Does your system use dual fuel?
  • Does it have a humidifier or dehumidifier?
  • How many stages of heat and cool do you have?
  • Do you have electric or gas/oil heat?
  • Is your thermostat wiring 24 V?

Additionally, when you remove the old thermostat there may be a large hole in the wall, so you will want to be confortable patching and repairing your drywall.

If you have any hesitation, a professional installer is your best bet.

Click here to find Professionals in your area.

Basic connected video cameras can be simple to set up. Most cameras connect wirelessly to your home Wi-Fi network, can be plugged in for power and sit easily on a bookshelf or table. As lifestyle products, these work great. If you are comfortable with setting up a secure connection on your wireless network, and troubleshooting issues, you should not have a problem.

Then, there’s wall mounting. It ensures your camera won’t draw too much attention, but this installation can get tricky. If you are considering wall-mounted (or outside) placement, you should consider professional installation. Professional installers can handle situations like drilling through the side of the house to run the power, or running a wire through the wall to mount the camera.

Using Video for Security?

If you plan to use video as a security product, you will want to make sure it is part of a smart home security system. Video as a stand-alone product is easily defeated.

Someone can simply cut the broadband wire from the outside of the house and disable your cameras. Standalone cameras are also rendered useless if the power goes out. With a smart home security system, which connects over dedicated cellular connections and has 24-hour battery backup, you will remain protected and benefit from the integration of other devices.

Your local security professional can recommend mounting positions so your cameras keep your home protected and give you a good view of the daily activity around your home that you want to keep track of.

To connect with a security professional in your area, click here.

Connected lighting comes in several options including smart bulbs, smart plugs and smart switches.

Smart Bulb

This is a bulb that connects wirelessly to your home network or hub. Simply screw it into an existing lamp like a traditional bulb and it's ready to go.

Assuming you are comfortable securely adding things to your home network, you should be up and running in no time.

Smart Plug

This device plugs into a wall socket; you plug your lamp into it. It can be remotely controlled and also automated to turn your lamp on and off.

Most of these are part of a system, connected to the Internet through a hub. To get a smart plug set up, you need to make sure you can pair it successfully with the hub. The most common connection is a protocol called Z-Wave. Most of the complexity is in setting the hub up securely on your home network to talk with your devices. This can require some troubleshooting and time.

These systems vary wildly in security and reliability, so do your research.

Smart Switch

These are very similar to smart plugs, but installed into your wall in place of your old light switch. These can provide the best experience both aesthetically and functionally. They are best professionally installed, since you need familiarity with wiring, power and switch configuration.

To get the full benefits of smart lighting – such as scheduling, motion activation and triggers - integrate your lighting with a fully connected, smart home. That means installing motion sensors in the rooms you want to automate, using door sensors to trigger your lights to turn on and off and automatically reacting to other devices like the security system.

To connect with a security professional in your area, click here.

The cost of a professionally installed smart home has come down dramatically. You can outfit your home for a few hundred dollars upfront, and a monthly service fee that’s typically less than a cellphone or cable bill.

It’s far easier to get a smart home up and running when you have professional installation and support. A professional installer can wire thermostats and alarm panels, install outdoor cameras, replace light switches, swap old locks with smart locks, and configure everything so that it works together.

Professional systems also come with a choice of installation options. You can have a professional installer come to your home and set everything, up or you can have the system professionally configured and delivered to your doorstep. With this option, you do the final installation and then confirm proper operation with a customer support professional.

To connect with a security professional in your area, click here.