How to Set Up Your Smart Home for beginners | Digital Trends (2023)

If your home isn’t feeling especially smart, you may have your eye on potential upgrades to add more tech to things like your lighting, heating, security, and so on. But for newcomers, it can be difficult to know where to start, and the sheer number of smart home options can feel a little overwhelming.


  • Understand compatibility
  • Pick a voice assistant hub
  • Add some smart lighting
  • Pick out a couple of smart plugs
  • Upgrade to a smart thermostat
  • Integrate smart home security
  • Get innovative with new appliances

Have no fear! We’re laying out the basics of building a smart home from the ground up, what devices are best to get when you’re just starting out, and how everything works together so you can make home automation plans with confidence.

(Video) How to start a SMART HOME in 2022

Important note: Smart homes work via Wi-Fi connections (generally). Make sure your Wi-Fi network is password protected and uses the latest encryption options. This goes a long way in allaying security fears and making sure no one can hack your devices.

Understand compatibility

How to Set Up Your Smart Home for beginners | Digital Trends (1)

When picking out your first smart home devices, compatibility is the big question: Will all the smart tech work with each other? If it doesn’t integrate, you could lose valuable control, or you may need a separate app for each device, which can quickly get confusing and complicated.

The good news is that now is an excellent time to start a smart home because compatibility is getting a huge boost with the Matter protocol, a joint development between major tech giants that’s expected to be released later this year. Devices and brands are already announcing compatibility with Matter (we have a larger guide on it here), so when you pick out new smart devices, we highly recommend looking for products that support Matter or that will. Then you should be able to use a single app, like Google Home or the Home app on iOS, to control most of the devices in your house, as well as a single voice assistant — without worrying about compatibility.

Pick a voice assistant hub

How to Set Up Your Smart Home for beginners | Digital Trends (2)

You don’t need a voice assistant hub in your smart home, but it’s an excellent place to start, and voice commands can often control the rest of your smart home, too. Voice Assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant can help you set up routines to control multiple devices at once, add new capabilities, or schedule certain things like dimming the lights or arming a security system. Plus, they can answer questions, make lists, call people, and do other handy voice assistant stuff.

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If you like the idea of listening to music, you can pick something like the Nest Audio or Sonos One, place it in a central location, and connect it to the voice assistant app on your phone. Smart displays like the Echo Show 15 can hang on a wall or sit on a table to show videos via the touchscreen and even livestream from your security cams. And small speakers like the HomePod Mini or the Nest Mini can sit at your desk and listen for orders.

Add some smart lighting

How to Set Up Your Smart Home for beginners | Digital Trends (3)

Once you have a smart speaker (again, an optional but suggested step), one of the easiest ways to adapt smart home tech is to pick up some smart lighting, too. It may be easier than you think: Brands like Philips Hue and Kasa — and many others — make long-lasting LED bulbs that are designed to fit into existing sockets. These connect with apps that allow you to control the color, brightness, and color temperature of the bulbs, among others things. You can create schedules for when you want the lights off or dimmed and connect them to your voice assistant so you can give orders about turning lights on or off.

This is a great way to get some smart devices in your home because you can go as slow as you want (not all your lights need to be smart) and experiment with what the bulbs are capable of. When ready, you can add more bulbs or expand into other devices with confidence. And if you like smart bulbs, you may want to upgrade some lighting systems with smart switches that permanently add similar advantages no matter what kinds of bulbs you are using.

Pick out a couple of smart plugs

How to Set Up Your Smart Home for beginners | Digital Trends (4)

If you’re looking for more smart home territory to conquer, it’s time to investigate smart plugs! These little devices are made to plug into existing outlets in your home. You then plug another device — like a lamp, a coffeemaker, a diffuser, etc. – into the smart plug. With an app, you can now set a schedule for turning that device on or off at specific times, as well as monitoring energy usage. Plus, many smart plugs are compatible with voice assistants for giving quick commands and can tie into larger smart home routines you may want to create. Kasa and Belkin have notably reliable smart plugs, among many other brands.

(Video) How To Wire A Smart Home, A look at the top wiring trends of 2021

Upgrade to a smart thermostat

How to Set Up Your Smart Home for beginners | Digital Trends (5)

Next on the list: Find a great smart thermostat and replace your heating and cooling command center with a device that you can schedule on your phone, use to save money, and get monthly reports about your energy usage. Nest’s latest smart thermostat is a great pick, Ecobee continues to have excellent options, and many other brands have their own offerings. There’s a little bit of wiring involved, but it’s manageable or easily handled with a quick electrician visit.

Integrate smart home security

How to Set Up Your Smart Home for beginners | Digital Trends (6)

Now it’s time to talk about safety. Smart devices are a popular choice for a variety of security equipment made for your home, much of it do-it-yourself (DIY)-friendly, with options for both with and without monitoring subscriptions Here are several of the most common options worth considering:

Smart security cams: These cams can be set up nearly anywhereand typically come with motion sensors, two-way audio, spotlights, and more. You can view them through an app and receive many kinds of alerts — and today’s versions are typically smart enough to identify packages, ignore cars, and more.

Video doorbells: These are security cams designed for entryways and paired with a digital doorbell. They’re a great security pick even if you don’t have any other kind of security system, and the battery versions like those offered by Nest and Ring are particularly easy to install.

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Smart locks: Smart locks replace or upgrade your lock with a high-tech deadbolt that you can control from an app, create digital passes for, document entries, and much more. A smart lock is an excellent security upgrade once you feel more comfortable with your smart home, although they can be a little bulky.

Smart sensors: These are security systems with a hub that interacts with a variety of sensors, including motion sensors, door sensors, window and glass sensors, leak sensors, and more. They may also be able to interact with other smart devices in your home. It’s an expensive but more complete security solution that’s often paired with a monitoring plan.

Get innovative with new appliances

How to Set Up Your Smart Home for beginners | Digital Trends (7)

There are so many places you can take your smart home next, and it’s up to you where you want to go. We suggest looking at things like smart speaker bars for your entertainment system, smart smoke detectors that let you know when the battery is running low, and smart blinds that you can schedule to open and close. You may also like the idea of a secondary smart speaker upstairs or in the bedroom as an alarm clock.

When you are ready to take things even further, apps like Home in iOS, Alexa, and Google Home will typically suggest ways to pair smart device actions or allow you to manually set up routines. That could be a morning routine to start the coffeemaker, read out the news, and turn on the lights, for example. People also like to make coming-home routines, romantic routines, movie night routines … you get the idea. It’s an easy way to experiment and find the setups that work best for you.

(Video) Starting A Smart Home In 2022 | ULTIMATE GUIDE

When it’s time to buy larger appliances, you can look for those that can integrate with your smart home apps and send you alerts or messages. That could be anything from a smart grill sensing temperatures to a smart washing machine telling you a cycle is finished. Again, look for the Matter protocol, which will help your devices stay secure and compatible with each other, and the sky’s the limit for just how smart you want to make your home.

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What do I need to make my home a smart home? ›

You will need:

An Amazon Echo product. A TP-Link smart plug. A plug-in fan with a physical power switch that can stay in the “on” position. An Apple or Android smartphone for setting up Alexa to talk to the smart plug.

How do you connect to a smart House? ›

Connect smart home devices in the Google Home app
  1. Set up smart home devices. If you haven't already done so, follow the steps provided by the device maker to set up your smart home devices.
  2. Connect smart home devices in the Google Home app. Open the Google Home app . At the top left, tap Add Set up device.

What should I buy first for my smart home? ›

If you're just starting your smart home journey then affordable, easy-to-use devices such as the best smart lights and smart plugs and switches are the ideal purchase because they're also simple to install.

How much does it cost to set up a smart home? ›

You'll most likely spend between $175 and $1,428, but some reports include installations of $3,000. To fully automate an average four-bedroom, three-bathroom home, you might spend up to $15,000, while luxury, fully connected homes run around $10,000 to $150,000. Labor to install wired systems costs about $85 per hour.

How do I make my home high tech? ›

Create a More Organized Home with These 18 Smart Home Devices
  1. Talk to Your Home. Photo via @madebygoogle. ...
  2. Protect Your House. ...
  3. Establish a Smart Lighting Schedule. ...
  4. Replace Your Light Bulbs. ...
  5. Turn Every Outlet into a Smart Outlet. ...
  6. Maintain the Right Temperature. ...
  7. Run Things Through Your Smart TV. ...
  8. Let the Fridge Help.
5 Aug 2022

What are the pros and cons of smart homes? ›

Smart homes are equipped with technology that allows them to communicate with smart devices and give the homeowner more control over their environment. Smart homes are energy-efficient, customisable, and convenient; however, they have downsides like high cost and internet dependence.

Is a smart home worth it? ›

A Smart Home Can Make Life Easier

Even with all the hassle, the time you spend building and maintaining a smart home can pay off in spades. Things like device automation, remote control, activity notifications, and voice commands are incredibly convenient and may even improve your quality of life.

How does a smart home work? ›

How do smart homes work? Smart homes use smart devices (from lightbulbs to alarms and more) that connect to a network over Wi-Fi. These devices can then be controlled from anywhere, anytime using an app on your phone.

How do I set Google as my smart home? ›

Explore Google's connected home products and select your connected devices. Download the Google Home app and sign in with your Google Account. Plug in your devices and follow the setup instructions in the Google Home app.

How do I integrate all smart home devices? ›

The Google Home app is probably the best app to control all smart home devices. This includes Google Nest, Google Wi-Fi, Google Home devices, Chromecast, and so on. It's also for managing smart products from Nest, Philips Hue, and other compatible brands.

How much does it cost to wire a house for smart? ›

The national average range to automate a home is between $2,000 and $6,000, with most homeowners spending $4,000 to install a smart mid-range security system, speaker, thermostat, and doorbell.

What is smart home equipment? ›

A smart home's devices are connected with each other and can be accessed through one central point—a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or game console. Door locks, televisions, thermostats, home monitors, cameras, lights, and even appliances such as the refrigerator can be controlled through one home automation system.

What is smart home technology examples? ›

Examples of smart home hubs include Amazon Echo, Google Home, Insteon Hub Pro, Samsung SmartThings and Wink Hub. Some smart home systems can be created from scratch, for example, using a Raspberry Pi or other prototyping board.

Why must a truly smart home have a bot? ›

Smart Bots can interact with Smart Home appliances without humans present. That's because they can talk to each other through the Internet or a local network interface. A Smart Bot can end up operating the smart appliances in your Smart Home.

Who won smart home 2022? ›

Congratulations to Leah Nadorff of Columbia, South Carolina; she is the winner of the HGTV® Smart Home 2022 sweepstakes, a grand prize package valued at over $1.2 million dollars.

Is Alexa a smart device? ›

It is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, sports, and other real-time information, such as news. Alexa can also control several smart devices using itself as a home automation system.

How much does Alexa home cost? ›

Total cost for the full package: $1,576

All in all, your Alexa smart home system cost will be slightly over $1,500. This means building a smart home that's almost fully-automated by Amazon's voice assistant is just $73 more than a full-fledged Google smart home.

How much does a Google Home device cost? ›

At $229 standard price, it's a more expensive alternative to the 2nd-gen Nest Hub and Nest Mini, but it has some extra nifty features, like a 10-inch screen, a facial-recognition camera and video chat capabilities.

Are smart wires worth it? ›

If you're building a new home, seriously consider having smart wiring installed. Many people mistakenly believe smart wiring is a cable system, like cable TV. In fact, it's a wiring system you can use to integrate all the smart technology you use in your home. Smart wiring can be surprisingly inexpensive.

What are the 5 examples of technology? ›

6 common types of technology
  • Television. Television sets transmit signals over which we can listen to and view audio and visual content. ...
  • Internet. ...
  • Cell phones. ...
  • Computers. ...
  • Circuitry. ...
  • Artificial intelligence. ...
  • Software. ...
  • Audio and visual technology.

Do smart switches increase home value? ›

Smart homes command higher prices and may be easier to sell as a result. The key is having smart products installed and functioning before you list your home, because most buyers don't want a prewired home that still needs products installed.

How do you automate lights in a house? ›

Options to Automate Lights in Your Home
  1. Replace wall switches with smart switches.
  2. Plug smart plugs into existing outlets.
  3. Replace existing light bulbs with smart bulbs.
15 Dec 2020

Can a smart home be hacked? ›

A smart home's vulnerability lies in its connectivity to the internet. Any smart home device that is capable of connecting to the internet has the potential to be hacked, accessed remotely, and in many cases, even controlled by outside users ‒ just as any website or computer can be.

What are the challenges of a smart home? ›

Most Common Problems with Smart Home Technology Systems
  • No internet connection. ...
  • Improve your wireless network. ...
  • Serious battery drain issues. ...
  • Bring your gadgets closer to your router. ...
  • The device keeps going off at the wrong times. ...
  • Utilize things like human recognition and “smart zones” ...
  • They are not compatible with one another.
8 Sept 2022

Do smart homes use more electricity? ›

Yes, smart home devices can save resources. No, not all of them will. Some, such as always-on smart speakers and connected cameras actually use more, because they're not replacing an energy load, they're adding one (although not a significant one).

What home automation system is best? ›

The 6 best home automation systems: Put your home on auto-pilot
  • SmartThings. Best home automation system overall. ...
  • Home Assistant. Best home automation system without a hub. ...
  • Apple HomeKit. Best home automation system for Apple users. ...
  • Amazon Alexa. Best home automation system for voice control. ...
  • Google Home.
16 Aug 2022

Do smart homes have cameras? ›

With many smart home technology devices, such as voice-enabled speakers and security cameras, video and audio recordings are always on, observing and collecting data. Some experts suspect that internet companies use this data to learn more about consumer behavior.

How does a smart home system work? ›

A smart home's devices are connected with each other and can be accessed through one central point—a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or game console. Door locks, televisions, thermostats, home monitors, cameras, lights, and even appliances such as the refrigerator can be controlled through one home automation system.

How do I make my home a smart home from Apple? ›

First make sure you're signed into your iPad using the same iCloud account as the rest of your iOS devices. Next, go to Settings > Home and turn on 'Use this iPad as a Home Hub'. Open the Home app and tap in the upper-left corner. Then look under Home Hubs to see if your home hub is connected.

How do I integrate all smart home devices? ›

The Google Home app is probably the best app to control all smart home devices. This includes Google Nest, Google Wi-Fi, Google Home devices, Chromecast, and so on. It's also for managing smart products from Nest, Philips Hue, and other compatible brands.

How much is Alexa monthly? ›

There is no monthly fee involved in using Alexa. Once you purchase an Amazon Echo device, you have full access to Alexa's AI. Technically, you can even use the Alexa app on your smartphone for free without the purchase of a smart speaker.

Can Alexa turn on my TV? ›

Alexa Skills are voice-driven Alexa Cloud Service capabilities which enable you to control select products through the Amazon® Alexa™ app that runs on Amazon Echo™ and Amazon Echo Dot™ devices. With this feature you can use your voice to turn your TV on or off, change channels, control volume, and more.

What is the difference between Echo and Alexa? ›

Alexa is the virtual assistant, while Echo is the smart speaker device.

What technology is used in smart homes? ›

While many smart home systems still run on X10 or Insteon, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi have grown in popularity. Zigbee and Z-Wave are two of the most common home automation communications protocols in use today. Both use mesh network technologies, short-range, low-power radio signals to connect smart home systems.

What is the future of smart homes? ›

Understanding the smart home market

According to Mordor Intelligence, the smart home market in 2021 was valued at $79.13 billion and is expected to grow to $313.95 billion by 2027, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.3%.

Is Apple HomeKit free? ›

How much does HomeKit cost? The Apple Home app itself is free, but you'll need to pay for the smart devices you'll set up if you don't already own them.

How do I build a home hub? ›

Tap Settings > [your name] and make sure that you're signed in to iCloud with the Apple ID that you used to set up your HomeKit accessories in the Home app. Tap iCloud, then scroll down and check that Home is turned on under Apps Using iCloud. Tap Settings > Home and turn on Use this iPad as a Home Hub.

What smart devices work best with Apple? ›

The best HomeKit devices you can buy today
  1. Apple HomePod mini. The best HomeKit smart speaker. ...
  2. Apple TV 4K (2021) The best HomeKit streaming device. ...
  3. Wemo WiFi Smart Plug. ...
  4. Schlage Encode Plus. ...
  5. Ecobee SmartThermostat. ...
  6. Lutron Caseta Dimmer Switch Starter Kit. ...
  7. Brilliant Smart Home Controller. ...
  8. Philips Hue White A19 Starter Kit.
18 May 2022

Can you mix and match smart home devices? ›

Consider your needs and determine if smart switches make sense, but remember, you don't have to choose just one type of lighting. Mix and match smart switches, bulbs and plugs throughout your home to fit each situation with the most appropriate smart light option.

How do you automate a house? ›

What can I automate in my home?
  1. Smart lighting. The easiest and most impactful place to start automating your home is with smart lighting. ...
  2. Smart locks. ...
  3. Smart heating. ...
  4. Smart Security. ...
  5. Smart entertainment. ...
  6. Energy savings. ...
  7. Apple's HomeKit. ...
  8. Amazon's Alexa.
19 Jun 2021


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