Chances are most of you have heard the term “smart home” used in media reports and conversations lately, and with the steady growth of the “internet of things,” you are likely to hear it used more as time moves on.
The term refers to residences equipped with internet-and network-connected devices that can be controlled remotely via computer or smartphone — think thermostats that can be adjusted while you are in the airport or on the road returning from your summer vacation, lights that can be turned on and off from states (or even continents) away to give the appearance that somebody’s home, and voice-controlled “virtual assistants” that can play songs, order groceries, adjust lighting and more without them having to lift a finger.
While these things might sound like the stuff of science fiction — and perhaps even unapproachable to the less-tech-savvy homeowners — the devices are becoming easier to install (most wirelessly) and use, and they’re generally compatible with homes of all styles and ages. All you need is electricity and a fast, reliable internet connection (which, with the fastest speeds available in the area, FTC Internet can deliver), and you’re off and running.
To turn your residence into a smart home, consider installing some or all of these six easy and practical internet-connected devices:
- Smart Thermostat —These devices allow you to control your home’s heating and cooling settings from anywhere using a smartphone, tablet or computer. Some even “learn” your heating and cooling preferences and adjust your settings automatically, which can result in energy savings over time. Leading models include the Nest Learning Thermostat and the ecobee4.
- Video doorbell —These internet-connected devices employ two-way audio to allow you to answer your doorbell from anywhere via your smartphone, and cameras inside them allow you to see who’s visiting. Embedded motion sensors and the aforementioned video capability also provide home-security and monitoring functionality, and you can set up ring and motion alerts on your smartphone. FTC offers the SkyBell Video Doorbell to meet your needs.
- Smart Light Bulbs — These devices allow you to control your home’s lighting remotely, which is especially useful for deterring burglars by disguising your absence when you’re away. Some smart light bulbs also allow users to control light brightness and even color. Popular options include the Philips Hue line and C by GE.
- Smart Plugs/Outlets —By plugging a smart outlet into an existing power receptacle in your home, you can turn nearly any appliance or electrical device in your home — think fans, heaters, lamps, etc. — into a smart device capable of being turned on and off via your smartphone or tablet. Leading options include the Belkin Wemo Mini Smart Plug and TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plugs.
- Virtual Assistants —These devices, which usually include built-in speakers for on-command audio playback and voice responses from your digital assistant, are capable of acting as a hub that links all of your home’s smart devices together and puts them under voice control — just be careful to check for compatibility with the smart devices you use. Popular options such as Amazon’s Echo (Alexa), the Google Home and the Apple HomePod also allow you to shop, call a cab, ask for a weather forecast and more, all by simply speaking.
These are just a handful of the smart devices available for your home and the list is growing longer every day. Of course, the more devices you have connected to the internet, the more internet speed your (newly smart) home needs. Need help determining which internet speed is right for you? Check out our new interactive tool, the Internet Speed Evaluator! By selecting the number of devices you have connected to the internet and what you are doing with them, you can calculate the amount of bandwidth you need. To learn more, visit our Internet Services page.