Smart Home 2021 – Essentials for a modern-day smart home

Updated 9 months ago 8 minutes

‘Smart home’ has gathered a lot of interest lately. But what is it, and what is it useful for? What does a smart home look like in 2021? Let’s dive in.

The rise of technology

Technology has become more and more important at home. From your dishwasher to your TV, and from your smartphone to your audio system – it’s all powered by technology, which becomes more and more ‘smart’.

This technology can easily become overwhelming to use. At the same time, there’s often very little oversight. Are you sure you turned off the coffee machine? Is the security alarm really armed?

The pros of smart homes

Smart homes exist to solve both these problems. For starters, they combine all your devices into a single smart home system like Homey. Controlling your home becomes easy, as all your devices are in one place. Control your home via smartphone, voice control, remote, tablet or regular physical buttons.

You can now access and monitor your smart home anywhere in the world. This also improves your oversight. Use the app on your phone to quickly check if that coffee machine is really off, where-ever you are. And if it’s still on, you can power it down remotely with a tap of a button.

Smart Home control app worldwide: Homey app
Smart Home platforms like Homey put your entire home in your pocket

In short, a smart home system like Homey centralizes home control and home monitoring. It solves the issues of complicated technology and worries. And then it adds a completely new possibility: home automation. Make your home perform tasks automatically, based on your wishes. For instance, you can make the hallway light up when you walk through it. Or make the curtains close when you start watching TV. The possibilities are endless.

Smart home applications

For every electronic device in your home there’s a smart option. Most brands focus their portfolio around a single application or product category. Examples include Sonos in music, Philips Hue in lighting, Somfy in motorized products and Ring in home security.

Smart homes can be used with a number of different goals, or ‘use cases’. You can use smart home to make your home more green and energy efficient, safe and secure, cozy and comfortable or simply more awesome.

smart home systems use case: safe and secure
Smart home can be used to make homes safer and more secure

The idea of smart homes might make you think of people like Bill Gates or the Jetsons. It sounds futuristic, nerdy and expensive. However, nowadays smart homes become increasingly common. Popular brands like IKEA and Google are also active in smart home. And since modern smart home products are wireless and plug-and-play, installation can be done by yourself.

A lot of smart home products are now priced similar to their ‘dumb’ counterparts. Take smart lightbulbs for instance. They are not that much more expensive than regular dimmable LED bulbs. Yet, they offer much more, like dimming and colors. Or smart alarm systems, which are priced in the same range as regular ones. In categories like thermostats, motorized blinds and even built-in dimmers, the price difference between smart and non-smart devices disappears quickly.

Sonos speakers work perfectly with Homey
Sonos speakers are a popular example of smart home products

How smart home works

Smart devices that become cheap, easy-to-use and from popular brands… sounds great, right? So how does it work? And does every device magically work together with other devices, especially when combining different brands?

Not always. To start simple – a smart home device needs some sort of connectivity. Wireless, of course, because we don’t want to be pulling wires to every single device in our home.

Wireless smart home technologies

Wi-Fi is obviously a well-known technology for wireless connectivity. And quite some smart home devices include Wi-Fi. Especially devices that need a lot of bandwidth like video streamers, voice assistants and audio systems use Wi-Fi.

But there are more options. For energy-efficiency, range and reliability, there’s also technologies like Zigbee, Z-Wave and 433MHz RF. And of course we’ve still got good old infrared, which your TV and stereo system probably use, or maybe your airconditioning or fan.

smart home mesh network Zigbee Z-Wave with Homey as controller
Wireless standards like Z-Wave and Zigbee let devices talk to each other

All these standards are used between products to talk to each other. They are different, and each one of them has its pros and cons. However, devices on different technologies cannot ‘talk’ to each other, nor to your smartphone. So, a lot of brands release ‘Z-Wave gateways’ or ‘Zigbee hubs’ to get their products on your Wi-Fi network, and on your smartphone.

This solves part 1 of the problem. Still, you will end up with multiple hubs, gateways and apps on your phone. Every solution stays in its own brand silo. And it’s still hard to automate or get a complete overview of your home.

How to start with smart home

So where to start? How do you choose between these different wireless technologies? How do you create one system to manage your entire home? You’ll want to start out with a system that is versatile and future-proof, so you’re not limited to only a handful of devices or brands.

To combine different devices from multiple brands in diverse technologies, you need a smart home system, like our Homey. Homey combines seven (!) different wireless technologies. It contains Z-Wave Plus, Zigbee, Infrared, 433MHz and 868 MHz technology next to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Homey works with more than 50,000 devices from over 1000 popular brands, like IKEA Tradfri, Sonos, Fibaro, Netatmo, Somfy, Xiaomi Aqara and many more.

Homey smart home system and app
Homey combines smart and wireless devices of all popular brands in one app

The right basis for smart home

With Homey as a basis you keep your options open. In every category of smart home, Homey works with a range of interesting brands. It unifies devices from all these brands in a single app.

Use the Homey app to keep an overview of your entire home – anywhere. Get insight into your energy consumption and generation through Homey Energy. Automate your home easily with Homey Flow. Make devices from different brands, and on different technologies, work together seamlessly.

With its versatility and easy of use, Homey is a very good basis for smart homes. If you want to get started, we invite you to discover Homey.

Homey smart home hub

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