Get the most out of a smart home

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

Released in 1989, Back to the Future Part II took viewers on a journey to 2015. While we are not seeing the filmmakers’ visions of prolific hoverboards, they did manage to get a few things right. We use flat-screen televisions, we video conference, we unlock devices using biometric scanners, and we control our homes using our voices.

This iconic movie called it and now with the future here, smart homes have arrived. Not only are we able to talk to our devices more easily, but our devices are also able to talk to one another. The U.S. is the leading country in smart home adoption, and the global market is estimated to reach a value of more than $40 billion by 2020, according to Statista.

Internet-capable devices, such as power outlets, window air-conditioning units, doorbells, or even light bulbs, can be controlled from an application on your phone. This allows you to do things like turn on the lights and cool the house down on your way back from the store.

When shopping, look for devices that will work on the same smart hub. I recommend starting by choosing a smart hub, even if you don’t purchase it right away. The hub allows you to control your devices from one place. This will save you time opening individual applications. You can also automate processes and execute them with a single command.

For instance, you could make a “Good Night” process that will turn on night lights and power down televisions and overhead lights. If you do not purchase your hub right away, knowing which one you want will at least help to guide your purchase decisions for individual items. Not all items will work on the same hubs.

Some hubs are limited in compatibility, while others are more universal and allow you to connect across several brands. I am a fan of both Google and Samsung, so it was important to me that I could integrate capabilities from both. I purchased the Samsung SmartThings hub and use the Google Home app to control it using Google Assistant. Not all hubs will work together this well.

When shopping for your smart hub, start by thinking of the devices you use now. My husband and I both have Samsung phones and we remain brand loyal for our televisions. Naturally, we gravitated toward the Samsung hub so we could connect our devices and expand into the future. Other popular hub brands include Google, Amazon and Apple. Look for hubs that offer accessories you will need. For instance, some integrate well with same-brand security cameras and motion sensors, while others require you to link to third-party devices.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefixisin@gmail.com.