As more and more smart home devices hit the market, the idea of ​​automating our homes seems less poignant than it once was. Despite this, only a small minority of people decided to take the plunge.

Perhaps this is because potential owners of smart homes just don’t know where to start . If that sounds like it, read on. We’ll talk about five basic smart home designs for beginners that you can create right now.

Protect your pipes with an automated smart valve

This is a smart home project that anyone with a little plumbing experience can do every evening. If not, you can just hire a plumber .

Smart valves replace dumb mechanical valves on your plumbing system. You can use your smartphone to turn off the water without getting on all fours. This is handy if you’re going on a long trip and you’re worried about pipe bursts.


Some smart valves allow you to pair them with a water sensor that will actively determine when the pipe burst and blocked the water. No interaction required.

While smart valves can be expensive, you may find that they save you money in the long run as your insurance premiums can go down. In addition, the risk of a pipe burst in your home will be significantly reduced.

There are several to try. I recommend the LeakSMART Smart Home Kit, which costs $399.00 on Amazon. This includes a valve and water sensor, as well as a center sleeve to tie it together.

For the same price, you can also purchase the FortrezZ Z-Wave Water Valve, which is slightly more expensive, but has excellent reviews and is built in the USA.

It also works with the Z-Wave protocol, which means you can easily connect it to other smart home products through a compatible Z-Wave hub.

Level your lighting with Philips Hue

Led lights just better than their halogen counterparts in all areas, except perhaps for their upfront price. They are much more energy efficient. They last longer. They are also significantly brighter than old school halogen bulbs.

Some lamps, such as Philips Hue, can be controlled via your smartphone, through a central hub.

So what’s the point? Well, you can do a lot with Philips Hue. You can group the lights together and include them in an ensemble. You can set moods and zones, and even manage them with Siri thanks to Apple HomeKit !

As an introductory experiment in home automation, Philips Hue is as simple as you can get. You literally need to screw in a few light bulbs, connect a hub to your network, and determine the behavior of the light bulbs with a handy smartphone app.

You can get a starter kit from most good DIY stores and also from Amazon where it will cost around $200 for the latest generation kit.

Older versions are slightly cheaper but should be avoided as they lack features like Siri integration.

Create your own intelligent security system

One of the great things about smart home technology is that it can eventually make you safer . There are many products in this area, from smart smoke detectors to smart home locks.

There are also smart home security systems that allow you to monitor your home remotely, track intruders and take action if necessary.

You have a lot of choice in this space. There are off-the-shelf solutions like Google Nest Cam and newcomer Canary which James Bruce reviewed last year. They tend to be expensive but work pretty well.

If you want to up the level of complexity a bit, you can also create your own security system by combining individual components.

Dunn Albright wrote the most on how to do this late last year and featured projects from the likes of Lowes, Honeywell and Belkin. The total cost will also be a bit cheaper as the cheapest DIY security system only costs $60.

Automate heating and save money

One of the biggest costs associated with owning a home is its heating . Fuel is expensive and heating costs often stretch into the hundreds of dollars, especially in winter.

But are we heating our homes efficiently? Quite often, houses overheat beyond what would be comfortable enough. Another problem is that we often heat rooms that we don’t occupy. But that can be fixed with a quick weekend project, installing a smart thermostat, and doing some clever automation tricks. times automation tricks. automation tricks

The most widely known is the Nest Thermostat. In addition to being able to set the temperature in your home remotely, it will also automatically adjust it as needed. Nest actually uses machine learning algorithms to learn how you use it.

The device itself should cost around $250 and you can install it yourself. as a weekend project.

Although, if you’re not feeling confident, there are a few Nest approved plumbers who will be happy to help you.

Automate your garden

The last frontier of home automation is undoubtedly the garden. This is the area that is now full interest, and a growing number of smart garden devices. on the market. It is now possible to build a mostly automated garden. Here’s what you need.

You are probably familiar with robotic vacuum cleaners. . They roam your home sucking up dust and debris. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get one that mows the grass?

Well, Husqvarna fits that bill and more. This is the right solution for lawn mowing. As you’d expect, at $2,399.95, it’s a bit more expensive than your standard swamp joint. But it will save you time and effort.

But it doesn’t stop there. Some products, such as GreenIQ, completely automate the process of watering your lawn and plants by monitoring the weather in your area. If you feel like your lawn needs some topping up, there is a web app that allows you to manually turn it on.

There is also Edyn, who constantly monitors the quality of your soil. Once installed, Edyn will provide you with the information you need to keep your plants looking green. It also allows you to control the irrigation of your garden.

Another product that impressed me is Parrot Flower Power. This, like Edyn, controls the dryness and quality of your soil. But it also works with the GreenIQ system.

While it can be incredibly expensive, one interesting weekend project will focus on how much time you can automate in your garden. From hydration to lawn trimming, there is a lot you can do.

Any other ideas?

If you’re looking to expand your home, these five projects are a great place to start. Dann Albright has four more suggestions: too. Do you have any other ideas that I missed? Let me know in the comments below.

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