The Complete Guide to Building a SmartHome

by Anna Gretz
May 25, 2017
Home Battery

Our three-part series on the State of Solar and Energy Storage got us thinking about the future of modern living, specifically about SmartHome technology. The SmartHome moved quickly from pipe-dream territory to a near-mainstream reality, with more and more homes being built with smart technology built right in. Though some homeowners are intimidated by the new, cloud-connected tech integrating modern living, most of the new features embraced by SmartHome dwellers is more accessible than you might think. In fact, if you own and use a smart phone, you’re already halfway there.

Welcome to your complete guide to building your own SmartHome, complete with our smart home technology wishlist, and how you can integrate and connect all of your new devices on your phone, virtually wiping out the learning curve of SmartHomeowning.

Building Your Own Smart Energy Fortress

Designing a SmartHome starts with choosing a smart hub, the “brain” of your home’s new central nervous system. Two of the most popular smart hubs are Samsung’s SmartThings, which is known for their extensive, high-quality service. SmartThings connects all of your smart devices including lights, speakers, locks, thermostats, cameras, or whatever else you have under your roof, and offers an app that allows you to control and manage your devices from your phone.

With a solid framework set in place, you can now start customizing your home to fit your own needs, and replacing your appliances with the smart technology that is most important to you. There are some systems that have proven to be the most popular and on-demand as the SmartHome revolution has arrived in full-swing:

Thermostat Regulators- New thermostats, like Nest, bump up your smart energy usage to the next level by learning your schedule and in-home temperature preferences, and builds a schedule around yours to help you save money on your energy bill, and time and headspace by not having to worry about adjusting your thermostat.

Lighting Management- Smart lighting systems also save you energy by dimming lights whenever possible, and giving you the opportunity to remotely turn them off even after you leave the house. Products like Phillips Hue also enhance your life by giving you more specified control over light levels, helping you set the mood, and decrease stress levels.

Smart Televisions- In short, a Smart TV is any television that has built-in internet connectivity, meaning you can use online streaming devices on your tv instead of just sticking to your tablet or laptop. Smart TV connectivity also allows you to use social networking and web browsing from your TV, fully integrating your screenfront experience.

Home Security Systems- The major advantage of smart security systems is the ability to monitor your home from your smart phone, as well as arm or disarm your entire system with a touch of a button. Cameras, sensors, and locks can all be integrated on a single system, cutting out the often-complicated and error-ridden user experience that home security systems are known for.

Taking Energy Control to the Next Level

Although these four system types are the big sellers in the SmartHome space right now, there are also some up-and-coming smart systems that are quickly turning into essential pieces of SmartHome living, especially when it comes to energy.

For some, taking control out of the hands of the failing, unreliable power grid is a future that can’t come soon enough. Nationwide, power outages have become six times more frequent than they have in previous decades. Some homeowners have read about the growing vulnerabilities of the power grid, and decided to do something about it. Home batteries offer energy security in the face of a vulnerable power grid. If the grid cuts out for a few hours, home battery owners don’t have to worry. Their home can still be powered by the energy stored by their home battery. For those who depend on electricity to power life-essential medical machinery, or for households that use electricity to heat or cool their homes during extreme weather, this sort of energy security can be a big deal.

Households equipped with solar panels and energy storage in the form of home batteries are protected from any utility company mishap, whether it be on a large or small scale. Home batteries allow households to power their own essential appliances like refrigerators, water pumps, and heating/cooling devices with stored electricity collected from their rooftop solar panels. The grid may be vulnerable, but individual households don’t have to be. In fact, residential energy storage enables a new way of living that retailers and buyers are both latching on to.

High-profile companies, like Tesla, are leading a revolution that centers around a new lifestyle for energy consumers--one that stands for innovation, conviction, and audacity. This is why Tesla has developed a product line that extends beyond electric vehicles. CEO’s Elon Musk has envisioned a future in which there’s a Tesla in every garage, and solar on every roof… not to mention a Powerwall 2 to store generated solar, tying the package together. This is the kind of home, and lifestyle, Elon Musk wants for himself… and he’s confident that he’s not the only one. Musks’ ambition has driven him to push the envelope in almost every respect, from electric cars that you can summon to pick you up at your door, to high-capacity low-cost lithium batteries, to rooftop solar that actually is a rooftop. The lifestyle Tesla offers its customers mirrors Musk’s own innovative drive. Going all-in to the Tesla brand means breaking through traditional methods of using power, and hosting an energy revolution in your own home.

Many home battery and solar companies offer their own phone app to help keep an eye on electricity generation and usage, and Tesla’s definitely keeping up with this trend. With Tesla’s app, consumers can keep an eye on both their solar panels and their Powerwall battery, as well as get notifications of grid outages and battery levels. Gathering this data can help homeowners know when they are generating the most energy from solar, using the most stored energy, and when they’re getting energy from the power grid itself. Talk about having power over power. It’s this type of SmartHome technology that is going to take home energy usage to the next level.

Other Crazy Cool SmartHome Devices on Our Wish List

The Smart Smoke Detector- Nest also makes the Nest Protect smoke detector that can tell you about the presence of smoke or carbon monoxide in your home, even when you’re not there to hear the alarm go off.

The Botvac Connected Vacuum- The Neato Botvac has an intuitive app with remote control that lets you vacuum your house from your couch. At the risk of revealing how lazy we are, it sounds really awesome.

Color-Changing Smart Bulbs- In addition to making smart light bulbs to save energy, Lifx Color 100 is now delivering smart bulbs that actually change color. It sounds crazy until you try it… then you don’t know how you ever lived without a soft yellow light waking you up in the morning.

We can’t wait to see where SmartHome technology takes us next (self-cleaning toilets, anyone?) but for now, we’re going to spread the word about how smart SmartHomes can be with home batteries and rooftop solar. For more information about how to up your home’s energy IQ, hit us up here.