W ith the advancements made in the 21st century, artificial intelligence is no longer a peek into the future, but many people, mostly upper-class and upper-middle-class, have started putting it to good use. Thus, blinds that close and open on their own or automatic temperature control are today available, and all it takes is a strong internet connection and a smartphone.
With the broadband being faster and more accessible, the future promises perfection, with systems that may be able to learn your habits and turn off the lights in the kitchen, for example, because they know you’ve just arrived from the supermarket. Furthermore, the trend is for the companies to produce increasingly smarter and stronger security systems that will help you keep an eye on your house without being at home.
This being said, let’s see what designing and building a smart home implies and if it is worth investing in pretty expensive AI technology.
What Is a Smart House?
A home that is defined as “smart” implies the presence of a communication network and a series of appliances that can be controlled from the distance and/or can communicate with each other. Homes that use artificial intelligence are not only more convenient, but they can offer better security with advanced security systems tracking any suspect movement around and inside the property and signaling it to the owner. They can also be used to supervise pets and even feed them at precise intervals. Moreover, smart temperature and light control can result in lower energy costs and a healthier planet.
How to Build a Smart Home 101
The concept of a smart home has a broad meaning. Thus, depending on your budget and preferences, you can choose to automatize some operations or all the systems and appliances in your household.
Here are some basic ideas of what you could upgrade to make your life easier and more secure:
You can play with both artificial light and natural light through two separate systems. A network of interconnected high-quality bulbs will allow you to control the light from the distance with the help of an app. You can turn on and off the light, make it dimmer or brighter, and select the rooms in which these operations take place. But this isn’t all. More advanced systems can observe the indoor environment and make adjustments without human intervention. For example, they will sense when the sun is up and turn off the bulbs to save energy.
Regarding natural light, it can be controlled through a set of smart blinds. The newest models include sensors that detect shade and action the motor of the blinds accordingly. They can also be programmed to open and close at different moments of the day like, for example, at dawn and dusk.
The time when you used to come home from work and find a sauna or an igloo is now over. With a smart thermostat that connects directly to your HAVC system and allows you to power it on and off, set the desired temperature, running mode, or select a time for it to run before shutting down, all by using the app installed on your smartphone, you can be sure that you’ll find a pleasant atmosphere at home at the end of the day.
Besides, this technology will allow you to save money while on vacation, as you can set your heating system to turn on from time to time and maintain an even temperature that won’t allow humidity buildup, and thus prevent the emergence of mold. Also, the AC could start on schedule every few days on fan mode and ensure that the house stays well vented.
There’s plenty you could here, as there’s no such thing as too much security. Here are some very useful devices to help you stay safe:
- Motion-activated security cameras – They don’t stay on all the time, which is a nice feature that allows you to save power and money, but you can be certain that, if someone is in your house, you will know. They activate when they sense motion and send you an alert on your phone. Thus, you can watch live footage from your home and see if it is your dog playing around the camera or an intruder.
- Smart locks – It’s time to leave the old, plain key locks in the past and step into the era of technology. A smart key is a mechanism that uses a code, a card, a biometric recognition method (voice, fingerprint), or a phone app to lock and unlock the door. Moreover, a unit of this type can send you alerts if someone is trying to open the door. You can also lock and open the door from the distance and have a better day at the office without thinking that you may have not locked the entrance.
- Wireless home intercom system – can be equipped with a camera that will allow you to see who is knocking on the door. And this without even being at home, as you can see the live footage on your phone. Some models come with motion sensors that let you know someone is at your door before they even touch the doorbell.
- Garage door opener – this entry point is burglars’ favorite, as it usually isn’t equipped with a good lock. By installing a smart garage door opener, you don’t only make your family a favor by increasing their security but make your life easier, as you will be able to operate the door without even getting out of the car. Moreover, with the dedicated app, you can check if the door is open or closed at every moment and even operate it when you are not at home.
- Home security system – you can get all the above with a complete security system that will monitor your home 24/7 and let you know if something seems to be out of order.
Having covered the basics, namely HAVC, light, and security control, it’s time to take a look at how you can use your appliances to make your life easier. Here are just a few ideas of robots that can handle the hard jobs for you:
- Smart robot vacuums and mops
- Baby monitors
- Smart humidifiers and dehumidifiers
- Smart kitchen appliances – ovens, coffee makers, air fryers, microwaves, blenders, etc.
- Audio and video systems
- Water/gas leak detectors
Once you’ve got everything figured out and installed, you can simply link them to a smart speaker or hub and activate the marvel of modern technology – voice control. There are plenty of smart speakers to go with that connect to apps like Alexa or Google Assistant. Thus, you’ll only need to ask, and things will get done around the house. You can also receive information on the weather, nearby restaurants, ask your assistant to play music, or search the internet for the information you need on the spot.
How to Ensure a Strong Internet Connection?
The internet is the one behind all this technology, so it is easy to understand that, without a reliable internet connection, your smart house may just turn into a huge disaster. So, how do you make sure every system and device gets a good connection?
The key here is to plan everything while you are building the house or remodeling. Thus, it is easier to get the cables through the walls and keep them hidden. Imagine what a mess you could make if you had to drill holes and draw wires through a finished home. Nonetheless, this is the case sometimes, and there’s just no other way.
To get good internet in every corner of the house, we advise placing multiple WiFi access points around the house. You can connect them through cables to the central router and, thus, spread the signal evenly. Also, you could pick ‘active’ access point systems, which switch your device’s connection to the closest WiFi point as you move.
How Much Does It Cost to Design a Smart House?
The base is the wiring, which can cost up to $2,000. But, starting from this point, the cost can just grow and grow, as you add more smart appliances to your system. Thus, with smart bulbs costing around $36 to $80 each, you can easily hit a few hundred, even thousands of dollars when it comes to lighting, depending on the size of your house. Moreover, a security system will cost you from $100+ for a WiFi camera with HD vision to more than $2,800 for a full security system that can function 24/7 and include all the necessary security devices.
From here forward, you may continue to invest in smart appliances like cleaning robots, smart thermostats, or kitchen appliances that will increase the costs once again by thousands of dollars. A small cinema room can boost the costs by up to $20k.
You may also need a professional to set everything up, so don’t forget to save some money for this task as well.
Overall, experts estimate that a whole-house system can reach the cost of $80.000.
The Bottom Line
The financial effort is considerable, but the good news is that you don’t need to transform your entire house smart overnight. The most stringent task is to ensure the wiring, so you can have everything ready when you decide to add more devices. Ensure you can install more WiFi access points as you automatize more parts of the house and buy reliable routers with a strong signal that can penetrate through thick concrete walls and insulation if this is your case.
And if, at the end of the day, you stop for a moment and start questioning the necessity of this investment, remember that it will reduce your energy bills, make your home safer, and take a load of chores out of your head, leaving you with more time to enjoy as you prefer, whether relaxing by yourself or getting together with others. Plus, you can always go green and use solar energy to power all this. It is the path to a healthier planet.