If you haven’t got in on the smart-home trend yet, or only have minimally, you’ll know that in recent years, the variety of smart products on offer has increased exponentially, while prices have generally reduced. Plus, more large tech companies than ever are joining the sector, so variety and quality continue to soar. This all means that now is a great time to turn your home into a smart one.

For people who haven’t gone down this road before, though, it can be daunting. To make sure you go about the process in a smart, strategic, and economical way, here’s what you need to do. 

Set a Budget

It’s always a good idea to set a budget for your smart-home creation before you get yourself to the shops. There are hundreds of different product types on the market now, so it can be tempting to go a little crazy when faced with the selection in shops. 

Avoid spending more than you can afford by putting a budget in place ASAP. Once you know the final amount you can spend, you can work back from there to decide how many and what type of products to buy. Do keep in mind, too, that some of the devices you buy will need to be installed by a professional, such as an electrician, and you could need new or additional wiring (particularly if you want to add Ethernet); factor the cost of these things into your budget. 

Work Out What You Want to Achieve and Make a Plan

Make sure you’re clear on what you want to achieve from creating a smart home. How do you wish these internet-enabled devices to add value to or change your lifestyle and that of your family? For instance, you might want to cut energy costs, boost productivity, or simply have fun using the latest tech gadgets. 

Once you’ve decided on goals, start planning the project. Decide which items to buy for your smart home right now (the central hub is typically the first thing on the list), and then plan which ones you want to buy later as finances permit. If you’re about to renovate your home and want to add tech gear as part of this work, plan out the installation of new wiring or the addition of extra power points and other electrical features, too. Your planning may also involve selecting contractors to install equipment. 

Research

One of the main elements of creating a smart home is deciding which products to buy. To avoid overwhelm and overspending, research online before you even get into a store. Use your goals to come up with a list of initial products you desire, and research what the key brands have come out with in these areas. Compare gadgets carefully and read reviews, especially those on public forums and on social media sites; these are more likely to be genuine and not so created or sponsored by manufacturers. 

When comparing tech, look at the cost of each item plus all its features, how it will connect to other products you want to install, and things like security, scalability, and compatibility with your current networking or internet setup. Before you buy smart-home gear, consider what kind of warranty it has and whether you want to purchase additional coverage. For instance, American Home Shield sells add-on warranty for electronic equipment. 

Helpfully, there are many user-generated reviews posted online and in magazines, newspapers, and the like that you can use to help you find the best products for your needs. Also, if you have friends, family members, work colleagues, etc. who have already purchased smart-home gadgets, ask them for their opinion on the products they own. They might give you information you wouldn’t have otherwise learned about or considered vital.  

Secure Devices

The security of smart-home devices is also incredibly important. Unfortunately, now that millions of people have internet-connected gear in their homes, hackers are taking advantage of product and network vulnerabilities to break into systems and even, from there, into people’s physical homes at times. Avoid compromising your security by taking steps to keep cybercriminals at bay. 

After you purchase smart-home gear, change the default username and password the manufacturer uploaded on them (this information is public knowledge so hackers can discover it quickly). Password protect your Wi-Fi router and all the devices you use to control your smart-home products, such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Install security software on these items, too, so hackers are less likely to break into them and get access to your smart-home devices from there. 

It’s also necessary to keep all the firmware and software updated on internet-connected gadgets. Manufacturers release new versions of programs after they find security gaps and then plug them. If you’re not running the latest editions, you leave yourself more vulnerable to hacker attacks.  

Smart homes require a significant investment upfront, in terms of finances, time, and effort, however if you follow the steps listed above, you should find the process less stressful, and the result a better one. 

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