Getting going with a smart home

Smart Plugs and Smart Homes – how to get started in 4 Easy Steps

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About this article

With quite a bit of experience using and building smart home devices, in this post I want to give you a suggestion and step-by-step instructions on how to take an easy first step to smartifying your house.

Smart home – how to get started with Smart Plugs

Since I was a young boy, I’ve been hooking gadgets up to switches and controllers, and some things just don’t change. I’m just fascinated with the idea of pressing a button, or using a trigger of some sort (laser trip wire, cameras and facial recognition, movement sensors etc) to make something happen, somewhere else in the real world around us.

https://twitter.com/SmartHomeDiy

Over the past five years or so I’ve not only purchased, installed and tested many smart-home cadges, but I’ve also built my own, including weather sensors, air-quality and light measurement, smart media frames, light, heating and ventilation controllers and more. Actually, my house tweets about most of these here. (at the time of writing, the humidity and temperature sensors are on the blink, and I’m waiting a replacement part).

So with all this experimentation and experience, where can I suggest you start?

Simple starting point

It’s tempting to go for the really cool, exciting things like video door bells or central heating controllers, but trust me, these can be difficult to set up for a beginner and are likely to be underwhelming.

My suggestion, and this assumes you have an Alexa or Google Home type thing (that so many people do, already), but this article doesn’t even require one of those.

Let’s start building your smart home with smart plug sockets.

With plug sockets you can control nearly everything around the house. We use them for controlling music, TV, lights and heating.

So let’s get going…

Getting started with smart plugs – step by step

I’ll try to take you through how to start setting up a smart home using smart plugs in the following steps.

Step 1: Buy some Smart Plugs.

There are many to choose from, I went for these. (not an endorsement)

smart plugs to make a smart home

Step 2: Download the app for the Smart Plugs.

All smart plugs will come with their own app of some sort, with these ones, the app was called Smart Life.

smart home smart plug app

Step 3: Connect the plugs to the app

Using these plugs and apps, it was easy. I plugged in the plug, pressed and held the button on the side for a few seconds until it started blinking, then opened the app.

 

When the smart plug is found, you can give it an easy to remember name, like “Lamp”.

That’s it really, now you can remotely turn it on and off, set up timers and schedules and even track how much energy that device is using.

smarthome set up smart plugs - automate  smarthome set up smart plugs - options

Step 4: Connecting to a smart speaker, for example Amazon Echo ‘Alexa’

Once these steps are done, it’s pretty easy to now control things with you voice.

Open the Alexa app (you’re going to have this installed already if you have one of these smart speakers) and in many cases it will automatically discover the new device. If it doesn’t follow these steps.

  • Click Devices
  • Click the ‘plus’ sign’ in the top right
  • Click ‘Add Device’
  • Choose ‘Plug’
  • Choose the brand, in this case Teckin and follow instructions.
  • In this case press ‘Discover Devices’

smarthome set up smart plugs - alex set up 1 smarthome set up smart plugs - alex set up 2 smarthome set up smart plugs - alex set up 3 smarthome set up smart plugs - alex set up 4

I hope this was a useful how-to guide for how getting started with a smart home. If you have any other topics you’d like me to cover, do let me know.

Now what?

Welcome to the beginning of your new smart home. Now by simply uttering “Alexa turn Light on” you’ll be able to turn your light on. Also, you can set a schedule to have the light turn on at certain times, at sunset, or in certain weather conditions.

There’s so many more things you can do, and I’ll cover these later. Sign up to my newsletter below to be alerted when I add more smart home tips and tricks.

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