With the tech that’s on offer these days, you can pretty easily and cheaply turn your home into the Starship Enterprise. And to prove it, we’ve dug up the 6 simplest but most effective home automation ideas on the market today.
1. Home Assistants
Before you can go smarting up your lights or your blinds, you need some sort of helper. That leaves you with 3 main choices:
- Google Home – For anyone with Netflix, Chromecasts and other Google gear, the Google Home is probably your best bet. It’s not the best speaker, but it does have the most accurate search functionality.
- Amazon Echo – The sound from this thing is impressive. If all you want is to ask Alexa to play your favourite playlist off Spotify as you cook, go for broke. But when you want to know how to cure a burn to your tongue (because you went ahead and ate a cookie straight from the oven), the search function is only a slim chance of knowing what you’re talking about.
- Apple HomePod – It’s good if all you own is Apple stuff, but Apple’s home assistant isn’t quite up to par with the Home or Echo in terms of practicality.
Once you’ve sorted your smart assistant, you’ll be able to bring your smart home project ideas to life.
General cost: $150 per assistant. More for assistants with screens, less for mini assistants.
2. Smart Lights
There are far too many brands and products here to break down. But a good smart-light package will let you:
- Set your rooms to any colour imaginable
- Create mood rooms by combining different hues
- Dim or brighten to your exact preferences
- Link to your home assistant to dim lights when you start a movie
- Create routines (so lights will turn on or off at set times)
- Be fully voice controlled.
Once you’ve started telling your lights what to do, you’ll wonder how you ever bothered to go flick the switch.
General cost: Around $200 for the first room, $100 for every additional room.
3. Smart Home Security
Remember when security systems meant wiring a series of cameras to a singular hub and storing videos of footage? You’d almost rather be robbed than have to set all that up.
Systems like the Ring doorbell have taken all the effort out of securing your home. From video camera doorbells to smoke alarms, they can track almost every element of your home. And if anything doesn’t seem right, it can either alert you via your smartphone or even ring your home assistant.
If you have an assistant with a screen (such as the Google Home Hub), you’ll even be presented with a live feed of the doorbell camera when it rings – no more awkwardly peeking through the blinds to see if it’s worth opening the door.
General cost: $300 for a smart doorbell, extra for additional cameras and sensors.
4. Smart Blinds and Curtains
You won’t actually find many complete smart blind setups, but what you can order is a smart blind motor. It’ll do everything you expect (raise and drop blinds on your command) without a shockingly high price tag.
And if you’re good at setting this gear up, you can even add it to some known commands in your home assistant. All you’d need to say is “Okay Google, start the movie”, and it’ll dim the lights to the right levels, close the blinds, turn on the TV, and open Netflix. How’s that for smart home automation?
General cost: $100 for a single motor.
5. Home Theatre
There’s a good chance you won’t need to upgrade your TV and home theatre gear to make it smart compatible. Most smart TVs can be linked to a Google Home, and Chromecasts can definitely be linked. The best bet is to add an Amazon Echo Dot or Google Home Mini to your theatre room so you can make clear voice instructions.
General cost: $600 for a smart TV, $70 for a Chromecast.
6. Home Cleaning
Did a jump-scare in the movie cause you to flick popcorn all over the room? No worries – just ask your home assistant to vacuum the room for you. If you order a robo-vacuum like the Neato D85 Botvac, it’ll come to life on your command. Or you can save it to do the vacuuming when you’re out of the house. Either way, you’ll be right on the cutting-edge of home automation in Australia.
General cost: $700 for a smart-home-compatible robot vacuum.
Still need to find the perfect home to smarten up? Check out your local Clarendon Homes display homes, and find the design that really puts the ‘home’ in smart home.