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How to Start a Smart Home in 2020

If you've been curious about turning your home into a smart home but if you

don't know where to begin because everything out there just seems kind of

overwhelming with the amount of smart home solutions out there, this is going

to be the video for yo.u My name is Josh Teder I'm from 6 Months Later and in

this video I'm going to take you through how to start a smart home in 2020. I'm

going to take you through some of my personal experiences with smart home

devices, as well as give you the latest information on what the smart home

landscape looks like in 2020. Let's dive in. When looking to turn your home into a

smart home you can typically go to routes, the first of which is a

do-it-yourself route where you buy all of the different smart home devices you

want, you set them up and then you connect them all through a similar

platform which is typically either the Google Assistant, Alexa, or Apple's Siri/

HomeKit. The second route is to use an integrator. These are companies

that make home automation platforms and have regional installers that will come

out and install an integrated solution for you.

Some of the popular platforms that these installers use include Control4,

Savant, and Crestron, which all mainly target the luxury home market. So which

one do you go with? Well, it actually depends on a couple of factors...one, how

many pieces of your home are you planning to automate? Two, what's your

budget, how much are you willing to spend? and then three, how comfortable would you

be setting up all of this stuff yourself? The experiences with integrators in this

space can vary widely depending on how their user interfaces are designed and

the third party platforms they can work with. Thankfully things have been getting

better in terms of what these systems can actually integrate in to, but there's

also been quite a bit of disruption for the integrators coming from the larger

tech companies. For example, if you look at the Google Nest page it's obvious

that Google, with its Nest brand, is making a play to consumers who want the

type of whole home solution that the traditional smart home automation

companies provide. And now not just the luxury home players are offering in-home

consultation services and installation services. You've got some

pretty big retailers in this space now as well like Best Buy. Best Buy will

actually come out to your home and do a consultation for free and they also

offer paid installation services. The products that Best Buy will steer

customers towards are products that are going to be more mainstream but perhaps

not as fully integrated as the services from the high-end home automation

companies. Now for the rest of this video, I'm mainly going to focus on the

mainstream consumer tech companies because their products are the ones that

I think most people are going to actually buy in 2020. The first part in

setting up one of these systems in 2020 is choosing which core platform to go

with that all of your smart devices will talk to and will be the central point of

control for your smart home. The major mainstream platforms you can choose from

out there are Amazon's Alexa devices, Google's Google Assistant devices, or

apple's HomeKit-enabled devices. There are others though like Samsung

SmartThings, but I would consider Amazon and Google to be ahead in this space

because of the dominance of their voice assistant platforms. Now luckily in 2020,

most smart home devices now work with both Amazon and Google's platforms and a

lot of devices also work with Apple's HomeKit. Apple is actually the company

that is going to gain the most out of a new alliance that was announced late

last year between Amazon, Apple, Google, and ZigBee, called Connected Home Over IP.

This Alliance hopes to form a common standard for the smart home which should

make the ecosystem as a whole less fragmented, however, it will take years

for this alliance and their new standard to be implemented, which is why my advice

right now is to still go with Amazon or Google in 2020. If you already have a lot

of Apple devices though and want to stay in their ecosystem, that's certainly a

reason to stick with HomeKit. I personally use the Google Assistant to

run my smart home. I do have Alexa and Siri / HomeKit as well so I could

use any of the assistants, but I typically find that the Google Assistant

is more useful for my needs. Once you decide

which core platform is right for you to run your smart home, now it's time to

talk about the devices that actually make your home a smart home. Typically

you can divide the types of devices into several main categories including: music,

media, lighting, climate, security, and appliances / accessories. First let's

look at music with whole home audio. This functionality allows you to play

different music in different parts of your home. Now typically through a voice

assistant. You have various options here. Amazon, Google, and Apple, all make their

own speakers that natively play music from various music streaming services.

There are also third-party speakers and systems you can buy from companies like

Sonos and Bose that can work with all three companies' platforms. Some Bose and

Sonos speakers will even allow you to have Alexa and the Google Assistant

directly on their speakers. We've done reviews on quite a few smart speakers

including the Google Nest Mini, Nest Hub, Nest Hub Max, Google Home, Google Home

Max, and Amazon Echo. The Nest Hub, Nest Hub Max, and Amazon Echo Show have the

added benefit of having a screen on them as well, which makes controlling your

media as well as your other smart home devices even easier. If you're interested

in learning more about these devices, I'll link our videos about them in the

description below. Next, let's take a look at controlling your media rooms within

your smart home. Typically this involves controlling your TV and associated

speakers as well as the lighting in your media rooms. we'll get to lighting though

in just a second. Right now, the best integration with your TV from the

consumer companies would either come from Amazon or Google. They sell devices

that can control your TV, turn it on and off with an assistant, as well as deliver

content from all of the major streaming services you'd expect and they're

relatively affordable, only costing between 30 and 70 US dollars. Google's

chromecast in particular is pretty powerful thanks to its casting feature.

You can cast media from your Android, iPhone, or any Chrome browser over Wi-Fi

to chromecast enabled devices which makes it easy to cast a media from

phone to your TV and then pause and cast it to your bedroom TV. Google's newer

versions of the chromecast devices can also turn off and on your TV and

receiver and other devices connected to it through a technology called HDMI CEC

Amazons Fire stick also has this feature as well. Amazon will even go a step

further with integrations with receivers, sound bars, and TVs through its Fire Cube

TV product which will switch HDMI inputs and other functions with your voice

through Alexa. Both companies allow you to use your voice to control your media

hardware as well as tell either Alexa or the Google Assistant what media you want

to play on a specific screen. Now the Apple TV unfortunately can't be

controlled to turn on and off your TV using Siri. Overall through, I quite like

the Apple TV. It has a dedicated remote which the Google Chromecast doesn't have,

and it also has something similar to casting called Airplay where you can

stream media from pretty much any Apple device with a screen to your TV. Next up,

let's talk smart lighting and this category is pretty interesting because

neither Amazon, Apple, or Google, produce their own smart lights. Unlike with the

speaker and media device categories, there are generally two approaches to

doing smart lighting in your home. You either make the light bulb smart or you

make the switch smart. You can also use a combination of these two approaches

because some light fixtures you find just are not going to have a smart bulb

equivalent to the ball that the light fixture takes. The main players in smart

lights right now are Philips, GE, Lifx, IKEA, and Eufy. These smart light

manufacturers make LED bulbs that can typically be categorized into three

groups: plain white, bulbs that go from daylight to warm white, or multicolored

bulbs. These types of bulbs either connect through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and

some may require a hub that you will need to connect to your Wi-Fi router.

Smart lights save you a lot of time and steps throughout your house. You can turn

all of your lights off at night with just your voice, you can make sure you

turn them all off while you're away from home through the smartphone app.

typically you can create routines with them so you wake up with your

lights dimming up with sunrise colors and you can usually set geofencing with

your lights so they automatically turn on when you arrive home and turn off

when you leave. There are also other accessories you can get with your smart

lights like wireless dimmer switches that you can assign to control a variety

of lights in your residence. Philips Hue probably has the most accessories and

different types of smart lights available today and they're the brand

that I have in my residence and we did a review of the Philips Hue lighting

system, which if you're interested, I'll leave a link to that below. For smart

light switches some popular brands out there are Wemo, Casa, Ecobee, and Lutron.

These switches connect to your home's Wi-Fi network and replace the switch you

have in your existing wall, allowing you to either control the lights with the

switch, a phone app, or with a smart assistant. These are a great option if

you're doing a home remodel or building a new home where you already need light

switches anyways or if you just don't want to or can't put smart bulbs into a

fixture. Next up, let's talk climate control and mainly we're talking smart

thermostats here. These are thermostats that are Wi-Fi connected and can be

controlled by your smart assistants. Some popular ones include the Nest Learning

Thermostat made by Google, the Ecobee 4 which Amazon has a sizable stake in, and

various smart Honeywell thermostats. Some you can program like more traditional

thermostats with weekly schedules, while others like the Nest, learn your usage

patterns and use AI to predict what the temperature should be set to. Most of

them now allow you to stick sensors in different rooms around your house to

aggregate the temperature data in your home to give you a true home temperature.

Most smart thermostats will also work with the big three smart assistant

platforms and their installation is pretty easy. Next let's talk smart home

security systems. Home security has been around for a while with brands like here

in the US like ADT, CPI, and Brinks, but there are also new players in this space

now as well ,that give a different type of experience to their customers,

allowing them to place sensors, base stations, cameras, and other equipment

anywhere in their home that they want. The three new main players in this space

are Nest, Ring, and of course, SimpliSafe. Each of

these players does come with a monitoring service, but they're optional.

Nest's monitoring service is through Brinks home security where SimpliSafe

and Ring have their own in-house security systems that are cheaper than

the Brinks service, which is a bit more pricey. With all three services, the types

of devices offered are somewhat similar. There is usually a home base, sensors for

the doors and windows, motion sensors, cameras, smart locks, smart

doorbells, and a key fob to disarm the system. Do note none of these services

offers long term contracts. Besides the monitoring service and consumer tech

focus, the other benefit of these services is that they typically

integrate with the main platform assistants, so you can ask Alexa to arm

your alarm, or ask Google to see the downstairs living room camera etc. Some

of these services also offer smoke detection and water leak detection

devices etc, they're not just keeping your home safe from burglars but also

safe from other issues that can affect homeowners. The last and final category

of smart home devices is appliances and accessories. The basic concept is that

these are smart devices like your typical home appliances such as your

stove, refrigerator, washing machine, but also home accessories that can connect

to your smart home platform like smart blinds, robotic vacuum cleaners, smart

scales, smart plugs, etc. Smart accessories are typically going to cost you less to

buy so if you're just starting your smart home, my recommendation would be to

get some smart accessories first that mesh with your smart home platform and

then get appliances as you need them over time. My go-to smart home accessory

over the past few years has been smart plugs. They turn any appliance into one

that can be simply turned on or off by any of the major smart home assistant

platforms. They're especially handy when it comes to the holidays for decorating.

For example, during the holiday season I use five to eight smart plugs from

various companies to help link my holiday lights to the Google

Assistant. I group all of them into a room called Christmas lights and then

when I ask Google to turn on the Christmas lights they all turn on. Once

you choose your smart home platform and start buying devices and accessories for

your smart home, you're just going to be amazed at how easy it is to start

automating some of the most mundane aspects of your life. Like turning off

the lights in every room of your house with your voice, or do things you could

only have dreamed of years ago like a thermostat that you never have to adjust

because it's learned how you like to keep the temperature in your home, moving

through your house with the same music playing on multiple speakers in multiple

rooms, or asking your smart assistant for your Roomba to clean the kitchen after

you've finished making dinner. Smart home devices have the power to really change

your life for the better and they're an important part of what we do here at 6

Months Later. So if you'd like to learn more about smart home products, make sure

you're subscribed to our channel and if you have any questions about the smart

home landscape or you want to see us review a specific smart home product,

make sure to leave a comment below. Well, that's it for our video on how to start

a smart home in 2020, I hope you found the information in this video

informative and useful ,and if you did, make sure to hit that thumbs up button

below and of course subscribe to the channel to see other videos like this

one, and hit that Bell icon so you never miss out on another one of our videos.

Well that's it for me, I'm Josh Teder for 6 Months Later,

thanks for watching.