The smart home: What is part of the basic configuration and what additional devices are useful?

Properties are becoming more and more upmarket and the demands of prospective buyers for upmarket furnishings are also increasing. Smart home refers to the technology for an intelligent home that brings more living comfort and security to everyday life. 

Moreover, the intelligent control of light and heating reduces energy costs. This means that a smart home system for new buildings is now almost standard. Anyone planning to renovate their old building or equip an existing property in a more innovative way can retrofit their property with a smart home at any time. 

However, this almost always requires fast internet access and stable WiFi throughout the house. Additional repeaters guarantee a greater range over several rooms or floors if required. As an alternative to WiFi, there are also systems that communicate via radio or Bluetooth. These are less at risk of cyber-attack, but cannot be controlled remotely.

Even basic smart home technology offers attractive advantages for your own four walls. The expansion to a fully networked smart home knows hardly any limits in terms of security, convenience and effort savings. As so often, it is merely a question of price and personal need.

Hamburg - Smart Home

Smart home systems - it's all about the gateway

The heart of a smart home system is the central control unit, which ensures smooth communication with the peripheral devices via internet, Bluetooth or radio. These so-called gateways or hubs are offered by different manufacturers with different communication options. 

If you need an inexpensive basic configuration for smart lighting, there is a wide range to choose from. However, this is often not enough to expand the smart home over time into a system that is networked throughout the entire house. 

In this case, it is important to select a gateway that is as open as possible right from the start, with different communication paths, so that the home automation system can still be expanded as desired in a few years' time. 

While some providers offer a closed system for their own products, others allow the use of compatible smart devices from other brands in their smart home environment. These offer the possibility of upgrading freely and choosing more cost-effective models. If a desired robot or other device is not compatible with the selected system at a later date, this does not generally present any problems. This is because most smart products can be operated autonomously, i.e. without a gateway, directly via an app. 

Saving energy through smart home technology

Whether it is a new building or an old building with energy efficiency upgrades, the smart home supports energy-saving measures just as efficiently as it increases the feel-good atmosphere of the property. On the one hand, the smart heating control saves money because the heating only runs when there is someone at home. Smart home thermostats with sensors reduce the heating output in the dark or when the room is empty, for example. 

Other smart home systems learn the usage habits and regulate the radiators or hot water supply accordingly. WiFi thermostats with geofencing in turn detect when residents approach the property and then turn up the heating. It is possible to control the heaters individually or variably throughout the house via the internet. This saves energy costs when you are away and still offers the comfort of being able to enter pleasantly heated rooms at any time. 

Smart home technology for less work and more free time 

Smart sockets turn a simple table lamp into intelligent lighting. Alternatively, the practical sockets transform normal household appliances into smart kitchen helpers. This allows the existing coffee machine to start automatically at a fixed time depending on the day of the week. If you prefer to sleep in, you can start the brewing process from bed using a mobile phone app. Vacuum robots or combined vacuum-mopping robots clean the floors and thus save a lot of time in the household. 

They start at the specified time or as instructed via the app. This way, the robot vacuums the whole apartment or individual rooms or areas as required. You can buy robot vacuums for less than 100 euros that randomly vacuum your entire home. Models with an additional wiping function, planned cleaning sequence and laser technology for detecting obstacles are more expensive. 

Artificial intelligence in the field of home automation includes smart refrigerators that make shopping in the supermarket easier thanks to the integrated interior camera. A smart home roller shutter control can be retrofitted to all existing electric roller shutter controls. This also opens and closes the roller shutter via app or voice control. The control is not only convenient, but also opens the roller shutter automatically in case of smoke development to open the escape route. However, this requires that the smart home roller shutter control is connected to the fire protection system.

Smart home lighting - cosy, adaptable, efficient

The most frequently purchased smart home technology starter set is the intelligent lighting control system. Whether energy-saving lamp, LED strip or smart home light switch, intelligent lighting creates a distinctive ambience for all types of rooms and at any time of day. While the open-plan living and dining room shines brightly and cheerfully at breakfast in uplifting daylight illumination, in the evening it invites you to a relaxed candlelight dinner with warm and pleasantly dimmed lighting. 

This is made possible by smart lighting such as Philips Hue, which integrates seamlessly into most smart home systems using the ZigBee wireless standard. They can be controlled via app, radio or, for example, via the voice commands of Google Assistant. Smart home light switches can be integrated into existing light switches and also offer a dual benefit. This is because they allow the smart home light to be switched on and off via app or internet, even when no one is at home. 

This way, it not only looks like the building is occupied, but also appears bright and friendly when the owners come home. This is also the case with a motion detector with light control. Because depending on the system and programming, it automatically lights the way to the bathroom at night by switching on the necessary lights for a preset period of time. Intelligent lighting controls also provide more security. In the event of a burglary, for example, the Bosch smart home lighting control system switches on the lights throughout the house, which usually causes burglars to quickly retreat. 

A smart home for more security

Many of the smart home peripherals offer advantages in terms of convenience, but also in terms of protection. Smart locks are electronic door locks that allow access to the home via app, radio control, PIN entry or fingerprint scan. With internet access, the front door can even be opened from work or when you are on holiday. A forgotten or lost key is now a thing of the past. A smartwatch is sufficient for jogging, and with the help of geofencing it already opens the front door hands-free on arrival. 

Quick access for the cleaning lady or holiday guests is as easy to setup as it is to delete via the smart lock. In combination with smart home cameras, the property and all associated entrances are optimally monitored. A smart video intercom system enables communication with a visitor via the internet as well as when on the move. The person ringing the bell cannot tell whether the house is empty or the owner is at home. This way, a courier can leave a delivery behind the garden gate, which can be opened remotely via an app and a smart lock. 

During this process, the visitor can be monitored all the time via the cameras. All devices record movements at the building or the use of the doors with time and date, so that it is possible to check at any time who entered the house and when. In combination with smart shutter control and smart lighting, longer absences can be concealed. This makes the smart home perfect for monitoring holiday homes and making them look occupied.

More lifestyle thanks to smart multimedia

Everyone must decide for themselves at what point an individually equipped smart home crosses the line between what is necessary and what is luxury. If a house has smart home entertainment equipment for TV & music in all rooms, this also increases the value of the property. The occupants in each room use an app or voice control to select the music that is to be played through the loudspeakers of the networked music system. Or a sensor detects when someone enters the room, starts playing the selected music according to playlist and continues playing it in the next room when the person enters it. 

With other smart home systems, you use voice command to tell the artificial intelligence what to do. Amazon's Alexa selects the music accordingly. After the voice command "Alexa, play music for my workout", motivating music for a sporty workout is played from the Echo speakers without you even needing to look at the display. In a home cinema with corresponding smart home equipment, you only need a mobile phone instead of many individual remote controls to start the projector, the Blu-Ray player, the hi-fi system or your favourite game. 

For 4K movie enjoyment in the afternoon, the curtains close at the touch of a button to darken the room and the indirect, sensor-controlled LED lighting changes to match the atmosphere of the film. The devices available for the smart home and the special lifestyle in every property are just as versatile as the multimedia world. 

Smart gardening: Who still needs a gardener?

It is not only in summer that the garden delights with a perfectly mown lawn, flowering plants and the quiet splashing of the fountain. If you don't have a gardener, you spend a lot of time in the garden mowing the lawn and watering the flowers. The pool must be cleaned regularly of algae, insects and leaves in order for it to look good. A smart garden significantly reduces this workload. The robotic lawnmower takes care of mowing the lawn, automatically detecting when it is necessary and in which part of the garden. 

The swimming pool is also cleaned entirely by a cleaning robot, while the lawn and flower beds are watered automatically and punctually as specified and required. In smart gardening, artificial intelligence can actually increase the quality of life by providing more leisure time. 

And while you are on holiday, everything continues as usual in the smart garden. The smart gardening systems are just as suitable for the holiday home as they can be controlled via the internet. This way, the owner can enjoy his weekend on the already well-maintained property without having to put in any work first after arriving.

 The smart garden outside and in the kitchen

Smart garden systems offer the luxury of an always well-maintained garden with almost no work and at an affordable price. This applies at least to the basic configuration for smaller to medium-sized gardens. The practical smart gardening systems can be supplemented as desired with acoustic and optical smart home devices. The smartphone app conveniently controls the LED colour for the pool lighting, switches the waterfall on and off or adjusts the volume of the background music from the terrace. 

Smart gardening is not only interesting for outdoors, there are also indoor alternatives. In the smart mini-greenhouse or the exclusive app-controlled indoor greenhouse, kitchen herbs or fresh lettuce thrive right next to the cooker, ready to be picked. For large gardens with several robots and automated indoor greenhouses, the smart gardening acquisition costs can quickly climb to several thousand euros, making it a good idea to first carry out an individual cost-benefit analysis.

Smart home for a more convenient lifestyle

Many activities and processes in everyday life are repetitive. Smart homes are able to simplify and improve life with the help of artificial intelligence. Small helpers like robots in the house or garden often save time that has become scarce and can be put to better use. Smart video surveillance, roller shutter controls and smart locks promise more convenience and offer additional security for the house or apartment. The positive cost-benefit balance of the smart home is undisputed when it comes to smart energy control of living spaces. The savings from using intelligent lighting and heating control alone make it viable to purchase a smart home. But an added bonus is that the smart home can also make life more enjoyable. 

Whether this means a home cinema or a fully networked music system for the entire house is up to you. The integration of a smart home system in a new building is a good idea because of the many advantages. Retrofitting in existing properties is also easy to accomplish. Some smart products are already available for just a few euros. Basic configurations cost a little more, while for complete systems the sky’s the limit. Each type of smart home improves living comfort in its own way and at the same time increases the value of the property.  

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