Cool Tech for Your Home

Whether you've recently moved into a sleek urban apartment, made a down payment on an elegant suburban fixer-upper, or finally converted your construction loan into a mortgage on your dream farmhouse, you may be interested in converting your traditional home to a smart home.

Maybe, you've heard that phrase being bandied about around the water cooler at work or during those super inconvenient ads that have now interrupt your favorite YouTube videos. (What's that all about anyway?) Maybe, you only have a vague idea as to what having a smart home means. Join the club.

What follows is an attempt to breakdown exactly what it means to have a smart home, and a compilation of a few of the latest products that can help make your home even smarter.

Get Smart

Transforming your residence into a smart home is the polar opposite of living "off the grid." It’s more like living “in the grid,” rather than “on the grid.” Still interested? Want to fill every nook and cranny of every square foot with something from the IOT list? Here’s a few key places to start.

Hello Google or Hey Alexa

In order to get the most bang for your buck, the one essential component you are going to want to invest in is a smart speaker. Smart speakers take voice commands and most have the ability to operate the other smart devices in your home. While not strictly necessary -- you can still purchase a Roomba, smart appliance, or a Belkin smart plug and have them work fine on their own, -- incorporating a smart speaker allows a greater degree of integration. As you know (or would if you bothered to click on the hyperlink above), there are a variety of such speakers currently on the market, all of which will get the job done. But none work with as many products or have the same ability to act as control central as Google Home and Amazon Echo. Both have their unique strengths and weaknesses and are competitively priced, so making the final decision probably won't be easy. To combat indecision, check out this buyer’s guide. It might make selecting the one that's right for you a little easier.

Ring my Bell or Invest in the Nest

Smart doorbells are another area of home technology rife with too many options. However, much like the case with Google Assistant and Alexa, Ring and Nest stand out from the rest. Packing the most features for the price, these devices not only make your home more secure, but also give you the convenience of seeing who’s at the door and conversing with them without having to actually get off the couch. Welcome to the future!

In the Air Tonight

Rounding out the trifecta is a smart thermostat, because getting out of bed in the middle of the night to adjust the temperature by a few degrees is so 2010. Instead, take your cellphone from the nightstand, or tell your smart speaker what temp it should be, and go back to sleep. If this sounds like a dream-worthy invention, you can either dog paddle in the rough waters of a random internet search, or you can check out the Ecobee4 to get started finding the right smart thermostat for your home.

Plug it In

While not exactly the same caliber device as the others on the list, something you may want to consider investing in (because they are comparatively inexpensive and virtually effortless to install) are smart plugs. These handy dandy Wi-Fi outlets plug directly into your existing wall sockets. Aesthetically, they have the same type of appeal as outlet extenders, only they allow any device plugged into them to become part of your network. And, you can control them via your smart phone or computer. Forget to unplug a hair straightener? No problem – just disable the plug from practically anywhere in the world. Most brands also work with the two smart speaker hubs listed above.

The Grid

If you have stuck with us this far, chances are you aren't the type of person who is skeptical of fluoride in the water, overly concerned about vaccinations leading to autism, or absolutely certain that the NSA is using your smart TV to spy on you. Good for you! You aren't the type of person who lets paranoia prohibit you from leading your best life. You want things to be as easy as possible.

Now that you see that technology is fast becoming an extension of yourself, you can be rest assured that your home is well on its way to becoming a smart home. With this information in hand, you can invest in any technology available in the marketplace to help you upgrade your home.

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