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Article Contents

Introduction, 1 smart-home definition, 2 smart-home infrastructures, 3 smart-home energy-management scheme, 4 technical challenges of smart homes, 5 conclusion, conflict of interest.

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Smart homes: potentials and challenges

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Rasha El-Azab, Smart homes: potentials and challenges, Clean Energy , Volume 5, Issue 2, June 2021, Pages 302–315, https://doi.org/10.1093/ce/zkab010

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Decentralized distributed clean-energy sources have become an essential need for smart grids to reduce the harmful effects of conventional power plants. Smart homes with a suitable sizing process and proper energy-management schemes can share in reducing the whole grid demand and even sell clean energy to the utility. Smart homes have been introduced recently as an alternative solution to classical power-system problems, such as the emissions of thermal plants and blackout hazards due to bulk plants/transmission outages. The appliances, sources and energy storage of smart homes should be coordinated with the requirements of homeowners via a suitable energy-management scheme. Energy-management systems are the main key to optimizing both home sources and the operation of loads to maximize home-economic benefits while keeping a comfortable lifestyle. The intermittent uncertain nature of smart homes may badly affect the whole grid performance. The prospective high penetration of smart homes on a smart power grid will introduce new, unusual scenarios in both generation and loading. In this paper, the main features and requirements of smart homes are defined. This review aims also to address recent proposed smart-home energy-management schemes. Moreover, smart-grid challenges with a high penetration of smart-home power are discussed.


Smart homes provide comfortable, fully controlled and secure lifestyles to their occupants. Moreover, smart homes can save energy and money with the possibility of profiting from selling clean renewable energy to the grid. On the other hand, the probable decrease in total domestic-energy loads encourages many governments to support promising smart-home technologies. Some countries have already put out many rules, laws and subsidy programmes to encourage the integration of smart homes, such as encouraging the optimization of the heating system, supporting building energy storage and/or deploying smart meters. For instance, the European Standard EN 15232 [ 1 ] and the Energy Performance of Building Directive 2010/31/EU [ 2 ], which is in line with Directive 2009/72/EC as well as the Energy Road Map 2050 [ 3 ], encourage the integration of smart-home technologies to decrease power demand in residential areas.

To control the environment, a smart home is automated by controlling some appliances, such as those used for lighting and heating, based on different climatic conditions. Now, recent control schemes adapt many functions besides classical switching ones. They can monitor the internal environment and the activities of the home occupants. They also can independently take pre-programmed actions and operate devices in set predefined patterns, independently or according to the user’s requirements. Besides the ease of life, smart homes confirm efficient usage of electricity, lowering peak load, reducing energy bills and minimizing greenhouse-gas emissions [ 4 , 5 ].

Smart homes can be studied from many points of view. The communication systems [ 6 ], social impacts [ 7 ], thermal characteristics [ 8 ], technologies and trends of smart homes [ 9 ] are reviewed individually. Moreover, the monitoring and modelling of smart-home appliances via smart meters are reviewed for accurate load forecasting, as in [ 10 , 11 ]. Recently, power-grid authorities have modified residential electrical tariffs to encourage proper demand-side management by homeowners. Different from previous reviews, this paper introduces smart homes from the electrical/economic point of view. It also discusses smart-home energy-management systems (SHEMS) in two different modes, offline load scheduling and real-time management. The prospective impacts of unusual smart-home power profiles on future smart grids are also summarized.

After this introductory section, Section 1 describes the different definitions of smart homes within the last two decades. Smart-home communication schemes and other infrastructures of smart homes are discussed in Section 2. Section 3 discusses in more detail the existing functions of SHEMS, their pre-proposed optimization techniques and related technical/economical objective functions. The impacts of smart homes on modern grids are also discussed in Section 4. Finally, in Section 5, the main conclusions and contributions of the paper are highlighted.

The term ‘smart home’ has been commonly used for about two decades to describe houses with controlled energy schemes. This automation scheme confirms easier lifestyles for homeowners than normal un-automated homes, especially for elderly or disabled persons. Recently, the concept of ‘smart home’ has a wider description to include many applications of technologies in one place.

Sowah et al. [ 12 ] define smart homes as: ‘Houses that provide their occupants a comfortable, secure, and energy efficient environment with minimum possible costs regardless their occupants.’ The Smart Homes Association defines a smart home as: ‘The integration of technology and services through home networking for a better quality of living’ [ 13 ].

Makhadmeh et al. define them as: ‘Incorporated residential houses with smart technology to improve the comfort level of users (residents) by enhancing safety and healthcare and optimizing power consumption. Users can control and monitor smart-home appliances remotely through the home energy-management system (HEMS), which provides a remote monitoring system that uses telecommunication technology’ [ 14 ].

Smart homes can be defined as: any residential buildings using different communication schemes and optimization algorithms to predict, analyse, optimize and control its energy-consumption patterns according to preset users’ preferences to maximize home-economic benefits while preserving predefined conditions of a comfortable lifestyle.

Distributed clean energy generated by smart homes provides many benefits for prospective smart grids. Consequently, the effects of smart homes on future power grids should be extensively studied. In the near future, smart homes will play a major role as a power supplier in modern grids, not only as a power consumer.

The general infrastructure of smart homes consists of control centres, resources of electricity, smart meters and communication tools, as shown in Fig. 1 . Each component of the smart-home model will be discussed in the following subsections.

Infrastructure of SHEMS source

Infrastructure of SHEMS source

2.1 The control centre

The control centre provides home users with proper units to monitor and control different home appliances [ 15 ]. All real-time data are collected by SHEMS to optimize the demand/generation coordination and verify the predefined objectives. The main functions of the control centre can be summarized as follows [ 15 ]:

(i) collecting data from different meters, homeowners’ commands and grid utility via a proper communication system;

(ii) providing proper monitoring and analysing of home-energy consumption for homeowners;

(iii) coordinating between different appliances and resources to satisfy the optimal solution for predefined objectives.

2.2 Smart meter

The smart meter receives a demand-response signal from power utilities as an input to the SHEMS system [ 16 , 17 ]. Recently, advanced smart-metering infrastructures can monitor many home features such as electrical consumption, gas, water and heating [ 18 ].

2.3 Appliances

Smart-home loads can be divided according to their operating nature into two categories: schedulable and non-schedulable loads. Non-schedulable loads are operated occasionally according to the homeowner’s desires without any predictable operating patterns, such as printers, televisions and hairdryers, whereas schedulable loads have a predictable operating pattern that can be shifted or controlled via SHEMS, such as washing machines and air conditioners [ 19 ].

According to [ 19 ], controllable devices are also classified into interruptible and non-interruptible load according to the effect of supply interruption on their tasks. Electric vehicles (EVs) can be considered as an exceptional load [ 20 , 21 ]. EVs have two operating modes: charging and discharging. Therefore, EVs are interruptible schedulable loads during the charging mode. Moreover, EV battery energy can also be discharged to supply power to the grid during critical events, which is known as vehicle-to-grid [ 22 ]. By SHEMS, EVs can participate in supplying loads during high-priced power periods. In low-priced power periods, EVs restore their energy from the grid [ 23 , 24 ].

2.4 Resources of electricity

Solar and wind plants are the most mature renewable-energy sources in modern grids. Nowadays, many buildings have installed photovoltaic (PV) modules, thermal solar heaters or micro wind turbines. For smart homes, various functions can be supplied by solar energy besides generating electricity, such as a solar water heater (SWH), solar dryer and solar cooler [ 25 ]. Moreover, PV plants are cheap with low requirements of maintenance [ 26 ], whereas hot water produced by SWHs can be used in many home functions, such as washing and cooking, which increases the home-energy efficiency [ 27 ].

Energy storage may be considered as the cornerstone for any SHEMS. SHEMS are usually installed with energy-storage systems (ESSs) to manage their stored energy according to predefined objectives. Many energy-storage technologies are available in the power markets. Batteries and fuel cells are the most compatible energy-storage types of smart-home applications [ 28 ]. A fuel-cell structure is very similar to a battery. During the charging process, hydrogen fuel cells use electricity to produce hydrogen. Hydrogen feeds the fuel cell to create electricity during the discharging process. Fuel cells have relatively low efficiency compared to batteries. Fuel cells provide extra clean storage environments with the capability of storing extra hydrogen tanks. That perfectly matches isolated homes in remote areas [ 29 ].

Although wind energy is more economical for large-scale plants, it has a very limited market for micro wind turbines in homes. Typically, micro wind turbines require at least a wind speed of 2.7 m/s to generate minimum power, 25 m/s for rated power and 40 m/s for continuous generated power [ 30 ]. A micro wind turbine is relatively expensive, intermittent and needs special maintenance requirements and constraints compared to a solar plant [ 31 ].

Recently, biomass energy has been a promising renewable resource alternative for smart homes. Many pieces of research have recommended biomass energy for different types of buildings [ 32 ]. Heating is the main function of biomass in smart homes, as discussed in [ 33 , 34 ]. In addition, a biomass-fuelled generation system is examined for many buildings [ 35 , 36 ].

2.5 Communication schemes

Recently, communication systems are installed as built-in modules in smart homes. Both home users and grid operators will be able to monitor and control several home appliances in the near future to satisfy the optimum home-energy profile while preserving a comfortable lifestyle. Therefore, both wired and wireless communication schemes are utilized, which is known as a home area network (HAN), to cover remote-control signals as home occupants’ ones. Fig. 1 shows an example of a HAN that consists of Wi-Fi and cloud computing networks for both indoor and outdoor data exchange, respectively [ 37 , 38 ].

Energy-management systems for homes require three main components: the computational embedded controllers, the local-area network communication middleware and the transmission control protocol/internet protocol (TCP/IP) communication for wide-area integration with the utility company using wide-area network communication [ 37 ].

According to home characteristics, many wired communication schemes can be selected, such as power-line communication (PLC), inter-integrated circuit (I2C) and serial peripheral interface or wireless technologies such as Zigbee, Wi-Fi, radio-frequency identification (RFID) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to develop HANs. A few of the most common techniques will be discussed briefly in the following subsections [ 38 ].

PLC is a technique that uses power lines to transmit both power and data via the same cable to customers simultaneously. Such wired schemes provide fast communication with low interference of data. Moreover, PLC provides many communication terminals, as all power plugs can be used for data transferring. As all electrical home devices are connected by power cables, PLC can communicate with all these devices via the same cable.

PLC set-up has a low cost, as it uses pre-installed power cables with minimum hardware requirements. With a PLC communication scheme, home controllers can also be integrated easily with a high speed of data transfer. On the other hand, PLC has a high probability of data-signal attenuation. Furthermore, data signals suffer from electromagnetic interference of transmitted power signals.

2.5.2 Zigbee

Zigbee is a wireless communication technique [ 37–46 ]. Zigbee follows the IEEE 802.15.4 standard as a radio-frequency wireless communication scheme. It does not require any licenses for limited zones such as homes [ 37 ]. Also, Zigbee is a low-power-consuming technique. Therefore, it is suitable for basic home appliances, such as lighting, alarm systems and air conditioners [ 39 , 40 ]. Zigbee usually considers all home devices as slaves with a master coordinator/controller, which is known as a master–slave architecture.

Zigbee provides highly secured transferred data [ 38 , 41 ] with high reliability and capacity [ 42 ]. It also has self-organizing capabilities [ 42 ]. Conversely, Zigbee is relatively expensive due to special hardware requirements with low data-transfer rates. Moreover, Zigbee is not compatible with many other protocols, such as internet-supported protocols and Wi-Fi.

2.5.3 Wi-Fi technology

Wi-Fi is a wireless communication technique that follows the IEEE 802.11 standard. Wi-Fi provides high-rate data transfer that is compatible with many information-based devices such as computers, laptops, etc. [ 43 , 44 ].

Wi-Fi is a highly secured scheme with many of the familiar internet capabilities and low data-transfer delays (<3 ms) [ 45 ]. On the contrary, it is a relatively high-power-consuming scheme compared to Zigbee schemes [ 45 ]. Also, home devices can affect transmitted data signals by their emitted electromagnetic fields [ 46 ]. Wi-Fi can also suffer from interference from other communication protocols such as Zigbee and Bluetooth [ 43 ].

RFID is a wireless communication technique that conforms to the electronic product code protocol [ 47–52 ]. It can coincide with other communication schemes such as Wi-Fi and Zigbee. It can be utilized for a relatively widespread range of frequencies, from 120 kHz to 10 GHz. It also covers a wide range of distances, from 10 cm to 200 m [ 48 ]. Many researchers are investigating RFID home applications, such as energy-management systems [ 49 ], door locks [ 50 ] and lighting controls [ 51 ].

RFID operates on tags and reader-identification systems with a high data-transfer rate. Nevertheless, RFID has expensive chips with low bandwidth. The possibility of tag collision within the same zone decreases the accuracy of the RFID scheme.

This scheme connects home devices, users and grid operators via the internet to monitor and manage smart homes [ 6 , 38 , 53–65 ]. Consequently, the IoT and cloud computing have proven to be cheap, popular and easy services for smart homes. Moreover, IoT schemes are compatible with many other communication protocols, such as Zigbee, Bluetooth, etc., as listed in Table 1 . Internet hacking is the main problem with IoT schemes. System security and privacy are critical challenges for such internet-based schemes.

IoT protocols features

Today, building energy-management systems (BEMS) are utilized within residential, commercial, administration and industrial buildings. Moreover, the integration of variable renewable-energy sources with proper ESSs deployed in buildings represents an essential need for reliable, efficient BEMS.

For small-scale residential buildings or ‘homes’, BEMS should deal with variable uncertain load behaviours according to the home occupants’ desires and requirements, which is known as SHEMS. Throughout recent decades, many SHEMS have been presented and defined in many research studies.

In [ 66 ], SHEMS are defined as services that efficiently monitor and manage electricity generation, storage and consumption in smart houses. Nazabal et al. [ 67 ] include a collaborative exchange between smart homes and the utility as a main function of SHEMS. In [ 68 ], SHEMS are defined from the electrical-grid point of view as important tools that provide several benefits such as flattening the load curve, a reduction in peak demand and meeting the demand-side requirements.

3.1 Functions of SHEMS

Adaptive SHEMS are required to conserve power, especially with the increasing evolution in home loads. SHEMS should control both home appliances and available energy resources according to the real-time tariff and home user’s requirements [ 4 ]. Home-management schemes should provide an interface platform between home occupants and the home controller to readjust occasionally the load priority [ 5 ].

As shown in Fig. 2 , the majority of smart-home centres can be summarized as having five main functions [ 5 ], as follows:

Functions of SHEMS

Functions of SHEMS

(i) Monitoring: provides home residents with visual instantaneous information about the consumed power of different appliances and the status of several home parameters such as temperature, lights, etc. Furthermore, it can guide users to available alternatives for saving energy according to the existing operating modes of different home appliances.

(ii) Logging: collects and saves data pertaining to the amount of electricity consumed by each appliance, generated out of energy-conservation states. This functionality includes analysing the demand response for real-time prices.

(iii) Control: both direct and remote-control schemes can be implemented in smart homes. Different home appliances are controlled directly by SHEMS to match the home users’ desires, whereas other management functions are controlled remotely via cell phones or laptops, such as logging and controlling the power consumption of interruptible devices.

(iv) Management: the main function of SHEMS. It concerns the coordination between installed energy sources such as PV modules, micro wind turbines, energy storage and home appliances to optimize the total system efficiency and/or increase economic benefits.

(v) Alarms: SHEMS should respond to specific threats or faults by generating proper alarms according to fault locations, types, etc.

3.2 Economic analysis

Economic factors affecting home-management systems are classified into two classes. First, sizing costs include expanses of smart-home planning. Second, operating costs consist of bills of consumed energy. These costs depend mainly on the electrical tariff.

3.2.1 Sizing costs

These include capital, maintenance and replacement costs of smart-home infrastructures, such as PV systems, wind turbines, batteries/fuel cells and communication systems. In most previous SHEMS, such planning costs usually are not taken into consideration, as management schemes usually concern the daily operating costs only [ 69 ].

3.2.2 Operating costs

The electricity tariff is the main factor that gives an indication of the value of saving energy, according to the governmental authority; there are many types of tariffs, as follows [ 70–74 ]:

(i) Flat tariffs: the cost of consumed energy is constant regardless of the continuous change in the load. Load-rescheduling schemes do not affect the electricity bills in this scheme. Therefore, homeowners are not encouraged to rearrange their consumed energy, as they have no any economic benefits from managing the consumption of their appliances.

(ii) Block-rate tariffs: in this scheme, the monthly consumed energy price is classified into different categories. Each category has its own flat-rate price. Therefore, the main target of SHEMS is minimizing the total monthly consumed energy to avoid the risk of high-priced categories.

(iii) Seasonal tariffs: in this scheme, the total grid-demand load is changed significantly from one season to another. Therefore, the utility grid applies a high flat-rate tariff in high-demand seasons and vice versa. SHEMS should minimize the total consumption in such high-priced seasons and get the benefit of consumption in low-priced seasons.

(iv) Time-of-use (TOU) tariff: there are two or three predefined categories of tariffs daily in this scheme. First, a high-priced-hours tariff is applied during high-demand hours, which is known as a peak-hours tariff. Second, an off-peak-hours tariff is applied during low-demand hours with low prices for energy consumption. Sometimes, three levels of pricing are defined by the utility grid during the day, i.e. off-, middle- and high-peak costs, as discussed in [ 75 ]. SHEMS shift interruptible loads with low priority to off-peak hours to minimize the bill.

(v) Super peak TOU: this can be considered as a special case of the previously described TOU tariff but with a short peak-hours period of ~4 hours daily.

(vi) Critical peak pricing (CPP): the utility grid uses this tariff scheme during expected critical events of increasing the gap between generation and power demand. The price is increased exceptionally during these critical events by a constant predefined rate.

(vii) Variable peak pricing: this is a subcategory of the CPP tariff in which the exceptional increase in the tariff is variable. The utility grid informs consumers of the exceptional dynamic price increase according to its initial expectations.

(viii) Real-time pricing (RTP): the price is changing continuously during pre-identified intervals that range from several minutes to an hour. This tariff is the riskiest pricing scheme for homeowners. The electricity bill can increase significantly without a proper management system. SHEMS should communicate with grid utility and reschedule both home appliances, sources and energy storage continuously to minimize the total bill.

(viii) Peak-time rebates (PTRs): a proper price discount is considered for low-consumption loads during peak hours, which can be refunded later by the grid.

Depending on the electricity tariff, SHEMS complexity varies dramatically. In the case of using a flat-rate tariff, the algorithm becomes simpler, as one value is recorded for selling or buying the electricity. Tariffs may be published from the proper authority or predicted according to historical data. Prediction of the dynamic tariff is a main step in any SHEMS. Many time frames of tariff prediction are proposed that vary from hourly, daily or even a yearly prediction. Many optimization techniques with various objective functions are proposed to handle different features of both smart-home infrastructures and electricity tariffs, as will be discussed in the following section.

3.3 Pre-proposed SHEMS

Different SHEMS may be classified according to four features: operational planning of load-scheduling techniques, system objective functions, optimization techniques and smart-home model characteristics, as will be discussed in the following subsections.

3.3.1 Load-scheduling techniques

SHEMS concern the generation/load power balance to provide a comfortable lifestyle with the minimum possible costs. Scheduling loads according to their priority and the periods of renewable energy (solar, wind and EV state) can help in reducing the overall energy consumption daily. According to data collected by the management system, an initial load schedule is suggested daily to minimize the daily cost of consumed energy [ 76 ].

By using a proper optimal scheduling algorithm, electricity bills can be reduced by shifting loads from high-priced to low-priced intervals [ 77 , 78 ]. Many techniques have been proposed for home load scheduling, as will be discussed in the following subsections:

(i) Rule-based scheduling: in this algorithm, all home appliances and resources are connected to smart data-collector taps. By processing the collected data, different appliances are scheduled according to their priorities and based on the if/then rule. Also, some high-priority loads are supplied by home renewable sources/storage to maintain their function during predicted peak hours [ 79 , 80 ].

(ii) Artificial intelligence (AI): many AI controllers have been proposed for home load scheduling, such as artificial neural networks (ANNs), fuzzy logic (FL) and adaptive neural fuzzy inference systems (ANFISs). Table 2 compares between the three types of scheduling scheme based on AI.

Optimization techniques for load scheduling

3.3.2 Objective functions

(i) Single-objective techniques: in these schemes, only one criterion is minimized or maximized according to the home-user requirements. Several minimization objective functions were proposed, as follows:

lifetime degradation [ 47–49 ];

life-cycle costs [ 93 ];

gas emissions [ 94–96 ];

both active and reactive losses [ 97 , 98 ].

On the other hand, some research defined other single maximizing objective functions, such as:

net present value [ 96 ].

economic profits [ 97 , 98 ].

increased system reliability: according to many well-known reliability indices, such as loss of power supply probability, loss of load probability and others [ 99 , 100 ].

generated power [ 101 , 102 ].

loadability [ 103 ];

Multi-objective techniques: homeowners may have several criteria to be optimized together. Multi-objective optimization (MOO) problems consider many functions simultaneously. MOO finds a proper coordination that moderately satisfies the considered objectives. In [ 102 ], SHEMS with MOO techniques are summarized. Table 3 lists some examples of such multi-objective functions.

Multi-objective functions of SHEMS

3.3.3 Optimization techniques

Optimization techniques aim usually to identify the best coordination taking into consideration predefined constraints. Many approaches are available for addressing optimization problems. These approaches can be classified into two categories: classical and AI-based techniques. Table 4 lists various SHEMS optimization techniques and their main features.

Optimization techniques in SHEMS

Classical methods, especially linear programming types, have been usually applied in the last decade for smart homes with limited objective functions and simple model characteristics of tariff and home appliances. Recently, AI-based techniques have been proposed to cover more complicated models of smart homes with multi-objective functions with high levels of comfortable lifestyles.

3.3.4 Home-model characteristics

The smart-home model differs significantly according to three factors: installed variable energy sources, applied tariff and EV deployment. PV systems have been applied for nearly all studied smart homes due to their low price, simplicity of installation, low maintenance requirements and easily predicted daily power profile. On the other hand, a few pieces of research have considered micro wind turbines in their home models, such as [ 120 ]. Wind turbines are limited by high-wind-speed zones that are usually located in rural areas. In addition, homeowners usually do not prefer wind turbines due to their high prices, mechanical maintenance requirements and the unpredictable variation in wind power.

Dynamic tariffs are applied in most smart-home research. Specifically, the TOU tariff is analysed in a lot of studies, such as [ 121 , 122 ], whereas little research uses RTP, such as [ 123 , 124 ]. EV is studied as an energy source in the parking period or vehicle-to-grid (V2G) mode. In [ 75 , 125 ], EV in V2G mode reduces the electricity bill in peak hours, whereas, in [ 126–130 ], ESSs are managed only to reduce the electricity usage from the grid.

Many technical challenges arise for modern grids due to the increasing mutual exchange between smart homes and utility grids, especially power-quality control. Electric-power-quality studies usually confirm the acceptable behaviour of electrical sources such as voltage limits and harmonics analysis. Recently, smart power grids have diverse generation sources from different technologies that depend mainly on power electronics devices that increase the difficulty in power-quality control. Power-quality constraints should be taken into consideration for any energy-management systems to provide harmony between modern sources and loads.

On the other hand, power-quality issues should not form an additional obstacle against the integration of new technologies in modern grids. Therefore, both advanced communication schemes and AI-based techniques make modern grids ‘smart’ enough to cope with selective power-quality management. Smart homes exchange power with utility grids. With the prospective increase in such smart homes, the effect of their behaviour should be studied and controlled. Smart homes affect the grid-power quality in three different areas, as will be discussed in the following paragraphs [ 154–156 ].

4.1 Generating equipment

Integrated micro generation schemes in smart homes are mainly single-phase sources based on inverters with high switching frequencies that reach to many kHz. Low-order harmonics of such a generation type can usually be disregarded. However, with the expected continuous increase in such micro generators, the harmonics of low-voltage networks may shift into a range of higher frequencies, perhaps from 2 to 9 kHz [ 157 ]. Therefore, more research is needed to re-evaluate the appropriate limits for generation equipment in smart homes. Moreover, single-phase generation increases the risk of an unbalanced voltage in low-voltage grids. Therefore, negative-sequence voltage limits should be re-evaluated particularly for weak distribution networks. Also, a need for zero-sequence voltage limits may arise [ 154 ].

4.2 Home appliances

Modern home appliances depend mainly on electronic devices, such as newer LED lighting systems, EV battery chargers, etc., with relatively low fundamental current and high harmonic contents compared to traditional ones. According to many power-system analysers, many harmonics will increase significantly to risky levels, particularly fifth-harmonic voltage, with increase in such new electronic appliances [ 155 ].

4.3 Distribution network

In future grids, significant unusual operating scenarios may be possible with high penetration of domestic generation, especially with the possibility of an islanded (self-balanced) operation of smart homes. Short-circuit power will differ significantly during different operating conditions compared to classical grids. Moreover, low-voltage networks may suffer from damping-stability problems due to the continuous decrease in resistive loads, in conjunction with the increase in capacitive loads of electronic equipment. In addition, resonance problems may occur with low frequencies according to the continuous change in the nature of the load [ 156 ].

Although smart homes have bad impacts on utility grids, there are no charges applied from the grid authority to homeowners based on their buildings’ effects on grid-power quality. Therefore, home planners and SHEMS designers are usually concerned only with the economic benefits of their proposed schemes.

Smart homes, using new revolutions in communication systems and AI, provide residential houses with electrical power of a dual nature, i.e. as producer and consumer or ‘prosumer’. The energy-management system includes many components that mainly depend on a suitable communication scheme to coordinate between available sources, loads and users’ desire. Among many proposed communication systems, the IoT has many advantages and was chosen in many studies. Besides the popularity of the IoT, it does not need any special equipment installation and is compatible with many other communications protocols.

Many functions are applied by management systems such as monitoring and logging to facilitate a proper interaction between home occupants and the management scheme. Home security also should be confirmed via the management scheme by using different alarms corresponding to preset threats. Home users control different home appliances according their desires by SHEMS and via cell phones or manually.

The electricity tariff plays an important role in defining management-system characteristics. Tariffs vary from simple fixed flat rates to complicated variable dynamic ones according to the electrical-grid authority’s rules for residential loads. According to the tariff and selected objective functions, pre-proposed optimization techniques vary significantly from simple classical linear programming to sophisticated AI ones.

Modern electronic-based home appliances increase power-grid-quality problems, such as high harmonic contents, unbalanced loading and unpredictable short-circuit currents. On the other hand, power-grid authorities do not charge homeowners according to their buildings’ effects on the power quality. Therefore, all proposed energy-management systems are concerned mainly with the economic profits from reducing electricity consumption or even selling electrical power to the utility grids. In the future, price-based power-quality constraints should be defined by the grid authorities to confirm proper power exchange between both smart homes and grids. A possible future direction is behaviour modelling of aggregated smart homes/smart cities in different operating scenarios to conclude probable power-grid scenarios for stability and quality.

This work was supported by the project entitled ‘Smart Homes Energy Management Strategies’, Project ID: 4915, JESOR-2015-Cycle 4, which is sponsored by the Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT), Cairo, Egypt.

None declared.

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Home > Books > Internet of Things (IoT) for Automated and Smart Applications

Smart Home Systems Based on Internet of Things

Submitted: 17 September 2018 Reviewed: 01 February 2019 Published: 28 February 2019

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.84894

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Internet of Things (IoT) for Automated and Smart Applications

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Smart home systems achieved great popularity in the last decades as they increase the comfort and quality of life. Most smart home systems are controlled by smartphones and microcontrollers. A smartphone application is used to control and monitor home functions using wireless communication techniques. We explore the concept of smart home with the integration of IoT services and cloud computing to it, by embedding intelligence into sensors and actuators, networking of smart things using the corresponding technology, facilitating interactions with smart things using cloud computing for easy access in different locations, increasing computation power, storage space and improving data exchange efficiency. In this chapter we present a composition of three components to build a robust approach of an advanced smart home concept and implementation.

  • cloud computing
  • event processing
  • home appliances
  • rule-based event processing

Author Information

Menachem domb *.

  • Computer Science Department, Ashkelon Academic College, Ashkelon, Israel

*Address all correspondence to: [email protected]

1. Introduction

Classic smart home, internet of things, cloud computing and rule-based event processing, are the building blocks of our proposed advanced smart home integrated compound. Each component contributes its core attributes and technologies to the proposed composition. IoT contributes the internet connection and remote management of mobile appliances, incorporated with a variety of sensors. Sensors may be attached to home related appliances, such as air-conditioning, lights and other environmental devices. And so, it embeds computer intelligence into home devices to provide ways to measure home conditions and monitor home appliances’ functionality. Cloud computing provides scalable computing power, storage space and applications, for developing, maintaining, running home services, and accessing home devices anywhere at anytime. The rule-based event processing system provides the control and orchestration of the entire advanced smart home composition.

Combining technologies in order to generate a best of breed product, already appear in recent literature in various ways. Christos Stergioua et al. [ 1 ] merge cloud computing and IoT to show how the cloud computing technology improves the functionality of the IoT. Majid Al-Kuwari [ 2 ] focus on embedded IoT for using analyzed data to remotely execute commands of home appliances in a smart home. Trisha Datta et al. [ 3 ] propose a privacy-preserving library to embed traffic shaping in home appliances. Jian Mao et al. [ 4 ] enhance machine learning algorithms to play a role in the security in a smart home ecosystem. Faisal Saeed et al. [ 5 ] propose using sensors to sense and provide in real-time, fire detection with high accuracy.

In this chapter we explain the integration of classic smart home, IoT and cloud computing. Starting by analyzing the basics of smart home, IoT, cloud computing and event processing systems. We discuss their complementarity and synergy, detailing what is currently driving to their integration. We also discuss what is already available in terms of platforms, and projects implementing the smart home, cloud and IoT paradigm. From the connectivity perspective, the added IoT appliances and the cloud, are connected to the internet and in this context also to the home local area network. These connections complement the overall setup to a complete unified and interconnected composition with extended processing power, powerful 3rd party tools, comprehensive applications and an extensive storage space.

In the rest of this chapter we elaborate on each of the four components. In Section 1, we describe the classic smart home, in Section 2, we introduce the internet of things [IoT], in Section 3, we outline cloud computing and in Section 4, we present the event processing module. In Section 5, we describe the composition of an advanced smart home, incorporating these four components. In Section 6, we provide some practical information and relevant selection considerations, for building a practical advanced smart home implementation. In Section 7, we describe our experiment introducing three examples presenting the essence of our integrated proposal. Finally, we identify open issues and future directions in the future of advanced smart home components and applications.

2. Classic smart home overview

Smart home is the residential extension of building automation and involves the control and automation of all its embedded technology. It defines a residence that has appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, entertainment systems, big home appliances such as washers/dryers and refrigerators/freezers, security and camera systems capable of communicating with each other and being controlled remotely by a time schedule, phone, mobile or internet. These systems consist of switches and sensors connected to a central hub controlled by the home resident using wall-mounted terminal or mobile unit connected to internet cloud services.

Smart home provides, security, energy efficiency, low operating costs and convenience. Installation of smart products provide convenience and savings of time, money and energy. Such systems are adaptive and adjustable to meet the ongoing changing needs of the home residents. In most cases its infrastructure is flexible enough to integrate with a wide range of devices from different providers and standards.

The basic architecture enables measuring home conditions, process instrumented data, utilizing microcontroller-enabled sensors for measuring home conditions and actuators for monitoring home embedded devices.

The popularity and penetration of the smart home concept is growing in a good pace, as it became part of the modernization and reduction of cost trends. This is achieved by embedding the capability to maintain a centralized event log, execute machine learning processes to provide main cost elements, saving recommendations and other useful reports.

2.1 Smart home services

2.1.1 measuring home conditions.

A typical smart home is equipped with a set of sensors for measuring home conditions, such as: temperature, humidity, light and proximity. Each sensor is dedicated to capture one or more measurement. Temperature and humidity may be measured by one sensor, other sensors calculate the light ratio for a given area and the distance from it to each object exposed to it. All sensors allow storing the data and visualizing it so that the user can view it anywhere and anytime. To do so, it includes a signal processer, a communication interface and a host on a cloud infrastructure.

2.1.2 Managing home appliances

Creates the cloud service for managing home appliances which will be hosted on a cloud infrastructure. The managing service allows the user, controlling the outputs of smart actuators associated with home appliances, such as such as lamps and fans. Smart actuators are devices, such as valves and switches, which perform actions such as turning things on or off or adjusting an operational system. Actuators provides a variety of functionalities, such as on/off valve service, positioning to percentage open, modulating to control changes on flow conditions, emergency shutdown (ESD). To activate an actuator, a digital write command is issued to the actuator.

2.1.3 Controlling home access

Home access technologies are commonly used for public access doors. A common system uses a database with the identification attributes of authorized people. When a person is approaching the access control system, the person’s identification attributes are collected instantly and compared to the database. If it matches the database data, the access is allowed, otherwise, the access is denied. For a wide distributed institute, we may employ cloud services for centrally collecting persons’ data and processing it. Some use magnetic or proximity identification cards, other use face recognition systems, finger print and RFID.

In an example implementation, an RFID card and an RFID reader have been used. Every authorized person has an RFID card. The person scanned the card via RFID reader located near the door. The scanned ID has been sent via the internet to the cloud system. The system posted the ID to the controlling service which compares the scanned ID against the authorized IDs in the database.

2.2 The main components

Sensors to collect internal and external home data and measure home conditions. These sensors are connected to the home itself and to the attached-to-home devices. These sensors are not internet of things sensors, which are attached to home appliances. The sensors’ data is collected and continually transferred via the local network, to the smart home server.

Processors for performing local and integrated actions. It may also be connected to the cloud for applications requiring extended resources. The sensors’ data is then processed by the local server processes.

A collection of software components wrapped as APIs, allowing external applications execute it, given it follows the pre-defined parameters format. Such an API can process sensors data or manage necessary actions.

Actuators to provision and execute commands in the server or other control devices. It translates the required activity to the command syntax; the device can execute. During processing the received sensors’ data, the task checks if any rule became true. In such case the system may launch a command to the proper device processor.

Database to store the processed data collected from the sensors [and cloud services]. It will also be used for data analysis, data presentation and visualization. The processed data is saved in the attached database for future use.

essay smart home

Smart home paradigm with optional cloud connectivity.

3. Internet of things [IoT] overview

The internet of things (IoT) paradigm refers to devices connected to the internet. Devices are objects such as sensors and actuators, equipped with a telecommunication interface, a processing unit, limited storage and software applications. It enables the integration of objects into the internet, establishing the interaction between people and devices among devices. The key technology of IoT includes radio frequency identification (RFID), sensor technology and intelligence technology. RFID is the foundation and networking core of the construction of IoT. Its processing and communication capabilities along with unique algorithms allows the integration of a variety of elements to operate as an integrated unit but at the same time allow easy addition and removal of components with minimum impact, making IoT robust but flexible to absorb changes in the environment and user preferences. To minimize bandwidth usage, it is using JSON, a lightweight version of XML, for inter components and external messaging.

4. Cloud computing and its contribution to IoT and smart home

Cloud computing is a shared pool of computing resources ready to provide a variety of computing services in different levels, from basic infrastructure to most sophisticated application services, easily allocated and released with minimal efforts or service provider interaction [ 6 , 7 ]. In practice, it manages computing, storage, and communication resources that are shared by multiple users in a virtualized and isolated environment. Figure 2 depicts the overall cloud paradigm.

essay smart home

Cloud computing paradigm.

IoT and smart home can benefit from the wide resources and functionalities of cloud to compensate its limitation in storage, processing, communication, support in pick demand, backup and recovery. For example, cloud can support IoT service management and fulfillment and execute complementary applications using the data produced by it. Smart home can be condensed and focus just on the basic and critical functions and so minimize the local home resources and rely on the cloud capabilities and resources. Smart home and IoT will focus on data collection, basic processing, and transmission to the cloud for further processing. To cope with security challenges, cloud may be private for highly secured data and public for the rest.

IoT, smart home and cloud computing are not just a merge of technologies. But rather, a balance between local and central computing along with optimization of resources consumption. A computing task can be either executed on the IoT and smart home devices or outsourced to the cloud. Where to compute depends on the overhead tradeoffs, data availability, data dependency, amount of data transportation, communications dependency and security considerations. On the one hand, the triple computing model involving the cloud, IoT and smart home, should minimize the entire system cost, usually with more focus on reducing resource consumptions at home. On the other hand, an IoT and smart home computing service model, should improve IoT users to fulfill their demand when using cloud applications and address complex problems arising from the new IoT, smart home and cloud service model.

Some examples of healthcare services provided by cloud and IoT integration: properly managing information, sharing electronic healthcare records enable high-quality medical services, managing healthcare sensor data, makes mobile devices suited for health data delivery, security, privacy, and reliability, by enhancing medical data security and service availability and redundancy and assisted-living services in real-time, and cloud execution of multimedia-based health services.

5. Centralized event processing, a rule-based system

Smart home and IoT are rich with sensors, which generate massive data flows in the form of messages or events. Processing this data is above the capacity of a human being’s capabilities [ 8 , 9 , 10 ]. Hence, event processing systems have been developed and used to respond faster to classified events. In this section, we focus on rule management systems which can sense and evaluate events to respond to changes in values or interrupts. The user can define event-triggered rule and to control the proper delivery of services. A rule is composed of event conditions, event pattern and correlation-related information which can be combined for modeling complex situations. It was implemented in a typical smart home and proved its suitability for a service-oriented system.

The system can process large amounts of events, execute functions to monitor, navigate and optimize processes in real-time. It discovers and analyzes anomalies or exceptions and creates reactive/proactive responses, such as warnings and preventing damage actions. Situations are modeled by a user-friendly modeling interface for event-triggered rules. When required, it breaks them down into simple, understandable elements. The proposed model can be seamlessly integrated into the distributed and service-oriented event processing platform.

The evaluation process is triggered by events delivering the most recent state and information from the relevant environment. The outcome is a decision graph representing the rule. It can break down complex situations to simple conditions, and combine them with each other, composing complex conditions. The output is a response event raised when a rule fires. The fired events may be used as input for other rules for further evaluation. Event patterns are discovered when multiple events occur and match a pre-defined pattern. Due to the graphical model and modular approach for constructing rules, rules can be easily adapted to domain changes. New event conditions or event patterns can be added or removed from the rule model. Rules are executed by event services, which supply the rule engine with events and process the evaluation result. To ensure the availability of suitable processing resources, the system can run in a distributed mode, on multiple machines and facilitate the integration with external systems, as well. The definition of relationships and dependencies among events that are relevant for the rule processing, are performed using sequence sets, generated by the rule engine. The rule engine constructs sequences of events relevant to a specific rule condition to allow associating events by their context data. Rules automatically perform actions in response when stated conditions hold. Actions generate response events, which trigger response activities. Event patterns can match temporal event sequences, allowing the description of home situations where the occurrences of events are relevant. For example, when the door is kept open too long.

The following challenges are known with this model: structure for the processed events and data, configuration of services and adapters for processing steps, including their input and output parameters, interfaces to external systems for sensing data and for responding by executing transactions, structure for the processed events and data, data transformations, data analysis and persistence. It allows to model which events should be processed by the rule service and how the response events should be forwarded to other event services. The process is simple: data is collected and received from adapters which forward events to event services that consume them. Initially the events are enriched to prepare the event data for the rule processing. For example, the response events are sent to a service for sending notifications to a call agent, or to services which transmit event delay notifications and event updates back to the event management system.

5.1 Event processing languages

Event processing is concerned with real-time capturing and managing pre-defined events. It starts from managing the receptors of events right from the event occurrence, even identification, data collection, process association and activation of the response action. To allow rapid and flexible event handling, an event processing language is used, which allows fast configuration of the resources required to handle the expected sequence of activities per event type. It is composed of two modules, ESP and CEP. ESP efficiently handles the event, analyzes it and selects the appropriate occurrence. CEP handles aggregated events. Event languages describe complex event-types applied over the event log.

5.2 Rediscovering workflow from events

In some cases, rules relate to discrepancies in a sequence of events in a workflow. In such cases, it is mandatory to precisely understand the workflow and its associated events. To overcome this, we propose a reverse engineering process to automatically rediscover the workflows from the events log collected over time, assuming these events are ordered, and each event refers to one task being executed for a single case. The rediscovering process can be used to validate workflow sequences by measuring the discrepancies between prescriptive models and actual process executions. The rediscovery process consists of the following three steps: (1) construction of the dependency/frequency table. (2) Induction of dependency/frequency graphs. (3) Generating WF-nets from D/F-graphs.

6. Advanced smart home

In this section, we focus on the integration of smart home, IoT and cloud computing to define a new computing paradigm. We can find in the literature section [ 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 ] surveys and research work on smart home, IoT and cloud computing separately, emphasizing their unique properties, features, technologies, and drawbacks. However, our approach is the opposite. We are looking at the synergy among these three concepts and searching for ways to integrate them into a new comprehensive paradigm, utilizing its common underlying concepts as well as its unique attributes, to allow the execution of new processes, which could not be processed otherwise.

Figure 3 depicts the advanced smart-home main components and their inter-connectivity. On the left block, the smart home environment, we can see the typical devices connected to a local area network [LAN]. This enables the communication among the devices and outside of it. Connected to the LAN is a server and its database. The server controls the devices, logs its activities, provides reports, answers queries and executes the appropriate commands. For more comprehensive or common tasks, the smart home server, transfers data to the cloud and remotely activate tasks in it using APIs, application programming interface processes. In addition, IoT home appliances are connected to the internet and to the LAN, and so expands smart home to include IoT. The connection to the internet allows the end user, resident, to communicate with the smart home to get current information and remotely activate tasks.

essay smart home

Advanced smart home—integrating smart home, IoT and cloud computing.

To demonstrate the benefits of the advanced smart home, we use RSA, a robust asymmetric cryptography algorithm, which generates a public and private key and encrypts/decrypts messages. Using the public key, everyone can encrypt a message, but only these who hold the private key can decrypt the sent message. Generating the keys and encrypting/decrypting messages, involves extensive calculations, which require considerable memory space and processing power. Therefore, it is usually processed on powerful computers built to cope with the required resources. However, due to its limited resources, running RSA in an IoT device is almost impossible, and so, it opens a security gap in the Internet, where attackers may easily utilize. To cope with it, we combine the power of the local smart home processors to compute some RSA calculations and forward more complicated computing tasks to be processed in the cloud. The results will then be transferred back to the IoT sensor to be compiled and assembled together, to generate the RSA encryption/decryption code, and so close the mentioned IoT security gap. This example demonstrates the data flow among the advanced smart home components. Where, each component performs its own stack of operations to generate its unique output. However, in case of complicated and long tasks it will split the task to sub tasks to be executed by more powerful components. Referring to the RSA example, the IoT device initiates the need to generate an encryption key and so, sends a request message to the RSA application, running in the smart home computer. The smart home computer then asks the “prime numbers generation” application running on cloud, to provide p and q prime numbers. Once p and q are accepted, the encryption code is generated. In a later stage, an IoT device issues a request to the smart home computer to encrypt a message, using the recent generated RSA encryption key. The encrypted message is then transferred back to the IoT device for further execution. A similar scenario may be in the opposite direction, when an IoT device gets a message it may request the smart home to decrypt it.

To summarize, the RSA scenarios depict the utilization of the strength of the cloud computing power, the smart home secured computing capabilities and at the end the limited power of the IoT device. It proves that without this automatic cooperation, RSA would not be able to be executed at the IoT level.

A more practical example is where several detached appliances, such as an oven, a slow cooker and a pan on the gas stove top, are active in fulfilling the resident request. The resident is getting an urgent phone call and leaves home immediately, without shutting off the active appliances. In case the relevant IoTs have been tuned to automatically shut down based on a predefined rule, it will be taken care at the IoT level. Otherwise, the smart home realizes the resident has left home [the home door has been opened and then locked, the garage has been opened, the resident’s car left, the main gate was opened and then closed, no one was at home] and will shut down all active devices classified as risk in case of absence. It will send an appropriate message to the mailing list defined for such an occasion.

7. Practical aspects and implementation considerations for IoT and smart home

Smart home has three components: hardware, software and communication protocols. It has a wide variety of applications for the digital consumer. Some of the areas of home automation led IoT enabled connectivity, such as: lighting control, gardening, safety and security, air quality, water-quality monitoring, voice assistants, switches, locks, energy and water meters.

Advanced smart home components include: IoT sensors, gateways, protocols, firmware, cloud computing, databases, middleware and gateways. IoT cloud can be divided into a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Figure 4 demonstrates the main components of the proposed advanced smart home and the connection and data flow among its components.

essay smart home

Advanced smart home composition.

The smart home application updates the home database in the cloud to allow remote people access it and get the latest status of the home. A typical IoT platform contains: device security and authentication, message brokers and message queuing, device administration, protocols, data collection, visualization, analysis capabilities, integration with other web services, scalability, APIs for real-time information flow and open source libraries. IoT sensors for home automation are known by their sensing capabilities, such as: temperature, lux, water level, air composition, surveillance video cameras, voice/sound, pressure, humidity, accelerometers, infrared, vibrations and ultrasonic. Some of the most commonly used smart home sensors are temperature sensors, most are digital sensors, but some are analog and can be extremely accurate. Lux sensors measure the luminosity. Water level ultrasonic sensors.

Float level sensors offer a more precise measurement capability to IoT developers. Air composition sensors are used by developers to measure specific components in the air: CO monitoring, hydrogen gas levels measuring, nitrogen oxide measure, hazardous gas levels. Most of them have a heating time, which means that it requires a certain time before presenting accurate values. It relies on detecting gas components on a surface only after the surface is heated enough, values start to show up. Video cameras for surveillance and analytics. A range of cameras, with a high-speed connection. Using Raspberry Pi processor is recommended as its camera module is very efficient due to its flex connector, connected directly to the board.

Sound detectors are widely used for monitoring purposes, detecting sounds and acting accordingly. Some can even detect ultra-low levels of noise, and fine tune among various noise levels.

Humidity sensors sense the humidity levels in the air for smart homes. Its accuracy and precision depend on the sensor design and placement. Certain sensors like the DHT22, built for rapid prototyping, will always perform poorly when compared to high-quality sensors like HIH6100. For open spaces, the distribution around the sensor is expected to be uniform requiring fewer corrective actions for the right calibration.

Smart home communication protocols: bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or GSM. Bluetooth smart or low energy wireless protocols with mesh capabilities and data encryption algorithms. Zigbee is mesh networked, low power radio frequency-based protocol for IoT. X10 protocol that utilizes powerline wiring for signaling and control. Insteon, wireless and wireline communication. Z-wave specializes in secured home automation. UPB, uses existing power lines. Thread, a royalty-free protocol for smart home automation. ANT, an ultra-low-power protocol for building low-powered sensors with a mesh distribution capability. The preferred protocols are bluetooth low energy, Z-wave, Zigbee, and thread. Considerations for incorporating a gateway may include: cloud connectivity, supported protocols, customization complexity and prototyping support. Home control is composed of the following: state machine, event bus, service log and timer.

Modularity: enables the bundle concept, runtime dynamics, software components can be managed at runtime, service orientation, manage dependencies among bundles, life cycle layer: controls the life cycle of the bundles, service layers: defines a dynamic model of communication between various modules, actual services: this is the application layer. Security layer: optional, leverages Java 2 security architecture and manages permissions from different modules.

OpenHAB is a framework, combining home automation and IoT gateway for smart homes. Its features: rules engine, logging mechanism and UI abstraction. Automation rules that focus on time, mood, or ambiance, easy configuration, common supported hardware:

Domoticz architecture: very few people know about the architecture of Domoticz, making it extremely difficult to build applications on it without taking unnecessary risks in building the product itself. For example, the entire design of general architecture feels a little weird when you look at the concept of a sensor to control to an actuator. Building advanced applications with Domoticz can be done using OO based languages.

Deployment of blockchain into home networks can easily be done with Raspberry Pi. A blockchain secured layer between devices and gateways can be implemented without a massive revamp of the existing code base. Blockchain is a technology that will play a role in the future to reassure them with revolutionary and new business models like dynamic renting for Airbnb.

8. Smart home and IoT examples

We can find in the literature and practical reports, many implementations of various integrations among part of the main three building blocks, smart home, IoT and cloud computing. For example, refer to [ 12 – 14 ]. In this section we outline three implementations, which clearly demonstrate the need and the benefits of interconnecting or integrating all three components, as illustrated in Figure 5 . Each component is numbered, 1–6. In the left side, we describe for each implementation, the sequence of messages/commands among components, from left to right and from bottom up. Take for example the third implementation, a control task constantly runing at the home server (2) discovers the fact that all residents left home and automatically, initiates actuators to shut down all IoT appliances (3), then it issues messages to the relevant users/residents, updating them about the situation and the applied actions it took (6).

essay smart home

Advanced smart home implementations chart.

The use of (i) in the implementations explanation, corresponds to the circled numbers in Figure 5 .

8.1 Discovery of water leaks and its prevention

First step is deploying water sensors under every reasonable potential leak source and an automated master water valve sensor for the whole house, which now means the house is considered as an IoT.

In case the water sensor detects a leak of water (3), it sends an event to the hub (2), which triggers the “turn valve off” application. The home control application then sends a “turn off” command to all IoT (3) appliances defined as sensitive to water stopping and then sends the “turn off” command to the main water valve (1). An update message is sent via the messaging system to these appearing in the notification list (6). This setup helps defending against scenarios where the source of the water is from the house plumbing. The underlying configuration assumes an integration via messages and commands between the smart home and the IoT control system. It demonstrates the dependency and the resulting benefits of combining smart home and IoT.

8.2 Smoke detectors

Most houses already have the typical collection of smoke detectors (1), but there is no bridge to send data from the sensor to a smart home hub. Connecting these sensors to a smart home app (2), enables a comprehensive smoke detection system. It is further expanded to notify the elevator sensor to block the use of it due to fire condition (1), and so, it is even further expanded to any IoT sensor (3), who may be activated due to the detected smoke alert.

In [ 5 ] they designed a wireless sensor network for early detection of house fires. They simulated a fire in a smart home using the fire dynamics simulator and a language program. The simulation results showed that the system detects fire early.

8.3 Incident management to control home appliances

Consider the scenario where you leave home while some of the appliances are still on. In case your absence is long enough, some of the appliances may over heat and are about to blowout. To avoid such situations, we connect all IoT appliances’ sensors to the home application (2), so that when all leave home it will automatically adjust all the appliances’ sensors accordingly (3), to avoid damages. Note that the indication of an empty home is generated by the Smart Home application, while the “on” indication of the appliance, is generated by IoT. Hence, this scenario is possible due to the integration between smart home and IoT systems.

9. Conclusions and summary

In this chapter we described the integration of three loosely coupled components, smart home, Iot, and cloud computing. To orchestrate and timely manage the vast data flow in an efficient and balanced way, utilizing the strengths of each component we propose a centralized real time event processing application.

We describe the advantages and benefits of each standalone component and its possible complements, which may be achieved by integrating it with the other components providing new benefits raised from the whole compound system. Since these components are still at its development stage, the integration among them may change and provide a robust paradigm that generates a new generation of infrastructure and applications.

As we follow-up on the progress of each component and its corresponding impact on the integrated compound, we will constantly consider additional components to be added, resulting with new service models and applications.

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© 2019 The Author(s). Licensee IntechOpen. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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What Is a Smart Home?

A smart home is any home that uses some form of electronic device to control or automate everyday tasks. These homes often consolidate around a central hub that allows communication between all of the devices located in the house.

These devices can range from temperature sensors, smart thermostats, wall switches, smart plugs, water sensors, door and window sensors, motion sensors, and many other integrated devices. Like your smartphone—which does more than just allow you to make phone calls—a smart home can allow you to automate many of your home tasks.

For example, let's say you wanted to have your thermostat automatically decrease the temperature when you left for work in the morning. A smart home with an integrated thermostat could allow you to do that. Or, if you wanted to unlock your front door for guests, but you were stuck at the office, a well-equipped smart home would allow you to.

Finally, what if you wanted to turn off your Christmas lights at precisely 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday? A smart home with the proper setup could also allow you to automate this task. Some smart home devices can even vacuum your house or mow your lawn.

Smart homes save time, increase security, improve comfort, and make life more enjoyable for homeowners.

Related: What is a Smart Home Hub?

How Do Smart Homes Work?

The easiest way to describe how a smart home works is to think of the home like the human body. In most smart homes, there is a brain, which is often an app or a set of apps on a mobile device. This central device is known as a hub.

The hub directs all activity to the smart devices on the network. If the home is like a body, these devices are its limbs. Using the power of the internet and integrated connectivity, these devices get instructions from the hub and then perform certain mechanical behaviors based on those instructions.

The behaviors—called automations—can range from sending a text to a family member to turning on all of the lights in the house and engaging a security alarm.

Many people have built smart homes that perform complex tasks, and companies like Apple and SmartThings have included programming tools in their software to make creating these automations easier.

Related: The Best Smart Doorbells for Your Home

Smart Home Communication Protocols

To communicate with devices, smart home hubs need some sort of communication language that both the device and the hub understand. Because many smart home products exist on the market, several manufacturers have standardized these communication protocols. Rather than using several hundred protocols that don't work together, the smart home industry has narrowed it down to just a few: Zigbee, Z-Wave, Thread, KNX, Control4, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.

The most prominent protocols currently in use are Zigbee and Z-Wave. However, many manufacturers have begun to move more toward Thread as it offers some unique benefits over the other, more popular, protocols. Additionally, some Bluetooth devices don't need internet connectivity to function, which appeals to some people.

Related: What's the Difference Between Zigbee and Z-Wave?

Smart Home Benefits

What are some of the most significant benefits of a smart home? The most considerable benefit is convenience. Smart homes allow you to do things like control HVAC in your home from anywhere in the world (including your couch), turn lighting on or off, control external sprinkler systems, and even view guests arriving at your front door.

Most of these tasks can be completed using a mobile device or the smart home hub. You can even set up certain tasks to happen at specific times or on particular days. Setting a smart thermostat optimally or setting an irrigation system to stay off when it's raining are ways that smart homes can also save money.

Smart homes can also eliminate some of the hassles of access that plague some homeowners. If you have a dog-walker or a landscaping service, you can give those people access to your home even if you are away at work or on vacation.

Customization is also a significant benefit of smart homes. Because there are so many products available, you can tailor your home to your personal preference. Every smart home is as unique as its owner, and the possibilities are only as limited as your imagination.

Lastly, smart homes offer upgraded security benefits over a typical home. In-home cameras and doorbell cameras can make thieves think twice about trying to break in. Motion sensors and door/window sensors can also keep rambunctious teenagers from leaving the house without you knowing about it.

Smart Home Downsides

There are only a few minor issues that can come up with a smart home, and they all have to do with connectivity.

When a device malfunctions or loses its connection, it can create havoc. Because networks fail frequently, you may want to consider what alternative methods of control you have if a smart item stops working. Fortunately, these connectivity issues are usually only temporary.

Related: How to Reconnect a Smart Light Switch That Has Lost Connection

Getting Started With Your Smart Home

There are some great products available if you are interested in setting up a smart home. Though, it's best to plan out your installation before you go buying random tech. For many people, a smart home starter kit is an excellent place to begin the journey. These kits offer many standard devices, such as motion sensors and smart plugs, that you can experiment with before diving in deep.

You might also want to check out some of the most common products, such as smart bulbs or thermostats. Also, there are many uses for inexpensive smart plugs to get your creativity started. It's recommended that you brainstorm some ideas about how you might use these items before buying, though, just to make sure you're not wasting your money.

A Smarter Home Starts Here

Building your own smart home doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Adding a few products at first and doing some experimentation can open the door to a home that offers much higher levels of convenience and comfort. By building a smart home, you're upgrading your security, customization, flexibility, and satisfaction.

You also don't need to buy a lot of products to consider your home smart. One or two is enough. Just know, if you really want to customize your space to its fullest potential, then the option is also available.

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How to Design Smart Homes? 8 Tips for Incorporating Domotics Into Architecture

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  • Written by José Tomás Franco
  • Published on February 15, 2021

Home automation has long been associated with high costs, a burdening assembly time, and a cumbersome process that impelled us to discard the idea of automating projects. However, these days are long gone. 

With lower costs and easier assembly, today, developing a new project without home automation seems somewhat absurd. Below, with the help of AVE Chile , we've compiled a series of tips to help you incorporate domotics into your next project.

1. Experiencing home automation is key to understanding its value

The vast majority of people who have ever inhabited an automated space will hardly feel comfortable returning to traditional systems. To convince a new client, it's key that they can experience in situ the benefits of home automation: test the different options of a control panel, manage the environmental conditions of a space, change the intensity and color of the light, adjust the temperature, and/or interact with the different types of switches and their sensors .

How to Design Smart Homes? 8 Tips for Incorporating Domotics Into Architecture - Image 14 of 19

2. The user must identify what they really want to control

Once the user experiences home automation, they may want to control everything, without much reason. By definition, home automation seeks to be globally intelligent, so it must function as a system that facilitates processes, without unnecessarily complicating the user's life . Automating the operation of an iron or a coffee machine, for example, may not make a real difference in the user's quality of life. However, the ability to program lights, alarms and/or heating at certain times of the day, will.

How to Design Smart Homes? 8 Tips for Incorporating Domotics Into Architecture - Image 13 of 19

3. It's more effective to apply home automation to 'generate integrated solutions,' than to fulfill individual functions

Once the needs of the user have been identified, it's advisable to plan integrated solutions that allow programming and controlling of environments . For example, when selecting a predefined environment for the night, the system will execute, in a single process, the attenuation and shutdown of lights, the closing of curtains, and the activation of the alarm. This doesn't prevent the management of each option separately, but it's easier and more effective to consider them, from the outset, as responses as a whole.

How to Design Smart Homes? 8 Tips for Incorporating Domotics Into Architecture - Image 6 of 19

4. There is no difference between a traditional electrical plan and a domotics plan

When bringing home automation into a built project, the architect must simply define the locations of the switches and other devices, and the specific functions of each one of them. With this plan, the company in charge of the installation of the automation system is responsible for intervening the electrical installation on site, giving the specialist the instruction to incorporate the wiring required by the home automation . This UTP ( Unshielded Twisted Pair ) cabling is much simpler than the one traditionally used, and occupies a single pipeline.

It's important to point out that home automation must be included in the construction plan before beginning the heavy work since in more advanced stages the complete process becomes more complex.

How to Design Smart Homes? 8 Tips for Incorporating Domotics Into Architecture - Image 12 of 19

5. In just a couple of hours, an electrical specialist can learn to install a home automation system

It's not necessary for the electrical specialist chosen by the architect or client to be an expert in home automation in order to install it. The training related to this process can be done in just a few hours.

How to Design Smart Homes? 8 Tips for Incorporating Domotics Into Architecture - Image 15 of 19

6. Properly programmed, the home automation system greatly reduces the energy consumption of the building

In the case of hotels, home automation allows spaces and rooms that are not in use to be kept completely off, taking detailed control of the use that each guest gives to each room. For example, if a guest has the heating on in his room and opens a window, the thermal system will shut down to avoid energy waste. Even during the night, while the guest sleeps, the system can be programmed to reduce the temperature slightly, saving a large amount of energy without the user noticing.

In addition, in buildings that use three-phase systems , it's possible to determine a maximum monthly energy consumption, avoiding that the expense exceeds the predetermined limit at the end of the month. The control panel gives the user a complete detail of this consumption: daily, weekly, monthly or yearly.

How to Design Smart Homes? 8 Tips for Incorporating Domotics Into Architecture - Image 11 of 19

7. Home automation can improve the quality of life for elderly or differently abled people

Through centralized control panels and motion sensors, home automation can greatly facilitate and support the way in which older adults or people with disabilities inhabit their daily spaces. Among other benefits, it is possible to program the lighting of lights at a certain time of the day, increasing its intensity with the passing of the hours, or turning on and off automatically when the person enters certain rooms . In addition, people with Parkinson's disease or other motor diseases can solve the handling of the switches without touching them.

How to Design Smart Homes? 8 Tips for Incorporating Domotics Into Architecture - Image 16 of 19

8. Integrate alarms in the home automation system to control remote intrusions or dangers

Including the alarm in a home automation system avoids the need to connect to a central, notifying the user directly on his mobile phone and showing in detail which door or window has been intruded. If surveillance cameras have been included, it's possible to see in real time what is happening in the building.

In the case of other hazards, such as a gas or water leak, the system warns the user to close the passage of these elements, while a definitive solution to the problem is found.

How to Design Smart Homes? 8 Tips for Incorporating Domotics Into Architecture - Image 8 of 19

Editor's Note:  This article was published originally on January 08, 2019.

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  • Sustainability


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  • Research Article
  • Open access
  • Published: 06 May 2021

The social issues of smart home: a review of four European cities’ experiences

  • Saeid Pira   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8176-4226 1  

European Journal of Futures Research volume  9 , Article number:  3 ( 2021 ) Cite this article

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The urban industrialization trend and the increasing urban population have posed global and local concerns related to urban management. Today, scientists introduce the “smart city” concept, among many others. The primary concept purpose is to empower cities to enhance the quality of life of their residents. To achieve this, one of the smart city components named “smart living” has a direct connection to citizens’ quality of life. This research aims to analyze the smart home as one of the sub-components of smart living. Consequently, based on the “smart home” residents’ viewpoint, the main question is which social barriers are more critical?

To achieve this essay’s objectives, the researcher conducts three phases: data collection, analysis based on the constructed conceptual model, and results. The researcher selected four leading smart cities in Europe, including Copenhagen, Berlin, London, and Barcelona, as case studies. The study collected primary data by cluster-random sampling by utilizing a questionnaire survey with 320 participants. In conclusion, according to the inhabitants, the research results list the most significant social challenges in smart homes. Eventually, suggestions offer for reducing the side effect of living in a smart home.


The world has witnessed an increasing accumulation of its people in urban areas since 1990. This trend is not new and represents a substantial increase in urban residents’ number, from an approximate average of 57 million between 1990 and 2000 to 77 million between 2010 and 2015 [ 1 ]. It poses significant challenges for the environment and social sustainability. Also, the contemporary structure of cities is a source of environmental and social dilemmas. Cities consumed approximately 70% of the world’s resources and are also significant users of energy resources. Hence, they became the main contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The growth of the urban population and the intensity of economic and social activities are triggering this crisis. It is also a consequence of the built environment inefficiency. Current research in urban and academic circles focuses on sustainability in urban planning. Besides, they try to address the main urbanization challenges and the unsustainability of existing structures [ 2 ]. The smart cities concept emerged as an appropriate solution to this unprecedented urbanization and the need for sustainability. Therefore, this idea attracted plenty of academic interests in this field [ 3 ]. The International Telecommunication Union Focus Group on Smart Sustainable Cities (ITU-T FG-SSC) introduced a definition, which reads as follows: “A Smart Sustainable City is an innovative city that uses Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and other means to improve quality of life, the efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations concerning economic, social, environmental as well as cultural aspects” [ 4 ]. One of the components of the smart city concept is “smart living.” I will explain these criteria in the following sections. The smart home is one of the essential sub-components of this component, which splits into two sections: (1) state-of-the-art technologies and applications and (2) the behavior of the residents who live in these homes. It is crucial to note that city dwellers have contradictory comments about smart home applications. According to the research findings, the way to overcome the social barrier and to communicate with state-of-the-art technologies is the key worry of smart home residents. This research aims to find the most concerning social issues for smart homeowners. For this purpose, four European cities (Barcelona, Copenhagen, Berlin, and London) select as case studies. Finally, this study suggests several recommendations to reduce identified social issues.

Literature review

The idea of smart cities was rooted in the 1970s when a digital configuration based on technology and non-material structures embedded in the urban physical spaces. Afterward, the new aspects of everyday life have been concentrating on more complex innovations. Broadband networks and collective intelligence determining the city development supported these new technologies [ 5 , 6 ]. There are different views regarding the origin of the concept of “smart city” in the literature. According to Caragliu et al. (2009), “The city could be smart when investments in human and social resources combined with traditional and modern ICT infrastructures boost sustainable economic growth and high quality of life, with wise natural resource management through participatory governance [ 7 ].”

Globalization trends and emerging new technologies are increasingly influencing urban and regional environments. ICTs are also heavily involved in the management and governance of cities. Authorities and planners use these innovations as tools and services to promote the quality of life, promote a sustainable development, and create a more dynamic and innovative urban landscape [ 7 ]. Over time, scholars, institutions, and large corporations provide expressions such as digital, smart, ubiquitous, wired, hybrid, information, creative, learning, humane, knowledge, and smart cities. The significant purpose is to describe the renewed configurations adopted within the local context [ 8 ].

Smart city definitions

There are different views regarding the origin of the concept of “smart city” in the literature. According to Garby (2014), the roots of the concept date back to the 1960s, and in urban development plans, it figures in proposals for networked cities since the 1980s. Also, Dameri and Cocchia (2013) claimed that specialists introduced this concept in 1994 [ 9 ]. The roots of this term, according to Neirotti et al. (2014), can be traced back to the late 1990s smart growth trend [ 10 ]. That said, it involves growing urban efficiency-related to energy, transport, land use, communication, economic development, service delivery, and so forth. A smart city is an effective strategy focusing on the ICT-based leadership of metropolitan areas [ 11 ]. The technological dimension is currently significant in the smart city definition: innovative approaches focused on the Internet network are the basis for a smart city. Besides, the development of a high-quality infrastructure for urban ICT is an integral part of a smart city. Coherent research produced by technology suppliers highlights the importance of this component. Furthermore, it claims that private companies engaged in telecommunications, transport, software, informatics, and electricity are pushing forward the smart city concept [ 12 ].

Two of the most relevant concepts will sum up the various variables that define the conceptualization of smart cities:

We believe that a city is smart when investments in human and social capital and conventional (transport) and modern (ICT) connectivity networks boost sustainable economic growth and high quality of life through participatory governance, wise management of natural resources.

The more recent interest in smart cities can be due to concern for sustainability and the emergence of new Web technologies, such as mobile devices, the semantic internet, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT), which facilitate the real-world user interfaces [ 13 ].

The central point posed by numerous scientists in the smart city concept is the role of ICT in today’s cities and the need to enhance emerging technologies. They claim that improving the quality of life of citizens is inevitable without access to these technologies.

Smart city features

The concept “smart city” is a bit fuzzy since it encompasses a wide range of dimensions and characteristics. According to Nam and Pardo, there are many definitions and considerations relevant to smart cities that contribute to technological, human, and institutional aspects (2011) [ 14 ].

Smart cities include the human capital variable as the main element of increasing interest in knowledge-based financial growth and innovation. In addition to being a “new engine” for sustainable development, the involvement of a trained and professional population and workforce is an essential component of this concept. The smart city’s employees should be well-trained and creative, with access to other knowledge-sharing opportunities [ 15 , 16 , 17 ]. The combination of technical and human dimensions allows for the development of a technologically advanced and imaginative network. It is a common strategy to achieve urban development and de-industrialized finance. The utilization of development and social capital through “smart urban communities,” composed of firms, education, government, and individuals, depicts the smart city’s organization. These communities benefited from ICT and human capital to engage all participants to innovate and beneficially alter the urban environment [ 14 , 18 , 19 ].

Smart city characteristics

According to studies, a smart city would have five key components: contemporary technologies, buildings, utilities, transportation, and road infrastructure. In terms of technology, a smart city is a long-term collaboration between government, government institutes, and private companies to develop and implement computerized platforms. This cooperation is concerning with strengthening contemporary technologies, including mobile cloud computing, digital documents, networks, and emerging decision-making methods [ 20 , 21 ].

Smart city notions are as broad as the number of smart cities. Besides the three dimensions explained in Table 1 , the following six characteristics should include “smart economy,” “smart people,” “smart governance,” “smart mobility,” “smart environment,” and “smart living” Those three dimensions influence the outcomes of the six characteristics. Table 2 shows the theories and the characteristics of each of these six characteristics [ 14 ]:

Smart living is one of the characteristics of the smart city, according to the table, and the crucial purpose of this component is to boost citizens’ quality of life. There are also other aspects of smart living, such as education, safety, and social cohesion.

As stated, the primary goal of smart cities—especially smart living component—is to improve the quality of life of citizens. In this regard, one of the practical recommendations for achieving smart living is the idea of smart homes. One of the realistic alternatives to implementing smart living is the “smart home” idea. Its principal goal is to combine system, service, and management to provide people with an efficient, comfortable, safe, accessible, and environmentally friendly living environment.

Smart home definitions

Scientists used multiple notions to describe and conceptualize smart homes (Table 3 ). Among various approaches, the definition by Aldrich (2003) and Lutolf (1992) dealt inclusively with the nature of smart homes. A smart home, according to Aldrich (2003), is “a house designed with computer and information technologies that anticipates and responds to the needs of the inhabitants, functioning to facilitate their comfort, ease, security, and entertainment through the management of home technologies and connecting to the world beyond.” This definition encompasses the phenomenon’s technical component, as well as the services and functionality it provides. It is worth noting that smart homes would respond to a wide range of attitudes [ 23 ]. Besides, Lutolf (1992) described a smart home as “integrating various facilities through the use of a communication scheme in a home. It ensures an economical, safe, and comfortable home operation and involves a high level of smart functionality and flexibility.” [ 24 ] Although the two definitions share similar viewpoints, they differ in terms of the technology’s capabilities and the types of customers it seeks to serve. Many academics associate smart homes with technological features in general [ 25 ].

As mentioned above, there are differing views on the idea of the smart home. The author’s point of view in this article is closer to the theories of Aldrich and Lutolf. According to these two scientists, the smart home theory is based on the use of ICT and houses equipped with computer and information technologies. Also, the author considers two factors of functionality and flexibility in this article.

_ Smart home types of services:

Researchers used practical analyses to evaluate these home technologies, which would provide a variety of services to residents. The below are some of the smart home’s core features:

The smart home has the potential to improve the consumer and power grid relationship. It assists in data collection on power use, energy costs, and an energy use plan establishment. Smart homes also monitor the efficient use of resources and promote family awareness of energy conservation and environmental sustainability.

A smart home can enhance the lifestyle by promoting home security, safety, accessibility, and interactivity.

A smart home could support remote payment.

Smart homes can use a computer, a mobile phone, and a remote network to monitor and connect with the house.

Smart homes consider the real-time meter reading and security service of the water meter, electric energy meter, and gas meter to provide more efficient and high-quality services.

Supporting the “triple networks” industry and providing the ideal smart service [ 26 ].

In recent years, numerous scientists have conducted studies on smart home services, functions, and devices, as seen in Table 4 . The majority of the reviewed papers (41 articles) discussed ensuring a comfortable life. After that, most studies related to the monitoring service (31 references). In contrast, fewer articles focus on health therapy and the supportive functions of smart home technology. Only two papers discuss the consultancy service that smart sensors provide [ 22 ].

“Smart city” and “smart home” connection

The connection between smart cities and smart homes requires multiple applications across numerous fields. There is a term that defines this connection unequivocally, and that is “big data” ( https://www.smartcity.press/how-smart-homes-can-connect-smart-cities/ ). Data generates from multiple sources resulting in the formation of what is currently known as big data. Data sources are ubiquitous around us as smartphones, computers, environmental sensors, cameras, GPS (Geographical Positioning Systems), and even city dwellers. Multiple applications like social media, digital pictures and videos, commercial transactions, advertising applications, games, and many more exacerbated data generation in the past few years [ 27 , 28 ].

The significance of big data is undeniable. In other words, big data has a critical effect on several aspects of smart cities and, eventually, on citizens’ lives [ 29 ]. Smart city applications store information, and big data networks utilize this information. Also, big data systems gather information and process it to enhance the multiple services of smart cities. Big data will also help authorities to plan the development of smart city services. There are numerous instances of big data applications that serve the smart cities:

1 Smart education: Through education facilities, ICT offers solutions for improving the quality, efficiency, and profitability of educational systems. These facilities are adaptable in their use of information, better monitoring, and evaluation and expanded learning opportunities for citizens and stakeholders [ 30 ].

2 Smart traffic lights: one of the main features of smart cities is effective traffic flow control, which will improve transportation systems and improve the traffic patterns of citizens and the city as a whole [ 31 ].

3 Smart Grid: Smart grid is a vital component of smart cities. It is a reconstructed network that gathers and operates on existing data, such as information about suppliers and customers’ behaviors, utilizing information, and communication technology in an integrated manner to incorporate values [ 32 ].

Smart cities and big data are two modern approaches. Hence, numerous scientists have begun integrating them to develop smart city technologies that will enhance sustainability, improved resilience, efficient government, quality of life, and resource management. Big data applications have the potential to serve many sectors in a smart city. It provides clients improved experiences and lets businesses improve their performance (e.g., higher profits or market share). Also, improve healthcare by improving preventive care services, diagnosis and treatment tools, healthcare records management, and patient care. Big data will significantly help transportation networks to optimize roads, accommodate varying demands, and be more environmentally friendly. Deploying big data applications requires the support of adequate infrastructure for information and communication technology (ICT). Smart cities benefit from ICT since it provides appropriate solutions that would not be available without it [ 33 ].

On the other hand, some of the issues that smart cities face while using big data include:

Data sources and characteristics

Data and information sharing

Data quality

Security and privacy

Smart city population [ 34 ]

Some features of the smart city concept related to big data are mention in this section. Consequently, big data is an essential subject in smart cities to support the residents’ security, safety, education, and application. These features are part of the smart living sub-components. One of the six characteristics of the smart city concept—which includes many features including safety, housing, and education—is smart living. The findings of the study revealed that big data and smart living are inextricably connected.

This research aims to assess the social barriers in smart homes, one of the sub-components of smart living. As reviewed, big data interwove to smart homes and smart cities. Consequently, we can achieve the smart city’s established objective by developing big data services.

Pros and cons of smart homes

Smart homes are one of the EU’s ten main fields in the strategic energy technology plan: “Create technologies and services for smart homes that provide smart solutions to energy consumers.” The commission aims to promote creative ideas and manage consumers and authorities to optimize their energy consumption (and production). It also enables cities to manage energy usage, relying on smart grid services, through a more interactive/smart system [ 35 ].

Smart home technologies (SHTs) incorporate sensors, monitors, interfaces, appliances, and mobile devices to enable household environment automation and remote control. Sensors and monitoring systems control environmental variables like temperature, light, movement, and moisture. Computer applications (smartphones, tablets, laptops, PCs) or specialized hardware interfaces (e.g., wall-mounted controls) support the control systems. The main goals, vital advantages, and the most relevant problems of smart homes are listed in Table 5 [ 36 ]:

Smart homes’ social barriers

Despite the advantages and disadvantages of new technologies in current urban areas, the use of smart homes is inevitable. We concentrate on the most significant smart home issues in this article. Generally speaking, these problems can divide into two parts: (1) Technological and instrumental concerns and (2) obstacles raised by users of such tools. This paper aims to analyze the challenges of smart homes (especially societal barriers). Table 6 shows the research findings of several articles on this subject.

Multiple social barriers have been found in previous research, according to the table. In this research, a group of urban planners and social scientists looked at these obstacles and divided them into four categories. These components are as follows:

Privacy and security



Trust on device controlling.

Conceptual model

The previous reviews and the author’s findings support the conceptual model in this study. The following graph depicts the study’s conceptual model and, essentially, the researcher’s perspective. The “smart city” concept, according to scientists like Carlo Carpa, consists of six components, each of which is composed of several theories and features (Table 2 ). Smart living, among these different indicators, aims to improve the quality of life idea. And its features include education, culture and health, facilities, safety, housing, social cohesion, and tourist attractions. This research aims to analyze smart living and especially the social barriers of smart homes. In this regard, previous studies identified several factors as the most significant social issues of residents. These criteria include privacy, security, reliability, satisfaction, and device control. Finally, the author of this article selects these factors as criteria for assessing residents’ satisfaction with living in smart homes. Figure 1 describes the conceptual model in detail.

figure 1

Conceptual model. Source “by the author”

This paper needs to examine its set indicators in a case study to achieve the research objectives. For this purpose, four European cities (Copenhagen, Berlin, Barcelona, and London) are selected as the case studies. It is worth noting that this paper aims to recognize the social barriers based on resident’s experience in smart homes. The author defines four criteria to measure the social issues, then conducts interviews with residents to assess the effect of these criteria. Finally, based on the residents’ comments, the significant social barriers of smart homes are identified.

In 2018, the Eden Strategy Institute ranked smart cities in the globe base on multiple criteria. This study rate 50 smart cities across the globe. The Berlin city is rated 29th in the report, Copenhagen 24th, Barcelona 9th, and London 1st. In this article, the researcher chose 4 European cities. Each of these countries made significant strides as a leader in the smart city concept. While residents are willing to embrace state-of-the-art technologies, several issues have created obstacles among these residents. The questionnaires will help evaluate the components after choosing the case studies to answers the research questions.

To accurately analyze these four components, a group of experts from various fields identified several sub-components. The group includes seven experts in the fields of urban planning, regional planning, urban design, and architecture. Also, these experts have extensive expertise in the area of urban planning and management. Table 7 is a list of the expert group criteria.

Table 8 presents the indicators and sub-indicators analyzed in this study. The author addresses these variables in the questionnaire questions.

The questions in the questionnaire comprise sub-components determined by the expert group. In this way, we will identify the social issues that trigger dissatisfaction among smart home residents. The questionnaire is composed of two parts. Part one contains socio-demographic questions (age of respondent, the gender of the respondent, profession, household income) and a specific question regarding smart homeowners’ academic studies. The screening question seeks to find the best people’s responses to the assessment. The screening query was “What are digital home technologies?” Options of response range from “no idea,” “primeval information,” and “good Information.” Respondents who replied “no idea” removed in this part. We will need residents who are knowledgeable regarding smart appliances to find the research goal. To this end, the research did not analyze the views of those who believed they lacked expertise in this field. The next section of the survey begins with an open-ended question asking respondents to give a few phrases about “What first comes to mind when you think of smart home technologies?” This question allows us to get a deeper understanding of how respondents think about smart home technology. Finally, the researcher assessed the interviewees’ opinions, and the responses were graded in the range 1 to 10 to evaluate each sub-indicator.

The research gathers primary data from 320 smart homeowners through random-cluster sampling via the adoption of a questionnaire study. So the researcher filled out 80 questionnaires at each sample city. The selection of interviewees is a crucial part of this research. Smart homeowners living in houses fitted with the latest technology are the interviewees in this study. Accordingly, the research group distributed the questionnaires to residents of the smart home in the four cities surveyed. Researchers select 80 residents of smart homes in each of those four cities. The investigator identified these families by associates in each of these cities. He contacted them and explained the goal of this study, and sent the questionnaire to them. To receive diverse viewpoints, the researcher chose interviewers with different characteristics. The characteristics of the people who filled out the questionnaires illustrate in Table 9 . It should mention that the author emailed the questionnaires to identified people due to the dispersion of the case studies. Then, the interviewees sent the completed questionnaires to the researcher.

The author picked the respondents from different age groups and genders as well as various social groups. The following tables provide some information about all 320 interviewees. Also, Fig. 2 presents the gender distribution:

figure 2

The distribution of respondents by gender. Source “by the author”

Table 10 shows the number and percentage of respondents by age group.

The details of the interviewees’ academic rate are set out in Table 11

The author of this study explores four metrics as criteria for measuring social issues within smart home residents. The following graph depicts residents’ concerns regarding smart homes in four cities. The least concerning factor of these four indicators, according to the interviewees, was privacy and security. This measure has the highest percentage, meaning that residents are the most satisfied with it. In contrast, they state that their significant concern is trust in controlling devices (Fig. 3 ).

figure 3

The contribution of each social barriers in smart home. Source “by the author”

The bar figure below illustrates each city’s score depending on the chosen measures. The city with the highest score is Copenhagen, while London has the lowest score. On the other hand, the two cities of Berlin and Barcelona also rank second and third respectively. It is worth noting that the lower a city’s ratings, the less effective it is in terms of social concerns, and residents face more social issues.

Copenhagen placed in the fifth position based on the world’s happiest cities in the World Happiness Report (WHR) 2020. The satisfaction of citizens living in this country is at a very high level. The survey included criteria such as life expectancy, security, and satisfaction with living in cities, which indicates a high level of quality of life in this city. On the other hand, in this research, the author aimed to make sure that the resident’s satisfaction in different cities does not affect how they react to the questionnaire. And only their concerns about the social factors mentioned in the questionnaire should analyze. Instead of dwelling on whether or not they are happy with living in their cities, the questionnaire focuses on the most significant social obstacles they face in their smart homes (Fig. 4 ).

figure 4

The scores of each city based on the criteria. Source “by the author”

The bar figure below illustrates the scores for each indicator in 4 cities. Each indicator’s value was determined using a 1 to 10 ratio. It means that the higher a criterion’s indicator score is, the less worried residents are about it. Overall, Copenhagen outperformed the other three cities in each of these measures. Another point to remember is the low level of confidence in control devices. The privacy and security parameter, on the other hand, was the least troubling indicator. The following sections go into the details of each city’s situation:

Copenhagen: The “privacy and security” component in this city has the lowest level of concern among the smart home’s residents. Also, they state that “trust in controlling devices” is the significant troublesome among the indicators analyzed in this research. Also, the other two components are in a better position.

Berlin: “Privacy and security” in this city have a lower score than in Copenhagen. However, this component has more favorable conditions than the other two cities. In this city, “trust in controlling devices” has the lowest level of satisfaction among respondents.

Barcelona: The equality of the scores of the two components—“privacy and security” and “reliability”—is a significant point in this city. As a result, these two components have the highest level of satisfaction. While “trust in controlling devices” has the lowest level of residents’ satisfaction.

London: The point that clear in this city is that almost all the components scored fewer points than the other three cities. Also, the residents’ satisfaction trend in this research is similar to the other three examples. As a result, the highest level of satisfaction is associated with “privacy and security,” while the lowest level of satisfaction is related to “trust in controlling devices” (Fig. 5 ).

figure 5

Criteria scores of social problems by city. Source “by the author”

The author appropriates several sub-components in this research for an accurate analysis of the components. These sub-components are the result of discussion and consultation obtained from the expert group. The conclusions derived from the sub-component analysis illustrates in the following diagram (Fig. 6 ).

figure 6

Sub-criteria scores of social problems by city. Source “by the author”

Table 12 represents the scores of the sub-component by city. Furthermore, a separate column shows the average score of each component. Based on the average scores, the “privacy and security” component has the highest score (8.4), therefore has the highest level of satisfaction among smart home residents. In contrast, “trust in controlling devices” has the lowest score (6.4), reflecting resident frustration with smart homes. It is worth noting that among all the sub-components, “smart surveillance systems” with a score of 9.5 have the highest level of satisfaction in Copenhagen. In contrast, several sub-criteria in the two “satisfaction” and “trust on controlling devices” criteria scored the lowest.

According to interviews findings in Copenhagen, the reason for their high level of satisfaction is the government’s monitoring of smart surveillance systems. In other words, government agencies’ oversight of the non-governmental service providers has increased public satisfaction. On the other hand, some residents in the other three cities are dissatisfied with the smart services provided by private and public companies. They suppose that the operation of several smart devices at the same time will cause issues due to the lack of monitoring of these systems.

According to smart home definitions, scientists state that such houses seek to utilize up-to-date technologies such as the internet to create more beneficial homes. It is important to consider that smart homes aim to improve the inhabitants’ quality of life besides their satisfaction. The advantages of designing smart homes are increasing economic growth, security, time savings, and pollution mitigation. On the other hand, the utilization of such services raises multiple challenges and concerns. One of the obstacles is the residents’ satisfaction with the use of these services. For instance, dependency on the Internet, interference in people’s privacy, and high expense of accessing such services. The most significant purpose of this article is to analyze the social issues of smart home residents. The primary goal is to identify such barriers. Also, what is the most significant social obstacles for residents? The most concerning social barriers describe below according to the case studies findings.

Trust on controlling devices.

Service satisfaction.

The reliability of the services.

Privacy and security.

According to interviews, the most significant issue is related to devise management. Respondents are concerned about how several devices operate simultaneously. To prevent such disorders, control officials must supervise the accurate performance of each of these smart devices. Also, experts should perform experiments to examine how multiple devices interact at the same time to identify potential troubles. This surveillance would improve consumer’s trust and lead to the increased utilization of these technologies in non-smart homes. Besides, companies should have periodic checkups to inspect the equipment to resolve any new issues. Eventually, through these approaches, citizens’ services improved to offer people satisfaction with smart home services. The last section provides the most significant recommendations to mitigate the challenges and facilitate the safe and effective use of smart home applications.

User recommendations

Home energy services are primarily responsible for appliance power consumption data, performing energy efficiency assessments of household appliances, and making recommendations about household power consumption. The technology-based systems present recommendations for users to reduce energy consumption. A device provides suggestions for mobile users when an intruder is detected. To decrease power consumption and the cost of household appliances efficiently, we recommend that users commit to the set runtime.

Health recommendations

Health institutions are primarily responsible for assisting and ensuring high-quality medical applications in smart homes and healthcare in general. Health institutions support the elderly (at home) by providing correct instructions, such as appropriate exercises through TV tutorials. Recommendations are given to patients in smart homes, including medical guidelines, patient diagnoses, and assistance for the elderly and people with disabilities. Such technologies can also determine and predict unexpected incidents such as fall injuries in smart homes.

Safety recommendations

Another advantage of using technology-based devices in smart homes is increased safety. People of all ages require specific healthcare, especially the elderly, and children often need guidance and help from those around them. Using a monitoring system provides appropriate supervision for homeowners if they are not at home. Also, ensuring that strangers do not enter smart homes are other benefits of using these homes. As a result, homes equipped with these applications will bring higher satisfaction to homeowners. Furthermore, smart devices provide instructions on how fire systems and electrical appliances are utilized and managed. A recommendation system to manage IoT–network relationships between IoT devices, networks, and operation techniques helps implement appropriate schemes, diagnose errors in smart homes.


The most crucial section in this research was designing the questionnaire and assessing questionnaire data. Several experts evaluated the questionnaire indicators, then sub-criteria were identified for a more detailed study. It should note that this process was very time-consuming. Another obstacle in this research was finding informed people about smart homes to fill out the questionnaire. To sum up, smart home technologies face serious challenges. Further study and practical solutions to address the problems that lay ahead would pave the way for such technologies extension.

Availability of data and materials

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I would like to express my very great appreciation to my professor for his valuable and constructive suggestions during the planning and development of this research work. His willingness to give his time so generously has been very much appreciated.

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Pira, S. The social issues of smart home: a review of four European cities’ experiences. Eur J Futures Res 9 , 3 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40309-021-00173-4

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  • Smart home technology services
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10 Benefits of Smart Home Technology

Security Systems Smart Homes Jul 13, 2023 11:43:52 AM General Security 6 min read

Woman using tablet with smart home apps to control security system

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in January 2019 and has been revised to reflect industry updates.

Smart technologies are being utilized more and more within homes, for a number of reasons. Whether just one device or an entire network, consumers are taking advantage of its many features and capabilities to protect homes, properties, and loved ones. Whether you’re adding this automated technology for the first time or upgrading a current solution, it’s best to enlist a reputable provider with relevant partnerships.

Designed with added conveniences, smart home technologies can remotely perform daily tasks such as setting thermostat levels and lighting; checking-in on children, elderly loved ones, and pets; monitoring water and other utilities usage; and more.

When synced with activity levels, smart technologies can also track health and wellness goals concerning exercise, nutrition, and medication adherence among others.

What Is a Smart Home?

Smart technologies are becoming more common. At last count, 63.43 million U.S. households have added these automated devices, up 10.2 percent from 2022.

Designed to save time and money for security and safety, smart homes can remotely automate everyday tasks via internet connection. Imagine closing and locking garage doors, dimming lights, or adjusting interior temperatures from any mobile device, regardless of your location!

You can even remotely power down electronic devices to manage usage, or if you forgot when rushing out the door.

Smart home technology is being utilized more and more within homes, for various reasons.

Smart Technology Advantages & Efficiencies

Smart technologies boast myriad daily benefits, such as lowering carbon footprints and expenses—along with additional perks like improved quality of life and safety. To help avoid costly damages leading to increased premiums, some homeowners’ insurance companies will offer up to 20 percent discounts on yearly policies. Consult your insurance representative for specific programs.

What’s more, smart technologies can assist with lowering utility usage and costs. Monitoring water, HVAC, and household lighting can result in significant savings. Many service providers such as General Security also offer Energy Star-rated products with rebates through most utility companies.

Learn more about some of the most common smart home technology benefits, such as remote monitoring, customization, wellness and safety check-ins, motion detection and video analytics—all of which can be remotely managed through most mobile apps.

1. Easy Interconnectivity

From smart security systems and speakers to lighting and TVs, linking these connected devices can improve a home’s productivity. Integrating smart home products and systems can also monitor various in-home systems. Such interconnectivity lets users remotely manage and monitor thermostats, review security camera footage, program indoor and outdoor lights, and more. This saves money on utility bills and other household expenses.

2. Remote Monitoring & Check-Ins

Smart homes can be managed from any mobile device through remote monitoring . This enables real-time check-ins on various elements of your home and property. Knowing your property and loved ones are safe from threats—such as burglars, vandals, fire, and carbon monoxide —is invaluable.

Designed to save time and money for home security and safety, smart homes can remotely automate everyday tasks via internet connection.

3. Customized Preferences & Settings

Depending on the device, smart products are adjustable to match a specific user’s customized preferences or needs. A smart thermostat modifies your home’s temperature based on local weather conditions, making the space more comfortable for its occupants. You can even set “rules,” such as turning on lights or music as you arrive home, or for other automated conveniences. Smart sprinklers are another good example. Some models have distinguished zones spanning a property. Customized activation based on available sunlight and plant types ensures a more effective watering schedule.

4. Increased Safety & Real-Time Monitoring

Through the interconnectivity of smart home technology, and real-time monitoring, homeowners can know exactly what’s happening and receive real-time alerts on any questionable occurrences. This encompasses features like alarm systems and security cameras, which can be programmed to arm/disarm devices, confirm the safe arrival of children at home, or even monitor the behavior of a frisky pet! You’ll also have access to 24/7 Central Station Monitoring providing immediate alerts to your mobile device, and local first responders and emergency personnel.

5. Health & Wellness Tracking

Checking in on elderly loved ones when you can’t be there goes a long way in supporting their safe, independent lifestyle. Adding smart wellness technologies facilitate real-time, two-way audio and video communication . Adhering smart contact sensors to kitchen and bathroom cabinets and drawers can also help confirm your loved one is adhering to medications and maintaining healthy eating habits. These can also be integrated with Alarm.com Wellness Personal Emergency Response Pendants and wristbands for further protection.

6. Energy & Utilities Management

As previously mentioned, managing utilities such as heating, cooling, and lighting can save on energy costs. Pre-programming your thermostat to a specific temperature during certain times ensures comfort, while cutting usage.

Consider smart outlets to manage auto shut-off for electronic devices such as TVs and gaming systems. Smart LED bulbs enable users to remotely turn lights on and off for security and convenience.

Solar panels are also proven to reduce monthly electric bills, as well as generate renewable energy credits. Offered through Solar Smarter Home in conjunction with Alarm.com, you can calculate important efficiency and usage insights.

7. Video Motion Detection

Activating only when when motion is detected , this technology saves time, battery life, memory, storage, and energy. Regardless of whether you’re home or away, it notifies you of possible suspicious activity within your home or around outdoor areas.

Adding security cameras with video motion detection (VMD) technology captures customized movement to reduce false positives. You can either program this yourself or enlist a reputable smart technologies provider such as General Security.

8. Video Analytics Technologies

Perhaps one of the most standout features of smart home automation are video analytics . This advanced technology can be added as another security layer in line with motion detection. Intelligent enough to differentiate among images of animals, humans, or vehicles, it deciphers movement to help prevent false notifications and alarms. Pre-programmed tripwires and activity zones enable real-time alert triggers, such as automatically activated indoor/outdoor lights, to ward off potential intruders. Consider also adding Alarm.com Perimeter Guard™ with loud whistles; beeps; red, flashing LED lights; and speakers via compatible security cameras.

9. Appliance Safety & Automatic Shutoffs

Consider implementing smart stove and grill guards for automatic appliance shutoff. This grants real-time monitoring for dangers leading to fires, gas leaks, and propane loss, and injuries caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Placing contact sensors on refrigerators and freezers will set off immediate alerts should someone accidentally leave these open or ajar.

10. Leak Detection & Flood Sensors

Protecting your home from leaks and flooding is another smart feature. Receive real-time mobile alerts through your system’s leak detection and flood sensors to avoid costly damages before they happen. Adding the Alarm.com Smart Water Valve + Meter delivers quick leak and moisture identification ensuring automatic shutoff, along with daily usage insights.

Get Smarter & Safer

Whenupgrading or adding smart home technologies, it’s recommended to decide what’s best for your home and family. A reputable service provider such as General Security can assist with suitable solutions.

General Security provides smart home systems for homeowners throughout the U.S. East Coast. Request a free quote today!

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Advantages and Disadvantages of a Smart Home

By benny kounlavouth ,.

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More and more families across the world are adopting smart home technology into their homes and daily routines. 

In my opinion, a smart home has many advantages and few disadvantages. But, every family is different. 

Pros & Cons of Smart Home Technology

Smart devices add a lot of value to my daily routine and really help me be more efficient. For that reason, I do believe smart home technology is worth it. 

But technology moves fast, and keeping up with the latest and greatest can be a struggle. Plus, the initial costs and internet reliance makes smart homes unfeasible for some.

There’s no perfect answer — it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons and decide what’ll work best for your family.

Advantages of a Smart Home

Remote control.

Most smart home devices connect to the internet, either directly or through a hub. This means you can access those devices from anywhere you have an internet connection.

Here are some examples of how remote control can make your life easier:

  • You just got to work but forgot to turn off a few lights around the house. Turn them off with your smart bulb or switch app .
  • Someone is at your door, but you aren’t home. See and speak to the visitor through your smart doorbell’s app .
  • You normally lower the heat when you go to work, but you forgot today. Smart thermostats allow you to control the temperature from anywhere .

We could probably fill a book of examples, but these three cases give you an idea of the possibilities.

Energy Saving & Monitoring

From energy monitoring to lowering the temperature of your home while you’re away, smart home devices help you keep track of how much energy you’re actually using. 

Smart plugs can give you energy consumption reports , and some even have controls that automatically turn a socket off when a device has consumed a certain amount of energy.

Smart thermostats can learn your schedule and heating and cooling preferences , then automatically adjust to keep your home running as efficiently as possible. 


Smart homes can be as complex or simple as you choose. There really is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Whether you want to take advantage of one device or twenty is completely up to you .

Home automation is adaptable depending on: 

  • Whether you rent or own your home
  • How much of your home you want to automate
  • How much y ou want to spend

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of devices. You can automate almost every aspect of your home, or just a couple of rooms . 

Pick one, pick two, pick them all! You have options in each category and they’re all useful in their own way.


Smart home technology allows your home to run more efficiently and work better for you. It is up to you to find the devices that will improve your life and add value to your home.

You can always be home to greet your visitors with a smart video doorbell. You can have your door automatically unlock when you arrive home from work. You can even use your voice to turn on lights or start a pot of coffee.

There is an added level of safety that comes with smart devices. Door, window, and motion sensors alert you when movement is detected in your home , and depending on what you have connected, could even send a livestream to your phone. 

There are even smart smoke detectors and CO2 sensors . These work similarly to their “dumb” counterparts, but with the bonus of sending a notification to your phone when smoke or CO2 is detected in your home.

Google Nest’s smart smoke detector will even tell you exactly where the problem is through built-in speakers.

(Alarm Sound) “Emergency. There’s carbon monoxide in the (room name). Move to fresh air.”

-Google Nest Protect warning message

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Video doorbells and smart security cameras also add a layer of protection. They allow you to see anyone in or around your home from anywhere and can record whenever they sense motion .

Voice Commands & Routines

Another benefit of smart home technology is hands-free control and setting routines. A routine is an action that sets off other actions within your connected home.

You can set up routines to trigger: 

  • When you say a certain phrase
  • At a certain time of the day
  • On designated days  

These routines can include anything from turning smart devices on and off to getting news briefs or weather reports.

For example, my morning routine is triggered by the phrase “ Alexa, good morning .” That command turns on my lights, tells me the weather, goes through the news brief, and starts a pot of coffee.

Check out this video of a completely hands-free home, controlled by voice commands and Alexa Routines.


There are many smart devices you can control using just your voice, making smart home technology a wonderful tool for the differently-abled. 

Here are just a few of the ways smart tech can make life at home more accessible :

  • Smart switches and bulbs let you turn lights on or off without flipping a switch.
  • Smart video doorbells let you see and talk to anyone at the door from your phone.
  • Smart assistants can help you make phone calls or send text messages when you aren’t near the phone. 

Whether you have limited mobility or want to make life easier for an older relative, smart home technology can make doing things around the house much simpler.

It Can Increase Your Home’s Value

Smart technology and devices can also increase your home’s value . If you plan to sell anytime soon, those permanent smart fixtures will attract more buyers and may even shorten the time it takes to sell your home.

In addition, many insurance companies are willing to offer policy discounts for homes with certain smart devices. Some of the smart devices that may quality include:

  • Smart security systems
  • Smart security cameras
  • Smart water sensors

Disadvantages of a Smart Home

Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of smart technology is the price. While the initial costs of individual products usually aren’t too bad, continually adding more products can get expensive fast . 

Installing smart cameras, sensors, and lights is pretty simple, and you can usually do it on your own. But when you get into big-ticket items like smart thermostats and kitchen appliances, which may require professional installation, the costs begin to add up. 

Before you add any smart device to your home, big or small, weigh the cost-saving benefits vs. your total investment to ensure you’re making the right decision.

Compatibility Issues

If you want a fully-automated home, you’ll need to make sure each device you purchase is compatible with what you already own.

Let’s say you prefer Google Assistant over Amazon Alexa. Both devices work similarly, so you don’t see any issue choosing one over the other. 

But then you decide to add a Ring Video Doorbell to your smart home. Great device, only one problem — it’s not compatible with Google Home . 

While there’s nothing wrong with using incompatible devices across your smart home, it complicates the process . If you’re choosing a smart home because of convenience, you’ll need to do your research and find the right products . 

Smart home technology is a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to security. While it does make our homes more secure in many ways, it can also make it less secure in others.  

It goes without saying that connecting anything to Wi-Fi comes with some sort of security risk, and while it’s usually low, there’s always the potential for your tech to get hacked .

Is Alexa recording what you say ? Can someone hack your Ring account and watch you in your home ? As long as you take the right steps to secure your accounts and use a strong password , you probably have nothing to worry about. 

But, the risk alone is enough to turn some people off of smart technology.  

Companies Can Fail

The worst thing that can happen with your smart device is that the company that makes it goes out of business. While it’s rare, it does happen from time to time . If they take their servers down, your product basically becomes unusable. 

Technology moves fast, and some companies just aren’t built for the competition. Try to go with reputable, tried-and-true brands whenever you can to minimize the risk.

Adapting Smart Tech into Your Daily Routine

Adapting to anything new takes a little time. 

If you’re a tech-savvy person, you should catch on pretty quickly. But it might not be the best idea to introduce your grandmother, who still uses a rotary phone, to the Echo Dot , Ring, Philips Hue smart bulbs , and an ecobee thermostat all at the same time. 

It takes a little time to adjust, but it does get easier for users to control their smart homes with time and practice. Once you form that habit, it’s hard to imagine life without smart technology !

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How smart homes have changed architecture guide

How smart homes have changed architecture advice, Modern house guide, Online property help tips

How Smart Homes Have Changed Architecture

9 October 2021

How smart homes have changed architecture guide

Do you dream of turning your house into a digital home where all the systems will work in unison and can be controlled remotely using your smartphone! If you have an affirmative response, then you have come to the right place.

How Smart Homes Have Changed Design

Today we are going to discuss how the trend of smart homes has been imparting a facelift to the architecture industry:

  • Most modern-day homes rely on cables and cords. This makes it imperative for a designer to take the wiring into account while coming up with home renovation ideas. Doing this often limits their potential. The wireless capabilities of a smart home architecture can change all of that so that architects can enjoy greater freedom in their work.
  • Lighting has a big role to play in affecting our moods and concentration levels. Warm lighting induces a relaxed feel whereas blue light boosts up our energy meter during the daytime so that we can focus more on our tasks. The pre-set schedules are followed by smart lighting for ensuring the right atmosphere before you set foot inside your house.
  • The ambiance of our home is improved to a great extent by natural light entering our space at the right time. This is where the pre-set modes of smart curtains come into play so that we can wake up to the gentle sun rays caressing our faces at daybreak. It can also help in the creation of a secluded sleeping atmosphere at night.

These curtains can add to the safety quotient of your homes by randomly opening and closing even when the house is empty so that outsiders can’t comprehend if you are out on a vacation. Your energy bills will reduce drastically as the smart curtains help maintain your desired temperature by keeping the heat in or out. Geolocation data from your phone alerts the system whenever you leave home so that curtains can insulate during winter and keep heat out during summer.

  • Music never fails to create the right atmosphere whether you are cooking in the kitchen or working in the garage. The process of integrating audio systems in your existing home architecture can be a challenging drill. Custom-designed or nearly invisible speakers can solve this issue by matching your house ambiance and offering utmost flexibility whether you wish to listen to music in a particular or all the rooms of your house. Smart audio systems make it possible to play the same audio simultaneously in all rooms or different tracks for different rooms.
  • We rarely enjoy doing household chores. Smart appliances can make this process easier by taking care of all the house chores quickly and efficiently. A simple tap of a button is all it takes to remotely vacuum your living room, cook a pot roast and even make coffee. You can take the example of Samsung refrigerators which bank on built-in cameras to remotely view the contents inside the fridge for easy shopping.

A smart home comprises multiple devices which remain connected with the internet through your broadband – https://www.broadbandchoices.co.uk/broadband/cheap-deals . This acts as a medium of accessing the devices either through remote or voice control. Herein lies the importance of choosing a proper broadband connection that can render adequate support to your home devices without succumbing to network issues.

It is also important to get a heavy-duty smartphone that can exercise remote control over your devices. The smartphone market is filled with phone deals and you can take your pick among the various options after considering your specific requirements. Since the internet has a big role to play in determining the efficacy of your smart home, you can choose amongst sim-only  deals with superb data capacity so that you can control your home appliances directly using your smartphone. All the architectural trends listed above can impart a facelift to your home design and help transition into a smart home.

Comments on this guide to how smart homes have changed architecture article are welcome.

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essay smart home

Smart House System Technology Explained

Introduction, energy management, security system, lighting system, smart appliances, entertainment, emergency management.

Smart House is a term used to describe a house that has Computer Controlled Automation System that controls various functions in a house such as appliances and lighting. This system employs smart technology allowing for networking of appliances hence enabling access and operation of the appliances from any part of the network. The system can be used in monitoring, warning and carrying out various functions according to selected criteria. The smart technology enables automatic communication via the mobiles phones, the internet and the fixed telephones.

Smart technology makes use of different electronics components, performing different functions. These components are divided into the following general groups:

  • Sensors: for monitoring and submitting any changes, examples are humidity sensor, smoke detectors, movement and heat sensors, thermometers etc.
  • Actuators: These components perform physical actions; examples are automatic light switches, relays and door and window openers.
  • Controllers: these components make choice based on occurrences and programmed rules.
  • Central units: Used in programming and making changes to a system, a good example is a computer.
  • Interface: These are components which help user to communicate with the system.

The most important aspects to be taken care of for a house to be considered smart are:

  • Energy management
  • Emergency management
  • Smart appliances.

Smart houses are considered very efficient in energy management.Electronics devices are installed in the house to monitor the usage of the energy and the number of people in the house at a particular time for energy regulation. When there is no one in the house, the temperatures settings are lowered automatically and all the appliances and lights that are not in use are turned off. The energy management system also controls heating system, fans and air conditioners in a way that will save energy. The smart house energy system also automatically turns off energy from an outlet that is not being used.

Smart house energy management system helps in saving energy cost by up to 65% compared to a house where energy usage is controlled manually.

A smart house is far much secure as it is easy to protect making it hard to break in than the current house. Alarm systems, similar in application to car alarm are installed in a smart house. The security system put the house in security mode, automatically shutting all windows and doors.

The smart house security system is programmed for a single day use or for a long time when the owner of the house is in a long trip or vacation. In this case, the security system is set to open the curtains and turn on and off the lights, making it look like there is a person in the house.

As part of the security system, surveillance cameras are installed and hidden around the house. These camera are monitored over the internet and the house owner can check at all aspects of the house include burglars and other unusual happening around and inside the house.

Smart house employs lighting system that makes the house safe and easier to live in by use of programmable lights or remotely accessed lighting system. With programmable lighting system, the house owner programs the lights to come on of off at a specific time and even dim depending with the mood. A central computer is used to turn specific lights at a specific time during the night. This helps in deterring criminals, hence improving security. With remote access, lights can be controlled remotely from any where inside or outside the house using mobile phones or PDAs.

For a house to be considered smart, smart appliances are installed to make use of the smart technology. The appliances are networked in the system to perform specific task at a given time.

Examples of smart appliances include remote controlled coffee maker which brews coffee just before the house owner wakes up. The coffee maker is linked to an alarm to wake up the house owner when the coffee is ready. A smart refrigerator automatically adjusts the temperatures inside based on the temperature of food inside. These smart appliances are connected to a computer which automatically turns the appliances on and off.

Smart appliances make the life of people calmer and better structured as the technology make planning of the day easier. This tranquility help people to concentrate on a specific task as other tasks are being carried on without a lot of monitoring and intervention.

Smart entertainment systems are designed to controls the way home entertainment system including the TV and Home theatre system functions. Smart TV user have the ability to change channels by either speaking or accessing the TV via the internet, instructing it on what to record and at what time. Ultra Thin rear projections TVs have been developed using Digital Light Technology (DLP), they have massive screen sizes, and they are slim and light enough to hang on the wall.

Smart internet enabled home theatres system stream music from multiple computers on the internet and store in an internal hard drives. This home theatre can be accessed remotely over the internet to control almost all aspects of the system.

A smart house emergency system is designed in a way that it will inform house occupant where there is an emergency and at the same time contact the relevant authority on the emergency for a quick response. If there is fire for example, the fire detector sends a signal to the central computer which triggers the alarm and at the same time make a call to the fire department.

Another example is when there is a gas leakage in the house; the emergency control system will shut down the main gas supply and turn off all electrical appliances to prevent any fire out break. The system will then turn on the alarm and send a signal to the house owner informing them on the gas leak though the mobile phone or through the internet to a personal computer.

Smart houses are the choice for most people as they improve the lives of people in a great way making it easier to live because of the convenience and safety they offer. With automatic smart appliances, people are able to plan their time and concentrate on important tasks in their lives.

Chris D. Nugent (2006) Smart Home and Beyond, IOS Publishers, United States.

David Heckman (2008) A Small World: Smart Houses and the Dream of the Perfect Day, Duke University Press, United Kingdom.

Richard Harper (2003) Inside the Smart Home, Springer Publishers, New York.

Smart House: Your wish is Their command, Web.

Smart House: The so called Sci-Fi Life, Web.

Smart House Designs, Web.

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How Smart Homes Make Life Better

Life is complicated. there are times when all we want is a little more ease and tranquility. living in a smart home can simplify our lives and improve our quality of life..

With the onset of COVID, everyone is rethinking their home’s role in helping them live better lives.

Nowadays, we're spending more time at home. The blurring line between work and family is causing us to realize just how important it is to be in surroundings that promote comfort, wellness, and productivity. As a result, interest in having a smart home is ramping up.

The right smart home features can make our lives more comfortable and convenient, create safety and peace of mind, and increase our overall feelings of well-being.

For these reasons, it’s no surprise most people believe moving into a smart home - or making their existing home "smarter" - will lead to that better life.

People Between the Ages of 25-44 Believe a Smart Home is Key to a Better Life

People in this group may have different motivations for adopting smart home technology , but they share a common goal. They see it as a way to make their lives simpler and better.

They are the most interested in how smart homes can better their lives. And, we can learn a lot from this group about how and why smart homes are becoming standard across the world:

Households with an income of $100,000 or more are 2.5 times more likely to have smart home systems and three times more likely to own multiple devices.

This group is most likely to be buying or upgrading their home.

They care more about how they are perceived than other age groups and want to be seen as eco-conscious.

They are willing to pay more for “green” products that help them walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

People 25-44 living in urban areas and families living in suburban areas are most focused on security.

Features like connected thermostats, connected smoke detectors, smart lights, and connected locks are at the top of their wishlist.

This age group, in general, is also more budget-conscious, wanting high value for the money they are investing.

Smart Home Features and an Improved Quality of Life

Quality of life means different things to different people. Each of us values unique aspects of our lives above others, but we share several things in common as humans.

We all want peace of mind and safety. We wish our lives to be as convenient and stress-free as possible. We seek wellness and calm, no matter how hectic daily life gets.

And it’s been undoubtedly hectic this last year with COVID affecting all of us. As a result, we are increasingly more likely and willing to spend on smart home features, especially since social interactions and everyday life away from home have been paused.

Three Unique Factors to Consider

There are three unique factors to consider when understanding why people see smart home technology and its integration improving daily life:

Integrated smart homes make life more convenient

Smart home features that deliver safety, wellness, and comfort

How smart home integration helps with energy efficiency

Let's unpack each of these.

Integrated Smart Homes Make Life More Convenient

As a starting point, smart home technologies streamline how we control our homes, allowing us to change our environment to meet our needs with the tap of a button.

Some smart home systems even take convenience one step further by integrating multiple smart home products into a unified experience or learning from our patterns and automatically adjusting to us as we live our lives.

When Price Waterhouse Coopers conducted a smart home technology study , they asked several groups what matters most. Across the board, they found that people want convenience. Participants compared having smart home technology to having a “personal assistant that can do the things they forgot to do.”

Notably, convenience was critical to women. Women noted that

Smart home technology “represents another pair of hands and one less thing to remember on a long list of family responsibilities."

With the increased convenience of our homes virtually running on auto-pilot, we free up more time to do what we love - whether that’s a focus on work, family, or something in between.

Smart Home Features That Deliver Peace of Mind, Wellness & Comfort

Peace of mind.

As Smart Home goes mainstream, users of smart home technology mention peace of mind and comfort as their primary motivators.

Peace of mind comes from feeling like they are in control and protected while they’re at home, and when they’re away.

At work (maybe post-COVID, that is), on an extended vacation, or even on the couch, the ability to control your home from a phone or tablet, to lock doors, monitor security cameras, control lighting, and be notified in case of smoke or fire are all critical to feeling safe.

According to McKinsey , people with a safety focus are most interested in remote video feeds, connected locks, and connected smoke detectors throughout their homes and solutions that help tie them all together into a single system or app.

Interestingly, 56% of the people surveyed didn't focus on the brand of the products they purchased. They aren't as brand-focused as we might expect; they're benefit-focused.

Total wellness - including consistent, quality sleep - is vital in modern society. We all need restful nights to be productive during the day, and Human-Centric Lighting (HCL) helps us reach that goal.

HCL affects us while we sleep and while we go about our daily lives in our homes. Each of us experience a natural, biological rhythm to our daily lives that ties into how we sleep. This rhythm responds directly to the light levels we experience throughout the day , and too much bright light or too much darkness can have adverse effects.

Auto-dimming lights and motorized shading both help maintain balanced lighting.

Smart home technology and HCL help provide a consistent balance for a homeowner that changes with them as the day unfolds.

Most companies providing human-centric lighting integrations - at this point - are focused on trying to mimic natural light as much as possible to help people feel better, sleep better, and enjoy their homes more than they would without this balance.

Beyond HCL, smart home technologies also support total wellness in other ways. In recent years, several exciting developments actively elevate our health and how we behave each day to keep us healthy.

Here are a few interesting examples:

Ultraviolet disinfection lighting can sanitize surfaces in seconds to keep these surfaces as germ-free as possible.

Bedroom mirrors can measure your blood flow and respiration to see if something is wrong.

Wearables allow you to detect patterns in your behavior and program your other smart devices by these patterns.

As the focus on total wellness rises - with smart home technology playing a more central role in that experience - more of these innovations are sure to surface.

Comfort and “Touchless” Features

As we’ve fought through COVID, people are starting to think about a future where we can interact with our devices without having to touch them. The same is proving true for our homes.

At the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), touchless devices were everywhere. Companies are thinking about how faucets, toilets, doorbells, refrigerators, and more can operate in our homes without touch.

Touchless technologies can reduce germ transfer and help occupients stay healthy throughout the year.

In addition to the health considerations, the benefits of touchless technology also extend to comfort and utility. For example, the touchless tech can make it much easier for senior homeowners to do basic things like turning on the lights, which can require reaching up, walking extra distances, or a tough balancing act to get done.

How Smart Home Integration Helps With Energy Efficiency

Modern consumers increasingly exhibit a "green" mindset. This mindset influences the products they buy and how they expect energy options to integrate into their homes to help them conserve energy.

The McKinsey study highlights three common energy behaviors that homeowners are worried about:

  • 51% admitted to leaving lights on in rooms they aren't in
  • 41% have left appliances or the TV on even when not in use, and
  • 35% left the air conditioner running even when it's comfortable in the home

As we scramble from one thing to the next, maybe a little distracted, some typical behaviors lead to excess energy usage.

With helpful smart home technologies integrated into their homes, people don't waste energy as often.

This change leads to better energy efficiency, lower costs for the homeowner, and reduced stress spent managing their homes.

People can turn lights off when they’re not home and when they aren’t using different rooms. Appliances and TVs can automatically turn off when not in use. And programmable thermostats can be set to keep things comfortable and cut off when it's overkill to be running.

With the increased energy efficiency delivered by smart home systems, homeowners feel more responsible and keep extra money in their pockets.

In Conclusion

We're all searching for a better life.

The definition of that better life is different for everyone.

But if you asked ten people, most of those people would mention their homes and comfort level in those homes. Smart home technology is helping homeowners become more comfortable than ever before. Customizing their lives in a way that would have seemed impossible even 30 years ago.

Smart homes can indeed make life better.

Not only for homeowners but for builders and integrators that offer the technologies people want to customize the home of their dreams.

When you offer smart home technology as a builder, you’re giving people what they want. This helps you to stand apart from your competition. Especially if you’re the only builder in the area offering these features. Or, when your customer is considering you and a direct competitor who doesn’t offer smart home features.

When this happens often enough, the effect to your bottom line and the satisfaction of your customers is noticeable.

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Best Smart Home Devices 2024

Table of Contents

  • Best Smart Home Devices
  • Things to Consider When Buying
  • How We Chose

In recent years, there have been vast technological improvements to appliances and products we use within our homes everyday. Never before has it been easier and so affordable to transform a traditional home into a smart home.

Using our Internet-connected smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, computers, and smart watches, it’s now possible to remotely control other smart equipment in our homes – from across the room or across the world – in a way that adds convenience and safety to our everyday lives. As you’re about to discover, smart home devices take on many different forms. This roundup is only a small sampling of what’s available. If you’re looking to bring your home into the 21st century easily and affordably, here are some of the very best smart home devices that can help get you started.

  • Best Overall: Brava Glass Smart Oven »
  • Best Budget: Wemo Wi-Fi Smart Plug »
  • Best Smart Small Kitchen Appliance: Keurig K-Cafe Smart »
  • Best Smart Lighting: Philips Hue Starter Kit 4 E26 Smart »
  • Best Smart Door Lock: Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro Series »
  • Best Smart Thermostat: Google Nest Thermostat »
  • Best Smart Photo Frame: Muse Frame (21.5-inch)»
  • Best Smart Home Device for Dog Owners: Petcube Bites 2 Lite»
  • Best Smart Window Shades: Smart Standard Honeycomb Shades by Serena»

Best Overall: Brava Glass Smart Oven

essay smart home

Countertop design

Intuitive mobile app

Extensive pre-programmed recipe collection

Easily helps to prepare entire meals

Best suited to singles or couples, not large families

Whether you consider yourself a skilled home chef or you still haven't figured out how to boil an egg, the Brava Glass Smart Oven can make it easy to prepare gourmet-quality meals quickly, inexpensively, and with no cooking experience. You no longer need to worry about over- or under-cooking your meals.

Not only does this smart countertop device prepare foods two to four times faster than a traditional oven, it’s controlled using a mobile app and emulates eight essential kitchen appliances: It sears, toasts, reheats, bakes, dehydrates, serves as a slow cooker and air fryer, and can act as a warmer draw. It even has three separate cooking zones.

Since the smart technology assists with almost every aspect of the food preparation and cooking process, it’s easy to consistently create restaurant quality meals at home with no previous experience. In fact, Brava’s mobile app offers instant access to more than 6,000 pre-programmed recipes that are simple to follow.


Connectivity: Wi-Fi

Control Methods: Proprietary Apple iPhone or Android smartphone app

Key Features: Serves as eight food preparation appliances

Other Compatible Equipment: None

Best Budget: Wemo Fi-Fi Smart Plug (WSP-100)

essay smart home


Easy to set up and operate

Can remotely turn non-smart devices on or off

Plugged-in devices can only be turned on or off, not adjusted in any way (i.e. you can’t switch a fan between a low, medium, or high setting)

Doesn't monitor or track energy consumption

Only works with Apple equipment (Not Android or Windows)

For a non-tech-savvy person looking to begin experimenting with smart home technology, the easiest option is to use one or more inexpensive smart plugs. Each Wemo smart plug, for example, looks like a basic power adapter that plugs into any standard electrical outlet.

You can plug a traditional, non-smart device into the Wemo smart plug. Using a mobile app, it’s then possible to turn that device (such as a lamp or fan) on or off remotely using your smartphone. This can be done from anywhere. Plus, you can easily set up schedules to turn the device on and off at specific times of the day or night.

Connectivity: Wi-Fi and a standard electrical outlet

Control Methods: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac

Key Features: Remotely turns a non-smart device on or off

Other Compatible Equipment: Apple HomeKit/Home app

Best Smart Small Kitchen Appliance: Keurig K-Cafe Smart

essay smart home

Supports all K-Cup varieties

Prepares coffee, lattes, and cappuccinos

Multiple beverage customization options

Easy-to-use mobile app

Works best with genuine K-Cups

Requires the same cleaning as a regular coffee maker

Making perfectly prepared coffee, lattes, and cappuccinos at home has never been easier thanks to the Keurig K-Cafe Smart. When you insert a K-Cup into the coffee maker, it knows what type of beverage and blend you selected and adjusts the coffee maker’s settings automatically. You can then choose between six brew sizes and five beverage strengths. K-Cafe Smart can create hot or cold beverages and comes with a hot/cold milk frother.

It’s possible to set up the coffee maker in advance and have it create your favorite coffee beverage at a predefined time, or anytime with a tap on your smartphone’s screen or a voice command. The app maintains an inventory of your K-Cups, monitors which are used, and can automatically reorder your favorite K-Cup selections at a discounted price when you run low.

Control Methods: Apple iPhone or Android smartphone

Key Features: Uses K-Cups to make customizable, hot or cold coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, teas, or hot cocoa

Best Smart Lighting: Philips Hue Starter Kit 4 E26

essay smart home

Works with the Hue, Google Home, or Apple Home mobile apps

Starter kit can be upgraded with smart light switches, stand-alone light fixtures, and accessories

Select bulb brightness and colors

Create customized functional or ambient lighting in any room

Expensive starter kit

Continuous Internet access is required to control the lights

One of the most popular uses of smart devices in homes is smart lighting. The Philips Hue Starter Kit comes with a required hub that plugs directly into your home’s modem or router. You also get four E26, 75-watt LED light bulbs that screw into any standard light fixture. Using the Hue, Google Home, or Apple Home mobile app, you then have full remote control over the light bulbs. For example, you can select from a million colors, choose each bulb’s brightness, and turn them on or off with on-screen taps or voice commands.

While the Philips Hue smart lighting system is more expensive than many competing products, the Hue light ecosystem is extensive. You can purchase stand-alone smart light fixtures for use indoors or outdoors, as well as individual compatible smart light bulbs, accent lights, and light strips that can all be remotely controlled using the same app. The smart light system can also be expanded with Hue motion sensors, smart light switches, and other optional accessories.

Control Methods: Any Internet connected mobile device, home hub, or smart speaker

Key Features: Fully control all aspects of your home’s lighting by replacing just the bulbs, not the existing light fixtures

Other Compatible Equipment: Works in conjunction with many other smart home devices, mobile devices, home hubs, smart speakers, and popular digital voice assistants (Siri, Google, and Alexa).

Best Smart Door Lock: Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro Series

essay smart home

Durable and secure

Easy to install

All functions controllable from mobile app

Integrates with other smart home security products

Same app can control multiple locks

No Apple HomeKit support

Supports 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, not 5GHz

By replacing the existing deadbolt lock on your home’s front door with a smart lock, you can remotely lock or unlock the door using an Internet-connected mobile device. There are literally hundreds of smart locks available. We chose the U-Bolt Pro Series because it offers a good value and versatile functionality. It’s also rated IP65 for water and dust resistance and utilizes two-layer 128-bit encryption. Plus, in addition to controlling the lock via a mobile device, you can unlock it using a numeric passcode, fingerprint scan, or a traditional metal key.

You can lock or unlock the door from anywhere in the world, as well as monitor who comes and goes via your smartphone. In addition, you can create temporary passcodes for service providers or others. For example, a housekeeper’s code can be set to only work during the days and times they’re scheduled to clean your home, while a different code that expires after a predetermined date can be provided to a house guest. Installation is DIY with basic tools. A smart lock is a good first step to enhancing your home’s security using smart technology.

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Control Methods: Mobile device, passcode, fingerprint scan, metal key

Key Features: Smartphone can unlock the door automatically as you approach carrying your smartphone, with an on-screen tap, or using a voice command

Other Compatible Equipment: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, SmartThings

Best Smart Thermostat: Google Nest Learning Thermostat

essay smart home

Saves you money on your heating and AC bill

Programs itself and adapts to your schedule

Controllable from anywhere using your smartphone

Modern design with easy to read color LCD display

Other smart thermostats offer better integration with non-Nest smart home gear

Can’t monitor temperature in multiple rooms unless you add optional Nest Temperature Sensors

There are several reasons to install a smart thermostat in your home. For starters, it makes it easy to control the temperature using your mobile device, smart speaker, or voice commands. Second, a “learning” smart thermostat studies your daily habits and automatically adjusts your home’s temperature accordingly. This can lower your utility bill.

For example, the Google Nest Learning Thermostat determines when you’re home, when you’re asleep, and when you’re at work based on your daily routine. It then automatically adjusts the temperature to an optimal setting. It will lower the heat or air conditioning when you’re not home, but make sure the temperature is to your liking each day when you get home from work. Professional installation is highly recommended.

Control Methods: Mobile devices, home hubs, smart speakers

Key Features: Learns your schedule and adjusts temperature to lower your utility bills

Other Compatible Equipment: Google Home and other Nest smart home equipment

Best Smart Home Device for Dog Owners: Petcube Bites 2 Lite

essay smart home

1080p resolution camera with night vision and 160-degree field of view

Works with any dog treats (1 inch or smaller)

See and hear your dog, and talk to them remotely

Can be tipped over by a dog if not secured in place

Some features require an ongoing paid subscription

Only cloud-based storage of video content

While dogs are considered members of our families, we often must leave them at home alone. During these times, the Petcube Bites 2 Lite allows you to see and hear your pet via a live video feed on your smartphone’s screen. You can also talk to your dog in real time and remotely toss them treats via the device’s built-in treat dispenser.

The Bites 2 Lite has a built-in motion and bark detector that sends alerts to your phone. It can also record video and save it in the cloud. The 1080p camera has built-in night vision, a 160-degree field of view, and an 8x digital zoom that you can control remotely. The unit itself measures just 5.7 x 3 x 10.6 inches, so it fits on a tabletop, shelf, or counter. It can also be hung on a wall and works with any dry pet treats less than one inch long.

Control Methods: Mobile device

Key Features: Monitor your dog when you’re not at home and remotely dispense treats

Best Smart Window Shades: Smart Standard Honeycomb Shades by Serena

essay smart home

Easy installation

Multiple color and style options

Quiet motor

Available in custom widths between 19 ⅞ and 96 inches, and lengths up to 120 inches

Required Wi-Fi hub sold separately

Chances are you have shades on your windows that need to be manually raised and lowered one at a time, throughout the day and night. Serena (as well as other well-known window shade and blind manufacturers) now offer smart shades and blinds that can be fully customized. In addition to offering standard and custom sizes, Serena allows you to choose the shade material and color of its Smart Standard Honeycomb Shades. You also get three mounting options.

What makes these shades smart is the proprietary mobile app that lets you remotely raise or lower one or more of them with an on-screen tap or voice command. You can also pre-program the shades to open and close on a specific schedule. Choose between battery powered or hard wired.

Control Methods: Mobile device or optional remote control switch

Key Features: Customized honeycomb blinds that can be raised and lowered remotely

Compatibility with Other Equipment: Apple HomeKit, Lutron Smart Hub, Caseta Smart Hub and Diva Dimmer Kit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Google Home, Smartthings, Sonos, Logitech Harmony, Xfinity Home, IFTTT, Honeywell Home

The Bottom Line

With even the slightest bit of technological know-how, it’s easy to replace the existing appliances, equipment, or devices in your home with “smart” products that can be remotely controlled using your existing smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, smart speaker, or other internet-connected device. To get started, your home must be equipped with Wi-Fi. It’s also important to choose smart products that are compatible with the technology you’re already using.

That said, there are plenty of products to choose from. What’s featured in this roundup is only a small sampling. Smart technologies have infiltrated into all sorts of products, from the Oral-B iO Series 9 toothbrush to MyQ Liftmaster Garage Door Openers and so many other products. Our advice is to pick one product type at a time, such as lighting, home security, or kitchen appliances, as you get started upgrading your home with the latest smart gear that fits your needs and budget.

Things to Consider When Buying Smart Home Devices

What you should look for when choosing specific types of smart home products depends heavily on the product category. For example, smart lighting has different things to consider than smart kitchen appliances.

“For the non tech savvy, the idea of a smart home can be intimidating," says JC Murphy, President of Savant Systems , an independent, Miami-based smart home integration company. "For that reason, something as simple as a smart light bulb is a great place to start. A standard A19 smart light bulb can be screwed in and then easily set up in a manufacturer’s app to control color and on/off. A smart plug is another simple product. It can be plugged into a standard outlet and then any device that is plugged into it can be easily turned on and off while home or away through an app.”

Here’s a closer look at seven things to consider that all smart devices have in common:

What it does: Figure out what a specific smart device does and how it operates.

How it can make your life better: Don’t upgrade existing equipment in your home unless you first determine that replacing it with a smart device will be beneficial. Ask yourself if it will save you money over time or somehow make your life easier.

Compatibility with existing technology: Make sure the smart devices you purchase are compatible with your existing mobile devices, computers, and other smart equipment you’ve already purchased (such as a smart speaker).

Security concerns: Any smart device that connects to the Internet could become a security risk. Take the necessary steps to keep potential hackers from breaching your home network (like setting strong passwords ), and make sure the manufacturer of the smart devices you install have their own security measures. Also, keep your equipment’s firmware and mobile app up to date.

Upgradability and Expandability: Choose smart equipment that's upgradable or expandable so you won’t need to replace it anytime soon. The best smart devices should serve you well for at least five years (potentially much longer).

Brand Name Reputation: In each smart device product category, there are companies with well known and respected, and that offer well-designed and secure products. Support smart device manufacturers that take the security and privacy of their customers seriously and that protect your data.

How We Chose the Best Smart Home Devices

Our contributor consulted with smart home technology specialists, cybersecurity experts, and elder care specialists to compile this roundup of the best smart home devices. These include JC Murphy, President of Savant Systems ; Ron Stoltz, Founder and Owner of Bismarck, ND-based Caves ; and Grayson Milbourne, Security Intelligence Director at OpenText Cybersecurity . With so many options in each product category to choose from, he then narrowed their selection down with more thorough research and some hands-on testing. 

For each smart device featured, our contributor considered its functionality, value, what makes it unique in its category, and how using it can enhance someone’s home life. While you can spend a fortune replacing all of your home’s equipment, appliances, and devices with “smart” gear, you don’t have to. Instead, based on your lifestyle, you can choose areas that will benefit you the most and then find a smart product in that category that fits within your budget.


Our contributor is an internationally recognized consumer technology expert who specializes in mobile devices, including how they can be used with smart home devices. He has more than 25 years of experience writing for a wide range of publications and websites. He also has been using smart equipment in his own home since these devices were first introduced.

Smart Home Devices FAQs

You don’t strictly need smart home devices. However, by installing smart appliances, equipment, and devices in your home, you can make various aspects of your home life easier to manage. The impact each smart device has will depend on the type of device and your lifestyle. If being able to remotely control devices in your home with your smartphone or voice commands sounds appealing, smart home devices are needed for that.

With smart lighting, for example, you can remotely control the lights in your home from anywhere using your mobile device or voice commands. And because most smart light packages use color-changing LED bulbs, you can create a specific ambience in a room based on your activity or mood. It’s also possible to create schedules, so specific lights turn themselves on and off automatically, based on your routine. Or with the addition of motion sensors, smart lights can be programmed to automatically turn on when you enter a room. The possibilities are rather limitless – and that’s just with smart lights.

Ron Stoltz, Founder and Owner of Bismarck, ND-based Caves has been installing audio/video and smart home technologies into homes for more than 25 years. He explains, “A smart home device is an electronic gadget or appliance that connects to a home network, allowing users to control and monitor its functions remotely via a smartphone or computer. People invest in them primarily for enhanced convenience, energy savings, and an upgraded living experience, bringing modern technology's efficiencies to daily life.”

How product manufacturers implement smart technology into their products varies greatly. Your goal should be to use smart equipment that can somehow improve your life at home by automating certain tasks, helping to keep you and your family safe, allowing you to easily access information, and accessing smart products remotely using a mobile device or voice commands. What a smart device can actually do depends a lot on the type of product and the ways you can interact with it using technology you already own and use daily.

These days, smart devices tend to be only slightly more expensive than their conventional counterparts. This does vary, however, based on the type of product and the complexity of the technology that’s been added to the smart product to expand its capabilities.

Stoltz adds, “Smart home technology is not just about futuristic living; it's about making daily life more manageable, more secure, and more entertaining.”

Again, this depends on the device. In general, a smart device isn't much more difficult to install than a conventional device of the same type, but a few extra steps are required. For example, you’ll need to connect the smart product to your home’s Wi-Fi. In many cases, you’ll also need to download and install a free, proprietary mobile app to control the smart device from a smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch, for example. The mobile app also is used to customize the product's functionality and control it remotely.

Smart device manufacturers have made it easy to set up and install most smart products, often by yourself and with few to no tools. In some cases, smart devices should be professionally installed. This is particularly true for major home appliances, thermostats, and comprehensive smart home security systems, for example.

In general, smart devices connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network wirelessly, although in some cases they rely on Bluetooth as well to interact with your mobile devices and other compatible equipment. Thus, for a smart device to work within your home, you must have a stable and continuous Wi-Fi network in place. Some smart devices also require a separate hub (or bridge) to be connected to your home’s model or Wi-Fi router.

Because smart devices connect to the Internet and many use bluetooth, they can be controlled remotely using several other types of Internet-connected devices. These typically include a compatible smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, smartspeaker, home hub, computer(s), and in some cases the remote control for your smart TV.

If your smart device supports a digital assistant (such as Siri, Google Home, or Amazon Alexa) that your mobile device or smart speaker is also compatible with, you can often control the smart device using simple voice commands, like “Hey Siri, turn on the living room lights to 50 percent brightness,” or “Hey Google, preheat the smart oven to 450-degrees.”

Any device that connects to the Internet or that communicates wirelessly with other equipment can have security vulnerabilities. Stotz adds, “The primary concern is the connectivity of smart devices to your network. If you're operating on an insecure router, your smart devices could be vulnerable to breaches. To mitigate this, it's essential to prioritize network security and regularly update device firmware. Also utilize strong and unique passwords for each device.”

To make your smart devices more secure:

  • Only purchase smart devices made from companies with a strong reputation and that have the ongoing budget to maintain security, especially if the smart device relies on cloud-based storage. 
  • Ensure that anytime the smart device is connected to the Internet, it’s using a password protected, encrypted, and secure connection.
  • Make sure a firewall is installed as part of your home’s Internet service and Wi-Fi network. 
  • As you set up each smart device, immediately change its password from the default setting to something unique, and don't share this password with others.
  • When controlling smart devices via a mobile device that’s connected to a Wi-Fi network (especially a public Wi-Fi network), install a virtual private network on your mobile device(s).

“It is important to understand where data is stored by smart devices," says Grayson Milbourne, Security Intelligence Director at OpenText Cybersecurity . "If cloud storage is offered, that is less secure than devices that keep data locally.”

“The other element to consider is the app itself," he says. "Nearly every smart device has an app that connects and/or controls the device. It’s necessary for consumers to do a bit of investigation into what data is collected by the app, and what happens to data that’s gathered. Also, determine if a smart device’s firmware can be updated. Vulnerabilities are found all the time. If a device cannot update, it could become a risk.”

U.S. News 360 Reviews takes an unbiased approach to our recommendations. When you use our links to buy products, we may earn a commission but that in no way affects our editorial independence.

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Edward C. Baig,

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In this story

Independent living goal • Complicated technology • Home security popularity • Devices should link • At front door • In living room • Smart kitchen safety •  The stove problem •  Bedroom fall prevention •  Bathroom health data

Can an internet-connected smart home make it easier for older adults to live independently and simplify care for them?

Until now, adoption of smart home technology among older Americans has been lukewarm at best. Recent leaps, including artificial intelligence , paired with the desire of about 9 in 10 older people to stay in their homes as long as possible, make the question worth asking again.

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Smart home tech encompasses smart:

  • Energy systems
  • Garage door openers
  • Security systems
  • Window treatments

Collectively called the internet of things (IoT), these products are considered intelligent because they connect to your home’s internet and you can control them via smartphone and computer and often by voice. But just because household products make nice with the internet doesn’t always make them more useful.

Lack of simplicity is a big stumbling block

About 1 in 5 respondents 50 and older say they don’t need smart home devices , according to a 2023 AARP survey . Around 1 in 10 expressed no interest at all. Some smart home products were deemed too expensive, too intrusive, too complicated or, to put it bluntly, overkill. 

Consumers who purchase smart home products often don’t wonder whether individual items connect with other devices in their house or whether they might need help getting them to work. The industry is trying to solve this with a technical standard known as Matter , which has support from companies — including Amazon, Apple, Google and Samsung — that are behind the most popular smart home platforms.

“It’s still the same do-it-yourself piecemeal,” says Laurie M. Orlov, an industry analyst in Port St. Lucie, Florida. “You buy one thing and then you buy another thing, and then if you buy too many things, you have to hire [help]. We haven’t moved much past that.” Her Aging and Health Technology Watch website spotlights  aging in place . 

Buyers’ biggest pain point is setting everything up, says Nick Millette, product development merchant and tester at Home Depot’s Hubspace smart home platform.

“This is what I do for a living,” he says. “I’ve got 15 products I tested today and three that I am not able to get connected.”

Home security systems fill a need for older adults

Older consumers are embracing some tech, research by Parks Associates shows. The Addison, Texas, market researchers found that 24 percent of people 65 and older have a home security system , and 34 percent own at least one smart home device besides a smart speaker, such as a video doorbell, smart camera , smart door lock , smart light or smart thermostat.

“The big wrapper is around health, well-being, longevity, connectivity and care coordination,” says Ken Honeycutt, director of commercialization for Samsung Health in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Choose devices that meet specific needs, and you won’t go wrong, says Stacey Higginbotham, a Seattle-area policy fellow at  Consumer Reports .

“I want [smart lights] to have circadian rhythms. I want it to work with a motion sensor easily. I want to tie it into security systems,” she says. “Figure out what you want, and then find a system that will do that for you with whatever [smart]phones you have.”



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Link devices to build a complete picture

For caregivers and their loved ones, the value of a smart device is its ability to interact with other devices and assemble a big picture of a typical day at home, especially when an older adult lives alone, says Andy Miller, senior vice president for AARP Innovation Labs. Then when something seems off, a caregiver can be alerted. 

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“Oh yeah, yesterday was a tough day for Mom,” Miller says as an example. “She didn’t get out of bed at 8 like she normally does. She got out of bed at 10:30. She went to the bathroom six times yesterday when she normally goes three times. She didn’t open the refrigerator door at all. She didn’t turn the stove on. The TV was on for nine hours yesterday. When we were looking at the ambient sensors, she was sitting on the couch for seven hours. And now you start to get that picture: Oh, we have a problem.”

— Andy Miller, AARP Innovation Labs

Smart devices aren’t meant to replace communication — a phone call, video call or just stopping by. People need human interaction . But they can be a set of electronic eyes and ears that are less intrusive than the cutting-edge indoor cameras and always-listening microphones of a decade ago.

To showcase some of today’s smart devices and how they can help, let’s take a tour around the house. Some products might have a place in multiple rooms.

Start at the front door with video doorbells, digital locks

Doorbell cameras and smart locks are available at several price points. Video doorbells let you eyeball a visitor by peering at an app on your phone or another connected display. Some let you chat with the person.

You also can tell from afar if a package was delivered. A doorbell camera might even discourage a porch pirate or a burglar. But beware: Some models from lesser-known brands may not be as secure .

Digital smart locks are also about peace of mind, since they let you lock and unlock doors remotely and monitor comings and goings — perhaps of a loved one with dementia who wanders. And smart locks are convenient if you need to issue digital keys to health aides, house cleaners and family to unlock the door during designated times.

Add sensors, smart lights to main living areas

Indoors, a home may be equipped with a collection of IoT products, including motion sensors and smart lights that blend into your environment.

The most common among these devices is a smart speaker . Ask Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant to play music, deliver the weather forecast, answer questions, chat and control lighting or other devices.

You can automate tasks through a smart speaker, though it’s not always simple. You might tell a smart speaker to “start my day” and smart blinds open, traffic and news reports air, and the coffee maker connected to an inexpensive smart plug begins to brew.

Another potentially useful product is a smart thermostat , including models that automatically learn indoor climate preferences over time. When the thermostat detects its house is empty, it may turn on the furnace or air conditioner less often, shaving a few bucks off your energy bill. Since you can control a smart thermostat from anywhere, you can ready the house for your return via an app.

For many people, the core of a smart home is a smart television . Sure, you spend countless hours watching movies, TV shows, live news, sports and myriad streaming options . But you also can use a TV screen with a webcam for family video chats, telehealth calls with your doctor or virtual exercise sessions , or as a hub to control lights, security cameras and other connected gear.

Keep safety first in an older adult’s smart kitchen

Smart speakers are also popular in the kitchen for setting timers, dishing up recipes — viewable on models with screens — or playing music while cooking.

No smart plugs for stoves

Stoves can be a flash point, literally, in an older adult’s house.

A pot boiled dry or a pan with grease left unattended might be smoking yet not fully on fire. A smart smoke detector — available from brands such as Google Nest, Kidde and First Alert Onelink — sounds an alarm and can send alerts to as many smartphones as needed.

At the moment, a smart home can’t connect the dots to enable the next step for safety: A “dumb” stove can’t be shut off remotely. A 15-amp smart plug can turn off a light or a coffee pot, but the electricity required for a range means a bigger, 50-amp plug with no smart versions available.

FireAvert can turn off a stove when a smoke alarm sounds, but it lacks internet connectivity. Smarturns knobs can replace existing knobs on compatible gas or electric stoves and dispatch an alert to a smartphone if a stove has been left on for a designated time and sensors detect the kitchen is empty. But with Smarturns, a stove must be switched off manually.

Expensive smart appliances may be over-the-top luxuries.

Whiz-bang Wi-Fi-connected refrigerators allow contents to be seen in an app if you need a look while at the supermarket. In some cases, they can even suggest recipes based on the ingredients on hand.

Smart stoves will let you or a caregiver shut an oven off remotely. But Orlov is skeptical.

“I don’t think you want a smart oven,” she says. “Let’s think about what could go wrong.”

A less expensive alternative is the motion-sensitive iGuardStove, which connects to an existing appliance and shuts it off when it’s unattended after a set time. iGuardStove, on backorder as the Seattle company prepares a new model due in the fall, can send a smartphone alert when someone enters the kitchen or the auto shutoff feature kicks in.

Microwave ovens may be the safest option for warming or preparing food if the user realizes that placing metal inside it is a no-no. Some smart microwaves, which connect to the internet and can be controlled by a smartphone app, are also convection ovens. Unlike conventional microwaves, they can roast meat and toast food. 

Older adults might not use some of a smart microwave’s features, such as automated cooking programs, but may appreciate that a microwave shuts itself off when its timer is done and beeps a reminder until its door is opened. A smart microwave can be turned off remotely via app if a family member not in the house needs to intervene. And if you decide to use a prepared-meal delivery service, those meals often can be warmed in a microwave.



Help prevent falls, promote better sleep in the bedroom

Low-intensity smart lights can kick on when a person gets out of bed. And if you take a spill, alerts can be dispatched to loved ones and caregivers.

“One of the biggest challenges we see for older adults is the fear of falls, and a lot of those falls happen at night when you’re getting up to go to the bathroom,” says Steve Ewell, executive director of the nonprofit Consumer Technology Association Foundation.

Smart beds and smart mattresses give a better night’s sleep but often cost thousands of dollars. The beds determine separate, comfortable temperatures for you and a partner; adjust mattress firmness; and report on the quality of your shut-eye come morning, perhaps sharing the data with a health care provider or caregiver.

A bedroom smart speaker plays soothing music, white noise or sleep sounds. A model such as Google’s second-generation Nest Hub speaker employs low-energy radar technology to detect when you went to bed and determine how often you snored , coughed or may have been awakened.

— Steve Ewell, Consumer Technology Association Foundation

Track health data in the bathroom

Even though heated and cooled toilet seats and voice-activated shower temperatures may seem frivolous, some innovations may be more practical, such as smart water sensors that shut off water and alert you if a leak or a constantly running toilet is detected.

Smart scales are useful to track weight and other body measurements and import the data into a health app or share it with caregivers or medical providers.

Higginbotham of Consumer Reports thinks a sensor that indicates how often an older person opens and closes the medicine cabinet or bathroom door is useful because for many folks, “bathrooms feel like a private space.”

Also collecting data discreetly is the battery-powered Casana Heart Seat. The Food and Drug Administration–cleared smart seat can measure heart rate and blood oxygenation when a person sits to use the toilet.

The Rochester, New York, company plans to sell the seat for home use if it receives additional FDA clearance to noninvasively measure blood pressure. This feature, which it hopes is approved before year-end, will allow the seat to be a potentially reimbursable prescribed medical device.

Edward C. Baig covers technology and other consumer topics. He previously worked for USA Today , BusinessWeek , U.S. News & World Report and Fortune , and is author of Macs for Dummies and coauthor of iPhone for Dummies and iPad for Dummies . Follow him on LinkedIn ;  Threads ; and X, formerly known as Twitter .

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How to Get Started with a Smart Home

A re you ready to step into the future and transform your house into a smart home? With the rapid advancement of technology, it’s now easier than ever to automate and control various aspects of your home with just a few taps on your smartphone. But where do you begin? In this blog post, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know to get started with a smart home. Whether you’re a tech-savvy enthusiast or someone who is new to the world of smart home technology, this post is packed with valuable information and tips to help you make the best decisions for your home.

Smart home technology is revolutionizing the way we live by integrating our everyday devices and appliances with advanced technology. With the power of automation and connectivity, a smart home allows you to control and monitor various aspects of your house remotely, making your life more convenient and efficient. We’ve already talked about the benefits and advantages of smart home technolog y. How it can make your home more comfortable and convenient, increase security, add flexibility and customization, and increase energy efficiency. So we’re going to skip why you should have a smart home and get right into how to get started with a smart home.

Getting Started with a Smart Home

Choosing a smart hub.

One of the first steps in getting started with a smart home is choosing a smart hub. A smart hub is a central control unit that connects and manages all your smart devices. It acts as the brain of your smart home, allowing you to control and automate various functions. When selecting a smart hub, consider compatibility with other devices, ease of use, and the range of features it offers. Each hub has its own unique features and capabilities, so it’s important to research and choose the one that best suits your needs.

The most popular smart home hubs include Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod. These three smart home hubs are not the only smart home hubs available, but they are the most common. This means that they will be compatible with the widest range of smart home devices.

Selecting Smart Devices

Once you have chosen a smart hub, the next step is to select the smart devices you want to integrate into your home. Smart devices can include things like smart lights, thermostats, door locks, security cameras, and more. When selecting smart devices, consider both compatibility with your chosen smart hub and the specific functionalities you desire. Look for devices that offer seamless integration with your smart hub and provide the features you need. Devices should have a label on them that states that they “work with” your hub of choice.

It’s also a good idea to start with one or two devices and gradually expand your smart home network as you become more comfortable with the technology. Generally, smart light bulbs are a good choice for beginning a smart home. Smart light bulbs are comparatively cheap, and easily installed into existing light fixtures. You simply screw out the old bulb and add the new bulb in. Be sure to follow the manufacture’s instructions for connecting to the new bulb to their app.

Since most devices are made by different manufacture’s than your smart home hub, once you add the light to the manufacture’s app, you will need to add that app into your smart home hub. This is a pretty straightforward process from the app that manages your hub ( Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Apple Home ). You simply find the spot to “add devices” and select the manufacture of your new device. The good news is, you only need to add the manufacturer once. If you decide to purchase more of that brand’s devices in the future they should be automatically added to your smart home.

Customize and Automate

Smart home apps should have a way in them to automate and schedule different events that you would like to have happen. Perhaps you would like your lights to turn on at dusk and off at 10pm. Now that you have your new smart light bulbs and they are in your smart home app, you can do this! Be sure to check with your smart home app for instructions, but there is a world of customizations and automations available to you now.

What is a smart home and how does it work?

A smart home is a residence that uses Internet of Things (IoT) technology to connect and control various devices and systems within the house. These devices can include smart thermostats, lighting, appliances, security cameras, and more. The central hub, usually a smart speaker or a smart display, acts as the control center for all the connected devices. Smart homes work by using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to connect these devices to the internet, allowing you to remotely control and automate them using a smartphone app or voice commands. This means you can turn off lights, adjust the temperature, lock doors, and even monitor your home’s security from anywhere, giving you convenience, comfort, and peace of mind.

What devices do I need to get started with a smart home?

To get started with a smart home, you’ll need a few key devices. The first essential device is a smart hub or a smart assistant, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home. These devices act as the central control hub for your smart home and allow you to communicate with all your other smart devices using voice commands. Additionally, you’ll need smart devices like smart bulbs, smart plugs, and smart thermostats. These devices connect to your smart hub or assistant and can be controlled remotely via a smartphone app or through voice commands. We recommend that you start with smart light bulbs as they are relatively cheap and easy to switch out with existing light bulbs.

How do I choose the right smart home hub?

To choose the right smart home hub, it’s important to consider compatibility, features, and ease of use. First, make sure the hub is compatible with the devices you already have or plan to purchase. Next, consider the features offered by the hub. Some hubs come with built-in voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant, while others offer advanced automation capabilities. Think about your specific needs and choose a hub that offers the features you desire. Finally, consider the ease of use. Mainstream smart home apps like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Apple Home are going to be easier to use than something like HomeAssistant.

Can I control my smart home using voice commands?

Being able to control your smart home with your voice is going to depend on the smart home hub that you choose. Many smart home devices, such as smart speakers and smart assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, are designed to respond to voice commands. These voice-activated devices act as the central hub of your smart home, allowing you to control various compatible devices simply by speaking out your commands. You can turn on/off lights, adjust thermostats, play music, or even lock/unlock doors, all by using your voice. Just make sure that the smart devices you choose are compatible with the voice assistant you prefer and follow the setup instructions provided by the manufacturer to get started.

Are there any security concerns with having a smart home?

Yes, there can be security concerns with having a smart home, but there are steps you can take to minimize the risks. One of the main concerns is the potential for hackers to gain unauthorized access to your smart devices, such as cameras or thermostats. To mitigate this risk, it’s important to choose devices from reputable manufacturers that prioritize security and regularly release firmware updates. Additionally, you should create strong, unique passwords for each of your smart devices and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. It’s also a good idea to secure your home network by using a strong password for your Wi-Fi and regularly updating your router’s firmware.

How difficult is it to set up a smart home?

Setting up a smart home may seem daunting at first, but it’s actually quite simple and straightforward. Most smart home devices are designed to be user-friendly and can be easily set up by anyone, regardless of their technical skills. Smart home devices usually come with step-by-step instructions and can be connected to your hub or voice assistant through a mobile app. With a little patience and following the instructions, you’ll have your smart home up and running in no time!

Can I integrate my existing nonsmart devices into a smart home?

Yes, you can integrate some of your existing nonsmart devices into a smart home. The easiest way is to use smart plugs or smart switches, which can be plugged into or connected to your existing devices, allowing you to control them remotely through a smart home hub or app. More advanced integration might involve opening up the device and adding sensors or switches to it – something for the more technically advanced to tackle.

What is the most common challenge getting started with a smart home?

The most common challenge with smart home technology is compatibility. Different devices and platforms may not always work well together, resulting in a fragmented experience. It’s important to research and choose devices that are compatible with each other or use a central hub to connect them.

We hope that you found this information helpful and that it has inspired you to embark on your own smart home journey. As technology continues to evolve, creating a smart home has become more accessible and user-friendly than ever before. From controlling your lights and appliances with a simple voice command to enhancing your home security with smart locks and cameras, the possibilities are endless. So, whether you’re a tech enthusiast or simply looking to streamline your daily routines, we encourage you to explore the world of smart home technology. Happy smart home-ing!

The post How to Get Started with a Smart Home appeared first on AllTheThings .

How to Get Started with a Smart Home

How-To Geek

Matter 1.3 tries to simplify smart home monitoring.

But will smart home manufacturers actually use it?

The latest iteration of Matter has arrived. Courtesy of the CSA, Matter 1.3 adds support for new energy monitoring, water management, EV charging, and home appliance technologies. It also adds support for scenes and improves on Matter's video-casting protocol.

Matter is a universal standard that aims to remove the barriers between differing smart home ecosystems. Apple, Amazon, Google, and Samsung all support Matter. So, if a smart bulb is advertised as "Matter-enabled," you should feel confident knowing that it will work with all smart home ecosystems and voice assistants.

While the Matter standard has some very clear merits, many products still lack Matter support. This is partially due to the high cost of Matter implementation—products may require additional internal hardware to work with Matter, and certification with the CSA costs about $10,000 per product. However, one of the bigger hurdles for Matter is its somewhat limited functionality. The original Matter 1.0 release doesn't support energy monitoring in smart plugs, for example.

Today's release aims to fill out some of these missing capabilities. The Matter 1.3 standard provides energy monitoring and water management features, so it'll work with more smart plugs, chargers, rain or water-leak sensors, and smart water valves. The update also provides support for smart locks, smart blinds, thermostats, microwaves, clothes dryers, ovens, and stoves. And for homes that use multiple smart assistants, Matter 1.3 adds native support for scenes.

Finally, Matter Casting , an open protocol that's similar to Google Cast or Apple AirPlay, can now send smart home push notifications to any screen. It also gains a unique feature that can link multiple smartphones to a smart TV app for multiplayer gaming. Unfortunately, Matter Casting hasn't been implemented by any major streaming services (aside from Prime Video) and isn't supported by any smart TVs or streaming sticks.

While I'm glad to see new improvements to Matter (which had a rocky start ), I should point out that Apple, Google, Amazon, and other major smart home players still haven't implemented Matter 1.2 technology in their respective products. These industry leaders need to take the Matter standard seriously if they want to attract new customers. Otherwise, the smart home world will remain a confusing, disjointed mess.

Source: CSA

Android Police

Matter 1.3 is here to help get your smart home energy usage under control.

Don’t let your appliances continue to impact your carbon footprint

  • Matter 1.3 brings new energy management features, allowing users to track consumption for devices like electric vehicles and major appliances.
  • The Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) oversees Matter, ensuring interoperability and security among smart home devices for better management.
  • With continued development, Matter has the potential to revolutionize smart home technology, offering a unified platform with useful features such as those announced today.

While there are several smart home devices that can help you reduce the impact of your carbon footprint, they can only help so much. Depending on how much you are using and managing these products, they may not be greatly benefiting you or your green efforts. Matter , the smart home standard, was created with these issues in mind. The standard, which is managed by the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), is designed to maintain interoperability between smart home devices. Now, the latest version has launched, promising even more management features than before.

Matter explained: What is the next-gen smart home protocol

The CSA has announced that Matter 1.3 has been released with continued goals of increasing interoperability, security, and device value (via 9to5Google ). This time around, though, the new version comes with more energy reporting functionalities to help users keep an eye on their consumption. This can assist homeowners as they monitor their larger products, in particular, that are responsible for the bulk of their energy use.

More support has arrived with Matter 1.3

Matter 1.3 has support for electric vehicle charging equipment, for example, which allows users to manage how they recharge their car while away from the device. The reporting feature also gives users the option to gain insight into everything from real-time energy consumption to energy usage over time. Major appliances are supported now, too, including ovens, laundry dryers, microwave ovens, and cooktops. In terms of existing features, functionality improvements have been made to Matter casting to TVs, and several bugs have been resolved.

Matter has only been around since 2022, but it has undoubtedly had a positive impact on those who juggle several smart home devices. At launch, 1,135 devices were already certified for the standard, and more companies teamed up with it after it debuted. While it has developed some competitors along its journey to success, it’s clear that Matter still has plenty of potential. Whether more smart home device users open up to the idea of leveraging the technology has yet to be determined. Developers can now access the Matter 1.3 SDK release by visiting the CSA website.

essay smart home

LA Times Today: Is your smart device safe from hackers? New FCC program will label cybersecure technology

Watch l.a. times today at 7 p.m. on spectrum news 1 on channel 1 or live stream on the spectrum news app. palos verdes peninsula and orange county viewers can watch on cox systems on channel 99..

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The Importance of Residential Energy Storage

Discover how residential energy storage systems can help you save money on your electric power bills and significantly reduce your reliance on non-renewable energy sources. In this article, we'll explore how these innovative systems work and the different types that are made available. We'll also take a closer look at their impressive storage capacity and how they have the potential to change the way households consume and store energy.

The Importance of Residential Energy Storage

Understanding Residential Energy Storage

A residential energy storage system is a power system technology that enables households to store surplus energy produced from green energy sources like solar panels. This system beautifully bridges the gap between fluctuating energy demand and unreliable power supply, allowing the free flow of energy during the night or on cloudy days. Moreover, domestic solar energy storage systems also serve as a buffer against power outages and help reduce energy expenses by controlling peak demand, thereby playing a big role in the evolution of smart homes and smart grids.

How Residential Energy Storage Systems Work

At a fundamental level, residential energy storage systems store energy harvested from renewable sources such as solar, wind, or even the power grid during off-peak hours, which can be utilized at a later time. Essentially, these intelligent household energy storage systems convert excess AC power into DC power and store it within high-capacity batteries, ready to be transformed back into AC power on demand. Meanwhile, advanced monitoring software helps regulate the flow of energy, ensuring optimal consumption and storage while contributing to energy efficiency and reduced electricity bills.

Common Forms of Residential Energy Storage

Here are the two most common forms of residential energy storage:

On-Grid Residential Storage Systems

On-grid residential storage systems epitomize the next level in smart energy management. Powered with an ability to work in sync with the grid, these systems store excess renewable energy for later use, while also drawing power from the municipal power grid when necessary. The sophistication lies in its feature to feed power back into the grid during times of surplus production, creating a virtual ecosystem where homeowners can sell the excess power back to utility companies, thus becoming prosumers.

Off-Grid Residential Storage Systems

Off-grid residential storage systems offer self-sufficiency in energy production and consumption, detaching users from the traditional grid network. These household energy storage systems are fully powered by renewable sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines, and store the energy produced in high-capacity batteries. This makes off-grid systems immensely valuable in remote locations, offering an uninterrupted power supply that's independent of the grid and transforming individual households toward a more sustainable and resilient energy consumer.

Benefits of Residential Energy Storage Systems

Here are some of the primary advantages of having a residential energy storage system:

1. Enhanced Energy Security: A home energy storage unit can provide a backup power supply during outages, ensuring that homes remain powered without any interruptions. This is particularly useful in areas prone to natural disasters or places with an unreliable grid infrastructure. It offers homeowners peace of mind that they will have an uninterrupted power supply when needed most.

2. Increased Energy Independence: Homeowners can reduce their reliance on the grid by storing surplus energy generated from green energy sources like solar panels. This contributes to a greener planet and allows households to consume less from the grid during peak times when electricity is more expensive, leading to significant savings on energy bills.

3. Grid Support and Stabilization: Residential energy storage can enhance the secureness of the electricity grid by providing demand response services. During times of high demand, stored energy can be released back into the grid, helping to balance supply and demand, prevent blackouts, and reduce the need for expensive, peak-time energy production.

4. Reduced Carbon Footprint: Utilizing energy storage allows for a wider integration of green energy sources into the home's energy mix, thereby reducing reliance on fossil fuels and lowering the household's carbon footprint. This shift towards cleaner energy sources is critical in the global effort to mitigate and fight climate change and promote environmental sustainability.

Let's take a sneak peek at an energy storage system that's fully loaded! Introducing our LUNA2000-7/14/21-S1, a leap forward in the home energy storage system industry. Crafted for maximum efficiency and aesthetic appeal, this innovative system boasts over 40% more usable energy, ensuring it shines longer with a service life stretching up to 15 years. Designed to work and operate across a broad temperature range, it guarantees performance from the equator to the poles. With its sleek design featuring planet ring indicators and artistic grilles, it not only powers homes but does so with an unparalleled silence of 29 dB. It integrates seamlessly with the FusionSolar app for intelligent energy management and offers a straightforward installation process, making it an exemplary choice for both homeowners and installers. The blend of fast charge and discharge capabilities, coupled with a five-layer protection system, places the LUNA2000 at the forefront of home energy solutions, ready to revolutionize the way we power our lives.

The Importance of Residential Energy Storage

How Much Energy Can a Residential Storage System Store?

Energy storage capacity for a residential energy storage system, typically in the form of a battery, is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The storage capacity can range from as low as 1 kWh to over 10 kWh, though most households opt for a battery with around 10 kWh of storage capacity. This capacity indicates the battery's output when fully charged, minus a minimum charge required to maintain operations. In a blackout scenario, a typical 10 kWh battery could last from 10 to 12 hours, powering essential appliances such as refrigerators, selected light sockets, and the Wi-Fi, while the usage duration would vary depending on the specific energy consumption of each device.

Residential energy storage systems offer an exciting opportunity for homeowners to take control of their energy consumption and significantly contribute to a more stable grid. With FusionSolar's innovative technology, every home can become a shining beacon in the energy landscape of the future, ensuring efficient and sustainable power management. Embracing FusionSolar for your residential energy storage solutions not only aligns with sustainable energy goals but also empowers you towards energy independence. The potential for a true energy revolution is within our grasp, with FusionSolar leading the way in making every home a hub of green energy.

Here are some commonly asked questions about residential energy storage.

What Is the Cost of Energy Storage System?

The cost of an energy storage system widely varies depending on the technology and scale, but to provide a general sense, the average cost for lithium-ion batteries, which are commonly used, has significantly decreased over the years. As of recent figures, the cost hovers around R2,470 per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

What Are the Requirements of Energy Storage System?

Requirements of an energy storage system include high efficiency in energy conversion, long operational lifespan, safety in terms of minimal environmental impact and risks of accidents, scalability to match energy demands, and economic feasibility for installation and maintenance. Compatibility with existing power infrastructure and regulatory compliance are also crucial.

What Is the Difference between Power Storage and Energy Storage?

The difference between power storage and energy storage lies in their focus: power storage is about the rate at which energy can be delivered to the grid (measured in kilowatts, kW), emphasizing rapid discharge rates for short durations to manage load spikes; energy storage concerns the total amount of energy that can be securely stored and utilized over time (measured in kilowatt-hours, kWh), focusing on providing sustained energy supply.

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