Creating a smart house in 2021 is something that is now accessible to everyone. Products for smart homes are getting more and more affordable and with many houses now having an Alexa or Google Assistant device you’ve got a great starting point. In this article we suggest three things you might start with for creating a smart house.
The most useful and affordable place to start when creating a smart house is with lighting. Smart lightbulbs are great because they’re reasonably priced and, as they’re powered by LEDs they will save you money even compared to energy saving lightbulbs.
Most smart bulbs work with Google and Alexa alongside having a dedicated smartphone app which means you can immediately use your voice or phone to control your lights.
If you’re just starting our we’d recommend checking out the Meross WiFi smart LED bulb. This bulb is the equivalent of 60W, has both white and coloured modes, works with Alexa and Google Assistant and is just £6.80. The Meross app is intuitive and easy to use and Meross make a whole range of affordable smart home products including smart plugs, extension leads and lamps.
If you’re able to spend a little bit more and are an Apple user then we’d recommend looking at the Meross HomeKit compatible smart bulb which costs £17 but will work with your iPhone’s Home app and Siri as well as Alexa and Google Assistant
Smart Plugs in your Smart House
Another affordable way of dipping your toe into the world of smart homes is with smart plugs. Smart sockets are a great way to make your existing products smart and can be used for everything from lamps and fairy lights to coffee machines and televisions.
The smart plug is simply something that plugs into your socket and then your device plugs into the smart plug. Much like the lightbulbs these are connected to an app on your phone via your home wifi and allow you to turn things on and off, set timers and set schedules.
Smart plugs are also super-cheap and you can pick up packs fo 4 for as little as £28 (making them £7 each).
If you’re just starting out and want to make a few devices smart we’d recommend looking at the Alexa Smart Plug Minis which cost £32 for a pack of 4 (although at the time of writing also have a £4 off voucher!). These work with a smartphone app and with Alexa and Google home.
For the Apple user’s we’d recommend looking at the Meross Smart Plug. These cost around £10 each and work with Alexa and Google Assistant but also natively in your iPhone’s Home app.
The final way to smart making your home smart is to look at smart heating. Unlike our other options in this article these devices aren’t cheap and also take a bit more effort to install however they can save you money and the TADO system that we recommend below even promises to refund you if you don’t save money.
We’ve chosen to recommend the TADO system having used both the TADO and British Gas’ Hive for a variety of reasons but essentially the TADO system has some good smart radiator valve options for expanding your system and is also a system you can install yourself.
The Tado thermostat comes in a few options.
If you have a water tank as well as a boiler don’t have a thermostat at all then you’ll need the V3+ Wireless Starter Kit which comes with everything you need to get started. This kit costs around £150.
If you have a combi boiler and an existing wired thermostat then you’ll need the starter kit which costs just £80.
Installation of these takes a bit of time (it took me an hour) but Tado’s app talks you through how to do these on a step-by-step basis based on the brand of your boiler and thermostat. I was a little hesitant about their ‘we believe you should be able to install your own thermostat’ philosophy but their instructions were clear, easy to follow and whilst it took me about an hour to install I was really impressed.
Once installed you can choose to add extra smart radiator valves (costing £50 each) or just use the system as it is. I’ve gone for a couple of valves in rooms I want to control the temperature for separately but most of my house relies on the main thermostat.
You can set schedules in the Tado app which is easy to use and you can turn your heating on or off when you’re away from home as well alongside being able to set holiday schedules. Having this control means you can make sure you’re not paying to heat your house or hot water when you don’t need to. The TADO is also compatible with Apple’s HomeKit, Alexa and Google Assistant.
Should I create a smart house in 2021?
As we said way back at the start of this article, creating a smart home has never been more affordable or easier and we think it’s a great time to get stuck in. Why not start with a couple of simple items around your home and gradually build on that? We don’t think you’ll regret it.
If you’ve enjoyed this article you might like to read our other smart home reviews.