Updated: 2nd Jan, 2019
Looking to make your home a little bit smarter and life a little bit easier? There is a growing number of appliances and tech gadgets available which are all controllable from your smartphone, or even just your voice.
They have made the way we live our home life a lot more straightforward, and a quarter of Britons now own at least one smart home device.
The Tech You Need In Your Home
If you want to see how smart technology can make a difference to your everyday life, there are a few essential areas in which you can start:
You may love the idea of being able to ask Alexa/Siri/Google to turn your devices on. But to control anything with your voice, you first need a smart speaker. They are one of the most important aspects of any ‘intelligent’ home and are the most popular smart device.
They can allow you to control everything from your lighting and security alarms to your music, television and diary.
It is thought that at over 11% of homes now own a smart speaker, a figure which has doubled since the beginning of 2018 – showing they are very in demand, and becoming a bit of a norm rather than a luxury.
As they can do so much, the best one for you depends on a lot of factors. You may want the one which offers the best sound, the one that works best with your smartphone and other devices, or the one which gives you the best answers to questions such as “What is the weather forecast tomorrow in Blackpool?” or “What was the score of the Chelsea vs Arsenal match?”
They vary in size, style and portability. Some now also feature a screen so that you can view answers as well as hear them. Some people call them virtual assistants, and it is easy to see why.
We all want to do our bit to save energy and the planet, as well as save money off our own household bills. Thankfully, smart lighting technology helps us out by optimising usage based on conditions such as natural lighting and occupancy.
You can switch individual lights on when you need them, so if you are going to bed, you can turn the bedroom light on moments before you leave the sofa, rather than leaving it on all evening in preparation. Some can also detect movement, turning on only when someone is in the room.
They’re all LED, which speeds up the time they take to reach optimum brightness, as well as being 10x more efficient than filament bulbs in converting the energy they use into lighting rather than wasting it. They can last years longer, so need replacing less often – some promise a lifespan of 20+ years.
If this hasn’t tempted you enough, then the fact that they are a lot more adaptable should. You can not only get different coloured bulbs (some offering over 16 million colours), but you can usually control their brightness, and use strip lighting to enhance your entertainment hub or light up those dark corners. So they don’t only save money off your bills, but can improve your home’s aesthetics too.
Robot Vacuum Cleaners
It is safe to say that vacuuming is probably one of the nations least loved chores, as it can not only be time-consuming but tiring too. All those corners to reach and having to go over the same spot, again and again, just to turn it off and see you’ve missed a bit.
Unless you vacuum every single day, dust and dirt build up and become harder to remove. But with our increasingly busy lives and commutes, few of us have the time. This is where robot vacuums come in, merging vacuums with tech.
Just set them to work via their timer or the dedicated app, and they can pick up those pesky pet hairs, crumbs and general dust build up without you having to lift a finger. Some can detect the areas of the floor which need the most attention, not stopping until it is clean.
Depending on your lifestyle and how hectic your house is, a robot vacuum might not be a substitute for your regular upright, but it can certainly help you out and reduce the amount you need to get to work.
Want to make the jump towards having an intelligent tech house but can see the cost of new items increasing before your very eyes? The good thing about smart plugs is they’re pretty affordable, effective and handy.
If you love the idea of being able to turn your appliances off and on using your voice or smartphone, then a smart plug can do the job without you having to purchase an entirely new object. Simply plug them into your existing mains, and then connect the appliance to it.
They require a WiFi connection and compatibility with your phone or virtual assistant speaker, but you can set timers and create a small hub with other smart products in your home, so everything works hand-in-hand.
And it isn’t just when you’re sat on the sofa and want to turn on the side table lamp without moving that they can come in handy. If you’re going on holiday or will be out for the night and security is an issue, set the plug to turn on at certain times automatically. Whether it be your lighting, television or speaker you want to work, it is possible.
Forgotten to set up the timer? As long as you have an internet connection, most plugs will allow you to turn them on remotely wherever you are. So you can be sipping sangria in Spain and turn on your lamp in Swindon with no effort at all.
Fancy joining the ever-increasing amount of households going ‘smart tech’? Take a look at our reviews of the best smart lighting, heating, speakers and robot vacuums to find the best options for you and your home.