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Everything you need to know to set up your smart home

Few technologies feel like living in the future more than a fully connected smart home. With just a couple of voice commands, a smart home system can turn on the lights to any brightness and color, adjust the temperature, lock a door, fire up the coffee machine, ask your robotic vacuum cleaner to mop the kitchen floor, cue up a TV show, close the window blinds and show the live view of a security camera.

Go a step further, and much of this can be entirely automated, with the lights and thermostat adjusting based on the time of year and weather forecast, and the door locks and security system automatically reacting to the location of your smartphone. It’s the sort of thing we could only dream of a decade ago, but with systems like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomeKit, it’s now all entirely possible.

But it isn’t always easy. We’re all used to smartphones, TVs and computers ‘just working’, yet the smart home is, in some cases, a complicated mess. Hundreds of companies make thousands of products, with each brand using its own app to control them. And while a single system or voice assistant can control many smart home devices, no one system is compatible with every product – though with the rollout of Matter, more and more of the best smart home devices are interoperable. Fear not, because TechRadar is here to help guide you through setting up your own smart home. In this guide, we’ll cover the basics – like asking a smart speaker to turn on a light bulb – right up to configuring more advanced systems, like autonomous routines that work to keep your home clean and secure.

From light bulbs and smart plugs, to vacuum cleaners, thermostats, door locks, irrigation systems, security cameras and motorized window blinds, almost every smart home product can be controlled by an app on your phone. The best-known examples include the Philips Hue app for controlling smart lighting, the Nest app for adjusting your thermostat, and the Eufy Clean app for setting your robotic vacuum cleaner to work. If you only have a handful of smart home products – a few lights, a couple of plugs and a thermostat, perhaps – you can stick these apps in a folder on your smartphone home screen and call it a day.

Or, you can take the next step and introduce a smart home platform. The simplest first step is to buy one of the best smart speakers, like an Amazon Echo, Nest Audio or Apple HomePod. As well as playing music and using their integrated voice assistant to answer your questions or set a timer while you’re cooking, these speakers act as smart home hubs.

This means they can connect to and control a wide range of smart home devices from other manufacturers, using wireless standards like Zigbee and Matter. That way, a HomePod owner could ask Siri to turn on the lights, instead of opening the lighting app on their phone; an Echo owner could ask Alexa to turn on a smart plug connected to a fan without opening whatever app controls the plug. You might also want to consider one of the best smart displays, like the Nest Hub or Echo Show, which works in the same way as a smart speaker but also has a screen for controlling your smart home devices with a tap or a swipe, too.


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