Your smart devices needed to be brought into unified smart home ecosystem in order to work cohesively together. This article will divulge into the best smart home systems currently available, with reference to both software and hardware connection mediums.
This will touch upon the smart devices themselves, smart hubs and wireless network protocols. This article is really about the smart assistants that operate the system.
What is a Smart Home System?
Before going into the best smart home systems setups, we will quickly cover what makes up the ecosystem itself. As discussed earlier, the main components of the system include smart devices, smart hubs, wireless network protocols and smart assistants.
Smart devices are electronics that have a role in the home, that perform functions and contain hardware and software that make them connectable. These are everyday appliances and entertainment electronics such as smart light bulbs, smart thermostats, smart security cameras and robot vacuums.
Smart hubs are devices that connect to these devices to bring them under one control point, typically a smartphone app. Bringing them under one system also allows for them to work in sync with one and another, in automated chains for example. A popular form of smart hub is a smart speaker which has smart assistants for features including voice control.
Wireless network protocols is the language by which smart devices communicate with one and another. Smart hubs facilitate this using protocols such as Zigbee and Z-Wave. There are multiple languages, although the best smart hubs and devices will work with more than one. Just look out for “works with” Zigbee or Z-Wave to make sure they will work with the hub.
Smart Assistants is an intelligent piece of software that can perform tasks for the user. The best known smart assistants include Amazon Alexa, Google Home or Apples Siri. These are used to control and automate devices in a smart home ecosystem, typically with a voice control option. Smart home control is just one aspect of what smart assistants do. Other functions include accessing and playing music, setting timers and telling you the weather forecasts.
The best smart home system is the one that satisfies your needs and improve your user experience. Choose smart devices that you will use and a smart hub that is reliable in addition to being compatible with your devices. Finally, if you wish, throw a smart assistant into the mix to activate voice control features and other various perks.
Best Smart Home System – Amazon Alexa
Amazon are leading the game when it comes to the smart home industry. In both hardware and software, the tech giant has entrenched itself and made a name as industry leader with plans for the future.
At the forefront of this is the Alexa smart assistant, something you will have no doubt heard of. Alexa is a free piece of software that is operated using your voice to command or ask questions. An example of such a command that would work with smart lighting is”Alexa, turn on the lights”.
The Echo device range is Amazons line of smart hub speakers with Alexa installed as default smart assistant. Alexa is such a solid smart assistant in practically every aspect.
It works with over 20,000 smart devices, the most compatible smart assistant by some margin. It is hard to find a device that doesn’t work with Alexa.
There are more than 80,000 Alexa skills, which are install-able apps that can be anything from accompanying software for a smart device to a accessing radio or podcasts.
Alexa is incredibly easy to use and highly customizable. A few basic installation steps sets you up to build your Alexa system over time to include your preferences and chosen Skills. Read more about the options over on Amazon.
Alexa Routines are a great example of the flexibility Alexa has for customisation. An Alexa Routine is a set of actions you set up for certain situations. For example, a morning “wake up” Routine could include using your smart lighting to gradually wake you up with white light and and then gentle classical music. This could be followed by a recital of the top news stories and weather forecasts.
Read more on Alexa in this article here.
The Google Assistant is the biggest rival to Amazons Alexa when it comes to offering quality and compatibility with other devices. Just like Amazon, Google has entered the smart home market via multiple avenues with both hardware and software. You should also have a read of our article on the best Google Home compatible devices.
Google Assistant is an Android platform wide and multi functional system that features voice control. Just like Alexa, it is a control point for smart devices and home automation as well as answering questions and other service like features.
Google has a range of smart smart speakers that operate the Assistant, as well as third party products which also have it embedded. The most notable is the Google Home, one of the most popular smart hubs.
Google Assistant is the default option of smart assistant for Android phones and wearable tech. Additionally, it is compatible with over 10,000 devices which means it practically works with anything you may get. Whilst not as many as Alexa, all the major brands will more than likely be ticked off.
There are also many services that work on Google Home, read more here.
The Google system is intuitive and easy to use, in addition to the setting up of new devices. Devices can be explored either on a room by room or category basis.
HomeKit is a smart home system that brings multiple aspects together to provide an equivalent to the two previously discussed. The smart home ecosystem is controlled through the Apple Home app on your iOS device.
Manufacturers of devices must make their devices to fit the standards, namely security based, required by Apple. Then you just need to purchase a certified works with Apple HomeKit device and connect it to your Home setup.
If you have owned an iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac, you will be familiar with or at least heard of Siri. This smart assistant is the basis of voice control for your HomeKit devices. Apples HomePod speaker is the default voice control hub option for a home Apple HomeKit system.
Being an Apple software, HomeKits design is intuitive and based on clean, simple design. If you fond of Apples IOS and existing devices, then this may be a solid option to go for.
Apples services are integrated with HomeKit to allow for easy access to your music libraries.
When deciding on which smart home system to go for, it is important to consider that hubs and smart assistants can be mixed and match to a degree.
Whilst the Echo, Home and HomePod speakers are the default voice control option of smart hubs for smart devices, there are options. Additionally, voice control is just an option and the use of a smartphone or tablet app will also be usable.
These systems laid out on this page are the most popular options, especially for those who want voice control. Whilst Alexa is the favorite choice, what is best is for you depends on how compatible the systems are and how well it performs for your devices.