Six Common Smarthome Mistakes Beginners Make

A confused man standing in front of the smarthome controls.
sdecoret / Shutterstock

Smart homes are becoming more and more common every year, and smart devices are finally accessible enough for the average person. But creating your smart home is not something you should do without planning. Without foresight, you can make common mistakes.

Badly named and grouped devices

Alexa app showing two lights named Playstation Light and Window Light
Here, I have named each light according to its position in the room.

Get your first smart bulb Is exciting. The whole process seems so simple: just screw on the bulb and associate it with an application. For convenience, you can even have a smart speaker to control your light by voice. Before long, you have several bulbs because the first one worked so well.

This is where convenience goes out the window. If you’re feeling frustrated because you don’t know what to say to control a particular light in a particular room, you’re missing out on some crucial setup steps.

Unless you choose carefully, smarthome device names can be difficult to remember. Whether you choose “Green bulb” or “Light 1”, you make things difficult. You should choose names that describe where the bulb is located, such as “lamp” or “window lighting”. Avoid numbering the lamps, unless you plan to group them into one lamp, for example, if you have four bulbs in one lamp post.

Speaking of grouping, you should group your smart lights per room. If you have a voice speaker in the same room and group, you don’t have to remember what to say. You can just say “turn off the lights”. But what about rooms without smart speakers?

Too few smart speakers

You might be tempted to stick to just one smart speaker for voice control. For starters, it’s not a bad idea. But the best voice commands are simple and easy to remember.

With properly grouped lights and smart speakers, you can say “turn off the lights,” which is easy to remember. But, for this to work, you need a smart speaker in the same room as your smart lights. If you only have one smart speaker in the living room, this control will not work in the kitchen.

We recommend that you purchase multiple Echo points or Google Home Minis and sprinkle them all over your home, especially in rooms with smart lights and smart plugs. This makes voice control easy.

Too many types of smart speakers

An Amazon Echo, Google Home Mini and Harmon Kardon Invoke (Cortana speaker)
With a Homepod, I will have the complete set! Josh Hendrickson

While we recommend charging smart speakers, don’t make the mistake of having too many types of smart speakers. Google, Amazon, Apple, and even Microsoft all have smart speakers that you can install in your home. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses (Microsoft’s Invoke is mainly weaknesses), and you should carefully think about what to put in your home (if any).

Once you’ve chosen a smart speaker, you need to stick with that brand. If your living room has a Google Home, your kitchen has an Amazon Echo and your bedroom has a Homepod, you will quickly get confused. Everyone calls a different wake-up word, and the last thing you want is to call “Hey Google” when you meant “Hey Siri”.

In addition, you compose your work by adding different smart speakers. You make your life more complex and you will have to add all your smart gadgets to the new speaker application, learn its commands and manage planning and routines in several different applications.

Choose a voice assistant and stick with it. If you change your mind and decide that you should have chosen Google or Alexa, you will want to switch completely from one to the other, even if you make the change in stages to get started. Do not resign yourself to living permanently with different voice assistants in different rooms.

Ignore light switches

Two smart switches and a standard paddle switch between them.
If you don’t use smart switches, you’re missing out. Josh Hendrickson

If you have smart light bulbs throughout your home, you have probably realized that light switches are a problem. The moment someone activates a light switch controlling your smart bulb, you lose all intelligence. You cannot re-light the bulb by voice or application; you must reactivate the switch.

It is difficult to break the habit of light switches, especially when several people live in the same house. Addressing this problem is necessary to get the most out of your smart lights, and you have several options.

Instead of smart bulbs, you can use smart switches, which replace your standard light switch. Smart switches look like paddle switches, but rather than locking in the up or down position; they return to neutral. The electronics built into the switch determine whether electricity passes through (thereby turning the light on and off).

No matter how you turn on the light (by voice, app, or light switch), everything stays in sync. There are, however, some drawbacks. You will need to wire the switch, and most smart switches require a neutral wire in the switch box that not all homes have. And you will lose the color options that come with smart bulbs.

If you want smart bulb colors, or if you can’t or don’t want to replace your light switches, your goal is to prevent the use of the mute switch. If you have Philips Hue, Lutron smart bulbs Aurora Switch. Instead of wiring a new switch, the Aurora slides over your existing switch. It then acts as a dimmer.

If you don’t have Philips Hue, you may want to consider covering the stupid switch to prevent anyone from using it. If your smart light bulbs have a remote control, consider mounting it next to your stupid switches.

RELATED: The best integrated smart wall switches

Many brands of devices with many different applications

17 smarthome applications ranging from Alexa to Yonomi via SchlageHome
I have 17 smarthome apps installed, which is probably too much.

Smarthome gadgets are all the rage. It seems that every day a new manufacturer appears with its approach to the latest smart widgets. If you are not careful, before long, you have Wyze bulbs, Kasa Wi-Fi sockets a Ecobee thermostatand a Google Home.

Each of these devices comes with a custom app, and suddenly you’ll find yourself switching from one app to another trying to remember which app to use when.

To reduce this problem, use the same brand on all devices as often as possible. If your smart bulb manufacturer also makes smart plugs, try using them. If you are happy with your bulbs, chances are you are also happy with the plugs made by the same manufacturer.

When everything fails, use one app to control them all. This will likely be your voice assistant app: Alexa or Google Assistant. If you have a smart hub like SmartThings or Hubitat, you can use its app for control.

You will always install the other apps, of course. But, for the most part, you can hide these apps after you finish the installation and pairing process.

Think you need a lot of material

A Nest Thermostat, Google Home Bub, Nest Protect, Schlage Smart Lock, Wink Hub, SmartThings Wifi Hub and Amazon Echo.
You can buy a ton of devices the first day, but you shouldn’t. Josh Hendrickson

Sometimes the problem starts before you buy the very first Smarthome gadget. If you’ve picked up a smarthome because it seemed too expensive, or are worried about replacing every light bulb, switch and appliance in the house, you can stop worrying.

You don’t have to replace everything at the same time. Even if you could, you shouldn’t. Buy as many devices and try to install them all just for the the whole family to use would be overwhelming.

Instead, start small with just a few devices. A few smart bulbs, a smart plug and a video doorbell are more than enough for a startup smarthome. The start can be cheaper than you think.

Consider choosing one piece to start with. A smart room or smart kitchen are good places to start and will give you ideas on how to expand to other parts of the house.

Smart homes don’t have to be complicated and they shouldn’t be frustrating. If you’re not happy with how your smart home works for you, take a step back and examine why it’s not working well. The solution may be simpler than you think, and with a few tweaks, you can have a smarthome that is much easier and more convenient to use.

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