CNET Smart Home
Intro to home automationStep into the CNET Smart Home and see what an automated living space is all about.
The smart home is a huge topic that covers a lot of different devices that do a lot of different things. But when I talk about home automation, I'm talking specifically about the tech in your home that you can program to act automatically on your behalf. Whether that's for convenience or security or entertainment, or something else altogether, is entirely up to you. So how do you get started with home automation? And more importantly, how do you find the right gadgets for your living space? You got a lot of options at this point, including smart LEDs like these that turn on automatically as soon as they see you walking to the room You've got connected kitchen gadgets like this [UNKNOWN] coffee brewer that can whip up a cup of java automatically in the morning. You've got smart shades like these from Lutron that can rise and fall with the sun to help let a little bit of extra light in. You've got connected ceiling fans that look luxurious and sync up with your smart thermostat in order to help save energy. You even got a lot of connected entertainment gadgets now that can make for a better TV watching experience. It can all get a little bit overwhelming. So my advice is to start small and find a gadget that you like and understand. Once you've gotten used to using it in your home, it's a lot easier to find gadgets that are complementary and that can make it smarter. This $35 Belkin WeMo Mini switch is a great example. It's very affordable and it can automate anything that you plug into it. Say this lamp for instance. Once you've figured out what you like about it and how you use it in your home you can add motion sensors, or contact sensors, or other third party services that make it even smarter. There are plenty of other good starting points, too. Maybe you're really interested in voice control, so start with an Amazon Echo or a Google home smart speaker. Then expand your setup by adding compatible gadgets that those speakers can work with. Of course you wanna be mindful to keep things secure as you add cloud connected gadgets to your home. I recommend sticking to established brands with good track records of taking your security seriously. Avoid products like cheap WiFi cameras that come with default passwords. And if you're really concerned about security, look for products like this Nest cam that require you to scan a product specific code during setup. For more advice be sure to check out my full buying guide on cnet.com along with all of our how-to posts and product reviews from right here at the CNET smart home.