The Entertainment Guide

Living in a Smart Home

By Chad Aldrich

smart-homeA smart home is one that provides its home owners comfort, security, energy efficiency and convenience at all times regardless of whether anyone is home.

“Smart home” is the term commonly used to define a residence that has appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, entertainment audio and video systems, security and camera systems that are capable of communicating with one another and can be controlled remotely by a time schedule, from any room in the home, as well as remotely from any location in the world by phone or internet.

Whether you are hoping to set up something as basic as a smart speaker in your living room or create a network of connected devices, these smart home products can help you get started.

Now in its second generation, the Amazon Echo remains at the top of every list of the best smart home devices. For those who have never heard of it, it’s basically a Bluetooth speaker that can also listen to voice commands via Amazon’s popular voice assistant, Alexa.

A common step that is taken after purchasing a smart speaker is getting smart lights for the house, and the Philips Hue ecosystem is your best bet. It works seamlessly with Alexa, IFTTT, and even Siri, which you can command to control not only the intensity of lights in every part of the house, but also the color.

Another cool smart home device is a smart thermostat, and the Ecobee4 is currently the best in that category. Aside from its sleek design and ease of use, this latest version of the Ecobee features multiple sensors that help detect and reduce hot or cold spots in rooms.

Mesh-networking kits use multiple access points spread around your house to improve the range and performance of your Wi-Fi. Thanks to a dedicated high-bandwidth Wi-Fi connection between the router and the satellite, the Orbi RBK50 kit had among the best throughput and range of the kits tested. The simple “put the router where the internet is, put the satellite in the middle of your house” instructions are impossible to screw up, but for the tech-savvy, it is among the very few mesh kits that provide high-end router features, plus it lets you control your local network without an active internet connection. The two-unit setup means that your laptops or phones spend less time shifting from one access point to another – or, worse, not reconnecting when they should.

If you are looking at implementing some of these smart home products in your home and have questions, reach out to a technology expert like Aldrich Technology.

Chad Aldrich is owner of Aldrich Technology in Northfield. Reach him at


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