Where in the hell do you start with your first home automation project?
Trust me, I know… this “home automation” stuff has gotten extremely overwhelming over the last few years. There’s just so much new technology coming out all the time, not to mention that you can pretty much automate anything you set your mind to! But… where do you start, right? I want to talk about why these simple LED’s from Amazon can be a good starting point and why.
Simple home automation projects can go a long way when it comes to upgrading and tweaking your home, especially if you are also a beginner to most types of complex DIY. While we might think of an automated home appliance to be something that is really hands-on and difficult to learn, that definitely isn’t the case: you can have a property full of automatic features without needing to keep a manual handy at all times. But if you are interested in setting up some automated items or extras, how can you start?
Choosing Your Additions
We like to think of a “Smart Home” as a house that is all automated, but that doesn’t cover the middle ground between a non-automated house and a fully automated house. It is easy to set up a few small appliances or automated items that can make your home life easier without having to buy a full Smart Home system, so you should take some time to work out exactly what you are looking for. In most cases, you will want simple automation projects to do one of two things: either fill a niche that wasn’t being filled or make a difficult part of your life a little bit easier.
Smart or automated additions to your home also don’t have to be very expensive. While getting a Smart television or another large appliance like that can be costly, smaller items can be fairly cheap, and might even end up being much lower than the maximum budget you were able to set aside for the project.
Whatever you choose, it is a good idea to try and understand what skills might be needed to install them. Items that need plumbing work done during installation will obviously be harder to set up than an item that can just be plugged in, so be sure to research as much as possible before you commit to a purchase.
Starting the Project
Once you know what you are installing, you need to set it up. There isn’t a single way to explain how to do this, since automated items and appliances come in all shapes and sizes. Remember to leave space open for changes or extra features in the future: one of the benefits of smart devices is the way that you can re-use it in dozens of different ways. Don’t be afraid to experiment, especially if you have DIY-related ideas that could help you be much more creative with the project.
It is good to start small and get a feel for the project as a whole, too. Mundane and simple automation projects can feel boring at first, but they are a good gateway to harder and longer-term ideas that you might not have the patience for yet. Take a light strip as an example: the installation might only take a minute or two, but you will also need to configure it through an app or desktop program. The more programmable the lights are, the more options you will have to explore and get a feel for.
Keep in mind that some smart devices are meant to be connected to others, too. Digital assistants like Alexa can control a wide range of other Smart devices as long as they are connected through the same network, and this means that you might have even more options and choices when it comes to actually installing everything. On the other hand, this might also make setting it up simpler overall – it depends on the product and the way that you want to use it.
Exploring Your Options With Some Basic LED’s
It is also a good idea to focus on looking at all your options and figuring out designs or goals you can work towards in the future. For example, a long strip of lights might be a good way to light up a bedroom or a desk, but it can also give you more ideas for how to light up the rest of the room if it isn’t quite enough. In the same way, you might find that you like having lights that can be controlled with your phone, meaning that you will start thinking about other places that they can be installed. Even at the most basic level, simple automation projects can encourage creative thinking and experimentation, especially once you get the hang of how they can be controlled.
Let us say you have a few strips of LED lights such as this one on Amazon, and you have already put one up as a test that lights up the area above your bed. Now that you know how they work and understand what color options, brightness settings, or extra features you have available, you could figure out more places that they will fit. You could place some behind a television, add them to a darker corridor in your home, or even use them all in the same place to create a longer line of LEDs.
As mentioned before, they might work with the tools you already own, such as Alexa. With some tweaking, you can make them voice-controlled or alter them to all turn on at the same time, which can be ideal for using them in very specific ways.
One of the biggest draws when it comes to automated tools and items is the ability to program them according to your personal needs. This doesn’t mean actual coding: instead, it can be things like linking your lights and speakers together so that they turn on at the same time, or having a Smart lock sound a Smart alarm if somebody tries to force it open. There is a lot to experiment with when it comes to programming these items, so it can be well worth the effort to take a look and see what you can create.
This also gives you far more control and customization when adding more Smart elements to your home. If you are doing multiple simple automation projects one after the other, you can always go back and connect them together without needing to make any physical changes: unlike using wires to plug everything in, you can usually rely on apps and Wi-Fi connections, so they don’t even need to be in the same place to work correctly. This doesn’t mean you can’t use plugs! We’ve reviewed several in our site and there are plenty out there! For instance, the WeMo Insight Smart Plug, the Eve Smart Plug, or the Teckin Smart Plug to name a few.
If you are a big DIY fan, don’t hesitate to add some of your own expertise to the installation, too. Whether you create an indented surface for your lights or add a simple raised surface that can hold some of your smart devices, you can come up with all kinds of interesting ideas that allow you to create something truly unique. Even better, you might be able to put multiple Smart devices in the same frame or shell, which can let you create a custom appliance once everything is linked up correctly. This could be a light-up speaker, an alarm system, or even just a wall-mounted lightbox.
Once you have gained some experience with simple automation projects, you will be able to decide how you feel about it all. Some people might hate the idea of having to program and adjust everything through phones or computers, and that is a perfectly valid criticism to have. However, if you enjoyed it or have a desire to install more of them, then you can use what you have learned to plan out something even bigger!
Many automated devices and appliances follow the same basic setup process: you physically install them, adjust them through an app, and then connect them up to whatever other Smart devices that you need to pair them with. While there can be plenty of differences, especially when you look at larger-scale items like televisions, you will almost always have to take these exact steps. Because of this, you can get into a ‘rhythm’ if you are installing multiple items all at once, making longer projects slightly easier to manage if you can prepare properly.
Of course, you might also decide that you want to move some of your previously installed items around instead. If you don’t count things that need to be installed into certain sockets or locations (like lightbulbs), you can usually move around a Smart device just as easily as any regular device. In fact, since they don’t need to be physically connected to link to one another, it might be even easier, since you won’t need to stretch cables across a room or drill holes to connect items between rooms.
Should I Try Simple Automation Projects?
There is not really any reason to completely ignore Smart devices or automated home items, so don’t be afraid to give something simple at try. You are not obligated to get any more if you don’t like the experience, and you can always remove the item to place it somewhere else if it is not working exactly how you expected. At worst, you can always give it away or re-sell it to somebody else, and you won’t need to spend much on basic lights or a small speaker.
On the other hand, if you like what you end up installing, it can open up a whole world of Smart devices for you! Whatever you decide to use, there are thousands of options and millions of device combinations you can play around with, so a simple start can sometimes be all you need!