Beginners guide to smart home automation by THEiotPad experts

Get the right advice on cool gadgets and the latest smart technology before you buy

Don’t waste your money on a smart home system, smart thermostat, smart lighting, or a smart hub in your home before you read our in-depth buyer’s guides and product reviews. Find out which smart appliances are right for you and how to connect them up.

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We write about how to build the best home automation system (or smart home) for the common homeowner. The IOT in TheIOTpad refers to “the internet of things“. This refers to the network of physical objects embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for connecting over the Internet. Many smart home products use WiFi, Bluetooth and the latest technological innovations. We review the best products and systems so you can find one right for you.

Here you’ll find straight forward advice on home automation products that can be easily sourced. You won’t find any custom components that you have to solder or hack to make work.

smart home platform

Choose a Smart Home Platform – Guide

This is the first step in our How to Build a Smart Home series, which takes a beginner through the process of selecting the right components for their home automation needs. Read this article if you don’t yet have a

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Get The Best automation device for home

We do all the research, reviews and comparisons so you don't have to
When you come to Best home automation device reviews, you can expect well-researched and helpful information, buyers guides, reviews and comparisons for smart devices of all styles and brands. We are technology enthusiasts who love to research the details and bring you easy to read summaries so you can fully understand the products and make smart buying decisions to save yourself time and money.
Smart home connect to the internet of things
Phone controlled home

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Theiotpad.com is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

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How We Compare & Choose

Expert knowledge to help you buy smart

We provide expert knowledge about smart home hubs, systems, light bulb & switch, smart thermostat and accessories including ratings and data about how they measures up in various categories of performance. We explain what sets a product apart from its competitors, and suggest other comparable products based on price or use. We also look at how the smart devices have been designed, and what type of building they are targeted to – so you can make your decision based on what is right for you and your riding style.

Our Buyer's Guide To Smart Home

Home automation is one of the most popular trends in tech and DIY right now. Enjoy the convenience benefits, increased home security, energy savings and increased value of your home by installing a home automation system. By turning your home into a “smart home”, you can manage all your devices and technology with one system. But how do you choose the right one for you and your family? Read on for five things to consider when choosing a home automation system.

So there you have it, our vision for the smart home. It boils down to: be smart, be secure, and make it easy for us to adjust.

At theIOTpad, this is what we are searching for. We hope you follow us on the journey.

Factors In Choosing Smart devices

1. Easy to Use

This really shouldn’t have to be on the list because we think every home automation system should be simple to use – there is no reason to have a complicated system, but they are out there. You should never have to invite a technician to your home to install or tweak your system. If it takes a specialist to install or modify, the system is far too complex.

You should also be able to install a new component and program it within a couple of hours. Ideally, it should take less than an hour, but when it comes to home improvement, things always take longer. If you have to spend an entire Saturday installing and configuring a light switch, then the product manufacturer has failed.

Finally, controlling the system must be simple. One app should be all you need to operate your home. You shouldn’t have to open one app to adjust the lights and another to adjust the thermostat. The control app should also provide a full view of your home from the control panel – one glance should tell you the lights are on, the garage door is down, and the temperature is set to 72 degrees.

To put it simply, your smart home should just work. It shouldn’t be a hobby that you are always having to tweak.

Fully connected smart home

2. Universal

The ideal system will allow you to chose from a wide variety of components from whichever manufacturer you prefer. This is a challenge with the range of proprietary communications protocols on the market, but it is achievable. Think about it, you can use an iPhone to call a landline or an Android phone. You can send a text file from your Mac at home to your Windows PC at the office. Smart home systems should be no different.

This will require IOT standards to be established and agreed to by the various manufacturers and programmers, but it is doable.

3. Expandable, Upgradable, and Backwards Compatible

Most smart home hubs can control 200 or more devices – many are theoretically unlimited. However, systems controlled by Bluetooth or WiFi do have limits to the distance they can transmit commands to. Large homes should be just as easy to expand as small apartments.

Systems should also be able to expand into other products in the future. We don’t know what is coming down the road in the future. Systems should be able to adjust in the future by offering new features and products. This leads us to the next point, which is upgradability, since new products may require new control software.

In most cases, upgrades to a system should be done via software updates sent over the internet. Much like cell phone upgrades, home automation upgrades should be done quickly and easily. This means the hubs must be designed with enough power to allow new software to run without becoming sluggish.

Uprading will eventually require a new hub to account for new technologies so new hubs must be backwards compatible. A new hub should not require you to install 12 new switches in your home.

4. Secure

Last, but most definitely not least is security. Our smart homes must be secure – just as secure as our cell phones and online banking. Security is challenging, especially since we also want ultimate flexibility and universality. However, device manufacturers cannot skimp on security just to add another gimmicky feature. Security first, features later – we can’t stress this enough.

Smart home security camera

5. Smart, but not Gimmicky

Of course, smart homes should be smart. However, they aren’t currently as smart as they should be. Yes, your Nest Learning Thermostat is quite smart in that it can learn your temperature preferences, it keeps track of your energy use, and sends you a report on how you are doing. However, thermostats are one of the few product groups that has this level of intelligence. We need all of our devices to track power consumption and to ask you if something seems odd. Wouldn’t it be great if your oven sent an alert to your phone after it has been left on an hour longer than the timer you set?

Right now, a lot of devices (especially lighting) are gimmicky. Do you really want your lights to turn purple? Do you really need to turn your lights off by voice command if you are standing right next to the switch? We know that “the smarts” will develop and overtake the gimmick, but we can’t wait for that to happen.

Smart Home Systems

System Build for Apartment Dwellers
Smart Home System Builds

Smart Home System for Apartments and Renters

This smart home system build is for people living in rented apartments who cannot modify their wiring or other aspects of their home. All device suggestions are wireless or non-intrusive so your landlord shouldn’t have a problem.

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Wink System Build
Smart Home System Builds

Wink Smart Home System

This example smart home system is built with the Wink Hub at its core. Wink works with lots of devices and we suggest the best plus alternate options. Be confident that everything works together.

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Smart Home Hubs

Wink Hub 2
Smart Home Hub Reviews

Wink Hub 2 Review, Features and Pros & Cons

The Wink Hub 2 is a classic hardware smart home hub that includes Z-Wave and Zigbee radios. It works with Google Home and Amazon Alexa. The Wink Hub is a great choice if you want a wide range of device options and if you don’t mind a little tinkering.

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Samsung SmartThings Hub v3 review
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Samsung Smartthings hub Review & Buyer Guide 2022

The Samsung Smartthings Hub is the main hub or heart of your entire SmartThings ecosystem, helping you to wirelessly connect multiple smart devices together, connected to apps as well as to the cloud. All you have to do is pair the device with the smartthings hub and you’re good to go.

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Smart Home Thermostats

Smart Home Lighting

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