Smart devices and appliances are becoming increasingly common in everyday households. They can make life so much easier and many people have gained an interest in turning their houses into smart homes.
Being able to control your entire house with your voice and monitor everything with your smartphone is a dream come true for many people. Living in the age of voice search, and smart devices are exciting and it’s no wonder that the smart home industry’s popularity has blown up in recent years.
However, before making rigorous home improvements and start swapping your current household appliances for smart devices, you need to make sure that your house is prepared to use them.
In this article, we will go over what it takes to run a smart home, network limitations, and how you can prepare your home network to use smart home devices.
Let’s get started!
Is Your Wi-Fi Good Enough?
How long have you been using the same internet router? Chances are that you’ve been using the same router for years, in this case, it might be time for an upgrade. To prepare your home for the use of smart devices, your router should have support for several communication technologies such as Z-wave, ZigBee, 6LowPAN, and Bluetooth Low Energy.
While you don’t have to understand how each of these work, you need to make sure your internet router can communicate with all of your smart home devices. If you can get a router with all of the communication protocols we mentioned, then your home network should be set for the next few years.
Although there is 1 more thing you should keep in mind when thinking about preparing your home network for smart device use. Your internet speed.
How Much Internet Speed Does Your Smart Home Need?
Up until the rise in popularity of smart devices, most of our home networks have only had to deal with 4-8 devices connected at 1 time. Adding several smart devices can seriously affect your internet speed because of the amount of bandwidth each device takes up. If your internet can’t handle the demands of all your devices, they may start to act slow and have delays.
Thankfully, most smart devices don’t use too much bandwidth but there are exceptions to this. Video and security smart devices like doorbell monitors and cameras typically use the most bandwidth, while other devices are idle until given a command.
Video surveillance devices average 5mbps of download speed per device. When combined with regular computer and smartphone usage and other devices, your internet usage can quickly add up.
Homes with more smart devices will need higher internet speeds. Your internet usage without smart devices can vary from household to household but as a general rule of thumb add 5mbs of usage for every smart device in your home. This will keep your devices working smoothly and eliminate the chances of smart devices slowing down your internet.
How To Make Sure Your Router Can Reach Every Smart Device
It doesn’t matter what kind of router you have if it’s positioned too far away from your devices for them to communicate. If your router is positioned in the corner of a room in the basement, it’s time for it to move. The further the router is from your smart devices, the weaker the signal will be between them, causing delays in responsiveness.
This leaves the question: Where should you place your internet router?
Ideally, you should place your router above ground level at the center of your home so its signal can reach every smart device in your home. While shopping for a new internet router, try to keep this in mind and look for places to put it that aren’t too intrusive.
Most smart devices become next to useless without an adequate internet connection so make sure your router and smart devices can connect.
Think About Powering Your Smart Devices
A commonly overlooked part of building a smart home is power, and how each device will be powered. More devices subsequentially mean more electricity and more outlets. The more smart devices you use, the more things you’ll need to plug in. To prepare your home for smart home devices, you should make sure you have enough outlets to plug every device into without having to rely on power bars.
Whether or not you also plan to use smart plugs, you will also need to think about power draw. Plugging in too many appliances at once might cause your breaker to switch.
Smart Home Devices Internet Usage
While all smart home devices require an internet connection, they all differ in how much bandwidth they use. Smart home assistants like Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa can act as a hub to voice control every smart device in your home.
Asking these your smart home assistant questions won’t take much internet bandwidth, but using them to stream music can take upwards of 100mb per hour.
Smart thermostats give you a lot of flexibility in controlling your home’s temperature when you are and aren’t home. While you are traveling back home you can start your smart thermostat to heat up or cool your home, making your arrival a little comfier. Smart thermostats aren’t a big culprit when it comes to bandwidth usage averaging just 50mb per month.
Smart cameras and smart doorbells are the biggest bandwidth hogs in most smart homes. While smart cameras are great for watching your home or monitoring your children while you are away, they take a considerable amount of bandwidth. Of every smart device currently on the market, smart devices with live video footage use the most bandwidth by far.
A single 720p resolution smart camera can use about 60GB per month. Even if your smart camera only records when it detects motion, in busy rooms like a kitchen, you can find yourself using at least 5GB of data per month.
A method you can use to lower the internet usage of smart cameras in your home is by changing their recording resolution. Changing the resolution of your smart camera will significantly reduce their internet usage, great for in-home security.
The last smart device we will mention in this article is smart plugs and light bulbs. They use minimal bandwidth and their only commands are on/off. Because of these devices’ simplicity, smart light bulbs and plugs typically don’t use more than 50mb of data per month.
Is Your Home Prepared For Smart Devices?
Now that you know how important it is for your smart devices to have an adequate internet connection, you can prepare your home network to meet the needs of your smart devices and come up with an estimate of how fast your internet connection needs to be to keep them working smoothly.
If you are looking for more information about preparing your home network for smart devices, or other computer and IT help, take a look around the rest of our website.