THE BLOG
08/02/2016 12:42 pm ET Updated Aug 02, 2017

4 Tips For Home Automation Newbies

Home automation has moved us into Jetson's-like environments. Smart lights, security systems, appliances, they're all changing the way we interact with our homes and increasing our expectations for what a home can now do for us. But if you're totally in the dark (but eager to get started), try these four tips to help you get started:

Decide If You Want a Hub
Hubs are the main point where all of your smart home features feed, allowing you to control things from one point. There are tons of new ones popping up, but the most popular seem to be Alexa, Mi Casa Verde, or SmartThings. Each have their pros and limitations, so make sure that you do your due diligence before picking up a hub. Keep in mind that hubs are not required for many standalone systems, though, and may not be necessary.

Start With the Critical Points
In my opinion, a smart home can create a ton of "shiny object" features, but if you're totally new to home automation then there's one point I think you should really begin with: home security. Your home security system can be as robust as you like (which is why I recommend it as a starting point) and companies like Uxari or SimpliSafe have monitoring abilities that allow you to have watchdog features and instant notifications. If, however, you're looking for something simpler, you can put together your own security system with Amazon or SmartHome.com and upgrade later.

Don't Jump In Right Away
Creating a smart home can become a monumental task that depletes your time AND your budget, so don't feel like you need to have everything installed and ready to go on Day 1. Don't jump into the allure of having lights that auto-dim if you have no experience with electrical work. Start small by adding one feature, and once you get the hang of it, add a little more. Remember that your home is an investment of both time and equity, so go slowly and keep yourself accountable to a budget.

Ask for Help
If you're feeling totally overwhelmed, there are a ton of communities out there that are ready and willing to help you get started. I frequent the Home Automation subreddit often, as I've always felt they're welcoming and willing to help newbies, so I'd recommend starting there.

If you want to get started with home automation, but have no idea where to start, remember to figure out your needs, start small, and do your research, and you'll be on your way to a smarter home in no time.