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How to Automate Your Home: A Home Automation Buying Guide

A comprehensive guide that will give you all the information on what you need to transform your home into a smart home.
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Internet Of Things Explained
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Internet Of Things Explained

Getting Started: Welcome to The World of Tomorrow!

Each day, our lives are made simpler due to technology. In an instant, we can find out the weather, see the fastest route to our destination, or even see when the next train or bus is scheduled to arrive. Though this technology may seem second nature to us, back in the day, it was just a crazy idea that generations fantasized of when thinking about the future. Unfortunately, some ideas like flying cars and living on the moon haven't become a reality. However, having a home that is completely automated has now been made an actual possibility. Throughout the past few years, home automation or home connection has become a common topic of interest for products, ranging from security systems, home lighting, audio playback and now appliances. These products offer the ability to be controlled wirelessly, typically via apps available for your smartphone, tablet or computer. This means you'll be able to stop worrying about whether you locked up your home before you left, turned off all of the lights or made sure you didn't accidentally leave the oven on. Continue reading and let's begin your journey into transforming your home into a smart home.

Networking & Wireless

If you are planning to transform your home into a smart home, the first step is to make sure that your pre-existing wired internet service is connected to a wireless router for a strong wireless internet signal. Depending on the size of your home, one wireless router attached to your previously installed internet should be enough to provide a strong signal. If your home is larger in size, pairing a router with a WiFi extender that can extend your wireless network for a stronger and larger signal reach may be a perfect option. By having a strong wireless signal, your smart devices will be able to stay connected, which means you will be able to control them remotely.

Moving Forward: Keeping Your Home and Family Safe

In every home, there are safety precautions to keep your family healthy, warm in the winter and safe from harm. These precautions include security systems, thermostats and carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Though all homes have these devices, knowing they are properly working provides you with peace of mind knowing that your home, and everyone inside it, is safe. Understanding this is a very important and crucial technology to have access to, many companies are now releasing products that can be monitored from any location through the use of your smartphone, tablet or computer. Continue reading to find out about the features you can have access to when you install smart home and safety devices in your house, apartment or condo.

Home Security

Home Automation Home Security
Have you ever had to leave your home in a hurry because you're running late or an emergency occurred? Then, once you're at your destination, the inevitable "Did I remember to…" questions begin. You hesitate because you can't remember if you locked the door or set the alarm, which then leads you to start wondering who you could possibly call to ensure that you didn't forget to do anything. However, if no one is available to check, you are now trying to figure out how you will fit going home into your busy and hectic day. This is where new smart home technologies like smart home security systems and smart deadbolts come in.

Smart home security systems alleviate stress by offering the ability to arm or disarm your home right from your smartphone, which means you will no longer be questioning if you set your security system; instead, you can simply reach for your phone. In addition, by installing a smart deadbolt in your front door, you will be able to lock or unlock your door from your phone or through the integrated numeric keypad. These features also provide babysitters, nannies, or other guests to have access into your home without a key. Another option is to add a security system to keep your home secured and monitored from anywhere at any time. Continue reading for more information on smart web & surveillance cameras.

For a more precautionary measure, Abt is proud to offer our very own home security systems. Our service includes:
  • 24/7 quality Abt customer service
  • Licensed & certified sales, installation and support
  • C.N.A. insured with complete service and warranty on all aspects of the work
  • Control temperature, watch live video, arm/disarm your system, and more from any web-enabled device

Web & Surveillance Cameras

Home Automation Web & Surveillance Cameras
In the past, security systems have had their faults, whether from a strong gust of wind blowing against a door or window sensor or a fault in the system, both of which can end in the alarm going off and police being called to the home. This can be a huge inconvenience and typically results in unnecessary frustration. This is where smart web & surveillance cameras come into play.

Having a smart surveillance camera in your home ensures that you know exactly what's going on at any given time, from any location. In other words, if your alarm happens to go off while you are away or if a neighbor happens to call because they saw someone entering your home, you will be able to check on your smartphone or tablet to see if it was a false alarm, someone you expected or if indeed it is more serious.


Home Automation Thermostats
Have you ever wondered if your thermostat is actually saving you money? In the past, we have heard theories that stated you should keep the thermostat set to one constant temperature, or that you should program it to be a bit warmer/cooler when you are away. Both theories, however, typically result in the same pricey bill at the end of the month that you were trying to avoid. In recent months, one solution has been found, and that is installing a smart thermostat or a learning thermostat.

Smart thermostats are programmed to learn or adapt to your schedule, to keep your home at a temperature that will help you save money. If you happen to be home on a day that you would typically not be, fear not, these smart thermostats have the ability to override their learned program if they sense anyone around. Another feature that is extremely beneficial is the ability to adjust your home's temperature from an app on your smartphone. So, if you happen to be going out of town or if you have a vacation home, you'll be able to adjust the temperature, turn the heating or air conditioning on/off or even create an automatic schedule.

Carbon Monoxide & Smoke Detectors

Home Automation Carbon Monoxide & Smoke Detectors
All homes have carbon monoxide & smoke detectors. They provide us with alerts in the event of a fire or when carbon monoxide is present. However, many of these detectors become unreliable due to faulty wiring, dead batteries, or from manufacturing defects without the resident's knowledge. Whatever the reason for the detector being faulty, it can result in an avoidable injury or causality.

By adding a smart carbon monoxide or smoke detector in your home you will receive spoken and texted alerts on your smartphone. These alerts let you know if smoke, carbon monoxide, faulty wiring or a dead battery is detected.

Home Lighting

Home Automation Home Lighting
With technology advancing at such a rapid pace, more inventions that seemed to be fantasies out of Back To The Future or Harry Potter, have increasingly started to make their way into the world. Though many of these technological advancements may have become second nature to us, a few years ago they were only ideas. One idea that has become a reality is the smart home light bulb. These light bulbs transform your smartphone, tablet or computer into a smart light switch. This means you will be able to turn your lights on or off, change the color produced to a different color, or adjust the brightness (similar to a dimming feature), without being in the room. You may think this seems a bit complicated, having to have your phone with to control your smart lighting. Additionally, you'll still be able to use your pre-existing light switches to turn your new smart lights on or off. Another nifty feature you can do with your smart lighting is to create a home automation schedule. Similar to old-fashioned light timers, you will be able to set specific times as to when your smart lights will automatically turn on, turn off, dim or increase brightness.

So, if you were in awe when Albus Dumbledore turned off the lights on Privet Drive with his Deluminator in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, smart light bulbs are sure to be on your must have list.

Robotic Vacuums

Home Automation Robotic Vacuums
When you have company coming over after a long and busy day, nothing is worse than the feeling you get when you are unsure if your home is presentable. Perhaps you had enough time to do the dishes and arrange items that were out of place, but in your hurry to start your day, you ran out of time or forgot to vacuum. Unfortunately, robots that fully clean our homes are still unavailable, however, smart robotic vacuums are. Smart robotic vacuums or smart vacuums can be controlled via your smartphone through the use of an app. This means your floors and carpets will be vacuumed while you're out, leaving you stress and worry-free.

In addition to having control of the vacuum through the app, you will also be able to set schedules, choose options such as one or two passes, final edge clean, and whether or not to use Roomba's Carpet Boost Behavior.

Audio Receivers

Home Automation Audio Receivers
Have you ever imagined having the ability to control your audio receiver without the use of a remote control? What if you could control it all from your smartphone? Recently, audio receivers have been released with smart features that will add increased functionality in your life while improving your smart home's abilities. These smart audio receivers come with built-in Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities to allow you to fully control your receiver from your smartphone with the use of an app. You will be able to wirelessly stream music from your smartphone or compatible device to the receiver. This means, if you're having a party or friends over, you will be able to change the song, pause it, or adjust the volume without having to walk over and leave your guests. Another great feature that some audio receivers have is the ability to choose which room audio will be played in. So if your home is set up for multi-room audio, you can choose the exact room or each room you would like to hear your music. Impress your friends and stop getting up to adjust the music by adding an audio receiver with Bluetooth or WiFi capabilities your home.

Portable & Bluetooth Speakers

Home Automation Portable & Bluetooth Speakers
For every music enthusiast, having the right playlist is a must during almost every activity. Whether it's while working out, on your way to and from work, or when hanging out with friends, music is always playing. Most play music off of their smartphone, however, the sound quality and volume output are never quite ideal. Typically, it is quite soft, and depending on the device used, your music can sound distorted. Did you know that one of the easiest ways to fix this problem is by using a portable speaker or portable Bluetooth speaker? Portable speakers let you play music from your phone at any volume with superb audio quality.

Currently, there are a wide variety of portable speakers, many of which offer the ability to play your music wirelessly through Bluetooth, similar to how other smart home automated devices work. Others play your music by connecting your device to the speaker using either an auxiliary cord or built-in docking port. There are also Bluetooth-enabled water-resistant portable speakers, which are best for any outdoor activity because they don't need to be directly connected to your device and a bit of rain will not damage them. This is extremely convenient for those who commonly play music on their phones because they let you keep your phone in a dry, safe place that is not directly in contact with any sudden rain storm or when the tide comes in. Find the perfect portable speaker or Bluetooth-enabled portable speaker at Abt.


Home Automation Televisions
Do you frequently stream content on your TV from services such as Netflix or Hulu? Does your TV require an additional device to access this content? If you answered yes to both of those questions, you may be interested in a smart TV. Smart TVs wirelessly connect to your home network and have special processors built-in to take advantage of web apps. A smart TV lets viewers stream movies from services such as Netflix or Hulu; play music from Pandora, Spotify; or even check their social networks, all without the need for a separate computer. Though having a smart TV may cost a bit more, they will help save you money in the long run. Most users who do not have a smart TV end up with an additional device that will give them access to the previously mentioned web apps. These additional devices can cost upwards of $100, which is typically more than the amount of money you would save by not purchasing a TV with smart functions. With that being said, save yourself money and get the most out of your TV by upgrading to a smart TV.


If you have seen The Stepford Wives, you have seen an example of the pinnacle smart kitchen. There was an automated refrigerator that announced when it was out of milk or eggs. One of the key rooms in every smart home is the kitchen. The kitchen is often times referred to as the center of the home, seeing it is where many people watch the morning news, prepare meals and, of course, eat. This is why many smart homes refer to the kitchen as the center hub. Though smart kitchens, like the one in The Stepford Wives, aren't actually available, there are many WiFi-enabled appliances that can transform your kitchen into the smart, automated central hub it deserves to be.

Kitchen Appliances

Home Automation Appliances
To start, smart refrigerators or WiFi-enabled refrigerators connect to your home WiFi network for instant control through your smartphone, typically via a downloadable app. Depending on the brand, smart refrigerators offer a variety of different features like the ability to see inside the appliance via a built-in camera. One specific feature that is quite nifty, which the GE CFE28USHSS offers, is Hot Water Scheduling. This feature is accessed through GE's Kitchen App and lets you schedule when the refrigerator has hot water, which is great for any coffee or tea enthusiast. By having hot water accessible, you will be able to easily brew coffee using a French press or steep tea in seconds.

The next smart appliance that debuted is the smart range. A smart range gives you the ability to control functions via your smartphone using a downloadable app. From the app, you will be able to preheat, change the temperature and set timers from inside your home or from the grocery store. Another convenient feature that is available on select smart ranges is the ability to find and download recipes. In addition to smart ranges, many brands are now making smart ovens and smart dishwashers that can also be controlled from a smartphone app.

If you have any questions about smart refrigerators, smart ranges or smart dishwashers, reach out to Abt's sales specialists at 800-860-3577.

Laundry Appliances

Home Automation Appliances
Let's step outside of the kitchen and check out smart laundry appliances. Smart laundry appliances, such as smart washers, have recently grown in popularity and it is no surprise why. Have you ever thought about having the ability to do laundry away from home? Perhaps the ability to start your washer so that it finishes right when you get home, has crossed your mind? Now, that idea has been integrated into the majority of smart washers available now. All you need is a smartphone or tablet and the corresponding app. With this feature, you will be able to throw a load of laundry into the wash before you leave for work or a busy day. Then, when you are ready to head home, simply open the app, press start, and your laundry load will be ready to be tossed into the dryer or hung up to dry when you arrive home. Spend less time stuck at home doing laundry by upgrading to a smart washer.