Ahh, the joys of having a smart home.
It is 5pm, and as you are submitting your last report, you whip out your phone to turn on your cleaning robot so that everything is spick and span by the time you get home.
At 6.30pm, you are still stuck in rush hour traffic and you’re going to miss your favourite TV programme. But it’s okay, you can turn on your TV remotely so that you can immediately plonk yourself on the sofa when you’re back. If you’re subscribed to Singtel TV, you can even restart the show to watch it from the beginning.
You save on your electricity bills too — the countless times you forgot to turn off your bedside light? Well, you can easily turn them off via an app on your phone, even during a meeting at the office.
Hands full with your shopping bags? Fumbling for your house key is a thing of the past as you can just unlock your door using your phone. And if you’re at home, just say the word, as voice commands can turn on your TV, play your favourite song, help with the household chores, and more.
Think a smart home is something only for the tech savvy, or for someone as rich as Iron Man? Well think again, because it’s surprisingly simple.
As part of the Home Smart Home series by MoneySmart and Singtel, we spoke to homeowners Terry, 33, and Jia Qi, 30, to find out how they set up their smart home, how much it cost, as well as some tips and tricks to avoid buying stuff you don’t need.
Watch the full video to see how the smart devices in Terry and Jia Qi’s home do their magic.
First, define what is necessary for your home
There’s no point blowing your money on all the bells and whistles…that you don’t actually use.
For Terry and Jia Qi, it was important to first get a good home network system as the infrastructure — all the smart devices need to connect to one another via Wifi.
Says Jia Qi: “We use the Singtel 1Gbps Fibre Home Bundle as it goes back to what we really need. Though it isn’t Singtel’s highest-tier plan, it is more than sufficient for our use.”
After that, they added in the smart components that were needed along the way.
Adds Terry: “For us, we determined that we needed a smart lock. Then, we looked at convenience, such as smart plug systems. Thereafter, we started buying more appliances like smart bulbs and wireless speakers.
It’s okay to set up your smart home in phases
Technology is always advancing, and something you bought one month ago can be a dinosaur today. So only buy what you need, and what you can afford.
Terry likens this to J.A.R.V.I.S., Iron Man’s smart digital assistant: “Imagine J.A.R.V.I.S. version 2.0 is out next month after you buy J.A.R.V.I.S. version 1.0. That happens with technological advancement and all that, so you should buy in phases.”
But one thing you shouldn’t stint on is your home network, as it provides the connectivity — the communication lines between your smart devices. For Terry and Jia Qi, they chose to go with a good broadband provider like Singtel.
The next step for them was to decide on a virtual assistant, as it would be their smart home’s brain. There are a couple of virtual assistants out there, and the couple eventually went with Google Home as they could integrate it with their various smart devices and were familiar with the voice controls.
Do proper research and get what you REALLY need
Make sure what you’re getting is compatible with both your home network and the devices that will need to interact with it.
Terry notes: “Currently, most of the smart devices are only supporting 2.4 GHz; they cannot support 5G. So if you connect them to a 5G network, it will not be detected. Of course if you have more and more things that tap that network, you might want to consider a higher bandwidth network.
When you research and get only what you need, this helps you avoid overspending.
Identify the smart devices that can solve your problems
You don’t really need to know all the latest smart devices in the market or attend tech trade shows to set up your own smart home.
Terry suggests to zoom in on smart devices that can help you solve issues in your daily life, rather than focus on smart devices that are the latest and greatest right now.
“When we encounter some issues that we might want tech to solve, then we will go source for a suitable smart device. Otherwise we will not constantly keep up to date — like, what is the latest speaker in town, what is the new smart plug in town, new robot in town… no.”
For example, as Jia Qi is pregnant, she finds it difficult to squat down and switch the devices on and off. So Terry went online to search for a solution, asked a few friends, and decided to get a smart plug so she could turn on/off the devices wirelessly.
Don’t buy all your big-ticket items in one go
Some smart devices can be costly, like Terry and Jia Qi’s Devialet wireless speaker ($4,500) and smart TV ($3,200). You can always shop for less costly alternatives, but if you have your heart set on a model or brand, budget accordingly and stagger your big-ticket purchases so you don’t overstretch your bank account.
Jia Qi explains: “Obviously when you buy a big-ticket item then you buy the next big-ticket item a few months later. Try to plan it out.”
Wait, there’s more!
Here are some other tips and tricks the savvy couple shares:
- Get a digital lock to lock/unlock your door effortlessly
- Control various devices wirelessly with a smart plug
- Reduce energy costs with devices that you can control remotely
Terry also recommends using a Wifi Mesh to widen your wireless coverage, especially in “dead zones” like the far end of the house. This greatly improves connectivity and ensures your smart home will work seamlessly, no matter where they are. With Singtel, you can easily add the Wifi Mesh to your plan.
Here’s a cost breakdown of how much they spent:
|Smart Digital Lock||$920|
|TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug||$39.80|
|Xiaomi Mi Roborock Vacuum Cleaner||$369|
|Yeelight Smart LED E27 Wi-Fi Bulb||$49.90|
Are you thinking of setting up a smart home? Let us know how you plan to do it in the comments below!