Here’s the right way to set up your smart home

The first step in making your home smart requires automation. Put simply, it is a set of rules adhered to by your smart home devices. (Here’s a list of some of the best smart home devices out there.) Automated curtains that come up in the morning, lights that turn on when you enter a room, or a pet feeder that dispenses treats when the bowl is empty are all examples of home automation systems at work. If done right, they can make life easier and more convenient. If they don’t, you’d be better off flipping the switches yourself.

When people try to build a home automation system, this is usually the first mistake they make. They start buying their home devices one by one — smart light bulbs, digital door locks, open door sensors and everything else they think would be cool or useful. The problem is that this upgrade usually happens over the course of several months or even years, meaning that devices are bought separately. More often than not, they’re made by different manufacturers and communicate using different protocols. (Here’s a good guide to home automation protocols.) And that means there is a different control scheme for every device as well as multiple control apps, resulting in the inability for the devices to interact with one another. You end up with a home that’s neither smart nor connected.

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