Here’s an overview of our smart home setup and accessories list complete with smart plugs, Sonos, Alexa, and voice commands! This post contains affiliate links.
I love the idea of a smart home!
I want to wake up like they do in the movies and say “Good morning, world” and all of the lights in my home turn on, my coffee pot brews, the blackout blinds magically open to reveal a sunrise, and the floors are warm when I climb out of bed. Maybe a robot brings me my robe??
While our house is far from a scene in The Jetsons, we have accumulated some smart home devices and have setup what we can on a limited budget. (Those electronic blinds are on my wish list for our dream home we might build some day!)
Here is a list of our current smart home accessories and how they all work together.
Our Smart Home Setup
The commercials make smart home setup look so easy. Just say “good morning” and all this magic happens.
But it’s not really that simple! Connecting and labeling all the lights into Routines in the Alexa app is a bit tricky. You have to think about your devices, what you would call them, and how you will remember what to say when. Once you program it all and learn it, it’s super easy and fun!
We have a set of six Amazon-branded smart plugs that control the lights in our main living room and bedroom.
In The Living Room
In our living room the lamps are labeled: one, two, and three. So if we want to turn one on, we say “Alexa, turn on two.”
We have a Sonos One Speaker with Alexa built in that we use to control the lights on the main floor. If we want all lights on, we say “Alexa, lights on” and all three lamps turn on. We don’t have any overhead lights in our living room (just in the kitchen) and so Alexa controls all three plugs. The only time this system fails is if we have guests over and they manually turn off a lamp!
In Our Bedroom
In our bedroom, we have one plug for each of our nightstand lamps and one for the white noise.
We have an Amazon Echo in that room to control them. It’s an older model with a screen (this one) – I would recommend this similar one, the Echo Dot, instead because I only use the screen for a clock at this point. (I do really like the clock!)
Here’s how the upstairs lights connect:
- The nightstand lamps are called “Kath” and “Thomas.”
- “Echo, turn on Kath” turns just that lamp on.
- “Echo, light” turns both on
- And “Echo, night” turns both off
- “Echo, moon” turns off both lights AND all the downstairs lights (we say this at bedtime)
- “Echo, wake” turns ON the lights and the white noise off (we say this at 6 a.m.!)
It’s all a little tricky, but once you get the hang of it it’s so nice!!
As mentioned above, we also have a few Sonos speakers, and one that is Alexa branded. That’s nice because we can ask it to play music without having to use the Sonos app. The sound quality on the Sonos speakers is amazing!
We have speakers in: the kitchen, the living room, the porch, and the master bath and they can all connect.
I can use the upstairs Echo to say “Echo, play Maroon 5 in the bathroom” and she will!
There is a manual step, but I can also AirPlay a podcast to the kitchen Alexa and then sync them through the Sonos app to listen to a podcast in the shower.
Home Alarm System
We have an alarm system that we love! At a previous house I had ADT and did not love it. The monthly fee was $60 and the install was over $1,000. (Maybe things have changed and maybe I was ripped off – this was about 9 years ago).
The system we have now is around $250-$500 for all the bits and bobs you need to put on your windows, motion sensors, a keypad and a base. It’s all wireless so you can do the whole thing yourself! We have added on water sensors and smoke alarms too, which is great peace of mind for when we travel.
The monthly monitoring is $14.99-$24.99, depending on the level you choose, and there is no contract! We love having the app so we can turn off the alarm and let someone in (say a baby boomer who isn’t totally familiar with codes and buttons 😉 ) I also love that I can use the app from bed to turn off the alarm, and I can check that all sensors are closed too.
I will say that a con is that the newer systems are marketed as Alexa-compatible, but you aren’t able to add it to a Routine. So you can’t say “Alexa goodnight” and it will turn the lights of AND alarm the system. I think it’s a security feature….or maybe I just haven’t figured it out yet.
I bought a Nest Thermostat when I moved into this house six years ago because programmable thermostats are a must!
While it’s more of a “set it and forget it” smart home accessory, I do love that I can access it from the app if I forget to turn down the heat or the AC up when I’ll be away for a while. It also connects to the alarm system so it knows our routines from that too.
It’s programmed for our routines on the weekdays and weekends, and has quite a few energy saving features too. It can even sense when no one is at home for a while.
It’s not the smartest lock on the block (ha), but we have a keyless lock for our back door that means we don’t have to carry house keys.
We have a special code we plug in, and we can share that with someone who needs entry when we’re not at home. It’s easily changed, and you can use a key too, if you’d like. And the best part is you can lock the door upon exit, so there is no fumbling with keys at all (especially because our car has a keyless push button start!).
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What’s on your smart home wish list?
A Ring doorbell is on my wish list.
And those electronic blinds – someday!!!