How To Set Up A Smart Home: The Beginner’s Guide

Nov 18, 2021
By Staff writer

A smart home system is becoming more and more popular in New Zealand — and for good reason! Once you’re hooked into the ecosystem, it can keep your house safe, automate simple household chores, and allow you to operate appliances remotely. It’s convenient, secure, and integrated with voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon's Alexa.

The best part is, there are plenty of smart home devices readily available in the market. Sensors, security cameras, bulbs, speakers, locks, doorbells, washers and dryers, refrigerators, or thermostats — you name it! You’re never short of smart devices these days. 

Setting up a smart home system can be tricky, but it gets easy once you get the basics right. Here's our beginner's guide to setting up your own smart home in NZ.

1. Have a reliable Wi-Fi connection

Before anything else, make sure your home has a stable internet! As much as possible, remedy the dead zones. If you can keep speeds consistent throughout your home, the better.

Most smart home devices connect to the internet to receive commands with your voice assistant, integrate with other smart devices, and automate your household chores. Without a fast and stable internet connection, your smart home devices won’t work as intended.

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Getting the best broadband plan

Get the best broadband plan, relative to your household size, location, daily activities, along with the consumption of your smart home devices. At least 100Mbps is recommended, but a faster connection is always better.

Compare the best broadband plans where you live, right here at glimp.

Purchasing the right modem

No matter how fast your broadband connection is on paper, an advanced router is the only way to max and distribute it throughout the home. If your modem is already in its fourth or fifth year, you may want to replace them with a new one.

You can also avoid dead zones by installing mesh routers, wifi repeaters, wifi extenders, or broadband boosters.

Read: 10 Best Routers To Boost Your NZ Broadband Plan

2. Choose a smart home ecosystem

Once your internet connection is stable, it’s time to pick a smart home ecosystem. There are three main systems to choose from: Google Nest, Amazon Alexa, and Apple HomeKit. 

How to choose the right ecosystem

Google Nest: One of the main advantages of the Nest ecosystem is having Google Assistant as its voice assistant. Arguably, it’s one of the smartest assistants, which can recognise accents, speak conversationally, and respond to requests immediately.

  • Better integration if you have Android devices
  • Google Home has quick access to smart home shortcuts
  • It’s a smart assistant that works on different devices

Amazon Alexa: Amazon Alexa had a headstart when it comes to the smart home ecosystem. It developed a lot of devices that work well with a voice assistant like the Echo. However, it’s not always as accurate and as smart as other assistants.

  • Plenty of great deals during big sale events like Prime Day
  • Work well with other Amazon apps like Prime Video
  • Affordable smart home devices that they also developed

Read: NZ Broadband Deals: Where To Get Free Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, And Disney+

Apple HomeKit: If you’re already looped into the Apple ecosystem, it’s smart to get Apple HomeKit for your smart home. It uses Siri as its voice assistant, which is the most limited and not the smartest assistant in the market.

  • Works well with Apple-supported devices including iPad
  • Limited choices and support as it doesn’t collect much data
  • Easy to set up as long as you’re in the Apple ecosystem

Other smaller third-party devices also offer support for different home appliances, but choosing the main ecosystem is a wiser option because of a wide range of support and trusted customer service, among other benefits.

Note: Most smart home ecosystems collect your data such as your usage habits, voices including accent and tones, as well as interactions. This is to make your smart home system smarter in controlling your home.

Each system has different storage and privacy practices, but they all give you full or partial control over this in the settings.

3. Select smart hubs

While these smart home ecosystems can be controlled using your smartphone, having smart hubs like a smart speaker or tablet is recommended. This way, you can always control your smart appliances at home.

You never have to speak loudly, just so your voice assistant can hear you.

Best smart home speaker

Best smart home display

Amazon Alexa

Amazon Echo (4th gen)

Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd gen)

Google Nest

Google Nest Audio

Google Nest Hub Max

Apple HomeKit

Apple HomePod

N/A (but an IPad will do)

Of course, there are plenty of other third-party smart hubs available in the market. Some of the most notable honourable mentions are:

Best third-party smart speakers

  • Sonos One (2nd gen) - Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Bose Smart Speaker 500 - Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin (2021) - Works with Alexa
  • Braun LE01 - Works with Google Assistant

Best third-party smart displays

  • Lenovo Smart Clock - Works with Google Assistant
  • Lenovo Smart Display 7 - Works with Google Assistant
  • Lenovo 10.1" Smart Display - Works with Google Assistant
  • Facebook Portal - Works with Alexa

Read: How Much Is The Average Internet Bill In New Zealand?

4. Purchase smart home appliances

Once all of these steps are completed, the sky’s the limit! You can purchase a wide array of smart home appliances, as long as they’re compatible with your smart home ecosystem. Trusted brands such as Samsung, Philips, Connect, Eufy, TP-Link, and more are commonly available in most NZ retailers.

Starting with these appliances is a great choice for beginners:

  • Smart light bulbs - Smart light bulbs let you control either a single light or multiple lights using your phone. Aside from not getting up from your bed to turn it off, it can help you regulate the following:
    • Brightness level for those with sensitive eyesight
    • Colour temperatures during hot or cold days
    • Create different moods according to your preference
  • Smart thermostats - A smart home thermostat is extremely beneficial for controlling the temperature when the weather is a bit unpredictable. This is great for A/C and heating during cold and hot days.
    • Regulate your indoor temperature based on the outdoor temperature
    • Control the temperature in different rooms around the house
    • Turn on the A/C or heater just for when you’re about to go home
  • Smart locks and security systems - This is one of the most important benefits of connecting into a smart home. It minimises the risk of break-ins from all the possible entries of your home.
    • Lock and unlock your home using only your fingers
    • Keeps track of everyone who enters your home
    • Gives guests temporary access to selected parts of your home
  • Smart TVs and remotes -  Another great smart home appliance for beginners are TVs and remote controls. This centralises your entertainment experience at home with integrations on your different devices like a phone or tablet.
    • Start streaming on your phone then continue on TV
    • Receive commands thanks to voice assistant integrations
    • Control other smart home devices throughout the home

Read: Need An Upgrade? Here Are The Best Smart Home Appliances For 2021

Other smart home appliances you can also try are:

  • Dishwashers
  • Washers
  • Dryers
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Smoke detectors
  • Mattresses and blankets
  • Smoke detectors
  • Oven and toasters
  • Stove and range
  • Refrigerator

There's many more on the Internet of Things (IoT). As mentioned, your options are endless as long as your smart home ecosystems support them. More brands are also manufacturing smart home appliances for all parts of your home.

Most of all, remember that the core of a smart home is a stable internet connection. Make it a habit to compare the best Broadband deals in your area with glimp!

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