Smart tech integration has never been a smarter idea
Technological advances have made it easy to install and use smart home products. We look at some of the latest trends and devices out there
The idea of having a “smart home” was once a thing of the future. However, in recent years, more and more homeowners are buying into smart tech: from chatty smart speakers to lights and home security solutions, we round up just a handful of great products, ideal for smart home beginners and seasoned pros alike.
Smart home tech was a booming sector of the consumer electronics market before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, but now, with more of us working from home, the benefits of having a connected home are truly coming into their own.
Usually, for a house to be “smart” requires two or more devices connected together, often via a central hub. It is estimated that there are currently 2.22 million smart homes in the UK today. Additionally, a YouGov survey found that new fewer than 23% of British households own at least one smart home device.
81% of owners find themselves saying “please” and “thank you” to their smart speakers at least some of the time
According to Deloitte’s Digital Consumer Trends 2020 report, which surveyed digital habits of 4,150 respondents between the ages of 16 and 75 in May last year, one in five UK adults purchased at least one new digital device as a result of spending more time at home because of Covid.
Smart speakers are the most popular smart home device, with a survey conducted by YouGov finding that one in four consumers in the UK own at least one. Smart speakers are increasingly being used as the hub, or central device, for smart ecosystems, and are the perfect gateway to a new smart home. The Google Home Mini smart speaker’s stylish design and small footprint enable it to fit seamlessly into the home. Thanks to Google Assistant, it can be used to control other smart home devices such as lights, switches and thermostats using only your voice. It works with over 200 smart devices from more than 50 brands.
The Sonos One is a powerful smart speaker that offers rich, roomfilling sound. It has both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice controls built-in, but it can also be controlled via the Sonos app as well as Apple AirPlay2. The unit’s compact design means it will fit onto just about any surface in the home and blend in.
A report by the Connected Devices Alliance says that by turning your house into a smart home, you can reduce your energy usage by about 30%.
For the average UK household, this reduction would mean an annual saving of around £450, according to website The Eco Experts. The Energy Saving Trust says that by using smart plugs and power strips to set scheduled times that your TV, laptop, and other electronic devices turn off – instead of just putting them on standby – you could save up to £35 per year. German tech brand Tado, also suggest that using a smart thermostat can help to save up to 31% on heating costs.
This would mean a £180 per year saving for the average UK home, which spends £582 on heating annually, according to a 2021 government report. New this year from TCP Smart is the Digital Electrical Radiator (£279.99), which aims to cut the costs associated with heating the home (and improve sustainability) by offering an easy to use and intelligent solution.
The device, which utilises efficient thermal fluid, connects directly to your wi-fi – you simply download the TCP Smart app.
There’s no need for expensive hubs or routers. The app makes it possible to control your heating remotely, ensuring you’ll never arrive home to a cold home, and it can also monitor energy use and track your expenditure. TCP also offers a range of intelligent lighting products. Its smart wi-fi LED classic bulbs (SRP £12.99) – can be controlled by your voice or using a smartphone app. You can set timers or routines, dim the light or set the ambience with 16 million colours.
Similarly, the brand’s wi-fi LED tape light (SRP £36.99), plus additional extenders, lets you enhance your room with brilliant hues. Great for adding a warm glow, or offering the kids an introduction to smart tech in their rooms, TCP Smart products are very intuitive to use. Compatible with voice assistants Amazon Alexa and Google Home Assistant, you can control lighting by using simple voice commands.
Heating and lighting control are two of the key elements of a smart home, but security is also an important factor. Swann’s weather-resistant, wire-free 1080p security camera (SRP £149.99) is easy to install and includes face recognition and heat detection technology, a microphone and speaker for talk back, and hands-free voice control functionality.
And while we’re on the subject of talking to people, adorably, 81% of people say “please” and/or “thank you” to their smart speaker at least some of the time. If you can get your customers switched-on to the benefits of owning a smart home, they’ll be thanking you in next to no time!