Groupon GUIDE TO

Turn Your House Into a Smart Home with These 5 Products

BY: DAN DELAGRANGE | 3.28.2017 |

You might think of a "smart home" as something that's still off in the distant future. Rooms that illuminate as soon as you walk in? Climate systems that can cool individual rooms? Sounds like the stuff of science fiction.

But this sort of home technology isn't just already available, it's in more homes than you expect. A 2015 joint survey by CNET and Coldwell Banker found that nearly 30% of Americans already own a smart-home device.

But what can these things do? How does home automation make life a little easier? To find out, read the basics on five products that'll turn your house into a smart home. 

Smart Hubs

What They Do

If you use more than two smart devices in your home, getting a hub is a good idea. True to its name, a smart hub connects those disparate devices in one place, letting you control each of them through the hub's single app instead of jumping among each device's.

How They Make Your Home Smarter

It might be easiest to understand a hub's usefulness by looking at the alternative. If you've installed smart lighting, temperature controls, and a surveillance system, and then didn't connect these with a hub, you'd have to use different remotes or apps to control each one. Sort of defeats the purpose of setting up a smart home, right?

With all those items accessible through a hub, you can go from brightening your kitchen lights, to turning off the A/C, to seeing why the dog is making that noise in the other room—all in one convenient interface.

Smart Lighting

What It Does

These souped-up LED bulbs can do more than you might think. Beyond basic functions like brightness control, some bulbs can change colors, work on a timer, turn on and off depending on how close you are to them, or light up rooms at the sound of your voice. Philips Hue connected lighting (one of the most-popular smart-lighting product lines available) can even sync with movies and shows, giving the onscreen action a matching kaleidoscope.

How It Makes Your Home Smarter

While the above tricks are undeniably cool, there's a practical side to smart lighting, too. Many options can be controlled remotely, letting you turn off a light if you accidentally leave one on. And as anyone who's fumbled around for a lightswitch in the dark can attest, being able to light up a room via voice commands is supremely handy. 

Smart Thermostats

What They Do

Of course, a smart thermostat can warm or cool your house just like its old-school brethren. But they're even smarter than that. Some models can automatically adjust to and learn from your daily behavior, changing temperatures depending on the time of day, previous temps you've set, if you're home or not, or even outside temperature and humidity.

How They Make Your Home Smarter

Ever returned home from work during a brutally cold winter day to a house that can't warm up fast enough? Smart thermostats solve problems like this, as many devices let you remotely adjust the temperature using your smartphone. Just set the desired temperature, brave the elements, and return to a cozy, warm oasis.

Another big plus with these devices? Energy savings. Most of them will show you how much energy you're using on a bright display, saving you from finding out later on in the form of a bill. 

Smart Surveillance Cams

What They Do

The main function of video cameras is security and monitoring, but they can do more. Companion apps for smart cams will sometimes let you view live footage on your phone, set recordings for specific times, or check in on—and even talk and sing lullabies to—a sleeping baby.

How They Make Your Home Smarter

Many smart surveillance cameras come with the ability to send you push notifications when something unusual pops into their frame. You'll get an email or app alert telling you that something's amiss, making it easy for you to quickly check in or call for help if needed.

Robot Vacuums

What They Do

Surely you've seen YouTube clips of cats being ferried across rooms atop a robotic vacuum. While this is inarguably the device's greatest feature, having a machine that automatically cleans your floors is pretty nice, too. And they're thorough: some of these little guys use futuristic tech like laser-guidance systems to get the lay of the land and detect areas that are in need of a cleaning.

How They Make Your Home Smarter

Aside from having a literal robot that vacuums for you? Since most are no more than a couple inches tall, they'll be able to glide underneath furniture, saving you from rearranging the couch to clean beneath it. Some robot vacs will even come with built-in WiFi that lets you control their every move on your phone or tablet.