Don’t you hate repeating yourself? Voice commands are unreliable, but yelling at a Google or Alexa is usually easier than pulling out a smartphone. Here are three ways you can streamline your smart home experience and ditch annoying voice controls forever.
You shouldn’t have to micromanage your smart home. If you want to abandon voice commands and streamline your smart home experience, then you need to start automating common tasks through schedules, routines, and smart sensors.
” routines, which automatically trigger smart devices when you your home. That extra layer of automation is a major time-saver, and it makes owning a smart home way more enjoyable.
Smart home sensors use environmental factors like motion or temperature to trigger your smart bulbs, plugs, thermostat, and other devices. Motion sensors see when you enter and leave a room, contact sensors fit in your doors and windows to tell if they’re opened or closed, and temperature sensors keep track of your home’s temperature and humidity—usually to provide more accurate readings for your thermostat or to control fans plugged into smart outlets.
Unfortunately, theresmart home sensors on the market, and only a handful of existing sensors are multipurpose (others work with specific products or brands). It doesn’t help that has temporarily stopped selling its affordable smart sensors while it develops 2nd generation models (you can still get Wyze sensors with the ). At the time of writing, Shelly’s and are the only Wi-Fi sensors worth buying. They’re compatible with Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Assistant.
If you plan on using a lot of smart sensors, I suggest skipping Wi-Fi sensors and using Z-Wave or Zigbee sensors instead, which have a better battery life and range than Wi-Fi devices. Ecolink’sor are both great options, but keep in mind that they require a compatible hub, like the or the . If you own an Amazon Echo display or speaker, then you could also use a , as Amazon Echo devices double as Zigbee hubs.
Ecolink’sand are two Z-Link smart sensors that are worth looking at. You could also buy a or temperature sensor if you own or thermostats, or a if you own Philips Hue bulbs.
Living without voice commands is a lot easier once you’ve automated your smart home. But because you aren’t using voice commands, you’re stuck doing any manual adjustments from your phone. For more convenient manual controls, you’ll need a smart home control center, like a smart display or a tablet, dedicated to running the Alexa, Google Home, or Apple Homekit app.
Smart displays, like theand , are just smart speakers with touchscreens. They put all your smart home controls in one place and can even stream video from services like YouTube or Netflix. All smart displays have a switch to turn off their microphone, so you can handle everything from their touchscreen and never worry about voice commands.
That said, smart displays work best with voice controls, they’re a bit expensive, and they can take up a lot of counter space. You might be better off using a tablet as a control center instead, as tablets are thin, cheap, easy to move around, and run the same touch-friendly smart home apps as your phone. Plus, they can replicate the streaming and video chat functionality that you get with a bulkier smart speaker.
Anis the cheapest solution, though it only works with Alexa (you can also on a Fire tablet, which is pretty easy). A low-end Android tablet like the costs more than a Fire tablet, but it can run Alexa and Google Assistant without jumping through any hoops. And while are expensive, they’re the only option for HomeKit users, plus they can run the Alexa and Google Assistant apps. (Thankfully, old iPads still run pretty well, and aren’t that expensive.)
Of course, if you have an extra tablet lying around, you should try using it as your control center. But whatever tablet you end up using, we suggest buying a mount to stick the tablet on your wall or fridge. A universalor mount can fit any tablet, giving you a clean dedicated space to control your smart home, stream video, or beam music to .
Amazon’s Fire 7 tablet costs just $50, making it the cheapest option for those who want a dedicated smart home control center. It works with Alexa and Google Home, though you have to sideload the Google Home app to get it up and running.
Automating smart home tasks and setting up a dedicated control center should streamline your smart home without the need for voice commands. But if you want precise, tactile controls for all the devices in your home, then it’s time to invest in some smart switches and buttons.
Smart switches and buttons are physical controls that you can program to adjust specific devices in your home. The best example of a smart switch is probably the, a physical dimmer control for your smart bulbs. The Lutron Caseta Smart Dimmer fully replaces your existing light switch, and features On/Off controls and buttons to adjust bulb brightness. It won’t confuse you or your guests, and it saves you the trouble of taping all your light switches in the “On” position. Just keep in mind, the Lutron Caseta dimmer only works if you own a $100 .
Flic issmart button available today. It’s small, wire-free, customizable, and programmable, so you can use it to trigger any of your smart home devices. Flic buttons can also trigger smart home routines, maximizing your home automation and adding a new layer of tactile control to your smart home.