Introduction

You’ve just come back from a friend’s house where they turned on the lights simply by asking Alexa and it was so cool! The “gotta have it” center of your brain is triggered and you’re ready to make it happen. How do you get started? What equipment do you need? How much is it all going to cost?

The answer to all these questions is, of course, the time-honored response, “It depends.” The next few posts will examine some of the common options, their pros and cons. In the end though, there won’t be a single solution that works for everyone. Each system type will have strengths and weaknesses. There’s no reason why you have to choose a single type. In fact, nearly every system I’ve seen is made of several system types glued together with technology. And guess what? We’ll spend some time talking about that glue as well!

The main categories we’ll be discussing are:

  • Wifi controlled switches, bulbs and outlets that do not require a hub (e.g. Wemo, Kasa)
  • Proprietary systems that are meant to work with a specific brand of component (e.g. Philips Hue, Ikea Tradfi, Lutron Caseta)
  • Open hubs that support devices that conform to generic standards (e.g. SmartThings, Wink, Hubitat)

Don’t worry if that list didn’t quite make sense to you - we’ll break it all down and talk about which systems work best in different scenarios and how to connect them all together.

Of course, we’ll also look at specific equipment in each category and discuss what you should be considering when buying components. Occasionally, I’ll post product reviews that delve into a specific component’s features and when you should be using it. And I’ll also pass along any deals I find along the way.

Coming up, we’ll start digging into the nuts and bolts of hubless, wifi systems.

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