Smart Home July 26, 2022

Is Your Internet Set Up Ready for These Awesome Smart Home Gadgets?

Yet you cannot just install everything and call it a day; you also need to make sure you have a home internet connection that can handle everything and deal with all relevant functions. You need to make sure your home network is sophisticated enough and wide-reaching enough to encompass all your devices. And you need to make sure you are adequately informed about taking care of your devices properly.

Fortunately, we will be discussing all these topics in the article below, so keep on reading.

Is Your Internet Service Fast Enough?

It can be a major problem if your internet connection cannot handle all your new and fancy equipment , effectively making it a waste until you get it fixed or upgraded. That is why it is paramount that you check these things before making major upgrades if possible.

And the first thing to think about, even before you start considering the needs of a smart home, is whether you have enough speed for your home in general. Did you have difficulties loading this relatively simple page? Does your family have to effectively take turns using the internet? Is streaming without buffering a dream for your household? If so, then you will likely need to upgrade your service plan or even switch providers before you can reliably get a smart home setup prepared.

Otherwise, there is a good rule of thumb for how much speed you need. In general, you need about 5Mbps of download speed for every dozen devices in your home. Note that’s the total number of devices, not the number of types of devices. This will be an important distinction to make later when you’re installing smart bulbs and speakers.

The exceptions to this are devices that stream. In this case, the media and definition of that media will decide the need. If you have devices that record video and send it elsewhere, you should have an extra 5Mbps for each one available. You can lower this requirement if you’re willing to accept lower video quality (not necessarily a good trade off where security is concerned).

If you have a broadband connection with download speeds of 100Mbps, you should not have to worry about speed unless you have an entire home filled with smart devices. Less than that, and you might want to work out the math above.

Do You Have Full Network Coverage?

No matter how fast your connection is, it isn’t going to help very much if your network can’t reach some of the devices in your smart home, even if your network’s speed can compensate somewhat for a poor connection at the fringes. Devices require a consistent and reliable connection to work to their fullest potential, which you and your family deserve for the investment you are putting in.

To make sure you have full coverage, make sure of the following:

  • First off, walk around your home and start testing to ensure that you have coverage throughout it. You can easily do this with a speed test app and your smartphone, although most devices will work.
  • You might have coverage everywhere, but speeds might get slow or the connection inconsistent in certain areas of your home, so make sure to test along those lines as well.
  • You may wish to install additional routers or WiFi range extenders throughout your home on top of the modem you are using. You can also install a mesh network to have even coverage. All of these have different price points, so do some research and determine the most comfortable solution for you.
  • If you want to extend your smart home benefits out into your yard (and there are certainly benefits to doing so, but more on those later), then it might get a bit trickier, if still possible, and there are a few ways to approach the problem.
  • If you have a smaller yard, you can simply install a router or more powerful range extender near the exits in your home, taking care to make sure there’s as good of a signal as possible in the area.
  • Larger yards might want to look into outdoor shielded solutions and more specific gear designed to extend your WiFi signal outdoors .

Additional Factors on Top of Download Speed

It is not just download speed and general coverage that matter when it comes to making sure your home is all set for smart home technology. You may also wish to consider the following:

  • Make sure there is nothing that could interrupt or otherwise interfere with the signals going through your house. While it is unlikely you have sheets of led lining the walls, there may be some positional adjustment of the furniture needed to optimize your setup.
  • You will need to make sure your devices will work properly with each other and with your network. Unfortunately, with so many devices on the market and the number of potential issues, there is simply no way for us to go over every potential issue. However, with a quick search, including the problem and the device name(s), you will likely find an answer.
  • You may need to give one device control and make the others have less functionality, so there is no confusion.
  • A smart home hub discussed later in the article, can solve many of these potential problems.
  • Yet while we raise this concern, significant issues and incompatibilities are somewhat rare , and the worst you should experience is some inconvenience.

Where to Get Started with Your Smart Home?

While you should generally work with what you feel most comfortable with or what you know you’ll use the most, there are a few items and sub-setups that you might wish to install or research first, both to get the most mileage from your setup and the most day-to-day effectiveness.

Digital Assistants

While some people may just think of Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, in truth, these programs are tied to a variety of smart home devices that can effectively act not only as basic internet access points handled by voice commands but also hubs for the rest of your smart home. This makes a digital assistant an excellent option for those not knowing where to start with your smart home.

We will be talking about them a bit more when we get into smart home hubs, but for now, simply know that connectivity and integration are key. These digital assistants make those steps so much easier and more intuitive. With them, you can often link smart home functions to voice commands, more easily get information and status reports, and more.

What if you are worried about privacy, intrusiveness, or confusion regarding your digital assistants? Just make sure you check the possible settings first and work with an arrangement you know you will be comfortable with. If you are not feeling ok with a setup and thus do not use it, that is as bad as not having one in the first place.

Smart Home Hubs

A smart home hub becomes increasingly necessary the more smart home devices and gadgets you install in your home. Yet what exactly does it do? You can think of it as a translator for all your smart home devices, allowing them to work together even if they are not all made by the same manufacturer. They are not perfect, and they might not make every combination workable, but they will make things much easier for anyone operating your household.

There remains a vital question in the discussion, though: which one should you get? That depends partly on the brand of devices you plan on using and which aspects of a smart home hub you deem most important. Ultimately this can be a complicated decision, and we cannot provide a catch-all answer, but you can consider the following:

  • Do you want something that acts purely as a smart home hub or something like Amazon Echo that may have other uses? Some hubs can also act as smart speakers.
  • How many different devices will you plan on managing , and do you have plans for further expansion?
  • What design are you looking for? Will a potential hub stick out like a sore thumb in your living room?
  • How do you like the app or web interface?

Once you find the right balance, you will be glad you invested in a smart hub. They won’t be too stressful on your home internet setup and could even save bandwidth through improved understanding and efficiency of your setup.

Your Heating and Cooling Systems (Smart Thermostats)

One of the most common examples of the utility of a smart home is the smart thermostat. It allows you to either adjust the temperature at home remotely or to let you program it remotely for a regular schedule (programmable thermostats aren’t strictly smart home devices, but there’s a great deal of overlap). You can also monitor the situation from your smartphone with an app quite easily.

There are also be air conditioning units or modifications to existing units to that allow for remote control and programming of your air conditioning, so that you can not only enjoy a cool home after you take a trip out but so that you do not have to waste energy most of the time you aren’t home to enjoy it.

Your internet set up will find that these systems do not take up much bandwidth. Still, you should make sure that you can always maintain a consistent connection, so there are no malfunctions that accidentally turn your home into a sauna or icebox (even if there are failsafe measures to prevent this).

Smart TVs

A smart TV can certainly be considered a smart home device, given its many uses in the home and the likelihood that it is one of your living room’s centerpieces. And as the years have passed us by and most TVs sold today are smart TVs, they have improved their ability to connect, and there are devices with digital assistants and voice commands installed.

Connecting a smart TV to anything else is an easy process, given that most of them are designed for households that do not have many or any smart devices.

As for what you need to keep one working properly, a regular WiFi network should work, given that many people keep their router in the living room and the fact that a connection isn’t entirely necessary in the first place for the TV to work.

Additional Entertainment Devices and Speakers

It is nice not to have to use a remote or to use a different remote for every single device in your home. And while you may not consider devices such as Amazon’s Echo or similar products from other tech giants primarily smart home-related devices, they most certainly are. These devices can let you play music or books from command and more (often other functions described elsewhere in this article).

Smart speakers and smart home entertainment systems can also easily connect with other devices throughout your home. Have you ever wanted to play and control music throughout your home? With a smart speaker setup, the wiring does not need to be hard, and you can get extremely high-quality sound throughout your home.

On top of these options, things like gaming consoles might also be considered part of a smart home, given their many uses.

There are many variations of these devices (far too many for us to go over), but if you’re wondering if your connection can handle them, first double-check to see if your connection can handle the media they’re streaming. If this is the case, the smart home aspects of the device should not be an issue.

Smart Lighting

While a simple light switch probably doesn’t need too much replacing, there is so much more you can do with the lighting in your home if you know where to look and are willing to embrace smart lighting technology.

And automated lighting and things such as motion detected switches have been around for a long time. Yet those technologies do not even mildly compare to what is available today. With some forms of smart lighting often involving both bulbs and more advanced controllers or switches, you can control the exact dimness and color of the light (perhaps to help you get some light while still trying to help out your sleep cycle).

As with most smart devices, lighting won’t be a significant drain on your network’s resources, but if you install a dozen smart bulbs in your home, you will want to account for them, and they might affect an already slow network.

Smart Doorbells and Camera-Based Devices

The smart doorbell is an excellent innovation that allows you to see who and what is going on at your front door, either when the doorbell rings or when the device detects movement in the area. There are a few variations, but all of them can help with home security and allow you also to make sure your packages are safe.

Those systems that allow you to communicate with someone on the other side can be a wonderful solution to some of the problems presented by lockdowns and social distancing needs while also enabling you to stay safely behind a locked door if you wish.

Additionally, there are smart baby monitors that allow you to keep tabs on how the babysitter is doing or just check on the baby from the other room. There are also smart security cameras that are explicitly for this purpose. If there is a use for a camera in your home, then there is a smart home device that will cater to it.

While useful, these devices can be some of the most bandwidth-intensive objects in your smart home, as you might expect with a video feed. You should plan on having 5Mbps available for every device regularly using a camera in your smart home.

Smart Plugs

How do you make a “dumb” device a smart device? While you might not be able to get the nuance of control available with a specific smart device, smart plugs are your next best option. The most obvious example could be a fan or air conditioner you set to always on and then remotely turn the power to it off and on (as long as this can be done safely). Effectively, if there’s an electrical device that you can change in this way to benefit your household, a smart plug is what you want, especially for the price (you should never have to pay more than $20 a unit).

Smart plugs also commonly allow you to check your power usage from that outlet, time usage for certain devices, and more. Experiment to see what the best potential set up for your home can be.

However, much like smart bulbs, you should make sure your home has full internet coverage, so you do not have to deal with annoyances and slow or unstable connections. Additionally, like smart bulbs, having many of them in the home can add up on the taxing of your bandwidth, so just stay aware of how many you are using.

Protecting Your Setup and Yourself

Now that you have an idea about what you want and what you might need internet-wise to set things up, you should look at the security side of the equation. Set up also means that you should make sure nothing happens to your devices once they are installed. This means preventing damage and securing your devices from a privacy and cybersecurity standpoint.

Security

Naturally, you don’t want these devices to get stolen (coincidentally, you can almost certainly connect a home security system to a smart home setup, allowing you to monitor your home situation from anywhere at any time), but that isn’t the primary focus of what we’re talking about here.

Instead, we want you to think about your privacy and data security. Try the following:

  • Be careful about voice commands and the information you could be giving away with them. If you’re providing passwords and other sensitive information clearly to Alexa in your apartment building, can you be so sure that the person in the apartment next door or below you isn’t able to write it down and use it against you later?
  • While you should not have to worry too much about it, do check the privacy policies of the products and programs you use related to your smart home. Everyone has their own comfort zone and lines in the sand when it comes to online privacy, and you should not compromise those to get some more functionality or convenience. The worry about it will undoubtedly outweigh the benefits you receive.
  • Make sure your smart home devices are not compromised and specifically put extra effort into protecting related control devices and accounts . Would you like the idea of someone outside of your home being able to control your thermostat or use the cameras in your home? Most companies will be careful about security, but some less known and reputable brands might cut corners. Make sure you do not.

Preventing Damage

These are mostly expensive devices you’re working with, and the last thing you want to happen is for them to break unexpectedly or in a way that could damage other parts of your home (or break at all, to be entirely honest). And while most smart devices aren’t inherently dangerous, their malfunction could cause problems such as communication errors with other devices in your home or sudden shutoffs. For these reasons, you are going to want to minimize the risk of damage.

Here are a few tips on how to do this:

  • Keep smart home devices out of the reach or access of pets (with perhaps the exception of smart pet feeders) or small children. As you likely know, your pets certainly do not care about how valuable or important devices in your household are, and small children are liable to bump into things or use items as toys.
  • Keep them out of the way of potential water damage as well, with the exceptions of water-resistant or waterproof items, which may very well be meant for use in the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Keep dust off and clean them regularly. While this will not affect performance terribly, you’d hate to think your device was malfunctioning only to learn a smudge or buildup of some sort was interfering with the signal.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many factors when it comes to setting up a smart home, and some of them can be a bit difficult to adjust for if you do not have them already. The outcome and time saved can absolutely be worth the initial investment, especially if you plan on keeping up with smart home technology and sticking with your home for years to come. We hope that this information has proven helpful to you and encourage you to return to this page as you move forward with each step of your check and setup.

InternetAdvisor Team

We are passionate about aggregating large, accurate data sets and providing it all to our users in an easy-to-use format. Simply put, shopping is easier for the consumer when he/she knows all available options. We are not beholden to any single provider and therefore are dedicated to transparency and giving you unbiased information on all providers.

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Uncategorized July 20, 2022

How to Know You’ve Found the Right Agent in California

A real estate agent showing a home to a happy family

Whether you plan to buy a home or sell it, you need a real estate agent. In the first case, a real estate agent will help you find your dream home, a home that suits your budget and all the things on your must-have list. In the second case, they will help you sell your home quickly, easily, and for the best price possible. However, let us warn you – for an agent to do all of this, they must be professional, reliable, and a Californian. In other words, they must be right! But, in the sea of Californian real estate agents, how do you know you found the right one? Well, that is why we are here. That is, we will share with you some advice on how to know you’ve found the right agent. Thus, if this is something that interests you, keep on reading.

You Like Being Around Each Other

Real estate agents are not only there to help you sell or buy a home. They are not there to help you stage your home while living in it or even to help you inspect a home either. They are there to make the process of home buying and selling as pleasant as possible. And the only way for them to do this is to make you feel good while being around them.

Of course, your real estate agent doesn’t have to be your best friend. You don’t have to have a strong relationship. You just have to look at them as a person of trust who will treat you well and who you don’t mind telling anything real-estate-related. If you have an agent that fits this description, that is how you know you’ve found the right agent

A couple talking to a real estate agent.

Your real estate agent must simply make you feel good.

They Are Available

This one just goes without saying. One of the best ways to know you’ve found the right agent in California is when you are working with somebody who is always available and responsive. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should call your agent in the middle of the night and expect him to answer your questions immediately. But, it means that you can always reach him during working hours. Moreover, if they are with another client and can’t see you or answer your call immediately, it also means that they will reply as soon as possible and never leave you waiting for too long.

Don’t hesitate to require this quality of your real estate agent. After all, you are paying for his time and for his services! This also applies to making an interstate move to California once you buy a home – you will know that you have found the right team for the job if you see they are responsive. The same goes for contractors, handymen, inspectors, and all other people you plan to hire to make this buying and moving-in process easier.

They Asked You to Get Pre-Approved First

Many buyers leave mortgage-related issues for after they have found their dream home. But, this is a mistake – and all good real estate agents know it. Once you have found your dream home, you need to act swiftly if you don’t want somebody else to ‘grab’ it. And, you won’t be able to act swiftly unless you are pre-approved. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is something that might take weeks or even months – have that in mind the next time you start viewing homes for sale.

Speaking of finances, that is something you should also assess before viewing homes. If you don’t plan on getting a mortgage, assess your loan options or savings. Your real estate agent can help you with all the financial calculators out there. Still, you must be the one making the decision on how much you can actually spend on a home.

A calculator and a notepad on dollar bills.

Know how much you can spend on a home before you hire the right agent!

The Right Agent Is Always Honest, Even When it Hurts

You know, when you walk into a store and try something out – sellers will come and say anything to make you buy that something. They will say how amazing you look, how that piece was made for you, etc. They will do everything in their power to make you buy their product. Unfortunately, that can often happen with real estate agents! There will be some agents who always say nice things, always sugar-coat the reality, and praise every decision of yours. If you found an agent of this kind – run. A good real estate agent will always tell you the truth – even if it hurts you and even if it hurts him. Once you come across an agent that seems honest, real, and straightforward, you’ll know you’ve found the right agent in California!

Again, the same thing applies to movers and to all other companies you hire to help you find, move in, and settle in. Experts from mod-movers.com suggest that you should have an in-person meeting with them to make sure they are “real.” So, for instance, if you want to hire them to help you out with your interstate move, go to their headquarters first and be sure to have a long list of questions ready. Then, ask all of those questions and listen to the replays carefully. Just like agents, they should give you the answers even if they think you will not like them.

The right agent talking to clients.

The right agent is always honest with you.

The Right Agent Is Not Just Reactive but Also Proactive

Some real estate agents are just reactive – they have a meeting with you, they listen to your wishes, and they act upon them. But, that is not a good sign. You’ll know you’ve found the right agent in California, or anywhere else in the world, if that agent starts being proactive. If they ask questions, give you suggestions, develop new ideas, etc. This is especially important if you are buying or selling a home where you are unfamiliar with the market. Your agent is the one that should be proactive and advise you on what you should and shouldn’t do. If they just stay reactive, you might make a buying or selling mistake.

We mentioned some of the things that might help you know whether you’ve found the right agent in California, but you already know that there are many more. However, the most important among them all is your ‘gut.’ Always listen to your gut – don’t hire anybody that seems suspicious and inexperienced, and remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Senior Housing July 1, 2022

What to Look for in a House if You Plan to Age in Place

Two senior women being friendly

If you are looking to relocate and plan on making that your final moving experience, there are certain things to consider. As you grow older, your needs change, and your home should meet those requirements. Various factors will influence your future needs, but you can do some things to make sure aging in place is made more comfortable for you. We will present you with some essential things to look for in a house if you plan to age in place and help you set up your home to accommodate your future self.

What to look for in a house

You might feel that your current home is too big for your current needs or requires too much maintenance. Perhaps with age, you have found that you prefer a smaller and cozier environment or one with fewer upkeep requirements. However, as Verified Movers suggests, senior relocation can be a tough time. It is often emotionally and physically demanding, and you should look for a way to manage moving anxiety while also searching for your dream house.

Check out the neighborhood

Before picking a new house, make sure to get a good feel for the neighborhood. Try and take a stroll through the area. An area with wide sidewalks and level terrain will mean that you can take walks when you feel like doing so without straining yourself too much. This, in turn, means that you will be able to have a more active social life, and it will be easier for you to visit neighbors and have them visit you.

Keep your feet on the ground

Try to find a house that has all the necessities on the ground floor. This means you should look for a home with a master bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and living room on the ground level. Stairs might not present a problem for you right now, but they become harder to climb with age, and any tumble you might take could have serious consequences. You should also avoid steps, so if possible, look for a house with level flooring. You might even want to consider making some alterations to ensure easy access to your home to avoid tripping hazards, such as removing door thresholds or making sloped entrances instead of steps.

Always look on the bright side

Lighting is another crucial factor to which you should pay attention. Look for a house with plenty of natural light and enough lighting fixtures to ensure that your home is always adequately lit. Our eyesight will probably deteriorate with time, especially with the amount of screen time that has become a part of our daily lives. Having a properly lit home will help ensure that you see what you are doing, where you are walking, and any potential obstacles. Another alteration you could consider is installing additional light switches as well as focused lighting in areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, or darker hallways.

Make your bathroom both appealing and practical

We all like an aesthetically-pleasing bathroom, but it needs to be practical too. Consider replacing any bathtubs with walk-in showers. Add stools in the shower so you can sit down if you need to. You might want to add grab bars in the bathroom, something you can hold onto and that can support your weight.

Additionally, some homes have non-standard toilets installed. These are comfort height toilets that are slightly higher than regular ones, making sitting and getting up much more manageable.

Look for a low maintenance home

When checking out a potential new house to age in place, pay attention to the materials used in the home and the landscaping. Durable, long-lasting, high-quality materials might be a bit more expensive than their low-end alternatives, but there is a good reason for that. These materials will last longer and require less maintenance and effort on your behalf later on.

In terms of your new home’s exterior, gardens that have native plant species in them require less landscaping work than those with exotic plants. Also, if a sprinkler system is present, this will make your life even more comfortable.

Pay attention to the furniture

People often overlook furniture and installations such as kitchen cabinets when viewing a house, but this is something you should keep in mind. Pull-out drawers and cabinets will give you easier access to whatever you are storing in them. Drawers also tend to be more user-friendly than cabinets as they won’t require as much bending. Countertops and washing machines can be elevated to reduce the amount of bending required too, which might seem unnecessary at the moment, but with age, crouching and getting back up becomes more and more difficult.

Don’t take the fun out of functionality

The simple fact that you are looking for a home to age in place does not mean it cannot be the house you have always wanted. There are so many designs and modifications available for just about every aspect of your home that you shouldn’t sacrifice what you want for what you need.

Making your house senior-friendly will make life in it at a later stage more comfortable, but it will also enhance your current life in the house and make it more pleasant. Many smart devices are available to make your daily chores and tasks even easier. These devices can be pre-programmed to complete specific tasks at set times. Such tasks include washing, turning on the heating or cooling system, switching lights on and off, and turning on the sprinklers, just to name a few.

Prepare for the move

As a senior, it is essential that you be properly prepared for the process of moving to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible. So, start planning a couple of months in advance. While you look for a perfect home for yourself, begin to search online for a senior moving company. Be sure to contact a few and get their estimates for your relocation. Compare them and settle for the best fit for you. Sort through your belongings and decide what is going with you and what you will donate, sell, or throw away.

Final words

Moving to a house that you plan to age in can be emotionally challenging and time-consuming work. There are many things to consider, from your medical history and possible future needs to looking for the perfect neighborhood and getting all you need and want. Don’t settle for less than you deserve, as this can be a new beginning for you. Just remember to team up with a reputable real estate agent that will help you find the perfect home for you to age in place.