Advertiser Disclosure

How to Set Up a Smart Home in Your New House

The products featured here are independently selected based on thorough research from our editorial team. If you buy something through links on our site, we may receive a commission.

No matter what kind of place you’re moving to, turning it into a smart home has never been easier. You can mix and match the specific smart home devices that will make your life easier, and enjoy benefits like energy savings, better home security, and automating some of the decisions you make throughout the day. 

Jump to:

Start with strong Wi-Fi

Pick a voice assistant

Set up your home security system

Automate your energy usage

Decide what else you need

Start with strong Wi-Fi

A good Wi-Fi signal is the foundation upon which you’re building your smart home. But even the the best smart home devices can get held back by slow Wi-Fi. 

The two most commonly used Wi-Fi frequencies are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The 2.4GHz frequency has a longer range and lower power consumption, while the 5 GHz band is faster. Because the 2.4GHz frequency is better at getting through walls and other obstacles, most smart home devices use 2.4GHz exclusively.

Many Wi-Fi routers combine the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies under the same network name, automatically switching to the fastest frequency available. But this can lead to some temporarily dropped connections as devices switch back and forth between frequencies. 

To avoid this, it’s a good idea to set up a separate network for smart home devices using only the 2.4 GHz frequency. Most routers let you do this by setting up a separate guest network. 

How much internet speed do I need for a smart home?

Most smart home devices use very little bandwidth — usually less than 1 Mbps per device — but that can add up when you’re connecting dozens of gadgets on top of your normal activities like streaming and browsing the internet.

“I would not recommend under 100 Mbps for anybody. Really. Everybody uses Wi-Fi. No one’s plugging straight into the router. That’s gonna cut your speeds right off the bat,” said David Anders, CNET’s senior broadband writer.

Look for at least 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload — the new minimum that the FCC is proposing. If you have more than a couple people in the house, this should go even higher. 

Consider a mesh system

If your Wi-Fi struggles to reach every room in your house, a mesh system is the best solution. These systems usually come with two or three routers instead of one, so you can spread your Wi-Fi connection to every corner of your home. In bigger homes, this will help make sure your smart home devices never struggle due to a weak signal.  

Pick a voice assistant

A voice assistant, or smart speaker, is the entryway into the smart home universe, and there’s a good chance you already have one. Why start with something so basic? Your voice assistant will help you set up routines on the rest of your devices, so you’ll want to make sure whatever you purchase later will be compatible. You essentially have three options when it comes to choosing a voice assistant.

Amazon Alexa

The most popular voice assistants are Amazon’s series of Echo devices. They’re great at everyday tasks like turning on music, ordering products online, and telling jokes, but Amazon’s Alexa platform also has the widest compatibility with other smart home devices. If you’re starting from scratch, this is the most sensible place to do it.

Google Assistant

Google’s smart speakers are another affordable way to start building your smart home. You won’t be able to order things from Amazon through the speaker — Target, Walmart, and Costco are all available — but you can seamlessly integrate your Google accounts into your smart ecosystem. Want to get voice reminders from your Google calendar? How about commute updates through Google Maps? It’s all on the table. 

We recommend starting with Amazon simply because it has more smart home integrations than Google right now. That said, you could easily build out an excellent smart home using Google-enabled devices. You’ll just have a few more options with Alexa.

Apple Home

If you’re a dedicated Apple house, you might be interested in their take on a smart home. It’s called HomeKit, and it can only be used by an iPhone, an iPad, or a Mac. HomeKit devices have Apple’s trademark user-friendliness, but far fewer devices work with Apple’s ecosystem. (Look for smart home devices that say “HomeKit-enabled.”) Apple’s smart home products also tend to be a little pricier than similar ones from Google and Amazon. 

Set up your home security system

More than any other part of your house, security systems have taken a huge leap forward in the smart home era. From smart locks to video doorbells, home security systems have never been cheaper to install or easier to use. 

Video doorbells

If you’re only going to get one home security device for your smart home, make it a video doorbell. They usually cost under $100, don’t require any complicated installation, and can act as an all-in-one watchdog for your house. Video doorbells are motion-activated, and most offer two-way communication through your smartphone.

Security cameras

If you want a little more coverage than a single video doorbell can provide, we recommend beefing up your system with extra security cameras. These typically cost around $50 each, can be used inside or outside, and don’t require any hardwiring. With motion detection built in, smart security cameras can alert your phone when they sense anything amiss around your home. 

Smart locks

If you’re the kind of person who can never remember if they locked their front door on the way out, a smart lock is well worth the investment. Many have keypads that allow people to get in through a code, but you can also lock or unlock your home remotely through your phone. Some even use a fingerprint sensor to verify your identity. 

Automate your energy usage

Smart homes can be great for your energy bill. According to Energy Star, the average smart thermostat will save you about 8% on your annual heating and cooling costs. Many energy companies also offer rebates for replacing an old thermostat with a smart one. 

That energy efficiency isn’t just good for your wallet — it also helps the environment. If every American installed a smart thermostat, the effect on greenhouse gas emissions would be the same as taking 1.2 million cars off the road. 

The best smart thermostats are more than an app for your HVAC system. They can remember your preferences for each room, adjust your heating and cooling automatically while you’re away, and turn up the heat when you open the garage door. 

They usually cost between $100 and $250, and most are easy to install yourself. That said, some older homes might not have the common wire, or C wire. In these cases, you may need to hire an electrician, or consult the thermostat’s manufacturer for other options. 

Decide what else you need

Here’s where it really starts to get fun. This is where you get to start choosing the devices that will actually make your house feel like the future.

Smart plugs

Turning your house into a smart home doesn’t mean you have to ditch all your old devices.  Smart plugs aren’t the flashiest tech out there, but they can turn all your old lamps, fans, and appliances into fully automated machines. Most smart plugs work with Alexa and Google voice commands, and you can also control them through an app. 

Smart light bulbs

If you want to turn off all the lights in a room through your smartphone or voice, smart light bulbs are a cheap and easy way to do it — just screw in the new light bulb. But they’re also plain old fun

Smart bulbs like the Wyz Bulb Color can produce over 16 million colors, and they can remember your settings for future use. The next time there’s an impromptu kitchen dance party, say, you can just tell your voice assistant to turn on the disco lights. 

Motion sensors

For many people, the purpose of a smart home is to eliminate the thousands of tiny decisions we make every day in our homes. If you’d like for the lights to turn on automatically in your living room, for instance, you’ll need a sensor that tells it when you enter. You can also use these sensors to alert you if someone’s in the house who shouldn’t be.  

The bottom line

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for your smart home needs — and that’s the beauty of it. Once you decide on an ecosystem you’re comfortable with, you can mix and match devices that fit your needs. That could mean fully automated lighting and heating, or just a few basic home security essentials. What’s important is that it fits seamlessly into your established routines.

Related Articles

The Smart Home Devices From CES 2023 We Can’t Wait to Try
The Smart Home Devices From CES 2023 We Can’t Wait to Try

For smart home enthusiasts, the holidays don’t really end until CES, and this year was no exception. The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas came back with a vengeance after a couple quite COVID years. As always, it was a combination of the futuristic, the game-changing, and the downright weird. Here are some of our […]

Read More
MYMOVE Gift Guide: The Best Tech Gifts of 2022
MYMOVE Gift Guide: The Best Tech Gifts of 2022

The products featured here are independently selected based on thorough research from our editorial team. If you buy something through links on our site, we may receive a commission. Electronics come in every shape and size you can think of nowadays, and smart home gadgets are no different. The best part? They are designed to […]

Read More
The Best Smart Thermostats According to the MYMOVE Team
The Best Smart Thermostats According to the MYMOVE Team

The products featured here are independently selected based on thorough research from our editorial team. If you buy something through links on our site, we may receive a commission. Everything is better with an internet connection, including thermostats. Smart thermostats not only assist in heating and cooling your home but also may save you a […]

Read More