Nest Labs

How to Put Together Your First Smarthome (Without Getting Overwhelmed)

If you want to make your home a little smarter, but aren’t sure where exactly to start, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best starter smarthome gadgets, and how to find ones that will work well together in your house (or apartment).

Smarthome is more accessible than ever. Once upon a time, you either needed to install a complex X10 system, or you needed an expensive, dealer-installed whole-house system like Savant or URC. And while all of those are still options, most people are opting for a more user-friendly, wallet-friendly piecemeal approach: buying individual smarthome gadgets from tech companies like Amazon, Google, and Samsung, and integrating them together. That’s what we’ll be talking about today.

Ask Yourself: What Do You Want to Do?


Before you start completely decking out your house with all sorts of smarthome gear, it’s important to establish why you want a smart home in the first place. Is it for convenience? Then you might want devices that support voice control through something like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. Do you wish everything was automated? Then you’ll probably narrow down products with good automation features or IFTTT support. Do you want good home security? Then you’ll want a line of products with sensors and sirens. Maybe you want a bit of everything.

Once you’ve answered those questions, you’ll have a better idea of what kind of things to look for as you shop. Not every smarthome product works with other smarthome products, so as you build your home, you’ll want to pick ones that support the devices and services you want.

For example, if you want voice control for everything, then the Amazon Echo is the “glue” that holds your entire smarthome together, and you’ll want to only pick products that work with the Echo. Or, if you’re an automation nut, search for products that support IFTTT. If everyone in your house is an iPhone user, and you want to control all of your devices with Siri (or through the Home app), you’ll want to make sure as many products as possible are compatible with HomeKit.

Luckily, it’s easy to narrow down products by which standard they support. Not only can you look for the proper badge on the packaging, or look at its website for compatibility, but many devices and services have pages with official lists of products they support, which can instantly narrow down your search:

Once you decide which services will be central to your smarthome experience, it’ll be a lot easier to decide which products to buy.

The Best Products to Start You Off

When you begin to finally buy your first products, things can feel overwhelming—where do you even start? Here are some of our favorite smarthome products perfect for beginners:

How to control your connected home with Google Assistant

Whether you’re onboard or not, smart homes are the future. Of course, there are still a few quirks, and some devices are downright ridiculous. (Consider the Grillbot, an automatic grill cleaner, or the Davek Umbrella, with its “Loss Alert” sensor.)

But smart technology definitely has its benefits.

With a smart garage door opener, you can open and close your garage from your smartphone and monitor its status even when you’re away from home. With a smart lock, you can issue “keys” to guests, friends, or family, and even unlock the door from afar.

Internet-ready and cloud data systems allow data “packets” to be transferred over the internet from various platforms. These packets move from device to device and essentially drive the entire smart tech industry.

However, the real benefits of connected tech come into play when you can use voice commands with them. Alexa, from Amazon’s Echo, is a great example of this.

The real star of the show is Google Assistant, though. In the past, issuing voice commands to Google Assistant to interface with smart tech was a Google Home-only feature. With the latest version, everyone can take advantage of this — even iPhone users.

What makes it stand out from the competition? It’s the way in which you interact and talk with the assistant. It’s just more human and more natural: “OK, Google. Turn on my lights.”

Sadly, Google Assistant cannot control everything … yet. The list of brands with devices that can be controlled include Honeywell, Nest, Philips Hue, WeMo, SmartThings, and more. Rest assured: this list will be expanded in time.

You can read the full list of supported devices here.

First things first, though. You need to connect your smart home devices to the Google Assistant app on your phone. This is what tells the AI what you have and how it can be used.

To connect one of your supported gadgets to Assistant, use the following steps:

  1. Open Google Assistant.
  2. Tap the three dots in the upper right-hand corner to open the settings menu. Navigate to the “Home Control” option and choose it.
  3. Tap the “+” button to add devices. You’ll see a list of devices you can choose from — simply find yours. Once you choose a device, you’ll need to sign in to the related service.
  4. Once you’ve added all your devices, you must separate them by room. This allows Google Assistant to differentiate between control areas. For example: “living room” vs. “office.”
  5. Once it’s all set up, you can begin controlling your devices. Test it out with a simple command like “OK, Google, turn…

Four Clever Uses for Your Nest Cam

The Nest Cam is a simple-to-use security camera for everyone. However, if you’ve got one laying around, you can use it for a lot more than deterring criminals. Here are some uncommon, but useful things you can do with your Nest Cam.

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Watch for Package Deliveries

Amazon might give you an anxiety-inducing tracker to tell you when your package arrives, but you’d feel better getting expensive stuff delivered to your door if you could see it for yourself. Point a Nest Cam outside your door and you can see when your packages arrive. Once it shows up, you can check your camera from work to make sure it’s safe, undamaged, and not stolen.

You can also set up Nest Cam to send you a notification when it detects motion (like your package being delivered). Open your Nest app and turn on notifications in Settings. You can choose to only send notifications when you’re not home, or any time. Subscribers who pay for Nest Aware can even set up Activity Zones to watch a specific part of the camera for movement. If you want to make sure your stuff isn’t sitting out for longer than necessary, this is incredibly handy.

Keep An Eye On Your Pets

You love your adorable little ball of fur, but every hour you’re away from home (and half the ones you aren’t), you know they could be destroying something. Or peeing on something. Or eating something they’re going to puke up later. You might not be able to stop everything they do, but it…

How to Turn Your Nest On When You Leave Work With Automatic Pro

The Nest can turn itself off while you’re at work, so it only heats or cools your house when you’re at home. If it doesn’t guess when you get home correctly, though, you could be waiting hours in an uncomfortable house. If you have an Automatic Pro, your car can tell Nest to start warming up as soon as you leave work.

Automatic Pro is a pretty awesome smart car system that uses your car’s OBD-II port to communicate with your phone and a bunch of other services like Nest. The Nest integration for Automatic Pro allows you to “pre-condition” your home as soon as your car leaves a specific area like work.

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Preconditioning is slightly different from Nest’s normal Home/Away Assist, and it’s unique to Automatic. Instead of turning on your heater or air conditioner right away, preconditioning will only heat or cool your home long enough to be comfortable when you get home. So, for example, if your commute home is an hour, but it will only take twenty minutes to heat your home, your Nest will only turn the heater on when you’re twenty minutes away from the house.

To connect your Automatic Pro to Nest, head to the Nest app on Automatic’s site here and click Connect To Nest.

Next, log into both your Automatic and Nest accounts.

Once you’re logged in, you’ll see a control panel with a list of sample rules that you can customize. Each one is disabled by default. You an either create your…