Must Have Tech Items for Your Smart Kitchen

Recent years have brought us a large handful of technological innovations that make our lives more enjoyable and convenient.

Between voice commands on smart devices, wireless chargers, and automated home security systems, it’s never been easier to accomplish basic tasks.

And, if you’re looking to add more of this type of technology to your home, the kitchen is a great place for it. But, not everyone knows their options.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s take a look at some of the must-have technology for your smart kitchen.

Smart Trash Can

Nobody likes to take out the trash, but it’s a chore that you can’t avoid without delegating to someone else.

However, there is a way to make it easier on yourself, especially if your hands are full.

By waving your hand across a sensor or saying “open can,” the container will open on its own.

While it may seem like an unnecessary addition at first, the convenience will quickly grow on you when you’re cleaning up after a large meal or throwing away trash after a get-together.

Wifi Slow Cooker

This is one of the pieces of technology that has the potential to drastically increase your quality of life.

Through an app on your smartphone, you’ll be able to check the temperature, amount of time remaining, and even modify both of these values remotely.

For parents who are always cooking for their family (or people who are often too busy to cook), this device can give you much-needed assistance with that responsibility.

Smart Fridge

This device is on the higher end when it comes to cost, but it’s worth every penny if you happen to have the budget for it.

Most of these refrigerators come equipped with a screen that can rival a small television’s when it comes to size.

This screen, with which you’re able to input commands via touch, allows users to access apps for creating shopping lists, storing recipes, and even playing music while you cook or eat.

In addition to these applications, smart fridges have a voice assistant that will give you updates on news, entertainment, and weather, as well as having typical voice assistant features.

Smart Coffee Maker

The concept is simple, as it does exactly what its name suggests. But, after a rough night or a during a morning time-crunch, having this device brew your morning coffee for you can be an invaluable service.

Plus, like with other smart kitchen technology, you can save time and focus on other tasks.

Smart Kitchen Devices Can Be Life-Changing

This is especially true for people who are constantly in a rush. But, they offer plenty of convenience for the average user, as well.

If you’re looking for a new addition to your home, any of these smart kitchen devices are well worth the money.

Want to learn other types of smart technology you can add to your home? Check out our blog for more ideas.

Three Smart Home Gadgets to Improve Your Home This Winter

When you need to get your home winter ready, it’s important to focus on more than just your heater.

Sure, you need to stay warm, but there are so some tech-savvy moves you can make to improve your home by leaps and bounds.

It all starts by purchasing home gadgets that will make your life a breeze while avoiding the winter chill outdoors. To learn more about the best smart home tech to purchase this winter, read on.

Focus on Security Home Gadgets

Your home security is incredibly important in the winter time. You need to protect yourself whether you’re planning to spend some time away for the winter vacation or simply want to shore up your security measures.

In this regard, a wireless doorbell may be exactly what you need. By investing in one of these doors, you can watch your home remotely and know when visitors stop by. This lets you get footage to prevent break-ins and keep your home safe and sound.

These wireless doorbells are excellent because they don’t require wiring and there are so many options available for you.

Invest in Tech-Savvy Water Heaters

Sure, you need to take care of your furnace in the winter time. But, what about the hot water heater?

Few things will bring a shock to your system like a cold shower in the middle of winter. To make sure that this does not happen, you need to inspect and upgrade your hot water heating system.

In terms of today’s home gadgets, the best upgrade you can make is in a solar heating system.

Solar hot water heaters use the sun’s energy and save you a boatload of money each winter on your bills. They can still heat your water when the power goes out and they use a reserve system to make sure you are never without hot water.

It’s important that you shop around for one of these systems so that you can catch an incredible deal.

A solar hot water heating system can cost you upward of $10,000 to install. Make sure to keep your paperwork to see if you are eligible for a tax credit.

Upgrade Your HVAC

Of course, you can’t make wintertime improvements without considering your heating system.

Rather than only focusing on the heater itself, consider upgrading to a smart thermostat. A smart thermostat raises and lowers your temperatures as needed, without you having to even think about it.

Not only does this keep your home more comfortable, but it also saves you money on your winter bills. You may also consider taking the next step toward an entire home automation system.

Consider Home Automation Today

With a home automation system, you’ll have climate control, in addition to control over your lights, appliances and all important fixtures in your household. These systems are worth their weight in gold and give you more autonomy over your home.

If you’d like to learn more about the best home gadgets on the market, visit our site and contact us for more information.

How Much Does a Smart Home Cost?

It’s not 1999 anymore, but the Disney movie Smart House accurately predicted a few of our favorite innovations in home technology. At the turn of the century, the idea of talking to your house to control it seemed downright futuristic. Today, it’s as commonplace as a morning cup of joe.

Naturally, everyone loves the idea of having a smart home, but the real rub comes in the form of the question: “can I afford a smart home?”

One thing the 1999 movie got wrong: smart homes aren’t just for celebrities and contest winners. Your smart home cost can vary greatly according to how “smart” you want it to be, making it surprisingly affordable to wisen up your house in a hurry.

Want to learn more? Read on.

What’s so Smart About It?

So how much will a smart home cost? Well, that depends on which features of your home you want automated.

A fully automated home is a much bigger project than, say, just an automated security system. Where do your priorities lie in designing your smart home? How much convenience do you want in your life?

For instance, you can also have your shades and blinds automated, but nothing else. For some, the idea of drawing the shades at the click of a button sounds like a dream. For others, the idea of an automated internal audio system sounds like the cat’s meow.

Where do you lie on the spectrum of home intelligence? Ask yourself what exactly it is about a smart home that seems so smart to you. Which features would truly enhance your life, and which could you do without?

That’s the way to determine the real cost to you since smart home capabilities can vary so widely according to your needs.

The Real Smart Home Cost, Broken Down

Now that we’ve covered a few of the ways to make your home smart, you can begin to analyze the cost.

Making your home smarter can cost as little as $100 spent on affordable smart home tech, such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home speakers. Technically, this isn’t making your home smarter, but adding a smart capability to make your life easier. Still, though– this is as little as you can spend to get that intelligence in your home.

When it comes to full home automation, the national average is between $472 and $2,020. It’s really not that pricey for full home automation!

If you choose just one or two smart features, chances are you’ll fall so in love with their convenience that you’ll pull the trigger on a full automation down the line. Sometimes, it makes more sense financially to do it in chunks, though.

Your Smart Home

Now that you’ve read up on the vast disparity between a fully automated smart home cost and a partially automated smart home cost, you have the knowledge you need to make a sound decision.

The real key is to ask yourself what conveniences you really desire. Need help figuring it out, or have any other questions about smart home tech? Get in touch— we love to talk shop!

3 Masterful Smart Homes to Inspire Your Smart Home Design

Smart homes are becoming more and more common in suburban neighborhoods, as luxury getaway spaces, and in high-end condominium buildings. These are beautiful homes that have been designed with every single detail in mind – like how to best create energy-efficiency and what makes the most sense in terms of function.

The result? A unique space that allows you to relax and kick your feet back, with technology in every room to help you get the most out of your home.

If you want to create a smart home design in your space, check out these amazing intelligent houses for inspiration.

1. A Top-Notch Entertainment Space

For those who love to host friends and family members all the time, entertainment needs to be at the front of your mind when designing a smart home.

This means establishing a whole-home sound and video system for people to enjoy in every room. You would place small speakers around the house that are all connected on one system and easy to control, plus plenty of screens in each room – including the kitchen and bathroom!

Other smart entertainment technology includes a universal remote and outdoor music and video. Don’t forget about smart security functions to make sure all the entryways are locked up once the party has died down.

2. A Cozy, Functional Country Cottage

If you prefer to cuddle up on the couch rather than have everyone over for dinner, use a smart country cottage as your design inspiration. The best way to incorporate technology into a cozy home is to focus on function. This allows you to enjoy each day stress-free and with little effort while technology takes care of your needs.

Functionality could be turning your bedroom skylight into an area for solar panels, combining both aesthetics and energy-efficiency. It could also look like a high-tech kitchen space to do all of your cooking and cleaning in a way that just makes sense. Even something as simple as smart air conditioning goes a long way.

3. A High-End, Intimate Home

The final smart home design style to consider using as inspiration is somewhere in the middle of the two mentioned so far. You don’t have to go all-out on the entertainment or just focus on function. Instead, design a smart home that gives you the excitement you need and the laid-back feeling you deserve.

This looks like a clean interior design that knows how to leverage smart technology. Such a home would have an easy to use, smart HVAC system and a smart TV that connects to the entertainment system. It would be clean and comfortable in the kitchen, with high-end, smart appliances displayed in a minimalistic fashion.

Create the Ultimate Smart Home Design

You can read about different smart home design options all day, but at some point, you have to get to work! Take the inspiration provided above and start writing down a wishlist of what you’d like your high-tech home to have and be able to do.

Then, hire the professionals to help you make your dreams come to life.

Check out our products and services page to see what we can do for you!

5 Coolest New Smart Home Innovations: The Best Home Automation Hub and More

Smart home devices are fast becoming the “must have” items for any modern American household.

In fact, one-third of Americans have at least one smart home device currently in use.

It seems everyone wants more than an old-fashioned house. They want a smart home.

There is so much interest in smart home devices that the market produces new products constantly. It makes it nearly impossible to keep up with all the new home automation ideas!

We have sifted through all the gadgets and inventions to come up with a list of the top five smart home innovations, including our pick for the best home automation hub.

1. Amazon: The Best Home Automation Hub

There are many brands of home automation hubs that can do a variety of tasks for you.

The most known brand of hub is the Amazon Echo. They come in a variety of sizes and options for your household needs.

They connect by Bluetooth and can respond to voice commands from playing music to reciting recipes. You can even ask questions like you would on Google and get a verbal answer!

A lesser known home automation hub that we love is the Wink Hub 2. This hub is more reliable than the Echo and supports more devices such as smart lightbulbs and security systems.

The Wink Hub 2 will also connect to your Google home device for perfect synchronization.

2. Ultimate Universal Remote

We have all seen the pile of remotes on the coffee table for one TV. You have the remote for the TV itself, one for the sound system, and one for your DVD player. It’s insane!

Then you have to explain the order in which to activate each device so your guests can enjoy a show.

There’s got to be a better way.

Good news, there is a better way! You need a universal remote like the Logitech Harmony Elite.

The Harmony Elite functions as a remote for all your home entertainment center devices.

You can also connect this remote to a home hub device and control all the devices registered to that hub with the push of a button.

3. Smart Plugs

Smart plugs can turn your normal home devices like lamps into smart home devices.

Plug the device into the smart plug, then the plug into the wall. Now you can control that device through your home hub!

Some models also give you a breakdown of the energy usage of each device so you can identify your power hogs and save some money.

4. Smart Security Cameras

Unfortunately, 30% of Americans have had a package stolen from their porch. It is becoming an epidemic.

The only defense is to sit at your front door when you are expecting a package or install a security camera.

Some home security solutions have cameras with crisp images that can connect to your smartphone or home hub.

You can even get a two-way talk feature that allows you to shout at a potential thief (or unsuspecting visitor) without having to go to the door.

5. Smart Sleeping

What not continue being smart in your sleep?

Mattresses that you can adjust the firmness and/ or incline with a handy remote have been on the market for a few years.

But there is a new device from Nokia that you place under any mattress (smart or not) that tracks your sleep patterns and offers sleep analyzation.

You can also use this to wake you up by connecting the Nokia Sleep to your smart light bulbs. Set them to turn on when your alarm goes off and start the day off right.

Ready to Make Your Home Smart?

Even if you don’t have the best home automation hub, you can still enjoy all the awesome benefits of upgrading your house to a smart home.

The problem is that smart home devices can be tricky to install and/ or set up in your house. We recommend having a reputable company assist you.

If you have any other questions about what smart home devices would work for you or if you would like help setting up your smart home network, contact us today!

As Safe as Houses: Your Guide to Smart Home Security Systems

The home is where the heart is.

Not only is your heart there, but your television, couch, jewelry, food, and anything else of value is more than likely in your home. Luckily, keeping your home secure doesn’t have to be hard these days.

Setting up smart home security systems is the way of the future in terms of home protection. With a little research and planning, home safety can be the click of a button away.

If you’re still unsure or confused, keep reading for a guide on smart home security systems.

Know What You Need

When shopping for a smart home security system, the market is a tad overwhelming. There are hundreds of products available to help protect your home.

Start out by exploring the benefits of a security system and discovering what your home and family needs.

Are you constantly traveling? Do you have young children? Are your pets constantly trying to escape?

Look at every aspect of your home life and daily routine and create a security system tailored to your life. If you travel a lot, look into having the option of being able to set an alarm through a smartphone app. If you have children or devious pets, look into setting up small cameras.

Securing your home doesn’t have to be hard. Go into purchasing equipment with a plan.

Sort Your Options

Now that you know what you want, prepare to sort your options. Go ahead and grab a pen and paper, and prepare yourself for some online research.

When looking at different types of items such as cameras, explore what each product offers. Does a certain camera include wiring or is it battery-operated? Does an alarm require manual activation or can you activate it with your phone?

Due to technology being so advanced, your options are going to be endless. Also, don’t be afraid to check out customer reviews.

Look at the Money

Smart home security systems can cover a wide price range. Not everyone needs a set-up that costs thousands, but you also don’t want to go the cheap route on some things.

Weigh your options and settle on a budget for yourself. Also look into contracts when signing up for some security systems.

Some companies will cause you to shovel money out of the bank and charge you a handful of cash if you try to cancel. Always know what you’re getting yourself into when setting up a smart security system.

If money is an issue, there are plenty of DIY routes when it comes to home safety. Maybe you can spend more money on cameras but go the cheaper route when it comes to locks.

Again, it all comes down to your needs and lifestyle.

Smart Home Security Systems Made Simple

Protecting your home with smart home security systems doesn’t have to be rocket science. Know your needs, weigh all of your options, and pay attention to your wallet.

If you are curious about smart security systems or need a free consultation for a system, contact us today and we’ll be glad to help.

Security Smart: How to Make a Smart Home Secure from Hacking

As technology and the internet become more intertwined with our lives, it is only natural for us to find uses for it in our homes. By 2020, the Internet of Things will grow to roughly 200 billion connected devices. This includes smart appliances, heating and cooling systems, lighting, and more.

There are certainly benefits to having a smart home but the more technology you have in your home, the greater the risk of hacking.

Continue reading below to learn how to make a smart home and its network secure.

Change Passwords

Good password management is key. Change the default passwords on your devices and change them sporadically.

Most smart gadgets can be remotely controlled through apps or online access. When you sign up and register your gadget, be sure to create a complex password. And as always, do not use the same password across different accounts.

Keeping your email secure is also important since it is connected to your accounts. A hacker will have access to a plethora of information if he gets inside your email. Set up two-factor authentication for further protection.

Update Your Gadgets and Their Settings

The onboard software or firmware that comes with your device is your first line of defense against hackers. This is why updating your gadgets is so important.

Most likely, your gadgets aren’t set up to search for updates and download them automatically, like our computers or cell phones. In fact, most smart home gadgets aren’t set up to connect to the internet in that way.

So without that safety net, you have to do the work yourself. Check for updates regularly, either through the accompanying app or the manufacturer’s website.

Updates probably won’t be released on a regular basis but if there is a security issue, you’ll want to download the patch as soon as possible.

Also, if your gadget doesn’t need web access, disable the connection. It will be one less way for a hacker to infiltrate.

Keep the Number of Platforms to a Minimum

It is recommended that you stick to one platform for your home devices. Pick one system to run your house on and choose products that will fit into it.

For items you have outside of the system, use an Internet of Things scanner to see if they have identified it as a publicly accessible device. If so, take it offline and see if there is an update available for it.

Check Out Your Router

Your router is the starting point of your home network. Your router needs to be running the latest firmware to protect all points of digital access in your home.

Change the username and password to something only you know. Only let devices connect to the internet through your router if absolutely necessary.

How to Make a Smart Home Secure Answered

If you love the convenience of a smart home, make sure you are taking the right steps to make your home secure.

Are you looking for more tips on how to make a smart home more secure? Contact us at Hivestyle. We specialize in smart home design and would love to help.

5 Tips for Great Wireless Whole House Audio

By 2022, there will be 244 million smart home devices in the United States.

Smart homes make your life easier by connecting your technology – automating parts of your home.

But no smart home is complete without wireless whole house audio. There are plenty of solutions on the market, but every house has specific requirements.

Read on for our 5 tips on setting up a great wireless speaker system.

1. Make a Plan

It is now easier than ever to set yourself up with wireless whole house audio, but you need to plan for success. Every home is different, and everyone has their own requirements.

Make sure you know exactly what features you want before you make any purchases. You need to know the number of rooms or zones you want to set up, along with how many sources you want to use.

You also need to know how you intend to control your set-up.

2. Get the Right System

There are many options on the market, so make sure you get the one that works for your requirements.

If you have set up your home to work via Amazon Echo or Google Home, then making sure your system can work with them is a must.

You also need to make sure that the system has the capabilities to effectively cover the zones you need. Unless you have the options to implement the right kind of speakers for each room, your audio experience won’t fulfill its potential.

3. Installation

Now you have chosen your system, you need to find the right placement for your speakers.

Each speaker system has a defined dispersion pattern. This is the pattern they are meant to be set up in to get the best sound. Check your manual to make sure you are placing the speakers correctly.

For the best audio, make sure all your speakers are at ear level or higher and that ceiling mounted speakers are 2 feet from any walls.

4. Calibration

Unless you live in a theater, your rooms will not have been designed for the best acoustics. Performing basic calibration will fine tune your system to give you the best sound experience.

Work out your normal listening positions, and set up your speakers for the best sound in these areas.

Some systems have built-in features can perform this calibration via an app on your phone, whereas others need manual input.

5. Source Material

All speakers turn a digital source into an analog signal. But as any Audiophile will tell you, not all music formats were made equal.

Digital formats come in ‘lossless’ and ‘lossy’ formats. A ‘lossless’ file is the closest thing you can get to the original source, whereas ‘lossy’ files have been compressed. These formats have greatly improved over the years, but make sure you avoid low bit rate audio files.

The Best Wireless Whole House Audio

By following our 5 tips you will be able to easily set up a wireless whole house audio system tailored to your home.

Check out our blog for more tips on how to get the most out of a smart home, and all the things they can do for you. If you are after security tips, more convenience or even just time-saving methods, we have you covered.

What is a Smart House, Anyway? Here’s Why You Need One

Picture this.

You’re in the office putting in the hours. Your smartphone beeps. You take a second to look what’s up. It’s a notification from your smart home app. Your home camera has detected an intruder. With just a few taps of the screen, you have a real-time video feed of the guy trying to break in. Depending on the capabilities of your home security systems, you can turn on the alarm, alert the police or even let the intruder know you’re watching them.

Friends, welcome to the age of smart homes!

Interested to learn more?

In this article, we’re explaining what is a smart house and why you absolutely need one.

What Is a Smart House? And What It Isn’t

A smart house has internet-enabled devices and appliances that can be controlled from any remote location with internet access.

As smart home technologies advance, we’re seeing the introduction of devices with self-learning skills. For example, some smart home system can study your lighting habits, and turn off lights when not in use.

On the other hand, some people think they have smart homes while all they have is a couple of internet-enabled devices that offer little or no remote control, or which cannot communicate with other appliances.

A true smart house is built with remote accessibility in mind. It should have features, such as plumbing, that allow for a seamless installation of smart appliances.

Now on to why you need one.

Unapparelled Convenience

Know that moment when you’re on your commute and you remember that you left the bedroom lights on or doors unlocked?

If you’re like most people, you will shrug off the thought and hope for the best. Or if you’re really bothered, you will take the next exit and head home to close the damn doors before a burglar gets there. By the way, most of the time you’ll actually find you locked your doors – because it’s such a reflexive thing to do!

Anyway, with smart home technology, say goodbye to such inconveniences. All you need to do is log into your smart home app, turn off the lights (if the system hasn’t already turned them off automatically), lock the doors…. basically, adjust anything that needs adjusting.

Save Energy

As a high-end homeowner, power bills are rarely a concern. However, there is more to saving energy than lower energy bills.

Global warming poses a threat– at least 45 percent of Americans believe so, and that number will keep going up as we keep experiencing the effects.

With about 60 percent of Americans resolving to lead environmentally-friendly lifestyles and save the planet, you have every reason to do so, too. And you can achieve that by reducing your energy consumption, meaning America will rely less on power sources that harm the planet.

Since a smart home is able to adjust your lighting to your needs and switch off appliances that are not in use, it will help you save energy – and the planet by extension.

Increased Safety

Every year, burglars break into about 2.5 million homes. Do you want to be a victim?

A regular house increases your chances of being a victim because all you have to rely on is the neighborhood security patrol and strong doors to thwart a burglary.

On the contrary, smart home technology makes your home safer. With smart cameras and alarm systems, it’s far easy to detect and deter a potential burglary.

What Is a Smart House? Answered!

If you have been on the fence regarding the value of smart houses, it’s evident they are more beneficial than regular houses. Beyond the cool factor, you get increased convenience, control, security, and energy efficiency.

Ready to start making your home smart or still wondering what is a smart house? Schedule a free consultation with the experts or explore our blog for more insight.

The Ultimate Guide to Smart Home Design

A smart home setup can make life so much easier. When you have the power to control every essential home feature from your couch, your home is smart. Most people have some smart features, but their home isn’t necessarily smart.

Learning smart home design can increase your comfort and the value of your home. As many as two-thirds of millennials expect to live in a smart home. You don’t need to spend thousands renovating to live in a smart home.

The key is focusing on core smart home elements that give the most freedom. Follow our guide on how to make a smart home your reality.

Choose Your Assistant

Every good smart home design starts with an automated assistant. Your primary choices will be Google, Apple, and Amazon. You could have more than one, of course, but we want to simplify the home.

Ideally, you want one that connects with all your smart home devices. Google Home, for example, is compatible with a lot of devices, plus you can use multiple Google Home units. Each unit can operate both independently and in concert.

Smart Comfort

A home that knows your environmental preferences is your best friend. Installing a smart thermostat, like Nest, is an investment that pays for itself. It will take a few years or less before you’ve made back that couple hundred.

You’ll never have to play the thermostat relay game ever again. The smart thermometer learns what temperatures you want. This has to be at the core of your smart home automation.

Automated Blinds and Lighting

A smart house should regulate temperature and lighting. If you want to get the most out of that thermostat, you should be controlling these two. Smart lighting will help reduce the light bill and the radiating heat.

You can control your home’s lighting with your phone or a smart panel inside. Being able to turn the lights off with one click saves time and money. Automated blinds can likewise keep the home from getting hot and cut back on the light bill.

You can buy shades like the Lutron Serena to sync up with your virtual assistant. These shades can be voice-controlled as well as operate by sunset/sunrise cycle.

Smart Home Security

You can incorporate your home’s security with your network of smart devices. Alarm systems, smart doorbells, and keyless entry systems keep intruders from having the upper-hand. You can keep watch on who is at your door and allowed to enter.

When it comes to designing a smart home, security should be a top priority. Purchase a compatible video doorbell, alarm, and keyless system with your smart devices. When everything works together, it becomes easier to control them.

Achieving Smart Home Design

We know there’s a lot of selection out there when it comes to smart home design products. Trying to research which ones are compatible and how to install them can be tricky. That’s why we’re here to help.

You can contact us for a free consultation to let our experts brainstorm for you. Our experience allows us to design fully-featured smart homes without worrying about conflicts or incompatibilities.