a photo of a smart home

How to build a smart home: Everything you need to know today

Our Smart Home Guide provides everything you need to build the best smart home solution for your house, including DIY home security systems and digital assistant you want chatting with you every day.

Like GearBrain on Facebook

Building a smart home is an exciting adventure, a way to add the most up-to-date technology and design a space just for you. Lights come on when you want, in the colors you prefer, favorite music plays in rooms, digital helpers know when it's time to leave for work — and the best route — and locks and sensors keep watch while you're tucked away sleeping, whether you're a night owl or early riser. And with new custom systems, like smart irrigation systems and built-in smart home security systems, can help you save money on your water bills and keep you safe and secure 24/7. They can also help the environment.

As you begin your adventure, this guide will help as you decide what kind of smart home you want. We'll walk you through decisions to consider before you start buying your very first connected device, from the kind of voice assistant you want speaking to you daily to the best devices to consider given your budget.

Once you've got your bearings, you can head to our smart home products guide, which details every kind of connected device you may be considering adding, from smart locks to lights to security.

At GearBrain, we're excited to help you build your new smart home. Let's get started.

Today, the homeowner has so much to choose from when it comes to selecting the right smart home solution. They also need help understanding how this technology works to determine which products/services you need. We've put together a list of articles that we know can help you understand the basics of building a smart home solution:

What to Know About Smart Home Systems

A smartphone controlling smart home devices in a kitchen

Learn how your smart home works, including the way all these products speak to each other

Getty Images

Want to buy your first smart device but don't know where to start? These guides are overviews of what to consider before purchasing any connected appliance or product. In other words, read these first before you click 'buy' or head to the store. This information will help you develop a plan that will ensure you will have no interoperability issues when setting up your system:

Buy a Customized Smart Home Security System from Vivint

Podcast: How to Build a Smart Home Series - Part One

Buy a Customized Smart Home Security System from Vivint

Smart Home How-To for Renters

A multi-use apartment building

Live in an apartment? There are plenty of smart home devices you can use

Getty Images

If you're a renter, you probably have less control over what you can do inside your living space. (Landlords can be like that. We get it.) But that doesn't mean you're left out of this smart home revolution. There are tons of devices you can add to your rented space, and we have some guides that focus on exactly you and your requirements:

Buy Leviton Decora Smart Plugs and Switches on Amazon

Podcast:  How to Build a Smart Home Series - Part Two

Screenshot of GearBrain's podcast on How to Build a Smart Home Part 2, For Renters

Part 2 of GearBrain's "How to Build a Smart Home" series focuses on Renters, Rental Property and Airbnb owners.


If renting, this podcast will help you learn what you can and can't do without your landlord's approval.

Budget! Budget! - How to Build a Smart Home on a Limited Budget

Welcome Front Door

You can purchase the top smart home devices even if you're watching your budget

Getty Images

Look, we get it: smart home devices can add up, and sometimes, we get overwhelmed with what we need to buy first or what kind of budget we need to set aside to get started. Luckily, there are options for any budget, whether you have $100 or $1,000. These guides can offer you some suggestions on where to start, no matter how much you want to spend at the start:

Buy Blink Indoor Security Camera (3rd Gen) on Amazon

Podcast:  How to Build a Smart Home - Part Three

Screenshot of GearBrain's Part three podcast on how to budget when building a smart home.

Part Three of GearBrain's Podcast series on How to build a smart home focuses on budgeting.


Buy a Customized Smart Home Security System from Vivint

Learn How Smart Home Hubs Control Smart Homes

A smart home illustration

Hubs help smart devices speak with each other, and then with you

Getty Images

Many smart home devices need a hub to connect to the internet and then to each other. While not all do, it's good to understand which brands are more dependent on these than others. We run through which hubs you may need, and learn if this is something you might need at your home:

Buy Amazon Echo 4th Gen Smart Home Hub.

Podcast:  How to Build a Smart Home - Part Four

Screenshot of  the 4th podcast in GearBrain's series on How to build a smart home, role of the hub.

In the 4th episode of GearBrain's podcast on How to build a smart home, we learn about the role of the hub or controller for your new smart home.


What To Do With Your Smart Devices When You Move

Moving boxes made of cardboard with plants in the corner of a roomAn East Coast-based moving company has been reportedly hacked with ransomwareiStock/Getty Images

Moving is stressful enough without thinking about what smart home devices to take and which to leave behind. There are some smart devices you can bring, which are no-brainers. This would be smart speakers, smart plugs, smart light bulbs, and maybe smart home security cameras. But what about your motorized window blinds, smart irrigation system, and the smart home security system you have installed over the years? This is where the line begins to blur. GearBrain has a series of articles that can help guide you through this process:

Buy Philips Hue Smart Lighting Starter Kits

Here is the Role Voice Activation Plays in Building a Smart Home

Google Home Mini

You can now control devices inside your home just with your voice


More connected devices are coming to the market that can be controlled just with your device. This could be Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings' Bixby, or Apple's Siri. You can certainly check our thoughts on this way of controlling our home through our piece, Voice Is The New App. But we also encourage you to look at the different digital assistants, what they can do, and which one you may find you prefer. What's key here is that you'll likely pick one and then build your smart home around that specific digital assistant. So, understanding how they work and which one may fit into your life the best is good to do before you start buying a lot of devices for your new smart home.

Buy Google Nest Mini (2nd Generation) Smart Speaker at Best Buy.

How to use Amazon Alexa as the hub for your smart home.

a photo of a Amazon Echo Show 15 on a dresser

Amazon Echo Show 15 Smart Display works as our smart home hub.


Alexa is Amazon's friendly digital assistant and tied to the Amazon eco-system, which also includes Ring video doorbells. Here are a few guides that will walk you through some of Alexa's better-known products and how they work:

Buy Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen) Smart Display

How to use Google Assistant enabled devices as hub of your smart home.

Nest Hub smart displays by GoogleThe Nest Hub comes in seven and 10--inch versionsGoogle

Google's digital assistant is called Google Assistant, and there are myriad devices as well that this voice A.I. controls. Here are just a few devices that work with Google Assistant, along with guides with tips on how to operate them:

Google Nest Hub (2nd Gen) 7" Smart Display at Best Buy

How to get Apple’s Siri to run your smart home.

Apple HomePod

Apple's voice assistant Siri can help you run your smart home devices


Those who own an iPhone, Apple Watch, Mac, or MacBook are very (very) familiar with Apple's Siri. But the digital assistant can also help operate smart home products using the Apple HomeKit platform. The cornerstone of Apple's smart home plan was the HomePod, its smart speaker, which was discontinued in March 2021. However, the company resurrected the HomePod in January 2023 by introducing the HomePod 2nd Generation smart speaker. And they are still making HomePod Mini, which helps with Apple's push to continue to get Siri into more homes and compete with Amazon Alexa's smaller smart speaker, Echo Dot.

For those Mac users who find they are leaning toward Siri, we have several guides that help you understand what the voice assistant can do:

Buy Apple HomePod mini, Apple TV, and Apple Watches on Best Buy.

Compatibility - Use GearBrain Product Find Engine to find Compatible Products

A smartphone on a table with a robot vacuum below

Before you start buying smart devices, make sure the key products your eyeing work together

Getty Image

One of the biggest challenges you face when building a smart home is finding devices that are compatible with each other. Interoperability is a big problem today. I am sure you don't like going out and buying a device. Then, come home to find out it will not work with your current device or system. GearBrain can solve this problem with our smart home compatibility find engine, The GearBrain. Using the GearBrain, you can find all the compatible devices that work with a particular smart device, like Google Home or Amazon Alexa. Here is a list of just some of the connected devices. You can see which devices work with them:

Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility find engine. It can help you find, buy, and connect any smart device. It can also help you see what smart devices work with your existing smart-connected devices and Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.

IoT Security

An IoT security image

As you would add security to your tech devices, you'll want to consider making sure your smart home products are secure as well

Getty Images

Finally, one of the biggest concerns among consumers today is the security of their new devices. According to a recent research study by Houzz.com, more than half of the respondents to their survey would not buy a smart home device because they had security concerns. Here are a few articles that will help you understand more about Internet of Things (IoT) security and ways to protect your new connected devices:

Special Offers for GearBrain Readers from Vivint

Time to get started Building a Smart Home

Smart home speaker

Smart homes can propel the way you live in the 21st Century

Getty Images

We hope these guides are helpful and prepare you for the next phase in building your smart home. Even though many of the new connected devices coming onto the smart home market might not be ready for prime time, we are very bullish on the market outlook. As more consumers understand how all these new devices work, can save you money, and determine which ones are right for them, we expect to see a significant increase in adoption.

We look forward to joining you on your new journey in building the right smart home for you.

If you need help installing any of these Smart Home systems or products, you can visit HelloTech for online or in-home support. You can also check out our article: 7 smart home installation services to hire that will set up (nearly) anything you buy to find the right service provider for your build.

Get HelloTech Help

Yale Assure Lock 2 Touch (New) - Fingerprint Keypad Door Lock - Black Suede - YRD420-F-BLE

How to Find Products in The GearBrain, Our Compatibility Find Engine for Smart Deviceswww.youtube.com

Like GearBrain on Facebook
The Conversation (0)

GearBrain Compatibility Find Engine

A pioneering recommendation platform where you can research, discover, buy, and learn how to connect and optimize smart devices.

Join our community! Ask and answer questions about smart devices and save yours in My Gear.

Top Stories

Weekly Deals