The smart home industry has seen tremendous growth in the past year. Vendors are expanding their reach into the global market, and more products are developed, giving consumers an abundance of options to set up a smart home.

In Singapore, implementing some elements of home automation is getting more and more popular these days as homeowners are looking at renovating their new house, be it HDB, condominium or a landed property. As supply goes with demand, we also see several local startups getting into this industry, collaborating with interior design firms to provide smart home products and services. 

One of the current problems of setting up a smart home is that everything seems rather confusing, what devices work with which set up, how to choose the right system, or what other things to buy exactly.

One of the current problems of setting up a smart home is that everything seems rather confusing, what devices work with which set up, how to choose the right system, or what other things to buy exactly. These are very common questions that homeowners are trying to figure out. 

Launched in 2019, The Matter Project is supposed to address device interoperability issues and streamline future products to provide a certain standard of reliability and security.

A joint effort by the biggest industry players, such as Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Google and the Zigbee Alliance, Matter’s goal is to offer homeowners a unified smart home interoperability protocol, ensuring smart home devices can work across different ecosystems. 

This solves the issue of buying a smart home appliance only to realise that it can only be connected to a specific platform, such as Google Nest or Apple Homekit. As we wait for Matter’s launch, which has been delayed time and time again, this article will serve as a general guide on how to approach setting up a smart home in 2021.  

There are two routes to choose from at the highest level – the consumer or the enterprise grade.

There are two routes to choose from at the highest level – the consumer or the enterprise grade. The consumer grade includes platforms from the big three tech giants: Google, Amazon and Apple. Examples of enterprise grade solutions are Crestron and Control4. These are commonly found in luxury homes and hotels. You will need to engage a specialist company to implement these solutions; the cost is at least $10,000. 

The consumer grade will be the more common and practical choice for an average homeowner. These systems are relatively affordable and easy to set up. A smart bulb with a Google Nest Hub costs about $150. It is controllable via Google voice assistant.

Before buying any smart home products, one has to decide which platforms they like to be on. Some common and popular ones are Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings and Home Assistant.

These platforms cater for different types of users and requirements. For iPhone or Apple fans, the Apple Homekit is a fantastic option with good security and power automation rules that you could set.

The downside is that the number of supported devices is significantly fewer than its competition, and there is no smart display device like the Google Nest Hub or Amazon Echo Show in the system. 

APPLE HOMEKIT

If you decide to use Apple Homekit, I recommend you go with the Aqara line of products. They have a good range, including smart switches, sensors, cameras, curtains/blinds and door locks.

For other smart home devices, ensure they are certified with the label’ works with Apple HomeKit’, or you can cross-check Apple’s website for the list of supported devices. 

AMAZON ALEXA

The Apple Homekit is out of the question if you are an Android user. As Amazon Alexa has yet to fully enter the Singapore market, most Singaporeans will choose to go with Google Home.

It is suitable for beginners, but feature-wise, it is lacking in many areas. Its biggest limitation is that users cannot set automation rules based on the state of a device; for example: if motion is detected, switch on the light. 

TUYA

As such, I recommend going with the Tuya ecosystem of products as much as possible. Tuya has the broadest range of products, over 2,000, including kitchen appliances. They are also cheaper because of their OEM business model.

Have all the automation set in Tuya, and use Google to trigger routines via their voice assistant. For more advanced and tech-savvy users, I recommend a hub-based solution such as SmartThings or Home Assistant, as they allow you to set more complex and robust automation.

Home Assistant is a fully local solution that doesn’t depend on the internet connection to work. This provides better performance and security as users have total, full control of their smart home setup. 

If you decide that everything is too much of a hassle to go through and you just want to engage a company to do it for you, many one-stop shops are providing the products, consulting and implementation services.

If you decide that everything is too much of a hassle to go through and you just want to engage a company to do it for you, many one-stop shops are providing the products, consulting and implementation services.

Make sure to check with them what platforms are they supporting. The last thing you want is to have a smart home that you are not able to easily enhance or make changes to. That is also why it’s still important to learn and get a basic understanding of how the system works because the company you engaged with is not staying with you and won’t always be available to rectify any issues.  

Smart Levels

There are many areas in the house that you could turn smart. Let’s break this down into three setup levels to give you a reference list of what you want to implement at different stages of your smart home journey.

Basic Setup

Smart speakers, lighting, universal remote control, smart door locks, robot vacuum cleaner. 

Fully Functional Setup

Sensors, door bell, security cameras, window treatment.

Complete Smart Home Setup

RGB lighting, smart kitchen appliances such as fridge, oven, hob and hood, washing machine.

About the Expert

Alex Teo is a Singapore content creator on YouTube in the Smart Home sector. He has been creating and sharing videos on smart home tech, renovation and home automation since 2020.

He aims to share his knowledge and experience with people to help them better understand these techs, try them out and enjoy the benefits of having a smart home.

Today, his Youtube channel has over 30,000 subscribers and 3 million lifetime views.