What Is Home Automation and How Does It Work?

Home automation makes your life more convenient by making certain tasks occur automatically.

Aliza VigdermanGabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on May 21, 2020

If you’ve read any of my reviews of Internet of Things, or IoT devices, then you’ve probably come across the term “home automation” more than once. This article will tell you exactly what home automation is, how it works, and how you can use it to make your life more convenient as well as more energy-efficient. I’ll also go over home IoT devices that work with Alexa and Google Assistant, the two most popular voice assistants. Let’s get started!

What Is Home Automation And How Does It Work?

Home Automation Guide
Home Automation Guide

Home automation means that connected devices in your home, i.e devices that are connected to the Internet and can be controlled remotely through a mobile app, turn on and off and change settings without anyone having to manually control them. Home automation can be done in two ways:

  • Schedules: You can have IoT devices set on schedules so that they turn off and on automatically throughout the day, i.e lights that turn off at your child’s bedtime
  • Triggers: Actions in one connected device trigger actions in another, i.e the smart plug for your space heater turning on when your smart lock unlocks

With a plethora of products including smart thermostats, smart smoke, and CO alarms, and even smart water leak sensors, home automation isn’t just convenient. It can also save you energy, especially if you’re dealing with your home’s environment. For example, you can have your thermostat automatically go down at the same time each day so that you’re not wasting heat on an empty house.

Home Automation Ideas

Home Automation Ideas
Home Automation Ideas

There are so many ways that you can add some automation into your smart home, including but not limited to:

  • Smart home security: Have your Chromecast or Fire TV play footage the second that your security camera detects a person, so you can see exactly who’s in your home.
  • Smart lighting: Put your smart light bulbs on “Away Mode” so that they turn off and on randomly, making it seem like you’re home when you’re not and boosting your home security. Or, set your bulbs to “Dawn and Dusk” mode so that they turn off with the sunrise and off with the sunset to match your Circadian rhythm.
  • Smart locks: Have your front door lock at the exact same time every day to correlate with your dog walker’s schedule, and have it lock the second he or she leaves. You can also set up temporary passcodes for your guests if you prefer. Another option is to link your smart lock with the GPS in your phone so that your door is always unlocked when you get home and locked when you leave.
  • Video doorbells: Once your video doorbell detects that a person is at your front door, have the smart lights turn to give them a warm welcome!
  • Smart kitchen gadgets: Now this one you’re going to love. With smart gadgets for the kitchen, you can have your coffee ready for you as soon as you wake up, or have a steaming hot bowl of popcorn available as soon as you get home. With everything from smart microwaves to smart coffee makers, automating your kitchen activities is the way of the future.

Home Automation With Google Assistant

Google Nest Hub
Google Nest Hub

If you have a Google Nest Hub or a Google Home Mini, then you’ll want connected devices that work with Google Assistant, Google’s virtual assistant. Here are some home automation products that work with a Google smart home ecosystem:

  • Nest Cam Indoor: See whoever’s in your home right on your Chromecast, or have your Philips Hue light bulbs turn off whenever your camera is armed.
  • Nest Yale Lock: The Nest Yale will lock automatically whenever you leave your home while allowing guest access through a touchpad.
  • Philips Hue Decorative Candle: Create schedules for your bulb, link it with the sunrise or sunset, or set up geofencing so you never have to manually turn your lights on or off again.
  • Nest Learning Thermostat: This smart thermostat has proximity and occupancy sensing, so it can turn the temperature down if you’re not home or awake. Believe it or not, this could save you 10-12% on heating and 15% on cooling per year!
  • Nest Protect: A smoke and CO detector from Nest, this device tests itself automatically over 400 times a day to make sure it’s batteries are in good shape and that it’s connecting with the Nest app, allowing for notifications.
  • Nest Hello Video Doorbell: With amazing artificial intelligence capabilities like person detection and even familiar face alerts, your Nest app will tell you exactly who’s at your door the second they show up.

Home Automation With Alexa

Music on the Amazon Echo Show
Music on the Amazon Echo Show

On the other hand, if you have an Amazon Echo Show or any of its variants, then you’ll want IoT products that work with Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Ring Stick Up Cam Wired: Have the Ring Stick Up Cam‘s siren turn on if the camera detects motion when it’s armed, making it super clear if there’s an intrusion.
  • Ring Alarm Security System: No matter where in the world you are, if someone enters your home while your system is armed, you’ll know about it through motion, entry, and glass break sensors, and a sleek mobile app.
  • LIFX smart bulb with infrared night vision: Make your lights turn on as soon as your Nest or Arlo cameras are disarmed, meaning you’re home again.
  • Amazon Smart Plug: Smart plugs make any product smart, meaning you’ll be able to turn it on and off remotely or through Alexa.
  • Ring Video Doorbell 2: You no longer have to rely on a family member to tell you when someone’s at the door. Instead, get notified as soon as your video doorbell detects motion, and see who it is on your app or even Fire TV!
  • August Smart Lock Pro: With geofencing, remote guest access, an event log, and auto-lock, your lock will work for you, not against you, even if you leave your keys inside!


As you can see, when it comes to automating your smart home, the options are truly limitless, and new IoT devices are released every single day. Home is where you should feel most relaxed, and by automating everyday actions, it takes part of the burden of maintaining a home off of your shoulders.