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Launching SmartHomeBeginner.com – Home Automation for Beginners

Some of you may know htpcbeginner.com, a leading HTPC and Home Server setup site that has helped millions over the last 7 years. I originally started htpcbeginner.com when I began exploring the world of Linux and setting up a server at home. I have always been a techie but I had no idea about servers, Linux, or HTPCs. I was a beginner. I learned by doing and along the way I shared my knowledge with the community through htpcbeginner.com. Seven years later, I find myself in the same boat again.

Interest in Home Automation

I have always been interested in automating things around the home. For example, I came up with a method to automatically reboot my android phone every morning. In its days, this post helped many people. When I setup my first home server, I automated media management using apps such as CouchPotato, SickRage, SABnzbd, and qBittorrent. There are many other apps for home media automation.

Home Server Apps For Media Automation
Home Server Apps For Media Automation

Despite my detailed guides, many people still struggled to install several apps. So I developed the famous AToMiC ToolKit, which automated the installation of media automation apps. So home automation was not an entirely new topic for me. But automating things with the idea of making home operation smarter is a different beast.

Birth of Smart Home Beginner

My wife and I are building a new home. During the process, I researched a lot to build it right and make the home future proof (one can dream right!). So I did things like running conduits in various places, running cables for a security system, etc. I also started learning about smart home automation.

Home Construction 1 | Smarthomebeginner

Trust me, when I started my research in early 2017 I knew nothing about home automation products. Z-wave, Zigbee, SmartThings, Phillips Hue, Home Assistant - all these terms were new to me. How do we integrate these technologies, which products and devices to choose to do what I wanted to do, what are the things I could automate in my home - Like any beginner, these were the questions I had in my mind. Add to this, complexity created by the fractionated home automation market and incompatible technologies / protocols; a beginner stepping into smart home automation can easily be overwhelmed. I was and I still am.

Home Construction 2 | Smarthomebeginner

I wanted to build our house with the objective of making it a connected home. But this process wasn't so easy as our builder, a production home company, did not offer much flexibility. For example, for a multi-state home building company that has been in business for several years, I was the first one to ask them for CAT 6 cabling. This is 2017 folks and they were still doing CAT 5e cables. I had to explain what the difference was and they had to special order CAT 6 cables for me. I paid a whopping $210 per port upgrade fee. You get the point. But I did the best I could to prepare my new house to support the home automation projects I was going to do in future. A connected home needs a lot of bandwidth. While wireless is getting better and better, it can't beat the reliability and security of a good wired network. A wireless network built on a strong wired network is the way I wanted to go.

What's the plan for smarthomebeginner.com?

When I started htpcbeginner.com, I started documenting my HTPC and home server projects to help out myself and others in future. That is the same goal I have for smarthomebeginner.com. As soon as I start settling down in my new home, I will start making my home smart with automation projects. Through this site I plan to share my experiences and learnings. I am by no means an expert on these topics, at least at this point. So feel free to provide constructive criticism on my articles. I am here to learn as well and I believe in learning by doing. In addition to guides and tutorials, I plan to bring in other enthusiasts to share their experiences and cover latest news on relevant topics. I look forward to enjoying this journey with you all.

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Anand is a self-learned computer enthusiast, hopeless tinkerer (if it ain't broke, fix it), a part-time blogger, and a Scientist during the day. He has been blogging since 2010 on Linux, Ubuntu, Home/Media/File Servers, Smart Home Automation, and related HOW-TOs.