The Easy Way to Create a Smart Home

Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant can all make controlling a smart home with voice commands easy, but the idea of adding smart speakers with microphones that are always listening for the next command makes some people uneasy.

Indeed, mistakes have been made. Last year, for example, Alexa inadvertently recorded a couple’s conversation at their home in Portland, Ore., and shared it with an unintended recipient.

Using a virtual assistant is optional, and the choice comes down to your feelings about convenience, privacy and trust.

For now, there are a few ways that most people control their smart homes. When David Renken, an architect in the Los Angeles office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, was renovating the 1920s bungalow in Long Beach, Calif., that he shares with his husband, he installed Lutron Caséta dimmers, Sonos speakers, and security cameras and smart locks from AT&T Digital Life.

“All of this stuff is tied together, so that when we drive into the driveway, the home knows we’re approaching, turns lights on and unlocks doors,” he said. Once they are inside, they typically use Alexa to control lights and audio with voice commands.

“We started the system small,” Mr. Renken said. But it has grown to include nearly all of their light fixtures, indoors and out: “Once you get spoiled, having to get up to turn the light off becomes a real annoyance.”

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