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How to turn any 'dumb' device into a smart one

Someone makes a standard lamp "smart" with a smart bulb and phone app

Lights that automatically turn on when you get home from work, thermostats that adjust the temperature while you sleep, sprinkler systems that water your lawn based on the weather: These days, it seems like there is a new product to help you automate or control every task in and around your home over the internet.

But what if you don't want to get rid of the devices you already own—and still want the benefits of a smart home? It's easy. We'll walk you through what to do.

Here at Asurion, we don't just fix and protect your devices—we help you get the most out of your tech. Here's our guide to how to make any device smart, including low-cost gadgets you can invest in and set up easily.

Get a smart hub

This device is the brain of your smart home. It links all your smart tech together over wireless internet. Many hubs come with a voice assistant, like Alexa™ from Amazon™, Siri® from Apple, or Google Assistant™, which allow you to control your tech with a simple phrase, like “Alexa, turn on the TV" or “Siri, turn off the lights," rather than relying on an app on your phone.

Use smart plugs

Want to know how to make nonsmart devices smart? Once you have your hub, the easiest next step is to buy a few smart plugs. They cost less than $50 each, and they're the simplest and least expensive way to turn a traditional appliance—like a lamp, slow cooker, or humidifier—into a smart one.

All you do is connect a smart plug to an outlet, link it to your Wi-Fi network, and set up the compatible smartphone app. Then you can connect your appliance to the smart plug and control it on your phone from anywhere (as long as you're connected to the internet).

Smart plugs also work with voice commands if you have a smart hub. To learn more, check out our guide to smart plugs as well as this explainer on why and how they can help you save money.

Make your lighting smart with smart bulbs

Smart bulbs let you turn the lights on and off anytime, from anywhere, with a few quick taps on your phone or a voice command (if you have a hub or a standalone voice assistant). You can dim smart lights, group them together by room or zone, set up lighting schedules to help save you money and energy, and even sync them with music.

Setting up a smart bulb is simple: Screw it in, download the bulb's app on your smartphone, and you're ready to go. Most smart lights last longer than traditional ones (at least 2 to 3 years), and cost about $15, though some brands and models are more expensive.

For more tips, read our guide to smart lights.

Upgrade your HVAC system with a smart thermostat

We're all familiar with traditional thermostats, which let you manually change the temperature in your home using a device on the wall. For more control, get a smart thermostat. It connects to your Wi-Fi and creates a climate plan for your home, learning your schedule and temperature preferences and adjusting for the weather to save energy when you're out or sleeping.

Smart thermostats cost between $60 and $400, but no matter which end of the spectrum you choose, you'll likely make up some or all that money within the first couple years of using the device. Before you buy anything, check your HVAC brand's website to be sure it's compatible with a smart thermostat. To learn more, here's everything you need to know about switching to a smart thermostat.

Use streaming devices to make a smart TV

If you've watched a Netflix™ show on your tablet or a YouTube™ video on your laptop, you've streamed content: It's simply watching or listening to video or audio content over the internet via your computer, phone, or TV.

To turn a traditional television into a smart TV, you'll need a media streaming device, like:

  • Chromecast® with Google TV™.
  • Amazon™ Fire TV™ Stick.
  • Apple TV®.
  • Roku® Express 4K.

It connects your television to the internet, letting you stream movies, shows, live TV, and music. Some devices cost less than $50 while others run more than $100. Keep in mind that most of these devices work with TVs made since 2005 because they have an HDMI port, but for older TVs, you may need to get an inexpensive HDMI-to-AV adapter.

To learn more, check out our guide to streaming and the best streaming devices.

Make sure your smart home is protected

An Asurion Home+ plan provides coverage for nearly all the technology in your home with one simple plan. Laptops, tablets, TVs, gaming consoles, smart thermostats, and so much more—even future purchases. Plus, you'll get 24/7 live expert support and robust digital security. Learn more about Asurion Home+ coverage and how you can get peace-of-mind electronics protection.

*The Asurion® trademarks and logos are the property of Asurion, LLC. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Asurion is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by any of the respective owners of the other trademarks appearing herein.*


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