If you’re looking to save money and your old tablet has been collecting dust in your home, why not turn it into a smart home controller? You can manage a smart home controller with an app from any phone or tablet, helping you regulate temperature, lights, refrigerator, locks, security cameras and other smart devices in your home, garage, warehouse or office. Here’s how to set it up!
What does a smart home controller do?
A good smart home controller connects wirelessly to various appliances, locks, lighting, security cameras, etc. You can control these remotely using an application on your smartphone or computer. Most of these controllers are not made for entertainment or recreational use; they are designed with business owners in mind who need remote access over their devices. With these controllers you can also perform system maintenance tasks like rebooting computers without actually being at work.
Which tablets are suitable for this task?
Android tablets are compatible with most of the smart home appliances available on the market. The older models are better suitable for controlling temperature, lights, refrigerator, locks, security cameras etc. So you can look out for tablets which are two or three years old. If it is still working fine with all basic functions then you can use it as a smart home controller without any problem. These include Google Nexus 7 2012 edition, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 etc.
Latest Android Tablets
First of all the new models are too expensive. Newer tablets don’t work properly because of touch screen issues when used at extreme temperatures. Therefore they are not good for using outside during extreme weather conditions. Also these newer models have very powerful graphics cards that run resource hungry apps like weather apps, battery draining games etc., which will make your device hang frequently while performing other tasks. Even if they were capable of running these apps they drain battery very quickly because of powerful hardware inside them.
There are several Apple devices that can act as a hub for your smart home setup. The iPads should ideally be running iOS 9 or above. Those include iPad 2, iPad Mini 2, iPad Air and iPad Pro.
What if I don’t have an iOS or Android device?
There is something for everyone
You can definitely find some app for Windows Surface on Windows App Store.
Microsoft has two different versions of Windows for portable devices. For tablets, there is Windows RT, which looks a lot like the Start screen from Windows 8.1 but lacks the desktop component; it is designed to run on SoC devices such as tablets. Most desktop applications won’t run on a Windows RT system. For smart phones, there is Windows Phone, an OS designed specifically for phone use. The figure shows a Windows Phone display.
General public doesn’t know much about Windows OS other than major desktop versions these days. Therefore we will not cover that for the purposes of this review.
What do I need to get started?
Check you old tablet
To set up your tablet as a smart home controller, you need three things: An old/outdated tablet, an app for managing all of your household’s devices (such as Samsung SmartThings or If This Then That, or IFTTT), and internet connectivity.
Next, download one of these apps from Google Play or Apple App Store. Once installed, follow instructions to set up your account and connect it with each device in your home. Finally, you can control those devices—such as thermostat, lights, water valves—from anywhere using that old and outdated tablet!
To start, you’ll need a tablet with at least the Android version 4.0 or higher of the operating system installed on it because these apps are designed to work with this version and higher. The iOS version should better be iOS 9 or newer in order to work properly.
Pick a controller app
Then you would need to purchase an Android or iOS app for your tablet. For Android users, we recommend Tasker ($2.99), while IFTTT is our pick for iOS users ($1.99). Then, you need to connect your existing WiFi router in order to use it as a central hub for all of your connected devices. You can easily set up a new Google Wifi point (which runs $129) by logging into your account online. If you prefer something simpler, TP-Link’s WiFi range extenders are simple plug-and-play options that support two wireless networks (one 2.4GHz, one 5GHz) simultaneously; they cost between $20 and $45 depending on which device you choose. However, keep in mind these only extend the signal from your wireless router, so you will still need some sort of access point to work with.
Add other apps
You will also want to download some smart apps onto your phone or tablet that give you control over various smart devices around your house. Wink is a good option if you own internet-connected appliances made by companies like Honeywell, Ecobee, Philips Hue, Belkin WeMo and others. If you have a Nestcam/Dropcam in your home (or even an IFTTT account) then you’re all set; Logitech Harmony can be controlled directly through IFTTT via its Android app.
There are more options
If you don’t fall into either of those categories, there are still more options out there—just make sure that whatever device or service you choose has an open API for controlling it (any standard protocol for accessing data) before making any purchases.
Can I connect a Bluetooth keyboard too?
Yes. Most Bluetooth keyboards are designed to work with tablets. If you don’t want to spend extra money, use an inexpensive Bluetooth keyboard case that’s built specifically for your tablet model. You can also just purchase a simple Bluetooth keyboard. No matter which option you choose, be sure it is compatible with your specific tablet model first before making any purchases. Just because they both fit in a Bluetooth Keyboard search on Amazon doesn’t mean they will actually work together!
The most frequently asked questions by users who want to make their old or outdated tablets to Smart Home Controllers are listed below. These questions may be helpful for you, in case you have similar questions in mind. At HowToDoThings, we try our best to answer all queries regarding smart home controllers. We hope that these FAQs help you understand our topic better.
Q: Is it possible to control smart appliances installed on different floors of a house?
It is totally possible if you have a smart home hub that has the functionality of a wireless router. But if you don’t have a smart home hub, then it may be more complicated to control appliances on different floors of your house. You’d need to do a further research on the Internet.
Q: Does my tablet need an internet connection to work as a smart home controller?
It is possible to control appliances with the help of an old tablet without an internet connection, but you will need a smart home hub for this purpose.
Q: How can I install the smart home controller app on my tablet?
You can download the smart home controller app from Google Play Store to your old Android tablet or from Apple App Store to your iPad. But if it is not compatible with your tablet, then you will have to root/jailbreak your device and install it from other sources manually.
You can do it!
Turning your old android or iOS tablet into a smart home controller is not a difficult task. All you have to do is install an app that supports that functionality. There are many apps available on both Google Play Store or Apple App Store that you can use for that purpose.
We hope you liked this article. Please share your views in the comments section below. Also, if you know of any other app for turning an old tablet into a smart home controller, let us know in the comment section below.
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