Having a robust home network is critical to your family’s happiness, since we all need that connection to deliver entertainment. Another thing that a robust home network can do is make our lives simple and effortless by integrating home automation: now we can use the network to access and control cameras, lights, and music everywhere in the house and on any device we’re comfortable with. If you’re new to home automation, you may be asking “how do I get started with home automation?” The answer is probably a bit simpler and more straightforward than you think. This week, we’ll look at five ways to automate your home for a smoother day.

1. Use floodlight cameras to record what’s going on outside

The current generation of outdoor cameras—from Wyze, Arlo, Ring, and others—come in a number of price points and feature sets. Find one with a motion sensor, which can trigger both the light and recording so you can cut down on how much gets recorded (which is important whether you send the video to the cloud or store it locally). If you have any home automation systems that you already use—Apple’s HomeKit, Google Home and Google Assistant, or Amazon’s Alexa products—then make sure that it integrates with that system. One of the biggest decisions to make is how to power the light/camera; fully wireless lights will need to be charged, but they’re much easier to install (on your own) than wiring power to a new spot.

2. Install a doorbell camera to fight back against porch pirates

For a lot of us, there isn’t a ton of traffic at the doorbell from neighbors or solicitors; the main use of the doorbell is to let us know that a package has arrived. Doorbell cameras might make a good deterrent against someone who wants to snach a package off or your doorstep. Of course, if you do have a bit of traffic at your door, it helps you see who’s ringing the bell, and can give you notifications on your mobile device instead of ringing a sound throughout the house.

3. Amazon Echo can manage your lights

Alexa Smart Home devices can do some pretty powerful things with the lights in your house. If you have WiFi-enabled lights that are integrated with your Alexa devices, then you can simply ask Alexa to “turn on the light.” That’s a pretty cool feature in itself, but a lot of products also have tunable brightness, temperature, and colors, so you can change the mood to whatever you would like. Beyond that, you can set up “routines” to automatically turn on lights when you, for instance, walk into the room—no command necessary.

4. Feit Smart Dimmers let any light Work with Alexa

If you’re not interested in adding lights in every room, you can replace single-pole and three-way light switches with Feit’s WiFi-enabled Smart Dimmer. This lets you control the original lighting fixtures in your house with the Feit app, which integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant. It’s recommended that you have a licensed electrician install them, since it is just like replacing a typical light switch or power outlet.

5. Use Spotify to turn anytime into a house-wide party

If you have a number of Amazon Echo devices throughout the house (or Google Home, or Apple Homekit devices), you can link it with your Spotify app and play DJ for the whole house. You may have noticed that a lot of Echo devices only have one speaker; but if you have two of the same Echo device in the room with one another, you can configure them to each be the left and right speaker, giving you the full stereo experience. You can even add an Echo subwoofer to get the bass bumping. Another cool feature is that you can ask Alexa to play things from Spotify without being very specific; if you want to listen to something relaxing, you can ask Alexa to try to find something appropriate for the moment.

-Written by Derek Jeppsen on Behalf of Sean Goss and Crown Computers Team