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Guide: Everything You Can Do With Google Home and Google Assistant In Your Smart Home

Do you want to know what you can do with Google Home Assistant?  Home Automation is no stranger to Google, with all of the integrations, features and voice-assistant that this technology has to offer.  Here’s a comprehensive guide of Google home automation integrations to help assist you in your smart home journey.

Image Credit: AndroidCentral

You can control almost anything in your home, whether it is lighting, switches, tv and electronics- to even your water heater, router, and sprinkler system which I never even thought would be possible yet!  See more information below, and be warned- this is only the tip of the iceberg of what Google Home and the voice-assistant has to offer.

What Do I need to Get Started?  The Home Hub and/or the Assistant App:

First off, you want to make sure you have either a Google Home hub, or at the very least- the Google Assistant app.  You can get the Google Assistant app in the play store here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.googleassistant&hl=en_US

I know you can get by without the hub, only because I don’t even have the hub in my own home and I’ve used the Assistant to control lights, switches, and things in my Smart Home that you wouldn’t think were even possible without the home hub.  So, rest assured- if you have the app, you can get going today with products described below after simply stating “Ok, Google… Turn off bedroom lights.”

Update: it is also available with your iPhone!  See here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-assistant/id1220976145?mt=8

Ok, Now What?  What all works with the Google Assistant?

There’s a full library of things from a range of apps to home control products here in the Google Assistant library of integrations: https://assistant.google.com/explore?hl=en.  Just simply choose a topic on the left navigation that you want to explore further and follow the instructions to send that integration to your device.  Simple as that!  Let’s start looking into the capabilities now!

Smart Home Ecosystem of Choice?  SmartThings

And the winner is – SmartThings.  SmartThings has so many great features and is so easy to use- as well as has battery support in case you have a battery operated modem/router or a UPS connected to your internet equipment (in case the power goes out).  Furthermore- SmartThings extends the features and functionalities for Google Home and the assistant across other wireless languages that Google otherwise isn’t compatible with.  I highly recommend this hub as a main proxy for your smart home.  It will help later at some point- especially if there is some wonky issue or integration for your Smart Home device and your Google Home.  I’ve used SmartThings as a proxy instead of using the google home integration and used my hub to control certain things (and obviously since Google Home is directly connected to my hub- it can still control it, just easier using SmartThings in rare, one-off situations of compatibility).

Lighting:

Philips Hue:
Philips Hue is by far- my favorite lighting system.  At a price-point that is better than ever- now is the time to think about where to invest your money when it comes to smart home lighting and Philips is a leader in lighting.  I set up scenes, as well as individual lights with my Google Assistant to control by voice.  You can also setup scenes with both your lights and entertainment devices if you use SmartThings as the bridge to combine different lights and tv/entertainment devices.  There’s also a really cool integration called HueSync- that works with your PC or Mac.  It can mirror your colors on your PC’s screen- and once calibrated, you can watch a movie or play a game that is a totally new and colorful experience matching the movie you are watching.  Definitely check it out as Philips Hue is a flagship brand in this Internet of Things revolution!

LIFX:
I really like LIFX- because the vivid colors and vibrant experience is so unique- I can’t really compare it to any other lights.  Due to the lack of lumens used with some of the Philips hue light bulbs, I wanted to see some other lights out there and LIFX was an awesome choice.  It uses WiFi instead of Zigbee or Z-wave and this is more of a drawback especially if you have a lot of WiFi devices in your house- but the bulb is so bright and colorful, that I had to mention it in this article as an alternative, especially if you are only getting one light and want to avoid needing a hub at all for remote and voice control.  This is a great bulb for entry-users in the Smart Home Space.

Osram Lightify – Garden Spot Landscape Lights:
Osram is a great choice and has similar color vibrancies as LIFX.  I have to recommend this product as it has served my front yard well for years.  It is waterproof, multi-colored and dimming- as well as versatile with many smart home integrations and hubs.  Make sure to check it out as they’ve recently expanded their offering to include use of Google Assistant!  You do need a Zigbee hub for lights that need Zigbee wireless (as opposed to just Wifi).  Keep this in mind- there’s a cheap Zigbee hub I’ve put next to the Garden Spot here as well.


Security, Access, and Entry: 

Ring Smart Doorbell:

Did you know that the Ring doorbell can notify you when you setup the integration with Google Home?  When somebody is at your front door- you can get a notification chime in case you don’t hear it at your door.  I’m sure there are other push notifications you can get to view the video as well since it is a multi-featured video doorbell with lots of goodies.

Chamberlain My-Q:
This garage door controller is legit.  Keep in mind that you need to already have an electric garage door opener (and one that is compatible of course with the My-Q controller) before you can get started with this integration.  Also, keep-in-mind that this garage door controller requires a yearly $10 subscription for the integration to work after the one month trial period they have (I know, stupid).  However, there are other garage door controllers you can get- but if you want to pay to play, and get the best one with the least amount of trouble- this is the one you want to go with. Note- there is an automatic feature to open your door when you arrive at home or use your phone to control and open the door, to make things even more interesting.  Check the assistant library for other controllers if you really want to avoid paying a subscription, but you’ve been warned- convenience can cost when the market hasn’t caught up yet and this is why I’ve mentioned Chamberlain’s flagship device.

August Smart Lock:

You can’t go wrong with this electronic deadbolt.  You can use Google Assistant to interact with it, and although it is a hefty price point- it is one of the most versatile Smart locks on the market and very worthy of the price.  Make sure to check out the Google Assistant library in the link above for more information on this Smart Lock and all the neat Bluetooth and automated features it has to go along with it.  You’ll need to get the adapter though for some features to work standalone without google assistant, so keep that in mind and check out that Connect adapter to be able to remotely control your smart lock when away from home.  It’s a Wifi bridge to add even more features!

Canary:
Canary is a camera that is a great solution in addition to the already mentioned products above.  You can ask “who is home” as well as check the batteries of certain Canary devices. If you are looking to get security setup in your home- it is a great solution for a simple standalone camera with microphone capabilities in case you need to communicate with anybody or tell some thief to get out of your house!

In the future:  First Alert, among other brands will be on the roadmap in the future per an article I read that came out last month about Google Assistant.  If you are paying for a provider- probably best to check, if they are or will be integrated with Google Home or Google Assistant at some point.

TV & Entertainment:

Logitech Harmony:
I use Logitech Harmony to control my entertainment devices, as-well-as some of my heating/cooling and infrared devices.  Logitech Harmony is unique in that you can use it to combine different things together that wouldn’t otherwise be possible due to the lack of wireless language compatibilities.  If you have a device that uses an infrared remote (pretty much any TV these days) and even Bluetooth or wireless- the Logitech harmony hub serves as a great candidate for any smart home user.  I use it to create scenes with my Xbox and I tell my voice-assistant “turn on Xbox time,” and it will turn on my TV, Xbox and living room lights.  What’s even better- I can tell my assistant to turn the volume down, and it will turn down the volume of the device that is producing the sound (my tv) because it can be pre-programmed with the Logitech Harmony app to designate where the audio is being drawn from.  Keep this in mind- because it is great for controlling your entertainment system.

Chromecast:
Chromecast is unique in a sense that- you can wirelessly project your PC screen to your TV using it.  You can even program it to be used with your voice-assistant and can literally project your PC screen to a TV with the command of a few words.  Since it essentially is a entertainment hub- you can also open up any smart apps that are on the Chromecast and also control those by voice.  The integration is deep considering it is also created by Google- so it is definitely something you want to keep an eye on in case you decide to embed a lot of your entertainment around a Google Home experience.

Appliances:

Nest Thermostat:
If you don’t know what Nest is by now- you should.  It is a Smart A/C thermostat that has a ton of features.  Obviously since Nest is an Alphabet/Google company- the integrations are rich with your voice assistant.  Apparently you can control your thermostat from your voice assistant by setting the temperature from wherever your assistant can hear you.  There’s tons of guides, information and articles out there of how this thermostat can interact with your voice assistant, so I’m going to keep this one short- as I do not have the Nest Thermostat myself, but have heard many great things about it.  This thermostat, as well as Rachio- has energy rebates as well and you can check on Nest’s site to see if there is an energy rebate in your area (to pick it up for even cheaper) or you can go with the latest and new thermostat with a lower price point.  Both thermostats work with this voice-assistant well.

Logitech Harmony:
As I mentioned before- I mainly used Harmony to control my entertainment devices, but- you can also control nearly anything with an Infrared sensor that is compatible with Harmony (there’s a list of thousands of products and a good chance whatever you have- is integrated).  I used it to turn on/off both cooling and heating with my old remote-controlled window a/c and my remote controlled Honeywell space heater.  Although it’s not the latest and greatest- if you want to save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in buying a smart air conditioning system or heater- you can go cheap with a window a/c or a space heater that is controlled via infrared with Logitech Harmony.

Rinnai:

Apparently you can control your water heater with Google Assistant.  Who woulda’ knew?  Well, now you do.  I can’t speak much myself- to this integration, but it sounds exciting.  We all hate that dreadful cold water when we first get into the shower.  Rest assured, your buns can be warm in a jiffy with this neat little gadgetry.  According to Rinnai, recirculating models after 2012 work with it.  “All Rinnai recirculating models manufactured after 2012 may take advantage of this Google integration. Not sure if you have a compatible model? Visit rinnai.us to look up your model number.”  Source: <https://assistant.google.com/services/a/uid/000000d5f474e0aa?hl=en-US>

Power Outlets/Smart Plugs:

TP-Link Casa Smart Plug:
This was by far the cheapest smart plug I’d ever purchased.  Mind you- it was very easy to setup as well.  I used this plug to turn a dumb old fan into a smart fan due to it only having an old switch and no digital or infrared control.  I’ve also used it for small space heaters that simply could be left in the on position so when I had my voice-assistant turn on the switch- it would turn on the space heater.

Belkin Wemo:
I like Belkin Wemo because of the app and experience as well as the reliability. I had a couple of these plugs controlling my old dumb window A/Cs that didn’t have the capability to be controlled by my Logitech Harmony.  I’ve also used this plug to control old PC monitors.  Although I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone in particular- a neat pro tip, just tape your monitor on/off switches down so they are always on and so the smart plug can turn them on and off.  This made just another few things in my house- to be controlled by my voice-assistant.  They also have a few variations of smart plugs so the price point will fit your needs, and a higher end switch that has energy monitoring and some sweet integrations with a variety of ecosystems out there.

iDevices:
iDevices is a great smart plug candidate- as it is reliable, easy and also has energy monitoring within it.  You can tell how much energy is being used while also being able to remotely control your Wifi outlets/smart switches from anywhere.  I had an electric barbeque and had the outdoor switch- and would turn it on when I was at the grocery store picking up some meat to barbecue- and when I got home it was pre-heated and ready to go.  I also used it to turn it on and off within my house because it had to run a little longer when I was done to burn off any sediments and grease.  Check out iDevices if you are looking to find a great entry-level smart plug.

Home Networking and Miscellaneous:

Netgear:
You can interact with your Netgear router on any newer routers that were created over the last few years.  I’ve used this integration to reboot my router, as well as disable my guest network when I didn’t want it to be projected to other users within the wireless range.  You can also enable it for remote access using the Netgear genie app, but I can almost imagine most that use this- simply use it to reboot their router if their internet is acting strange and needs a soft reboot to clear up those wireless quirks.  If you haven’t tried it out and have a Nighthawk- make sure to check out this sweet integration.

Rachio Sprinkler System:
You can control your sprinkler system if you purchase Rachio.  This requires you to already have an electronically-controlled zone or series of zones of irrigation.  Rachio is great, reliable and one of the first to enter into the smart irrigation space, so make sure to check it out- especially if you want it to automatically adjust your sprinkler watering based on the weather and location or also be able to control it remotely in case of a fire.  It also works with SmartThings and I definitely recommend this system for any interested Smart Home ninjas out there.

Cool App Integrations:

Mastermind:
This app is not just great for Google Home- but also great for Amazon Alexa and the Echo.  It enabled features not otherwise available at first- like, sending a text message, repeating my notifications/alerts from my phone (when it was in the other room or not in my line of sight), as well as checking my calendar.  Google Home has come a far way since then- but it still is a great app as it can do things that the Assistant can’t do by itself.  The notifications is great and it is free- so I had to recommend it as I love it.  It also makes it easier to sync your Chromecast and wirelessly project your pc screen to your tv device using the cast feature calling with Mastermind.  Make sure to check it out!

Google Search:
You can do a google search with Google Assistant.  I’ve asked things like – how old is this celebrity?  What temperature should I cook a full chicken in the oven?  How far is this store in miles?  What will the weather be like the next 7 days in this city?  There’s a lot of things you can do with Google Home- but this is partly where it is literally killing it in competition.  The fact that I can do things I would normally have to look up on my computer via a Google Search- is why this voice-assistant is a flagship in many ways more than one.

TriggerCMD:
TriggerCMD is a great integration, not only because I can control my computers- but I can also interact with my Raspberry Pi.  For all that don’t know much about a Raspberry Pi, that’s ok- it gets a little extreme as it is a little computer basically that is running a linux Operating system on it.  I use it to send a signal or a “ping” to my other PCs in my house that are asleep and it wakes them up.  I use it so my computers never are fully turned off and can be turned on by voice- via using “wake-on-lan” and it enabled many other things when I used the virtual switch instructions on the website to set it up with SmartThings.  That said- this is a must-have app and very cheap for the amount of time it has saved me as-well-as energy savings by putting my computers to sleep when I forget.  www.triggercmd.com

I already bought an Alexa!  I can’t use Google Home now:

Keep in mind that you can just use the Google Assistant app, and don’t just need the hub standalone and make sure to click the link at the top of the article to get the assistant app.  Also, you can setup Google Home on an Amazon Alexa as an Alexa skill.  This is a bit beyond most- but I have done it and have had it setup on my Alexa for about 2 years now and not paid but a few dollars total for the service.  See more on how to do that here: https://www.hackster.io/tartanguru/run-google-assistant-on-your-amazon-echo-d99235

" The SmartHome Ninja : Owner, creator, imagineer, smart home enthusiast, tester, practical applicator extraordinaire.."

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