Just picked up a HomeKit-compatible gadget? Awesome. Here's how to set it up.

Apple has made it incredibly easy to set up your new home automation accessories with its HomeKit system — assuming, that is, you've picked up an accessory which works with HomeKit. (If you're not sure, look for the "Works with Apple HomeKit" badge on the accessory's packaging; additionally, we have a breakdown of all the currently compatible devices.)

Here's how to set up your HomeKit house, enable your devices, and use them with Siri and third-party apps.

How to create a home for your smart home accessories

If this is your first HomeKit accessory, you're going to need to set up a "home" container: This groups all the HomeKit accessories for your current home. You can set up multiple HomeKit houses (if you, say, have both a local home and a vacation home with smart accessories), though only one can work as the "primary" house for Siri at a time.

To set up your home, you'll need to first download a HomeKit-compatible app. Though every HomeKit accessory should have a companion app, not all of them are well-made; as such, I'm going to recommend two other apps for managing your accessories. My favorite free app is Elgato's Eve; if you're looking for something more full-featured, I highly recommend the Home app.

Once you've downloaded your app of choice, here's how you set up a new house.

  1. Open the app.
  2. Press OK if the app asks you to access your Home data.
  3. In the Eve app, tap Add Accessory; in the Home app, tap the plus button in the upper right corner.
  4. Name your home.

After you've done so, it's time to set up your first accessory.

How to set up your HomeKit-compatible accessories

  1. Hook up your device to power. (That may mean plugging it in to a wall outlet, connecting an extension cord, or adding batteries.)

  2. Connect it to Wi-Fi or Ethernet, depending on the accessory.

  3. If you haven't already, download and open the app for your accessory.
  4. Follow the instructions in the app for setting up your accessory.
  5. At some point during the setup process, you'll be asked for the HomeKit setup code: It has the HomeKit house next to an eight-digit number separated into three groups. Enter it into the app.

Once you've done so, congratulations! You've added your accessory to your HomeKit home. From here, you can customize the accessory's name, add it to rooms, zones, scenes, and triggers, and control it with Siri.

How to use your HomeKit accessories outside of your home

Want your lights to come on before you get home? Turn down your thermostat after you've left for vacation? You can always use your accessory's app, but if you have iOS 9 or an Apple TV, you can also use Siri commands when you're out and about.

Starting with iOS 9, your iPhone can securely chat with your HomeKit bridges and accessories even while out of the house. It can do so because of the new HomeKit Accessory Protocol (HAP), which uses secure networking over iCloud to talk to your connected HomeKit accessories. HAP doesn't work with prior versions of Apple's mobile operating system; as such, if you're still using iOS 8, you'll still need to use and set up an Apple TV for controlling your house outside your local Wi-Fi network.

If you're still running iOS 8 or your accessory isn't compatible with HAP, you can use a third-generation Apple TV. Here's how:

Run into problems?

My first suggestion is to try out our HomeKit troubleshooting tips; if you're still having problems getting set up, we'll try and help you out either here in the comments, or we suggest chatting with your accessory manufacturer/Apple, depending on the problem.