Home Automation Brings New Meaning to “Remote” Control
If you’re annoyed with having separate remotes for your TV, Blu-ray player, cable box and sound system, you might think that having a “smart” home would be too complicated. But you’d be wrong. Today’s home automation innovations allow you to connect, monitor and control multiple systems and appliances from wherever you are, with a Smartphone, tablet device or computer. As long as you can connect to the internet, you can monitor and control your home.
Select a Single Purpose System…
One name that’s getting a lot of buzz is Nest, which was recently acquired by Google. The addition of Google’s resources to Nest’s technology has created excitement about what’s sure to be the next generation of internet-enabled home gadgets. Two systems are currently available: Nest Thermostat and Nest Protect. Every time you adjust the temperature on a Nest Learning Thermostat, you’re teaching it your preferences and schedule. Before you know it, it’s programmed itself to maintain your comfort. An Auto-Away™ mode, for energy efficiency, kicks in when it detects no one is home. The Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm units have simple green/yellow/red status lights and send low-battery alerts to your phone (so there’s no low-battery chirping in the middle of the night). Plus, if you burn your toast, you’ll get a simple “Heads-Up” alert instead of an ear-piercing alarm blast.
Kwikset offers KEVO smart locks that secure your home not only with traditional metal keys but also with auto-style fobs and Smartphone apps. Encrypted controls let you buzz-in your in-laws when they show up early, or keep track of when your teenagers come in and go out.
LG‘s newest line of smart appliances has HomeChat, a service that lets you text with your connected appliances … and get replies. Before you arrive home you can turn on the oven, start a robotic vacuum and tell the washer to start a load of laundry.
…Or Get Totally Connected
A significant advance in home tech is the emergence of smart systems, which monitor and control multiple devices and systems from different manufacturers with a single app. Lowe’s Iris Home Management System is cloud-based and controlled via web, tablet or Smartphone. Lowe’s branded modules are available for controlling your thermostat, garage door, window shades, security cameras, pet door, water heater from afar, interior and exterior lights. Get the basics with no extra fees, or upgrade your services and get monitored security plus extra control features for $10 a month.
Staples Connect starts with a $99 hub made by Linksys and provides a single point of control for compatible devices from partners like: Lutron, Philips, Linksys, Honeywell, First Alert, GE, Schlage and Yale, with audio/visual partners in the works. Most of these devices will have a UPC bar code that, when scanned, will take you right to a setup menu. The free Connect app can even detect when a new device is added and recommend other related products to go with your system.
Many new home automation systems are meant for the DIY market, but there are also manufacturers that offer installation services. Just select how much “remote control” you’d like to have in your home and get started!