Friday, January 15, 2016

Smart Home–Intelligent Home or Just Cool Stuff?

I do believe there is a place for this “Cool Stuff” and if 2016 is to be the year of the Smart Home – I heard someone say – I had to look into this. The following is our foray into Smart Home/Intelligent Home technology.

All of this technology is run by app’s on our phone as well as through our Amazon Echo. I am using a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and my wife has a Moto 360 phone. We both are using Moto 360 watches – hers is a 2nd Gen. I also have an iPad version 3. More on Alexa (Amazon Echo) at the bottom of this entry.

We started out by purchasing the SmartPlug made by iHome (also found under iHome Control) with app’s available for iOS and Android. Well maybe. It does work well with iOS however if your are running the latest version of Android (5.1 or 5.1.1) it may not work. I say “may not”, they are working on an upgrade. I found this as a an upgrade to my Samsung phone stopped the app from working. I had to reconnect all SmartPlug’s via the iPad.

First up; I installed the first SmartPlug and we were sold on the Smart Home (or SmartHome). We had so much fun we immediately went out and bought 3 more. We have now installed one in the living room, one on the nightlight in the dinning room, and one in my office. We also sent one to our son to encourage this wonder of the age. All devices working on our smart phones.

Next we ordered the Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt for the front door. In the process of setting this all up I discovered the Wink Hub, which, it turns out, we will need to connect ALL the devices and use just one app, the Wink app for Android or iOS.

If you are going to purchase the Wink Hub (and I recommend it) you need to shop at Home Depot. At Home Depot the price of the Wink Hub was half of what I found everywhere else – including at Wink (at least when I was shopping).

Actually everything here is available at Home Depot and, with the exception of the Schlage door lock, we purchased all at Home Depot. The Schlage we purchased via Amazon Prime.

After a little patience (I don’t believe in frustration) I finally got the Wink Hub installed. Once installed we connected the 3 SmartPlug’s and then the Schlage door lock to the Wink Hub – actually really easy.

This is getting to be more fun. I can now turn on the lights from anywhere in the world using our smart phones, unlock and lock the front door, set timers on the SmartPlugs. Not that I need to do any of this, and yet I can.

There are some real personal benefits. One; when returning home late at night we can turn on the inside lights before opening the door. We can also open the front door from the car when it’s raining out so that we do not have to fumble with the door lock in the rain or while carrying groceries.
Locking the door on the way out, using the touch screen is so much easier. Actually, on those clear days when it’s not raining, using the touch screen to open the door is much easier than fumbling for keys.

We have since purchased two GE Connected light bulbs (Home Depot but are available in many other places). The 60W Soft White A19 Connected Home LED Light Blub. It connects via Wink and is dimmable.

I have to say we like the “warm” GE Connected bulb however the bright white is a bit much and has the LED harshness.

The bulbs and the SmartPlug’s can be controlled via the Amazon Echo. All we have to say is; “Alexa turn on the kitchen light” and the light is on. Or; “Alexa turn off the kitchen light” and the light is turned off. I have been caught saying “Please” when asking Alexa to handle these tasks. Alexa is a GREAT Personal Assistant, or friend of the family.

The nightlight we put on a timer as well as one of the living room lights. The lights on the timer can be turned off and on at anytime, overriding the timer.

If there is a drawback I would say that it is the fact that once installed you have to use the SmartPhone, or Alexa, to turn on or off the lights. The actual switches are left in the on position in order to respond to the app. Amazon are you listening? We need satellites for each room.

This is an ongoing project and to-date has been a lot of fun. I am looking forward to lights controlled by motion detectors as well as some different power outlets and more lights. As of right now we are happy with the way things are working. 

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