Have you ever left home only to wonder if you closed your garage door? Or, have you ever come home after dark and wished your lights would turn on when you opened the door? If only our homes could send us messages when something is amiss or interact with us to meet our needs. Well, they can, and they do.
Wifi and smart phones have expanded the realm of smart technology for homes. New wireless systems go beyond home security and allow homeowners to remotely control and monitor home systems from anywhere in the world via their smart phone, including:
· Lighting – dimmers and switches, light bulbs, landscape lighting
· Safety & Security – security cameras, door locks, alarm systems, smoke & CO detectors, garage doors
· Energy Management – thermostat, outlet controls, water heater, irrigation systems
· Lifestyle – pet doors, coffee makers, eggs (yes, eggs)
New systems are introduced almost monthly, and consumers can purchase them online or at leading home improvement and office supply retailers. Since the systems are wireless – most require a hub that taps into your internet modem – the devices are easily installed by the home owner. Plus, monitoring costs are significantly lower than those of traditional home security companies – if a consumer decides they want monitoring. These new systems are unique in that they allow the consumer to self monitor their home. In fact, most systems allow the user to interface with and control their home, even view a video feed, using an app on their smart phone.
Iris – Marketed by Lowe’s, Iris offers a full complement of home comfort and security devices. Iris is sold in stores and online, and Lowe’s offers specialized starter bundles for home automation and home security. Or, consumers can buy the devices they need a la carte, from smart plugs to dimmer switches to garage door openers to water heater shut-off valves and more. They also offer monitoring service for security as well as care service – get instant text messages for personal emergencies or if a loved one’s normal routine is disrupted. Use Iris magic to turn on lights or initiate video monitoring when a door is opened or other designated event happens. (see irisbylowes.com for more information)
Nest – One of the original off-the-shelf systems, Nest offers thermostat control, smoke alarms and video cameras. They have also started partnering with other companies to allow everyday household items such as light bulbs, washers and dryers, ceiling fans and more to interact with Nest devices. Nest is currently working with Google to connect more products. (see nest.com for more information)
Wink – Similar to Iris, Wink operates as a hub and an app (free from App Store and Google Play) that control a la carte devices in your home. Not all devices require the hub; some work off the app on your smart phone. Choose from a variety of security devices, home safety devices and home comfort. You can even add an egg minder that monitors the number and age of eggs in your refrigerator! Wink also interfaces with Nest. Again, like Iris, Wink devices can work in conjunction with each other to, for example, turn on lights when a triggering event occurs. Wink is available from Home Depot and Amazon.com. (see wink.com for more information)
Others – There are numerous options in the growing smart home market. A few other players include: Homeseer, Revolv, Belkin WeMo and SmartHome to name a few. If you’re considering improving your home’s technology, research the different systems to determine which offer the devices and systems that best suit your lifestyle.