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Showing posts from March, 2019

Proprietary Hubs

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When we discussed hubless wifi systems, one of the main downsides was their reliance on wifi and the potential for overloading it. Additionally, the lack of sensor options and unified solutions were problematic as well.

Enter the hub. At its simplest, a hub is piece of equipment with one or more radios in it that acts as a central coordinator for other components. It is responsible for knowing things like the current time, temperature, whether your door is open or not, whether a certain button in your house has been pressed, and the myriad of other things going on in your home; and then taking action by sending commands to devices like lights, speakers, or screens.

Put another way, the hub receives inputs from your house via your phone,  buttons, switches, and various sensors and sends output as commands and data to switches, light bulbs, displays, speakers and your phone.

Why wifi?

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When you browse Amazon for “smart outlet” or “smart switch” you’ll find a myriad of options that say “No hub required” or “Works with Alexa”. For the most part, these switches connect to your home’s wifi during set up and then respond to commands sent over wifi via the proprietary app from the manufacturer. TP-Link  switches are a common example of this and they are controlled by TP-Link’s Kasa app. Belkin’s Wemo switches and plugs are another common example. Recently, Amazon released an extremely low cost, self-branded line of smart switches that often go on sale. Leviton makes an extremely reliable and high quality switch as well.

These wifi components are certainly worth considering. They work well and are very reasonably priced. They integrate easily with Alexa and Google Home. Many, including the TP-Link, will work without an internet connection if your phone is on the same wifi network as the switch.

However, there are a number of downsides to be aware of before jumping in with …

Deal: Philips Hue Bulb for $10 at Amazon

Philips Hue Bulb for $10 at Amazon.

This isn't one of the color changing bulbs. Or even one of the color temperature changing bulbs. But is a dimmable Hue and, if you've already bought into that ecosystem, its a great price for a solid bulb.

We haven't yet gotten into specific hub, switch or bulb recommendations so hold off if you don't already have a Hue system. In any case, I'll be passing these deals along as they come up!

Introduction

You’ve just come back from a friend’s house where they turned on the lights simply by asking Alexa and it was so cool! The “gotta have it” center of your brain is triggered and you’re ready to make it happen. How do you get started? What equipment do you need? How much is it all going to cost?

The answer to all these questions is, of course, the time-honored response, “It depends.” The next few posts will examine some of the common options, their pros and cons. In the end though, there won’t be a single solution that works for everyone. Each system type will have strengths and weaknesses. There’s no reason why you have to choose a single type. In fact, nearly every system I’ve seen is made of several system types glued together with technology. And guess what? We’ll spend some time talking about that glue as well!

The main categories we’ll be discussing are:

Wifi controlled switches, bulbs and outlets that do not require a hub (e.g. Wemo, Kasa)Proprietary systems that are meant to work…

Welcome to the House Smarty!

So you’ve finally had it with programming and reprogramming your light timers throughout your house. Or maybe you wish your home’s thermostat knows when you are home before cranking up the heat. Perhaps you’d like your door to unlock as you walk up to it or have your porch light go on when someone else does. What about having visitors recognized and announced automatically when they ring your doorbell? Or maybe you just wish your home was a little bit smarter and could anticipate your needs. Welcome to the House Smarty where we talk about the world of home automation where all this and much, much more becomes possible.

Traditionally, home automation was the domain of the very wealthy or the super technical. Adding smarts to your home required custom, high-end systems sold and installed by dealers licensed by manufacturers like Crestron or Control4 that were, and still are, incredibly pricey. On the other end of the spectrum were the scrappy, do-it-yourself style systems that invariab…