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Showing posts from May, 2019

Assistance with Assistants

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Throughout the Silicon Age, there have been countless religious wars of varying degrees of intensity and nerdiness. Mac vs PC, Nintendo vs Sega, Playstation vs Xbox, NT vs Netware, iPhone vs Android, and tabs vs spaces. Home automation is no different and although we have (and will do so again in the future) discussed Home Assistant vs SmartThings and Z-Wave vs wifi, this week we will talk about the digital assistants that sit in our houses waiting at our beck and call: Alexa and Google Assistant (and Siri).

A Beginner's Guide to Smart Bulbs

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Last week we discussed the various options available for replacing your light switches. Another way to smarten up your home’s lighting is with smart bulbs. These are light bulbs that are controllable via your all-purpose hub or a dedicated bridge via an app or automations. Smart bulbs have several advantages and disadvantages over smart switches which means they might have a place in your home, even if you’ve installed switches!

Let’s talk about some of the pros of using smart bulbs:

A Beginner's Guide to Smart Switches

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We’ve installed our thermostats, set up our doorbell and are loving the control it gives us. We’re starting to see the possibilities that home automation brings. Some of the key components that any smart house needs live on the walls of just about every room in our house. That’s right, we’re going to talk about light switches.

We physically interact with light switches every day. They are some of the most simple and reliable pieces of equipment in our houses. Every family member and guest understands how to use them without instructions. And therein lies the problem. How do we change out a simple, reliable, and intuitive piece of hardware for an inherently more complex one without sacrificing reliability and intuitiveness? Each manufacturer tries to answer these questions in its own way; some more successfully than others. Let’s examine some of the factors that go into choosing a good switch.

Smart Video Doorbells

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The next beginner friendly smart home component is a video doorbell. As with the thermostat, most smart doorbells do not require a hub and connect to your wifi. This makes it another ideal component to install while still learning about home automation.

As with most home automation components, there isn’t a one-size-fits all solution when it comes to doorbells. The main determining factor for which doorbell will work for you is whether you have an existing wired doorbell. Wired doorbells are extremely simple mechanisms. Pressing the button connects 2 wires that run back into your house to a chime and is powered by a transformer that is fed by your house’s electrical panel. [picture of transformer]. The transformer’s job is to take the 110 volts provided by the house’s power and step it down to 16 - 24 volts that the doorbells chime needs. If you have an existing transformer connecting to a wired doorbell, that’s great and means you have plenty of smart doorbells to choose from. If you…