A lot of people ask me what smart home systems I use, so I decided to write a post and share some of my favorites with you today!
Below you’ll find a list of smart home hardware and apps I love, what I use them for and some insights you might want to consider before you start buying.
Table of Contents
SMART HOME CONTROLLERS
VERA – Hmmm…when I started getting buzzed on this home automation stuff a bunch of years back; I made touch with the company (Micasaverde) who makes VERA and ordered in a generation 2 version of the controller.
Plugged in and got going, but do remember saying to myself at the time – ‘you really need to be IT literate to operate this type of stuff’.
I was ‘back in forth’ with a support person – who at that time was based over in Eastern Europe. So by no means a plug and play smart home controller, but I did get the unit to control some lights, security sensors and even made an attempt at control heating – Useful feature when driving back from Cork on a dark Sunday evening here in Ireland!
Fast forward to VERA3; installed about 3 months ago in the O’Driscoll household; the unit is more stable than its predecessors.
The user interface is friendlier and I am slowly but surely expanding the number of sensors and devices to it each month.
Click Here to pick up a VERA for your family.
For people who are prepared to pay over the $300 mark for a smart home controller, then serious consideration needs to be given to the HAI Lumina controller, and finally, if you live in Europe then my suggestion is to pick up the Fibaro Home Center Lite.
In the old days, when I started in this space; the only way that you could automate your lights was to install specialized wiring and spend lots of money.
Today, it is much, much, much easier to automate your home lighting system! Here are some of the options that I personally like:
Smart Bulbs (aka Wifi Bulbs) – Yes, all you need to do is replace your existing bulbs with newer and of course more expensive Internet-enabled Smart bulbs. Launch a smartphone or tablet app and your bulb will do lots of rock n’ roll things. I have looked at some of the Smart bulb products appearing on the market and to be honest the
Philips 431643 Hue Personal Wireless Lighting Starter Pack is hard to beat because not only is the product cooollllll…but Philips is also expanding their ecosystem to include various other Smart things around your house.
Click Here to get started with smart bulbs.
WIRELESS LIGHT SWITCHES – If for whatever reason, you decide not to go down the route of smart bulbs, then you might want to consider upgrading some of your light switches on the wall.
Before you do, be sure that the light switches you are about to purchase are compatible with your smart home controller.
SMART PLUGS – Yes another device with the word ‘Smart’ in it!
These little plugs are super easy to get up and running.
Unlike a smart bulb, they don’t burn out and Yes, they are also controllable with an App. So as always….you have two options. Number one.
if your aim is to only control your lampshades via your smartphone, then I really like the Wi-Fi enabled WeMo Insight Switch. .
If however, you want to integrate your lighting control with other things, for instance, a security alarm, then you need to install some Z-Wave and Zigbee smart plugs.
CENTRALIZED LIGHTING – Yes, even in Recession Ireland, and I am sure that applies to all parts of the world there still are people with money.
If you are one of those people and you are doing a new construction project, then serious consideration should be given to installing a wired lighting control system.
The one that I am most familiar with is Centralite. Click Here to get some more details.
Okay moving swiftly along to one of my favorite smart home systems – multi-room music, also known as:
- Multi-room audio
- Whole house music
- Distributed music systems
And there are lots of more terms that describe the ability to pull up an app on your smartphone and play whatever you want whenever you want!
In the old days, the only way to do this stuff was to ask your builder to run lots of cables. Nowadays it is much easier….
To start with, if you are like most and you live in a house that includes zero speaker wires…then it really is a no-brainer at this instance in time – Buy a Sonos system.
The starting point for a Sonos system is the bridge.
I have personally installed the HAI system in various locations and Yes it also works a treat!
This is an easy one! NEST!
If you do live in the USA – Buy Your NEST Here……It will cut down your home heating costs!
If you do live in the UK – Buy Your NEST Here…. And Yes, it has the same awesome features as the US version…
Owning an online store; means that I get the opportunity to play with and test lots of gadgets…. So here are the cameras that we use:
I use powerful Y-CAM IP Bullet Camera’s to keep an eye on the Garden via a Smartphone App. These cameras are un-scathed after two Irish Winters and support a range of features ranging from night vision to be able to record locally etc….
Inside we use a HD Dropcam IP Camera to provide peace of mind. It’s simple to set up and supports lots of cool features:
- Zoom in on what you see on camera
- Secure offsite recording
- Motion detection
- Mobile alerts
- Lots more…………
SMART BURGLAR ALARMS
Setting up a smart alarm is relatively easy to do. All four of the smart home systems controllers I identified at the beginning of this post all support the addition of door, window, and motion sensors. You will also need some type of siren that will go nuts when an intruder breaks in.
The feature I use the most for our own smart alarm is ‘arming’ when we leave the house and putting on the ‘night alarm’ when we head to bed.
SMART FIRE SAFETY AT HOME
Created by the same company that makes the Nest smart thermostat – the Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm is a real game-changer when it comes to Family Fire Safety.
For a start, it has that same sleek ‘Applish’ design which we expect from Nest.
Next, the detector comes with WiFi support, so you can manage directly from an App. It talks, it detects carbon monoxide leaks and lots more. Experienced in Emergency services, and the NEST Protect is my preference when it comes to increasing safety levels at home.
If you do live in the USA – Buy Your NEST Protect Here……It will make your family home safer!
If you do live in the UK – Buy Your NEST Protect Here…. And Yes, it has the same awesome features as the US version…
OVER TO YOU
There is lots of confusion out there when it comes to smart home systems; hopefully, my post has provided some guidance in terms of researching the myriad of Smart things that are available nowadays.
If those of you who are still confused about the endless options for smart home products & services,