Easy start to home automation – Daily Record
Over the past couple of months we have been testing and writing about several devices that fit together well for simple home automation and allow for a lot of expansion should you desire it.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â The key to getting started in home automation is picking vendors and communication systems that are robust and unlikely to disappear in the next couple of years.Ã‚Â Anyone who got into the X-10 devices can attest to the sadness and frustration that can come when something just doesn’t work consistently and then gets completely left behind when something better comes along.Ã‚Â We were very cognizant of finding vendors that would provide great support and products that were exciting but also very dependable.
The two vendors we chose were Belkin and Amazon.Ã‚Â Belkin for their Wemo switches, plug in modules and lighting controls. Ã‚Â Amazon for their amazing Echo, a voice interface that is dependable and centralized.Ã‚Â It sounds strange to pick a control unit that has to be plugged in, but having an easy to use controller in one place makes a lot of sense, especially if you can also use a cell phone or a tablet as a mobile control.Ã‚Â This puts the control unit in one central place where everyone can use it, like the kitchen, which is especially handy because it’s hands-free.
The way the actual automation devices communicate is critically important.Ã‚Â It is possible to mix various kinds of communication, like WiFi and bluetooth,Ã‚Â but that lays on extra layers of complexity and always requires more equipment.Ã‚Â The more complex you make it the easier it is to create a system that is “cranky” and doesn’t work consistently.Ã‚Â As we’ve said before we think using WiFi is best.Ã‚Â It goes through walls easily, isn’t all that susceptible to interference, and you probably already have a network.Ã‚Â Less to build and set-up is less that can go wrong.
We think the best way to start is with the Belkin Wemo Switches, either the plain plug-in switches or the Insight version.Ã‚Â The Insight version lets you monitor how much power whateverÃ‚Â is plugged into it is using.Ã‚Â These are good to start with because they are simple.Ã‚Â Just plug in the switch, set itÃ‚Â up with a smart phone or tablet and you are good to go.Ã‚Â Note: The Wemo switches will probably want to download new software when you first get them out of the package, which is an extra step.Ã‚Â However, after that they keep themselves updated and you never have to do it again.Ã‚Â Once set up, the Wemo app on your smart phone controls them.Ã‚Â If you don’t happen to have your smart phone or tablet with you, just press the button on the front or top to turn the connected appliance or lamp on or off.Ã‚Â We recommend starting with three or four switches.
The Amazon echo is similarly easy to set up and the best part is that it will find your Wemo switches on the command “Alexa, discover my appliances.”Ã‚Â The Echo will find them all and remember their names.Ã‚Â From then on it’s “Alexa, turn on the coffee maker” or “ Alexa, turn on the front light.”Ã‚Â A very simple and easy to use system.Ã‚Â Because Amazon’s Echo is a smart device it allows users to group lights or appliances together.Ã‚Â For instance to turn on all the living room lights just say “Alexa, turn on the living room.”Ã‚Â Any number of groupings are possible so different lights can be grouped for “Party” or “Romance,”Ã‚Â etc.Ã‚Â Because we have several kids living with us we especially like “Alexa, turn off everything.”
We’re recommending this “Kit” because it a good and relatively inexpensive method of finding out just what simple home automation can do.Ã‚Â It’s also easily expanded.Ã‚Â Once you start controlling your home with voice commands it’s hard not to think of new things you’d like to try.
Write a Reply or Comment:
You must be logged in to post a comment.