‘Smart’ homes that turn the lights and kettle on for you – Daily Mail
Do you really still turn on your kettle using a switch? Oh, and I bet you still answer your front door. You probably even operate the lights manually. Or have a traditional burglar alarm.
Home automation (putting all your domestic appliances online so they can be controlled from a central unit such as an iPad or iPhone) will render all those actions as quaint as using a telephone box or renting films on a VHS tape.
Easy living: These days your home can be entirely in tune with your habits – without you lifting a finger
Stores such as John Lewis have seen a leap in demand from customers for these products.
Wireless music systems such as Sonos are already well established, but homeowners increasingly want to be able to remotely control their heating and lighting, and be able to access surveillance cameras in their home.
‘Sales of smart home technology are up by 160 per cent this year,’ says Katrina Mills, buyer at John Lewis’s Connected Home department. ‘Our bestselling products include the Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Cam.’ The Nest Learning Thermostat has technology that adapts to your habits, turning heating off in unused rooms and on in occupied areas.
The heat is on: The Nest learning Thermostat is a best-seller at John Lewis
The Nest Cam and the Canary Home monitoring camera are also increasingly popular, sending camera feeds of your home to your mobile. They come with an in-built alarm and night vision.
I particularly like the sound of Ring, which is a video doorbell with an inbuilt camera and audio that lets you talk to people at your front door, even when you’re not at home.
The Nest Protect smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarm is also appealing. I live in fear of our incredibly loud smoke alarm waking up our children when we accidentally burn toast, but this gadget alerts you to smoke detected in the house and you can stop the alarm before it goes off.
The Alexa — which is also known as the Amazon Echo — is a voice-activated robot that is becoming increasingly popular.
‘She’ will respond to requests to find out train times or turn lights on and off. You can ask such things as ‘Where is my wife?’ or ‘Play the theme tune from Star Wars!’
Instant answers: Google Home, powered by Google, will answer all sorts of questions and play music
Google’s answer to the Alexa is called Google Home, newly launched, which operates in the same way as Alexa, but powered by Google instead of Amazon.
This is all very well, but if you have a fully automated home what happens when there is a power cut? Or your broadband is erratic. Will I not be able to make a cup of tea or put a wash on if the internet goes down?
Julia Maybury, 35, from Cheltenham, has no such qualms now her husband has installed ‘smart’ functions.
‘Yes, it’s tricky when the wifi goes down. We have Sonos, for music, Wemo to control the lights and a Tado for the heating,’ says Julia. ‘I don’t get the point of Wemo — why do you need to control your lights from your phone? ‘Though it’s good when you’re away and you want to make it look as if someone’s home.’
It’s true that a good wifi network and broadband sSRci service is key, says Katie Sparrevohn, of London Residential AV Solutions, a company that designs and installs high-spec home automation systems.
Lights, camera, action: The Wemo netcam allows you to see what’s going on at home even when you aren’t there
‘The wired and wireless networks within a property are now the most important foundation for any smart home,’ she says.
‘So our bestselling products are our wifi systems, which are robust and rarely fail.’ hbor wc a ‘ The systems also come with a battery back-up in case of power cuts. That’s all very well, but if you struggle to set the clock on your microwave, how easy will you find it to use a fully automated home?
‘We always state that a four-year-old child or an 80-year-old grandparent should be able to walk into a house and use one of our systems,’ says Sparrevohn.
Of course, none of this is cheap, says Chris Hellel from Lasyl, which also fits home automation systems.
‘We have people coming in who have seen friends’ set-ups, or like the idea of home automation but are a bit taken aback by the numbers.
With tech such as this, the sky is the limit in terms of price. You can spend £100,000 without thinking about it.’ Of course, it doesn’t have to be that bad. If you just want a central unit to control your TV and audio, that might start at £5,000.
It all sounds exhausting. I might go and put the kettle on — all by myself.