For years now, many of us have used our computers as a clock, a typewriter, a radio, a television, a telephone, and a calculator. That was only the beginning of what’s possible. Today, almost everything in your home can be digitally connected. Whether it’s the lighting in your home, the task of cleaning, or controlling the temperature remotely, there are now a variety of ways to start connecting your devices and to turn your home into a “smart” home.
While a one-hundred percent “smart” home is still several years away, companies like Amazon and Apple are already making it easy to link your smartphones and computers to the rest of your home. And if you are building a home – or if you are thinking about building – a Florida homebuilder can probably incorporate most of your smart home wishes and desires right into the construction of your new residence.
Getting your home connected starts with having fast, powerful Wi-Fi everywhere in the house. Wi-Fi waves don’t travel well through walls or up to second floors. eero (that’s right, no capital letters) is a system of routers that distribute bandwidth evenly throughout a building. The number of routers you need hinges on the size of your home, but the company suggests a router for every 1,000 square feet.
WHO’S AT THE DOOR?
When you’re not home, the Ring HD Video Doorbell lets you see and talk – through your smartphone – with someone knocking at your door. It’s one-way – that person cannot see you or know where you are. It lets you tell a delivery person to leave the package on the porch or with your neighbor. Ring also records video, so if you miss anyone, or if you need someone’s description, you can look at the video later. With Ring, you’ll be alerted when there’s motion at your door, and you can look there whenever you like.
Video inside the home can provide a family with complete peace of mind. Canary offers several home security packages that let you check on the doors and the pets while you’re away. The Canary system sends motion-activated alerts to your smartphone, and it also records video. If there’s a problem, you can activate the built-in siren and call the police. You can store video and watch it later for any reason whatsoever. Canary also offers outdoor security systems, and they’re not alone. Presence by Netatmo flips on a floodlight and sends alerts to your smartphone when it detects motion. If someone’s loitering around your home or your car, you’ll know.
Controlling your smart devices is easy with Alexa by Amazon, the virtual assistant in the Amazon Echo. Echo also functions as a Bluetooth speaker, so you may not need it in every room, but the less-costly Echo Dot is basically the Echo without the speaker. At less than half of the Echo’s price, the Dot can connect to a Bluetooth speaker to play voice-controlled music, but the real advantage of Echo and Dot is the ease with which they connect to your lights, ceiling fans, and other smart home devices.
HOW CAN I “SMARTLY” CONTROL LIGHTS AND TEMPERATURES?
Without smart lighting, it’s not really a “smart” home. Adding connected lights to your home is one of the easiest ways to make your home smarter. Caseta Wireless dimmers by Lutron offers an easy-to-install starter kit that comes with light dimmers, a Wi-Fi enabling bridge, and a remote. You can set schedules with Lutron’s app, or you can control your lights remotely from your smartphone. The system integrates with Echo or Siri, so if you forget to turn off a light before going to bed, you can just ask your “personal assistant” to turn it off for you.
Especially if your windows are hard to reach, consider smart shades. Serena Remote Controlled Shades by Lutron make it easy to open and close window shades with one tap of the battery-operated remote control, which you can mount wherever you like for convenience. Alternatively, you can ask Siri to open or close the shades for you, because Serena shades easily integrate with the Apple Homekit.
A smart thermostat offers you more than convenience. You’ll see real savings right away, and you’ll be able to keep your home comfortable at all times. Wi-Fi thermostats by Honeywell can be controlled from anywhere, and Honeywell’s Lyric T5 smart thermostat integrates with both the Homekit by Apple and the Echo by Amazon. Speaking of temperatures, you may want to check out the L-Series ceiling fans from Haiku, which can be controlled remotely using either the Haiku Home app or Amazon Echo. If you are in Georgia, a team of Atlanta Electricians may be able to help.
If you’re away from the home, a Honeywell Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector can alert you whenever it registers moisture that might be a leak. Especially if you’re on vacation, you can keep your home from sustaining water damage or possibly even flooding. And if you forget to close your garage – or forget to open it – the MyQ Garage Door Controller by Chamberlain lets you check your garage door from anywhere and open or close it remotely.
CAN MY HOME BE “SMARTLY” CLEANED?
You may not want or need a cleaning person in your home, but if you’re like most people, you’re not really inspired by the idea of vacuuming or mopping floors, either. Now you can have a robot do that work instead. The Braava Jet Mopping Robot by iRobot is designed for wood floors and offers three functions; it dry sweeps, damp sweeps, or wet mops your floors. Unlike the first cleaning robots, its moves aren’t random. The Braava Jet Mopping Robot has software and sensors that determine the most efficient path while avoiding furniture and other obstacles.
Finally, if you’re arms are full of packages or groceries, you can unlock your door in advance – just by tapping your smartphone – with the Touch-to-Open Smart Lock by Kevo. The Kevo app even lets you send an “eKey” to a guest or a neighbor. That way, for example, if your Lyric Leak Detector alerts you while you’re on vacation, and your home is at risk for water damage, you can have a neighbor or friend open the door for a plumber.
Smart homes are rapidly becoming even more convenient and are saving homeowners even more money every year. What’s been listed here is only a sample of what’s currently available, but smart home technology is really just now in its earliest stages. If you’re thinking about building a home in Florida, talk with an experienced Florida homebuilder about a home that can be smart now and be even smarter in the future.