Today’s smart home has blossomed to near Jetson-esque capabilities. The applications for home automation are racing ahead, fueled by the near ubiquitous availability of wireless technology and the growth of the Internet of Things.
Smart home gadgets and technologies continue to evolve, but the mobile app seems to be taking the lead. Let’s catch up with the advances in some key areas.
- Smart Thermostats
These deserve top billing as they were truly the first smart device to become mainstream. Product choices abound now that smart options for baseboard electric are being developed. Meanwhile, the focus remains solidly on convenience, energy savings and peace of mind.
Geofencing is one of the best enhancements in this category. Link your smart thermostat to your smart phone, set a radius around your domicile, and whenever you cross that boundary your thermostat goes into away or return mode, depending on which way you are heading.
- Smart Security is Surging.
Smart door locks were the first entrants in this category. More recently, video doorbells have entered the fray where you can see who is at the door from anywhere in the world. Very slick.
Wireless cameras have dropped in price, allowing you to canvas your home and property to keep an eye on things anywhere. Get an alert? Open the app and find out what’s going on at home.
- Smart Smoke and CO Sensors
These are key in the safety sector, with the capability of sending alerts to your phone, allowing remote status checks and silencing alarms from the app––all without sacrificing that awful, ear-splitting alert we have come to love.
- Smart Appliances
Refrigerators with cameras allow you to check for needed items while at the grocery store, and dryers sense when electric use is highest and turn off––talk about demand response! Even HVAC systems, including window air conditioners, are sporting mobile apps these days.
There is not a huge amount of automation for ovens and cooktops. Controlling this appliance remotely seems too dangerous unless the feature can only turn it off. In that case, chalk up another one for peace of mind by resolving that nagging vacation worry, “Did I turn the stove off?”
- Smart Lighting
This seems to have become a convergence of mood, efficiency, convenience and security, and is where a smart hub and its software might make sense. Setting up a coordinated lighting schedule is easier from a single interface. Create “scenes” for individual rooms or for the whole house. For security, grab a scene that gives your castle a lived-in look.
- Voice-controlled Assistants Might Be the Coolest New Entrants
These are receiving a lot of attention and, depending on the capabilities they are given, have the potential to command everything via voice, freeing you from the tedium of opening an app to control something.
The smart home circa 2019 is a lot closer to the cartoon vision of the Jetsons. With the ease of installation, programming and use enabled by wireless technology and smart phone apps, anyone not already engaged with smart home tech should at least consider dipping a toe in the water.
- Hub or A la Carte?
Ordinary wired devices simply don’t offer the convenience and luxury of wireless devices. When it comes to wireless, you can invest in a hub to which a range of proprietary devices connect before going onto your network, or go a la carte and buy whatever you want that can connect via wi-fi.
A hub locks you into those devices designed specifically to communicate with it. It is limiting, and the hub manufacturer may not provide the best in class product for every application. But generally speaking, overall management is easier with a single interface.
A la carte allows you to pick the best of each category and connect directly to your network. No self-respecting smart home device is sold without an app, so you get all the bells and whistles that entails. You just have to navigate through a host of apps to control everything.
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