Wireless Home Automation Gadgets
Strolling through Best Buy or Home Depot, I’ve noticed a growing range of gadgets “designed to work with your smartphone” in one way or another. Door locks, garage door openers, security cameras, and landscape irrigation systems are just some of the product categories that can be made smarter with an app and wireless connectivity. Let's take a closer look at home automation gadgets…
Are Your Locks Going Wireless?
For decades, we've been using wireless gadgets to control things around our homes. The TV, set-top box and the garage door opener are the most common. But now, homeowners have a new crop of devices that work with smartphones and various forms of wireless connectivity.
Below, you'll see several examples of home automation devices that you should know about. I promise you'll love the last one, so be sure to read all the way through today's article.
The August Smart Lock costs $150 on Amazon. It replaces the interior thumbknob of your existing deadbolt with a sleek but rather large metal cylinder that houses batteries, circuitry, and a servomotor that moves the deadbolt. Simply turn the cylinder to lock or unlock the August from the inside. Outside, the old lock’s keyhole remains unchanged, in case you need to use the old-school metal key again.
To lock and unlock the August using your smartphone, you need to open the app, wait for a Bluetooth connection, then tap an on-screen button. The “Everlock” feature, if enabled, automatically locks the door 30 seconds after you unlock it; that sounds like a real time-saver and a good security measure. The “Auto-unlock” feature uses GPS to detect when your smartphone and you are approaching and unlocks the door.
The ability to control the August Smart Lock remotely via the Internet can be very useful. You can admit service people, guests, and household members while you are not at home. But WiFi connectivity requires an additional $80 outlay for an August Connect WiFi-to-Bluetooth bridge, which requires AC power. You can also issue temporary passcodes to users who install the August app on their phones. The app keeps logs of who entered and how long they were inside.
The Chamberlin My-Q ($100) is a wireless “smart” controller for automatic garage door openers made after 1993. Its base station connects to your home WiFi network and the door opener. The My-Q can send you alerts when the door is opened, and you can open or close the door from anywhere using your smartphone.
Somebody's Ringin' the Bell...
Back in the 1970s, Paul McCartney didn't know who was knocking on the door and ringing the bell. But now he can, with the SkyBell, a door bell with a video camera and WiFi adapter ($150). It lets you see who rang the bell and talk to visitors via a smartphone app. I can see this being very useful for people with limited mobility. A motion sensor alerts you if a visitor doesn’t ring the bell. You can also activate the camera at any time, from anywhere. (But if you want to let 'em in, you'll need the August Smart Lock described above.)
The Rachio Iro Smart Sprinkler Controller ($204, 8 zones; $290, 16 zones) is an awe-inspiring landscape irrigation system. You can configure it to fetch local weather forecasts and adjust sprinkling schedules accordingly. It helps you monitor and analyze water usage; users report water savings of up to 30%. Of course, you can control it from anywhere using an app. One additional benefit: You no longer have to rely on the neighbor kid to water your garden when you're away.
The Arlo wireless home security camera system by NETGEAR ($159 for one camera, multiple bundles available) provides live streaming video via battery-powered wireless cameras. Included is free cloud storage of up to 7 days of video from one camera, email and text alerts when motion is detected. Additional storage and support for more cameras are available by subscription.
The Tile Phone Finder ($25) can actually find any lost item: phone, keychain, tablet, etc. It’s a tiny Bluetooth tracker that can be stuck to an item, hung on a cord, or placed inside a briefcase. Via an Android or iOS app, you can “ring” any of your Tiles and it will play a loud tune if it’s within Bluetooth range (up to 100 feet). The app logs the last known location of each Tile, giving you a good clue where to look for it. You can even expand a search to include all Tile apps nearby.
What's your opinion of these gadgets? Are you comfortable with your front door lock having an Internet address? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 25 Jan 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Wireless Home Automation Gadgets (Posted: 25 Jan 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved