Making a Smart Home

Hi, My name is Shanks and I am an addict.  I have to admit I love technology whether it is a new device or a new tool to help automate my life.  I recently purchased a new condo and since I have moved in have been working quite hard to add some automation to my home.  The idea of the Smart Home has always cause my attention.  Is it possible to just speak and have a task done for me?  While some find it a waste of time and money; I absolutely love it.  Even one of my favorite stores has jumped in on the smart market.  Best Buy (an electronics store in the U.S.) has launched a Smart Nursey line featured in store and online.

I want to take you through a walk-through of what I have and what I can do.  Then we can take a look at some of the things I am planning to add to my system.  Maybe I will inspire you to add some of the smart devices to your home as well.  One thing I should warn you is this is not a cheap hobby; however, if you enjoy technology and streamlining your devices this may help you as it helped me.  Creating a smart home does not have to be a stressful process and for some is a fun little project.

Smart Home

Starting out with Amazon Echo

Prior to moving to my new condo I was running an Amazon Echo and absolutely loved it.  The team at Amazon works extremely fast and so do all of the manufacturers working with Amazon to bring us new skills all the time.  There are few things you cannot do with an Amazon Echo these days.  Just start by saying Alexa and ask her something.  I check the weather every morning before leaving my room.  Alexa will also give me updates on new headlines, review scores from the night before, play any artist in the Amazon Library and many more things.

Amazon Echo

Smart Thermostat

I don't know about you; however, I am awful at remembering to turn my heat or A/C off before leaving.  I hate trying to keep it on a cycle because my schedule is fluid and changes so setting it to turn on at a specific time could also be a pain.  This is why I knew when I stopped renting I needed to get a smart thermostat.  In addition, I travel quite often for work as some of you may have even noticed and this would make for a nightmare.  Having to worry about turning the heat up so the pipes don't freeze while being on the road can be brutal to your nerves (trust me!). Consequently, now that I figured out I needed a Smart Thermostat, I needed to research which one to go with.  As with everything there are always choices and you have to weigh the benefits and features.  I was stuck between two models: the Nest & the Honeywell Thermostats.  The nest in many ways is a more popular brand and is known for working very well with Apple products.  I, myself, only run android products and some have mentioned that the Nest was not available on Samsung Smart Things yet.  This played a small part in my thought process; however, what took me over the edge was looking at what the companies specialize in.

Honeywell Thermostat

Honeywell has been making thermostats since I could remember and I felt they developed a version that resembled a real thermostat.  It also had a little cheaper price-point which allowed me to save a few dollars.  I installed the Honeywell Thermostat model RTH9580WF two days after moving in and I love it!  I am able to see the temperature and humidity in my place at all times and am able to set it from anywhere in the world.  What a relief!!!! The thermostat is also hooked up to Alexa so no more having to run downstairs in the middle of the night to set the temperature.  If I do not have my phone handy (in the rare occurrence) I can ask Alexa to set my temperature.  Below you will see a quick view of all you see on this smart device.  As I mentioned, I love it because I get a nice snapshot into everything and it resembles what I remember as a conventional thermostat.  This bad boy has helped me move one step further to creating a smart home. Honeywell Smart Thermostat

Philips Hue Lights

One of the first smart home devices I tried was the Philips lights.  I loved the fact they came with a dimmer switch and could be mounted everywhere.  I have now switched over all of my lights to these dimmer lights.  Luckily once again I can integrate them right in with Alexa and the Amazon Echo.  The only thing you need to add is the Philips Hue bridge which allows the lights to connect to Alexa.  The Philips lights are great and feature very bright bulbs.  Below you will see a picture of the remote I have for my dimmer switch. Dimmer Philips You can also upgrade to some of their more expensive lights which carry the ability to change colors.  I know a District Manager who changes the colors of his lights to correspond with his sports team's colors.  For example, when he watches the Boston Celtics, his room has a green and white glow.  While this isn't something I have to worry about today, they make awesome night lights as well.  Maybe your child would like a nice light blue glow in his room while he tries to sleep.

Final Thoughts

Well that's going to do it for this article as I have not had a chance to add more devices to my home….. yet.  I wanted to share some of the neat devices out there and show you how they can make your life that much easier.  I know for me a guy who lives alone and travels quite often, these devices have become a familiar friend.  They help me and allow me to be human and forget without paying too much for the mistake.  As I add more devices to my home I promise to invite you in so you know what is out there.  If you have any questions please feel free to visit us on the Ares Forum.  I would be more than happy to assist in any questions on designing your smart home.