The days of manually controlling everything at home from your air conditioning to your lights, locks, ceiling fans and electrical outlets are long gone. There are now plenty of smart tools on the market that allow you to support your home from your smartphone, wherever you are. Ambit Energy reviews six smart tool categories to help you make the wisest choices.
We’ll start with the holy grail of home automation—a system that does it all—like Control4. It’s a smart home system that puts your entertainment system, lights, thermostat, security system and everything else under your control via your iOS or Android mobile devices. Using a single control center, network cabling and Wi-Fi, Control4 lets you send Netflix and other streaming music and video services to any TV in your house, manage your digital movie and music collection, turn up your heat, lock your doors and dim the lights from a simple user interface on your smartphone or tablet. Control4 also offers in-wall or tabletop touchscreens to control the entire system without tying up your phone.
However, you might not want or need everything a full home automation systems offers. So, Ambit reviewed some single-purpose tools that might fit your needs better.
You may have seen our article last summer on the best smart thermostats for your buck. A smart thermostat will let you set and control the temperature of your home through your smartphone. Did a cold or warm front come through while you were away? Just pull out your phone and adjust the temperature accordingly, so your home is ready for you when you arrive. With a smart thermostat, you’ll also be able to save any seasonal presets you like. Few tools allow you to control your home better and save money in the process.
Do you ever wish you could successfully prevent a burglary or know, around the clock, what’s happening at your home? Now you can with high-quality, motion-activated surveillance cameras that were once only available for commercial use. You won’t have to worry about unsightly and bulky equipment that doesn’t fit in with the décor of your house, because these cameras are often manufactured to blend in with your home—some are even integrated into coat hooks and USB wall chargers. Very sneaky!
Remotes are one of the more pesky things lying around your home. They’re always getting stuck between cushions in your couch, being chewed up by the dog or just downright disappearing. A wireless remote, such as the VooMote Zapper, allows you to use your iPhone or iPad as a remote for your television. Get rid of the need for remotes for each television and operate them all conveniently from a smartphone or tablet.
As 21st century humans, we don’t think twice about our ability to get food whenever we want. But, our pets are left to the mercy of our memories, and their stomachs might not be in sync with ours. Enter smart pet food dispensers, such as Petnet. They allow you to set times to dispense food and control portions through a phone app. They often include a camera or sensor that will measure how much food is in the bowl at any time, allowing you to monitor Fluffy’s eating habits.
If you could somehow gather all the lost keys in the world, how big of a stadium do you think they would fill? If you want to get rid of your need for house keys once and for all, make a visit to your local home improvement or electronics store. Keyless lock systems basically come in two types: touchscreen or keypad. These systems require you to enter your personal code, or locks operated through a downloadable smartphone application, allowing you to lock and unlock your door through your smartphone. It’s easy because you operate your locks through the downloadable smartphone app.
The smartphone-enabled locks have a distinct advantage – if you’re away from home and fear that you forgot to lock your doors when you left, just pull out your phone and check the app. If your doors aren’t locked, with a swipe or touch, they will be. These locks are also great if you’re expecting guests to arrive when you’re not home. You can activate a special code to be used giving them entry into your home, or they can call you when they arrive and you can unlock the door while they wait.
Launched by Elgato, Eve Room is a compact, wireless indoor sensor that continuously evaluates air quality, temperature, and humidity in your home. Eve Room separates itself from other smart home platforms in that it does not require a hub, gateway or bridge to operate. All you need to do to set up your Eve Room is download the app from the iTunes or Google Play store and connect through the Bluetooth technology in your phone or tablet. Inside the app, you can adjust temperature and humidity levels for your home. For Apple users, Eve Room also connects with Apple’s HomeKit smart home tools for advanced security solutions and end-to-end encryption between the product and your device.
As part of its growing lineup of home automation tools, iDevices now offers an iDevices Socket, Wall Switch, Dimmer Switch and Wall Outlet. These tools join iDevices current lineup of Apple’s HomeKit-enabled products. All iDevices products work in conjunction with Apple products and can be operated through an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and the companion app available on the iTunes store.