Home automation – the next big thing

If you’ve ever thought about turning your regular home into a smart home, you probably discovered that finding features and devices that are right for your living space can be a daunting project. I wish I could write a one-size-fits-all blog post that would answer all your questions and ease every concern. But even though that’s impossible, I believe there is value in sharing with you some of my favorite home automation features, which I think would make any home a smarter one.

While the home automation market is growing larger and more diverse, most home automation devices can be grouped into one of the following categories: (1) Security & Access, (2) Energy Efficiency & Lighting, and (3) Non-Smart Device Control.

In the Security & Access category, smart locks have quickly been gaining popularity. This isn’t surprising since smart locks can anticipate when you come home and unlock themselves accordingly. They can also be operated remotely to grant access to guests, tenants, housekeepers, and friends. However, while smart locks can make your life easier, they can also expose you to security risks due to vulnerable technology or faulty mechanisms. That’s why choosing the right gadget requires some careful research. Some of the market leaders in the smart lock category are August and Kwikset Kevo. August’s complete smart home access system allows you to use your phone as a smart key, to see and speak to your visitors while they are at the front door, to create unique access codes for visitors, and to remotely control your smart lock. Kwikset Kevo provides features that are very similar to those of August, but a couple of my favorite features of the Kevo smart lock is the option of issuing your guests 24-hour eKeys, as well as the lock’s ability to interact with the Nest thermostat for energy use optimization. And then there’s Haven Connect. Unlike August and Kevo, Haven Connect is literally a wedge barrier that reinforces and locks your door. But it also provides smartphone integration with options for smoke and fire detection, remote control, and receiving break-in alerts.

In the Energy Efficiency & Lighting category, Philips Hue Personal Lighting is my favorite, for reasons any 8-year-old would understand. This Philips system lets you use an app to control light intensity and color, as well as to create alarms that turn lights on and off automatically. Something as simple as changing the color and intensity of the light can feel very magical and super fun. Kids love it, but so do I! Another way to control the light intensity in your home through an app is with Creed Connect lightbulbs. This lightbulb option is significantly cheaper than Philips Hue, but, unfortunately, it only comes in one color. If you’re looking less for magic than for convenient functionality, then Creed Connect is a great, affordable way to automate home lighting.

For all the devices in the house that aren’t already smart, there’s the BeeWi Smart Plug. This little device allows you to monitor and automate simple devices such as lamps, TVs, hair-dryers, and other energy-wasting appliances. The BeeWi device looks like a regular plug that goes into a wall, but it can be controlled through an app on your phone. With this app and some smart plugs, you can configure your regular lamps to turn on and off in response to motion, or according to a schedule you choose!