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July 20, 2016

How to make your home smart right now

by John_A

Smarthomes were once associated with the rich and famous. The kind of houses you only saw in your dreams or TV programmes like Cribs. That’s no longer the case.

There are hundreds of devices available these days that not only make a smarthome possible, but accessible too. Yes, some of the options are pricey, but not all of them are, and there are plenty of gadgets available that will make your home smart right now, without breaking the bank.

Here are just a few to get your started from smart heating to smart lighting, with plenty in between.

Amazon Echo

Amazon

Amazon Echo is a 9.25-inch-tall cylinder speaker with a seven-piece microphone array. This mic setup allows the speaker to respond to the wake word “Alexa,” which happens to be the name of the speaker’s Siri-like assistant. With Alexa, Amazon Echo is capable of voice interaction, controlling compatible smarthome devices and music playback from devices over Bluetooth.

It can make to-do lists, set alarms, stream podcasts, play audiobooks, read PDFs, provide weather forecasts, warn you of traffic, answer trivia, and serve up other information in real-time. Echo requires a Wi-Fi connection to respond to voice commands, and it must remain plugged in for power.

PRICE: $179

Nespresso Prodigio

Amazon

The Nespresso Prodigio is the first connected Nespresso machine. It will connect to your smartphone via a dedicated app and allow you to prepare your coffee remotely, whether that’s from the comfort of your bed or the dining room table. You could even do it from the bath if you really wanted to.

It will alert you when your favourite pods are running low, when you need to empty the capsule container and when you need to top up the water tank. The Nespresso Prodigio is available in silver or titan colour options and there is also the Prodigio&Milk model that offers an integrated milk frother. Both have multiple size settings.

PRICE: $289.99 for the Prodigio&Milk model

Google Chromecast

Google

Chromecast plugs into any TV with HDMI and USB ports (or requires separate power if not) and it can be controlled from a phone, tablet, or computer. From there, you can “cast” content displayed on your device’s screen to your TV.

Many popular apps have a Google Cast button built directly into their apps, including the likes of Netflix and YouTube, enabling you to send a movie or YouTube clip to your TV with a simple tap of a button. Its purpose is to makes a dumb TV smart and it does a brilliant job of it.

PRICE: $35

Honeywell Lyric Thermostat

Honeywell

A smarthome wouldn’t be complete without a smart thermostat and Honeywell offers several options including Lyric. The Lyric Round Thermostat adapts to your life without a learning curve and offers control from wherever you are in the world via your Android or iOS smartphone.

The Lyric Round Thermostat will use your smartphone’s location to find out where you are, ensuring you come home to a warm house or you save energy when you aren’t coming home. It is compatible with a number of platforms including Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings and IFTTT, allowing for easy and simple control. There is also a Lyric security and home control system that allows you to control numerous elements of your home including the Lyric thermostat, as well as lights and locks.

PRICE: $229

Sonos Play:1

Sonos is a wireless HiFi system that consists of various different sized speakers, a sound bar and a sub, all of which you can control using the Sonos app, which is compatible with iOS, Android and Windows. The Sonos Play:1 is the cheapest and smallest of the speakers available, offering two custom-designed drivers with dedicated amplifiers inside. 

It comes in black and white colour options and you can stream your entire music library, a range of music services such as Spotify, and internet radio from the app to the speaker. Sonos speakers can also be grouped, no matter which combination you have so it’s nice and easy to add to your collection and fill your home with music.

PRICE: $199

Netatmo Welcome

The Netatmo Welcome is one of the more expensive smarthome camera options out there, but it allows you to customise user profiles thanks to its facial recognition technology and it’s a great feature. Welcome will recognise faces from various angles and build a profile relating to that person.

You have to teach the camera who is who so it learns but for each profile you build, you can alter the recording preferences. For example, if you want to know when your partner is home from work but you don’t want their every action to be recorded when they are home, you can select this, making the Welcome camera far less intrusive than others available. Door and window sensors that work with the camera are also available.  

PRICE: $199

Philips Hue

Philips

The Philips Hue system consists of connected bulbs and a wireless bridge, which can be controlled using a smartphone from wherever you are. The starter pack comes with three bulbs and the bridge, which can control up to 50 Hue light bulbs, so you can buy more bulbs individually depending on how many lights in your home you want to connect.

You’ll be able to create light settings based on your favourite photos, or photos you have uploaded, and there are millions of colours to choose from. Hue also has a party mode that makes the bulbs flash in time with your music and you can set timers to help you wake up every day. Of course you’ll also get the ability to turn the Hue bulbs on, off and dim them to suit the mood you are trying to create.

PRICE: $199.99 for the starter pack

Honeywell Lyric Water Leak and Freeze Detector

Honeywell

The Honeywell Lyric Water Leak and Freeze Detector is the latest device to be added to the Lyric range of products. Its purpose is to catch a leak or frozen pipe early in order to try and avoid the devastating and costly effects a flood or burst pipe could cause.

The detector works with the Lyric app, notifying you via your smartphone if a leak is detected or the temperature drops below that which you have set, allowing you to take action before the situation gets worse. It also has a 100dB buzzer and LED lights to warn users if they are home. The Lyric Water Leak and Freeze Detector connects to your home Wi-Fi network without the need for a hub, is battery-powered and several devices can be connected to the Lyric app, allowing you to place them around your home.

PRICE: $79.99

Belkin WeMo Switch

Amazon

The Belkin WeMo Switch is part of a modular system so you can control as much or as little of your home as you want to. The idea of the switch is to give you wireless control over home appliances and electronics, for example a lamp, fan, TV or coffee machine.

You plug the WeMo Switch into an outlet in your home and plug any device or appliance into it. The Switch then needs to be connected to your home Wi-Fi network, which you do through the Android or iOS app, and after you complete the installation instructions, you’ll be able to turn whatever you have plugged in on or off from anywhere using your smartphone. The Belkin WeMo range is also compatible with IFTTT so you’ll be able to create various recipes if you want to.

PRICE: $49.99

Belkin WeMo Maker

Amazon

The Belkin WeMo Maker is a device that makes it possible to control low-voltage electronic devices using your smartphone or tablet. It can connect to nearly any device controlled with a DC switch and once connected, you’ll be able to turn them on or off, put them on schedules or connect them to different sensors.

The customisation possibilities are endless with the WeMo Maker as it too works with IFTTT. With this compatibility, it means you could connect a WeMo Maker to a garage door and create a trigger to open the door when you are nearly home based on your smartphone’s location for example.

PRICE: $79.99

The Honeywell Lyric Water Leak and Freeze Detector is an early warning system that notifies you on your smartphone when a leak is detected or the temperature drops below a temperature of your choice. By catching it early, you may be able to avoid expensive repairs and loss of treasured items. To find out more visit Honeywell.com

This article was created in association with Honeywell.

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