By Gregg Ellman
Every month for the past year I’ve covered smart home products in this column, including everything from frying pans to toilets to alarm systems.
Smart home products let you control and automate items around your house.
They are have come a long way as far setup, usage and cost, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding what products you want. Additionally, keep in mind these smart home features while shopping around.
· Do they integrate with Amazon Alexa or Apple HomeKit
· Is a hub needed or will it work with your existing hub
· Will the product work on Wifi for connecting anywhere or Bluetooth, requiring you to stay within 33 feet of the device.
· Setup: Can you do it yourself or will professional installation be needed
· Power: is it battery or AC powered, or even solar in some cases
· Is a subscription or any pay service required
I’ve come across many great Smart Home products and there’s going to be a lot of new products announced at next month’s Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. Here are a few of my favorites from this past year.
Once the hardware is connected, you control the system with the Rachio app, which lets you schedule watering days and how long for each zone. The app shows you how much water you have used along with how much has been saved due to shutting the system down for rain and automatically changing the water times as the seasons change.
http://rachio.com $199.99 for a 8 zone controller
Elgato’s Eve Smart Home products work with Apple HomeKit and include wireless motion, window and air quality controls through plugs for controlling just about everything in your home. Everything is hub-free and has easy setups.
The newest product to the Eve line is the connected wall switch ($49.95). This can be an addition or to replace an existing light switch. Once installed the app control lights with a tap on the switch or with a Siri voice command on an Apple device.
You can create a single or multi light setup and even group multiple Eve wall switches within the app to an intelligent lighting system.
The wall switch is connected with Bluetooth or as I tested it, over the Internet with an Apple TV.
Check the Eve website for electrical requirements and setup.
You even get free cloud storage to save your recordings for a week for up to five cameras. If you want them saved longer, paid upgrade options are available.
The Arlo app sets everything up including schedules and alerts when motion is detected.
http://arlo.com $144 for a single camera, kits are available
After the installation you’ll need the free/password protected August app and a financial-level digital security protected account.
Your account keeps a 24/7 activity log of when the lock is locked or unlocked. The lock can be controlled via Wi-Fi by adding the August Connect plug, which connects to a wall power outlet within 30 feet of the lock.
Four AA batteries to power the lock are included; you’ll be notified by the August app when they need replacing.
http://august.com $199.99 for the lock, $79 for the Connect plug