As a Practice we are finding more and more clients are enquiring about Smart Home technologies, so we thought it might be useful to put an article together covering some of the most common and more innovative products available on the market today.
On one of our more recent projects we overhauled a Grade II Listed property in Wickham Market and despite the property being late 16th to early 17th Century, the client was keen to incorporate the latest in Smart Home Technologies.
As part of the proposed works we installed a Nest “learning” thermostat, Nest Protect, Phillips Hue Lighting, Amazon Echo / Dot speakers and WeMo switches – all utilising IFTTT technology.
Nest Learning & Protect
Nest’s Learning Thermostat is currently one of the better known smart home solutions available, created by Nest Labs in 2011 and later bought by Google.
The latest model the Nest 3.0 now includes separate heating and hot water controls, as well as displaying target temperatures and outside weather forecasts. Unlike traditional thermostats the Nest learns how you live and more importantly when you like your house to be hot or cold and adapts accordingly.
With the use of an app on your mobile device you are still able to manually adjust/override the system and even control it remotely - so your house can be lovely and warm when you return from your holiday!
The Nest Protect is a Carbon monoxide and Smoke detector. Not only can it test itself while you are not in the home to avoid disturbance, if it does detect an issue it alerts your mobile device telling you where and what the issue is. A neat feature on the unit is Pathlight, which at night functions as a night light with motion sensor and illuminates your route if movement is detected.
Installation of a Nest system is very straight forward; a small receiver is installed next to the new or existing boiler and connected to the homes wireless internet connection. Once an online account is created and registered, the product(s) will become live and start monitoring the current indoor temperature as well as factoring in the outside weather forecast to schedule heating and hot water requirements.
Phillips Hue Lighting
Phillips Hue lighting is one of many lighting systems on the market at the moment, but in our opinion is one of the best and easiest to link with other Smart Technology.
As the name suggests Hue lighting enables a user to change the colour of light in a room to adjust the mood. The bulbs can be retrofitted into an existing luminaire, making this technology easy to integrate into existing systems and via the app on your smart phone you can control each light individually (even if on the same circuit), or operate them as you would in a conventional system.
Amazon Echo / Dot Speakers
The Amazon Echo and Dot speakers although more often sold as an intelligent speakers, (enabling you to ask it questions and to play music), can actually be linked with other smart technologies opening up a whole world of possibilities.
At Wickham Market the addition of these two products meant the client is able to control the Nest System and Phillips Hue lighting via voice activation - via simple voice commands Alexa (the integrated AI) can turn lights on and off and even turn the heating up or down.
These are great pieces of kit and enable existing non smart technology to become ‘smart’. Essentially they plug into your power supply and you then plug your product into the WeMo Switch, thereby enabling you to be able to turn them on or off via an app or control them via IFTTT.
If That Then This (IFTTT)
If That Then This is not really Smart Technology, but is instrumental in getting the most from it. IFTTT is a free web based service which enables people to create chains of simple conditional statements called applets or recipes. These statements can be used to turn devices on or off, or to create reactive actions, for example you could tell your Hue lights to switch on when the Sunsets, or it could automatically turn your lights and heating off when you leave home.
If you are interested in understanding how you can incorporate Smart Home technology into your next project, please feel free to pop into the office, where we would be happy to sit down with you over a coffee and advise you on the most appropriate system(s).