Make Your Home Smarter with Smart Home Technology

Isn’t it about time to make your home smarter? Over the past year I’ve been trying out smart tech all over my house and I can comfortably say that technology has gotten to the point where it’s easy to setup (for normal people!), and actually works quite well.  To be honest, I don’t think I could go back now.


To really take advantage of smart locks, lights and security it’s important to start with a solid foundation – a good router, and a smart speaker with voice assistant. Don’t mess around with an underpowered router; I have over 50 connected devices in my home now and a good router keeps my all of them communicating–something that’s essential when you’re using them to achieve smart home goals.


Signal is the first problem to solve, and with newer technology it doesn’t matter how large or small your home is, my recommendation is to opt for a “mesh” router system. TP-Link has their Deco line, Linksys has Velop and there’s Netgear with their Orbi.  These systems typically come in a 2 or 3 unit starter pack.  One unit plugs into your modem from your internet service provider, and then you place the other units around your living or work space to get full, seamless Wi-Fi coverage for all your computers, tablets and smart  devices.  A 3-pack can typically cover a 5500 sq ft home with no dead zones. If you need more coverage, just add another unit. It’s that simple!


The second part of the foundation is a smart speaker/voice assistant, and their ecosystem.  There’s Google Home with Google Assistant, Amazon Echo with Alexa, and Apple Homekit with Siri. They all have their strengths, but I think the important thing is to choose smart devices that work on as many of them as possible. For example, for smart lighting I love Philips Hue, and their great selection of smart bulbs, lamps and LED strips. They’ll work with Siri, Alexa and Google. You can’t lose! A great place to get started is with their Philips Hue White Starter Kit. It comes with a Hue bridge (a little box that plugs into your router to connect the lights to your network) and 2 bulbs that work in any standard light socket or lamp. Plug them in, follow the easy setup instructions in their smartphone app and you’re off to the races. You can turn them on or off through the app, or my favourite:through your smart speaker with your voice, like the Google Home Mini. It’s magical.


You can take things to the next level at your front door. Check out the Ring Video Doorbell 2. This doorbell is awesome; it can be hard wired, or wirelessly battery operated. When someone rings your doorbell, you can answer on your smartphone and see full HD video of your visitor, whether you’re at home or across the country. While you can see and hear them, they’ll only be able to hear you, so don’t worry if you’ve still got bedhead. While we’re at the front, let’s talk about the August Lock Pro + & Connect Bundle. I installed one of these on my front door, and it changed my life. My kids (ok, and me) were constantly forgetting their keys. The August Lock solved this problem overnight. The lock installs seamlessly on most existing locks (you can still use your old key if you want to kick it old school) and allows you to send your family and friends digital keys that work from their smartphone. When you get to the door, use the August Lock app on your smartphone, and simply press unlock! If you want to get super Jetsons-ish, you can have the door automatically unlock when you come home. Your in-laws show up unannounced and you’re not home yet? You can remotely unlock the door and let them in. Or not! It can also be set to auto-lock when you leave the house, so you’ll never get half way to work again and wonder if you forgot to lock the door.


What makes the August Lock even smarter is how it works with the Nest Learning Thermostat.  If it wasn’t cool enough to be able to control your smart Nest thermostat with an app or your voice, your August Lock will let it know when you’ve left the house, so it can turn the temperature down. If you give it permission, your August lock knows when you’re getting close to coming home after a long day at the office and can tell your Nest Thermostat to bring the heat back up!


To keep your home and family safe, Ring has some powerful security cameras that are painless to install. The Ring Spotlight Cam makes it so easy. It uses a rechargeable battery, so there are no wires to install. Because it’s weather resistant, you can put it anywhere inside or out. It’s got motion detection, a spotlight, two-way voice communication and even a siren. It’s the full package. Something suspicious is moving across your backyard late at night? It will send you an instant notification to your smartphone, tablet or computer so you can watch what’s happening instantly in high definition. You can buy just one or get a pack to cover your entire home!


If you can install apps on your smartphone, you’ll be able to setup any of these smart devices, so don’t be afraid to jump in and make the future happen now!

By Mike Agerbo

October 11, 2018