Insteon Smart Home System

Insteon Smart Home System

Insteon Smart Home System – So you are looking for the best Smart Home products, Insteon Smart Home System is the best. Insteon is made by a company called Smart home, itself a subsidiary of Smartlabs, a California-based company founded in 1992. Competition for the “hub” or the brains of your home is fierce. With its acquisition of SmartThings (Mountain View, California), Samsung entere d the market in a big way in 2014 and makes all sorts of “things” to automate your home. Central to its strategy is the Samsung SmartThings Smart Home Hub. Wink Labs Inc (New York) is another strong player — launching a new v2 version of its well-reviewed Wink Hub.

Plano Texas Handyman offers advice and suggestions for all your Smart Home Products. Call us at 214-507-3414 for more information. Insteon Smart Home System

Insteon Dimmer Keypad 2334-232
A new Insteon Keypad. A neutral white wire is required in your home’s electrical wiring.

Cloud technology and lower prices are key factors why the smart home is finally within grasp of the mainstream. Unlike years past when contractors might quote you $10,000+ for a custom Crestron system to control lights and cameras, these things are DIY friendly, and don’t require you to take out a second mortgage.

But there’s another reason why the time is now for home automation:

Voice control.

And we can predominantly thank Amazon (Alexa and Echo) and Google (Google Assistant and Google Home) for that.

With a voice interface, we can now interact with our home in a natural way. Better still, we can combine multiple hubs, and switches from various manufacturers and need only control it all with, say, an Amazon Echo Dot (“Alexa, turn on kitchen lights”). In my experience, it works especially with Insteon.

But more on all of that in future posts. For now, if you’ve just bought a hub, or are researching the home automation market and considering what to do, here’s 10 things I’ve learned over the past 10 years working with Insteon.

Smart Home: Top 10 tips for getting started with Insteon

1. Buy only the latest revisions of Insteon hubs, switches and modules

Insteon Tips and Tricks
Each Insteon device has a revision number. Be careful to only buy the most recent ones — they are vastly improved in quality and performance.
Old and new Insteon dimmer comparison
Old and new keypads. Note the newer Insteon branding on the right. That’s another clue, along with the revision number, you’re buying a newer model.
Insteon Tips and Tricks
3 Insteon dimmers for kitchen lighting.

This is important. Insteon (the brand name for Smarthome’s line of home automation products) has been around for a while. I bought in early, in 2006. Products were in their infancy and it showed. Reliability was a big issue — software and hardware. Dimmer switches often failed. Communication between the hub and devices was iffy. Flash forward to 2017 and the situation is dramatically improved. Insteon Smart Home System..Plano Texas Handyman offers advice and suggestions for all your Smart Home Products. Call us at 214-507-3414 for more information. Insteon Smart Home System

So, please be sure to buy the latest revision (or as close to it as possible) of any Insteon device.

How?

Each Insteon device has a version label, usually placed on the front of a switch, or the rear of a plug-in module. Check that. Then use a Google search to verify the latest versions.

For instance, the most recent version of the 6 and 8-button keypad controllers (models 2334-232 and 2334-222 respectively) is at least 8.0 and from what I can tell they were manufactured in 2017. The latest version of the Insteon Dimmer (2477D) that I’ve installed this year is 8.2.

My understanding is that if you buy Insteon products from Amazon you will get the newest stuff so long as you select the seller as: “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.” That’s key. if you buy from a marketplace seller or a third-party that is fulfilled by Amazon you may get old switches as many suppliers will try to move old inventory.

If you buy on eBay (a good place to sometimes look for deals on Insteon switches), again, look for the label. A good seller with include a photo of the switch with the label so you can verify it’s a later version.

This is my #1 tip for Insteon.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Insteon, but in recent years it’s been mostly love because the newer, 2nd generation (Dual Band) products are vastly improved over their iffy predecessors. Today, I find Insteon to be very stable, and reliable — so long as you heed this advice and only buy/install newer versions of their hubs, switches and modules.

2. Keep it simple

Insteon Dimmer and Keypad Tips Review

Complexity can really create problems when it comes to the smart home. For Insteon I’ve found that keeping scenes (groups of multiple devices that turn on together) as simple as possible ensure that your home network won’t get overloaded with commands and create slowdowns and errors. Insteon Smart Home System

In particular, if you’re adding devices to an Insteon Keypad (6 or 8 button switch) just know that if you set one of the buttons as a “controller” and assign, say, 10 devices, the hub will then create 20 links, a two-way connection between each device. This can multiply exponentially if, for instance, you want multiple buttons on keypads around the home to act as a “controller” for the same scene. It can get messy really fast.

Plano Texas Handyman offers advice and suggestions for all your Smart Home Products. Call us at 214-507-3414 for more information. Insteon Smart Home System

One solution is not to use Keypads. Instead just use dimmer switches and plug-in modules. Besides, with Alexa you can simply ask your Echo to turn on a scene (“Alexa, turn on evening mode”). I still use two keypads as I like to see the status. And sometimes hitting a physical switch is all you want. But I don’t create mega scenes, and ensure that the scenes I do create are a minimal as possible, and typically have just one “controller” defined (the rest being a “responder”).

Note: a controller in Insteon speak can control all the devices in a scene meaning it can turn the entire thing on or off and also control brightness. A responder merely responds to the controller. For example, you have a button “All On” and set it as a “controller” and group 20 devices (dimmers and plug-in modules connected to lights throughout the home or condo) into a scene each as a “responder”. If you tap the “All on” button all 20 lights will turn on. Tap again and, of course, everything turns off. However, if you turn off the switch for any of the assigned responders (say, a living room light) it will only turn off that individual device, not the entire scene.

3. Avoid Android: You really want to use the iOS version of the Insteon app

Insteon App for iOS / iPhone

If possible use the iOS Insteon app. it’s miles better than the Android equivalent. It looks better. It runs better. It just a better overall experience.

This is where you can feel the roots of Smarthome, an A/V company founded in the 1990’s. Unlike many new home automation players who are software-centric, with many based here in Silicon Valley, Smarthome has had to morph over the years. Thankfully, the latest version of the Insteon app for the iPhone is good. Not phenomenal. But definitely functional, with a few design quirks to be sure. However, in my experience it does the job and is reliable. Just take your time and spend some time learning the layout and you’ll be fine.

 4. Setting local dim level and ramp rate is very easy with Insteon

Insteon 2477D Dimmer Indicator Light - Adjust dim and ramp rate

I still believe Insteon makes the best all around dimmer switches. They look modern and clean, and are easy to install thanks to the included pigtail cables (4 in total).

Perhaps best of all is this little trick:

You can easily set the local dim level and ramp rate for any Insteon dimmer switch:

  • To set dim level (the brightness of the light when you turn it on) simply set the switch to the desired level and tap the set button (below the paddle) once. It will beep. Next time you turn on the light it will go to your preferred brightness. Easy.

To adjust the ramp rate — the speed  at which a light turns on:

  • To set ramp rate set the light from near off for a slow ramp or up to on (100%) for instant on, or anything in between. Then double tap the set button. It will beep. Now your light will turn on at the rate which you set. Insteon Smart Home System

Once you’ve done this a few times it’s very easy. For some reason I can’t find similar features in other dimmers from the likes of GE, Lutron and Leviton. Yes, of course you can customize dim and ramp when you create a scene, but unlike Insteon it seems hard if not impossible to actually set them on the dimmer switch itself.

5. Double tap On and Off

Want instant on light? Just double tap top paddle. Or double tap bottom to turn off instantly without waiting for dimming to ramp down.

Another nifty trick. Double tapping the top or bottom of an Insteon dimmer switch will instantly turn the light to full brightness or turn it off — convenient if you don’t want to wait for the light to ramp dimness.

6. More Insteon devices strengthen the network*

*but quickly deplete your bank account

Insteon Home Control Starter Kit
Insteon Home Control Starter Kit is a great value. You get the Hub plus 2 dimmer switches.

Another thing I like about Insteon is that it is dual band. That is, it communicates using two methods: (1) power line (white neutral wire); and (2) wireless RF signal (proprietary).

Plano Texas Handyman offers advice and suggestions for all your Smart Home Products. Call us at 214-507-3414 for more information. Insteon Smart Home System

In my experience, it’s extremely reliable and very fast to respond. I now have 37 Insteon devices across a small home. As I add new lamp modules and dimmer switches (and, more importantly, replace older ones from 2006!) the Insteon network actually gets better. That’s because each device extends the range, and also adds another communication point to send/receive commands. I’m no expert, but it’s something called a “mesh network.” Like me, you may not want or need to know all the details. Just know that Insteon is not wi-fi based, and it provides serious performance, especially as you expand the number of devices throughout your home. Insteon Smart Home System

7. Leak sensors and alerts: Your new best friends

Insteon Leak Sensor by Refrigerator
Placing leak sensors in high risk areas around the home is a great way to get started with home automation.

Quick tip to avoid costly home repair. Put Insteon water leak sensors in places prone to potential flooding: the refrigerator, washer/dryer area, shower, hot water heater, etc. If you were unable to avoid the unexpected flooding in your home, you should contact flood cleaning experts to help you with the cleaning. Occasionally, Smarthome direct or Amazon run 2-for-1 specials and you can get these sensors inexpensively. I sure do wish I had one a few years back when a line from our hot water tank burst.

Place the sensors on the ground next to these areas. Don’t worry, they’re white and fairly unobtrusive. Then after you’ve added them to the Insteon Hub, be sure to setup alerts in the app. Slide them to on, and add your email address. If a sensor detects wet, it will immediately email you. Then you can start freaking out.

8. Go deep with Stringify to create conditional Insteon programs (“flows”)

Stringify App - Insteon Flow Example
The Stringify app, like IFTTT, provides an easy way to create custom notifications, scenes and integrations with other apps and home automation devices. Here, in this “flow”, a simple notification is sent when the garage door opens.

You might have heard of IFFF (If This Then That)? Unfortunately Insteon is not yet supported on that platform (though other hubs are supported, including Samsung SmartThings and Wink). You can use a competitor app called Srtingify. It’s available for iOS and Android and can really take your smart home to the next level.

I won’t go into details here, that’s for another day. But you can do things like switch lights on randomly late at night while you’re away to make it look like someone’s home. Or detect if your garage door is open for 20 minutes and have it automatically close. Or have your irrigation system not run if rain is detected. And on and on… and on and on and on. The possibilities are near endless.

With Stringify (and IFTTT) and Insteon the sky is the limit and you can really do some interesting things. It’s definitely not for the plug-and-play crowd, but it’s there if you want to do more advanced things with your IoT things. It really is a thing.

9. Insteon is closed and proprietary while most of the competition is based on open standards

Insteon review and tips

This one is not really a tip, but something to be aware of.

If you own an Insteon Hub you already know that you can only use it with Insteon products. You can’t mix and match with other manufacturers. So dimmers from Lutron or Leviton or GE are a no go and aren’t compatible with Insteon.

Much of the competition, however, is based on open standards. The most prevalent — and one that appears to be gaining even more momentum — is known as Z-Wave, with the more recent standard dubbed Z-Wave Plus.

Samsung SmartThings and Wink 2 are hubs that support Z-Wave Plus. When you buy into the system you can mix and match from a variety of vendors: Nexia, GE, Lutron, Leviton, Ecolink, Honeywell, Schlage, Kwikset, and dozens of others. A lot of brands make Z-Wave enabled smart home devices.

Something to keep in mind.

In a sense, Insteon is like Apple. You buy in, and you buy only Insteon.

Z-Wave is more akin to Google and Android. You buy in, and can buy a variety of devices made by partner companies.

Neither approach — like Apple and Google’s business models — is necessarily better or worse. If you really have your heart set on that Lutron Caseta dimmer switch (Z-Wave based), then you’re choice is made and it’s not Insteon. Go with the Samsung SmartThings or Wink 2 hub. If you appreciate the look of Insteon switches and don’t mind buying only that brand then it’s definitely a strong option.

10. THIS IS BIG: Use Alexa and Amazon Echo, Dot and/or Show to control Insteon lights (Hint: it’s a home automation nerd’s dream come true)

Insteon with Alexa and Amazon Echo Dot: Tips and Review

Finally, but not least: voice control.

When I first tried out an Echo Dot I wasn’t a fan. It sat on a tabletop mostly unused. That is, until I discovered it could work with Insteon. First, I had to update to the latest hub. A bit of a pain because I needed to re-add all my devices and setup scenes from scratch. But it was worth it.

It’s as simple as this: Alexa a game changer for home automation. Together with Insteon I’m in a la-la land of smart home nirvana. I couldn’t near imagine this stuff possible even 5 years ago:

“Alexa, turn on the downstairs lights.”

“Alexa, dim the front lights to 50%.”

“Alexa, turn on movie mode.”

“Alexa, turn on sleeping.”

and my favorite…

“Alexa, turn on the espresso machine.”

It works so well that I was absolutely flabbergasted. Yes, we’ve had Siri and Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana for a while now. But to now have this capability in the home, available anytime to control lighting is a dream come true… at least for this home automation nerd.

The best part of Alexa voice control and Insteon is that the setup is a breeze.

  • First, enable the Insteon skill in the Alexa app.
  • Then tap “discover devices” under the Smart Home section of the Alexa app. In about 20 seconds the app will import all of your Insteon scenes and devices.

That’s it. You can start asking Alexa to control your lights. Plano Texas Handyman offers advice and suggestions for all your Smart Home Products. Call us at 214-507-3414 for more information. Insteon Smart Home System

Alexa Smart Home

Alexa Smart Home

Alexa Smart Home – Setting up an Alexa smart home in 2020 is a whole lot easier than it was just a couple years back.

Why is that?

Well, you really don’t get much by the way of compatibility issues these days. The impressive Works with Alexa program means these days, it’s surprising to see something that doesn’t work with Alexa.

Another prime benefit in of Alexa in 2020 is the huge choice of smart speakers and smart displays you have at your disposal.

So, today we’ll walk you through the logistics of creating an Alexa-powered smart home the easy way and it’s got to start with that Echo device. Professional AV labor services can assist you in product selection of smart home devices and the installation of audio visual systems.

Choose Your Smart Speaker or Smart Display

The Echo bench continues to widen and deepen. The recent launch of several new models along with some retooled models means there’s never been a better time to invest in an Echo.

Choose from the following options:

Echo

The original smart speaker debuted Alexa in 2016 and this new and improved second-generation comes with overhauled audio and a facelifted design.

As with all Echo devices, you’ll get a vehicle for hands-free control of your smart home. If you’re looking to bring Alexa out to play and you want serviceable audio, the classic Echo still makes a valid choice in 2020.

Pick from 3 colorways and opt for a multipack if you want even better value and you need multiple smart speakers in your home.

From hands-free home automation to entertainment, organization, and voice calls or messages, Echo delivers exceptional value for money.

Echo Plus

If you’ve got a more fluid budget and you like the idea of a Zigbee radio onboard your smart speaker, Echo Plus is the obvious solution. This works as de facto home hub affording you voice control of selected compatible devices without needing a third-party gateway, the home security with gates will be just fine.

Beyond this neat property, Echo Plus delivers a crisp, immersive soundscape. You can pair Echo devices for stereo sound. You can also manipulate the settings in-app to personalize your listening experience.

With 3 subtle designs to choose from, Echo Plus will blend in rather than standing out while Alexa will streamline your life wonderfully. Alexa Smart Home

Echo Dot

All-new Echo Dot comes with the time displayed making it better than ever as a bedside smart device. Measuring just 3.9 x 3.9 x 1.7 inches, this tiny disc will sit neatly on your dresser and allow you to launch into your day the smart way.

While you’ll need to make some compromises on the audio front, you won’t lose out on any of Alexa’s smarts.

Echo Dot also comes in a colorful kids’ edition.

The price of Echo Dot is firmly in budget territory so there’s no reason not to invite Alexa into your home even if you’re on a tight budget.

Echo Spot

Now being slowly phased out, if you act quickly, you could still pick up an Echo Spot, Amazon’s first attempt at a small smart display.

The diminutive 2 ½-inch screen gives a visual edge to search and music without eating up too much space on the counter.

As with every Echo device, Echo Spot comes with the inimitable Alexa onboard and ready for action.

Echo Studio

As we regularly point out, most smart speakers are certainly plenty smart but they typically underperform on the audio front. This is perhaps not surprising since the primary use case for most smart speakers is hands-free control of other tech.

That said, Amazon redress the balance with the upscale Echo Studio now flying off the shelves after its recent launch.

Echo Studio is bulky and weighty with no less than 5 speakers crammed inside. You won’t begrudge that extra weight when you ask Alexa to fire up your favorite playlist. The sound is powerful yet balanced. Echo Studio also automatically self-optimizes for the dimensions of your room for an even stronger sound.

As an added bonus, you’ll also get the Zigbee hub previously only seen on Echo Plus.

Echo Flex

Do you have areas in your house where you’d like to take Alexa but you can’t accommodate a regular Echo device?

For stairs, hallways and attics or basements, Echo Flex is an all-new solution from the innovative Bezos stable. Alexa Smart Home

A plug-in smart speaker, Echo Flex boasts a USB port to maximize functionality by giving you an extra charging station while preserving power outlets. There’s also space for optional accessories. At the time of writing shortly after launch, a motion sensor and night light are available. We’re confident Amazon will build out more devices to capitalize on this port.

From dropping in on other Echo devices to performing all your home automation, you really can take Alexa anywhere in 2020.

Echo Show

In the second iteration of the original smart display, Echo Show has an expansive 10.1-inch screen along with revamped sound giving you a greater experience than ever before.

With smart displays, the screen adds a great layer to your entertainment by opening up music videos, visual search and video calling. You’ll also be able to follow the lyrics of your favorite tracks on screen.

The display comes in handy in the kitchen where Alexa can give you plenty of help with ingredients, recipes, and timing.

As you’d fully expect, Alexa is primed for action across the whole home, too.

What do you do if the full-size Echo Show is just a bit big for comfort? Well, you’ve now got the option of a pair of smart displays with smaller screens so which one will it be?

Echo Show 5

The dinky Echo Show 5 is half the size of its big brother so makes a fantastic bedroom device. It also works well in the kitchen or anywhere space is at a premium.

As with all new Echo devices, you’ll benefit from multiple and robust layers of privacy.

Maybe you like the idea of a smaller Echo Show but this feels a little restrictive. Well, you’re in luck as there’s an 8-inch version available as well…

Echo Show 8

Echo Show 8 is designed to fight head-to-head with Google Nest Hub with its roughly comparable 8-inch screen. This gives you enough screen real estate to watch some music videos or movie trailers while Echo Show 8 remains eminently portable.

Priced keenly and currently up for grabs at a steep discount, Echo Show 8 will not disappoint. Alexa Smart Home

So…

You’ve now got what you need to control your devices with voice commands so how do you get started?

How To Set Up Alexa to Control Your Smart Home

While setting up some smart tech can have you scratching your head, Alexa is straightforward to install even if you’re a complete beginner.

First thing’s first, you need to set up your smart devices per manufacturer’s instructions. This typically involves plugging it in then hooking up a third-party hub to your router. Once you’ve done this, install the app the search for your device and enter a password. In case you have any problem with your router you should contact Connected Solutions Group.

With your devices fired up, open the Alexa app then enable the skill for every device you want to pair with your Echo device. Enabling the skill is as easy as pushing a button.

Some devices also call for you to pair smart devices with Echo. Simply command Alexa to “Pair devices” and it’s done for you. She’ll locate your thermostat, smart bulb, or whatever else you want to control with your voice.

Do You Need To Stay Loyal To One Ecosystem?

Here’s the good news…

Unlike just a few years back, if you plan to run your smart home with Alexa, you won’t be prevented from mixing and matching devices or brands. There’s no need to remain locked into a single ecosystem.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from staying loyal to one brand. This can often make your life easier since you’ll be using the same hub and app. This streamlines this nicely. Alexa Smart Home

That said, there’s no need to feel that you’re locked in so experiment and get the devices that fit best with your needs.

All you need to look out for on the buying trail is that the device “Works with Alexa.” You certainly won’t find yourself short of options! We’ll touch on a bare handful down below when we look at setting up a robust Alexa smart home in 2020.

Before that, a swift look at Alexa’s skills. What are they and why should you care?

Alexa Skills for The Smart Home

Alexa comes with many skills. You can think of these as apps although most you only interact with hands-free without setting eyes on.

Put simply, these skills tell Alexa what to look for and what the device in question can do.

How can you find these skills, then?

The most direct approach is to ask Alexa: “Alexa, enable the Nest Learning skill” is the swiftest route to skill-grabbing.

Alternatively, use the Alexa app on your smartphone to search for skills. This is not a bad ploy anyway as you’ll need to enter your account details in-app even if you bag the skill using voice commands.

All you need to do is this:

  • Open your Alexa app
  • Push the hamburger icon
  • Select Skills
  • Open the category of devices or search by brand for your device
  • Push Enable once you’ve found the skill
  • Punch in your account details

Using skills is pretty intuitive for the most part. Nevertheless, it’s still worth reading through the skill info in case you need to employ specific phrasing.

Now you’re almost there but you need to ask your virtual butler to scan for devices.

Command Alexa To Scan For Devices

Now you’ve set up all your smart devices and told Alexa what these devices are, you can now search for them.

Luckily, this is a quick and easy process.

Either say, “Alexa, scan for devices” or “Alexa, search for devices” and the ever-faithful Alexa will do the rest.

You are now fully equipped to control all compatible devices in your connected home hands-free.

Grouping and Routines

If you’re looking to get the most from your smart devices and to streamline control further, you can take charge of multiple devices simultaneously thanks to grouping.

Here’s what you need to do for to create groups:

  • Open your Alexa app
  • Press the hamburger menu icon
  • Hit Smart Home then Add Group
  • Choose which devices you’d like included in that group
  • Name the group (ie living room, downstairs, bedroom)

The best use case for grouping is a simple on/off application.

Do you want even more automation?

If so, with routines you can associate certain actions with trigger phrases. There’s also scope here for incorporating third-party scenes.

Here’s what you need to do for to create routines:

  • Open your Alexa app
  • Press the hamburger menu icon
  • Press Routines then tap + so you can add a new routine
  • Choose a phrase or a time for the routine
  • Select your required actions from the categories provided

OK…

As with all aspects of creating a connected home, be prepared for a slight learning curve and enjoy experimenting until using Alexa is second-nature.

To round out, we’ll look at how you can commission Alexa in a 2020 smart home. Texas Handyman can assist you in product selection of smart home devices. Call us at 214-507-3405 or visit our website.

6 Ways To Use Alexa in Your Smart Home

It goes unsaid this list is by no means exhaustive. We’re here to save you time, though, and we don’t want to keep you all day with a list of every conceivable Alexa application.

We’re sure you’ll agree that with the following half-dozen approaches, you’ve got a solid foundation for a hands-free smart home this year.

  1. Speak To Your Smart Lock
  2. Enjoy Hands-Free Lighting with Philips Hue
  3. Treat Yourself to a 50-Inch Smart TV with Alexa Baked In
  4. The Ultimate Smart Thermostat with Hands-Free Control
  5. Control Dumb Appliances with Voice Commands
  6. Monitor Your Security System with Alexa

1) Speak To Your Smart Lock

As with most smart devices, you’ve got a wealth of options if you’re looking to smarten up your entryway. Alexa Smart Home

One of the most impressive smart locks that works well with Alexa is the August Smart Lock Pro.

DoorSense differentiates the Pro from a slew of competitors. This nifty feature means you’ll never need to worry about whether or not you’ve locked up again.

The Connect bridge you need comes bundled so to enjoy hands-free interaction, all you need to do is add in an Echo device and you’re all set.

2) Enjoy Hands-Free Lighting with Philips Hue

If you’re intending to smarten up your lighting this year, one of the best Alexa-enabled options is the classic Philips Hue Starter Kit.

You’ll get 4 white and color ambiance LEDs with this set alongside the Alexa-compatible hub to get the most out of your lighting.

There are a huge number of variations on the starter kit so take your time and get the right one for your needs. Hands-free control of your lighting is just minutes away with the super-simple Hue set-up.

3) Treat Yourself to a 50-Inch Smart TV with Alexa Baked In

When you’re taking care of all the essential products in your connected home, it’s easy to forget to make time to enjoy yourself.

Insignia’s expansive 50-inch Fire TV Edition gives you the chance to navigate all your media and entertainment with voice control. Alexa is built right in so you won’t even need an Echo device.

4K UHD picture delivers 8 million pixels and ensures all your content looks as great as if you were at the movie theater.

Thanks to Fire TV and Alexa, you’ll be free to journey through a half million movies and TV shows hands-free meaning you’ll never say, “There’s nothing on TV” again.

4) The Ultimate Smart Thermostat with Hands-Free Control

If you think about smart thermostats, one of the first names that springs to mind is likely to be Nest. Now rebranded as Google Nest, the classic Learning Thermostat now edges into its third iteration and it’s better than ever before.

Unlike many intelligent thermostats, Learning will accustom itself to the temperatures you prefer putting an end to scheduling and programming. If you need to fine-tune heating or cooling, you can do so without even picking up your smartphone as long as you have an Echo device.

Save money while making your life easier – what’s not to love?

5) Control Dumb Appliances with Voice Commands

Do you like the idea of lamps but hate contorting yourself to switch them on or off?

Well, invest in a pack of mini smart plugs and you can uprate those old, dumb appliances, throw in an Echo device and hit the lights using voice commands.

Since these outlets come with WiFi on board, you won’t need a home hub either.

6) Monitor Your Security System with Alexa

One of our favorite home security systems is the iconic Arlo Pro. Why do we like it so much?

The wire-free set-up makes this the perfect security solution for homeowners and renters alike.

Compatibility is first-class. Arlo plays nicely with Google Assistant, If This, Then That and, of course, Alexa. Grab yourself one of the Echo devices we highlight above and you can check in on your system hands-free.

Final Word

We hope by now you can see that building an Alexa smart home in 2020 is a piece of cake. With a smart speaker or smart display and a handful of smart devices all you need, why not start the year by enjoying some hands-free convenience?

If you want even more handy hints on making your life easier, remember to bookmark our blog. Along with plenty of detailed guides like this one, we’ll also bring you the best products and the latest smart home news.

As a final incentive today, we’d suggest you also sign up for our email newsletter. Along with more great content, you’ll also benefit from 20% off your first Smarthome order. Why not use that to pick yourself up an Echo device?Smart Thermostats

Plano Texas Handyman can assist you in product selection of smart home devices. Call us at 214-507-3405 or visit our website.

Smart Home Smart Choice

Smart Home Smart Choice

Smart Home Smart Choice – It was not that long ago that smart home technology and smart home security were thought to have limited interest among home buyers. These “connected homes” were believed to fit the lifestyles of the rich, famous and technologically gifted. A smart home is a smart choice and can also add to electrical safety.

But today the reality is smart home products and smart home security systems are being increasingly adopted by consumers across generations and across residence types – from starter homes to 55+ communities, even apartments. Ted with Plano Texas Handyman and our sister company, Monarc Technology is a expert on home automation, call us at 214-507-3415 to see how easily we can integrate your Smart Home at our website.

If You Build It With Smart Security, They Will Come

According to a 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trend report by the National Association of Realtors, the smart home market is expected to become a $130 billion industry by 2020. And smart home technology is no longer solely piquing the interest of early adopters or tech-minded Millennials. In fact, “43 percent of Americans with smart home products are Millennials 33 percent are aged 33-54; and 24 percent are age 55 or older,” according to the report.

Grayling Love, a member of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Leading Suppliers Council, wrote in that organization’s newsletter, “We’ve reached a point where the majority of consumers aren’t only willing to invest in it, but they are expecting their next home to be connected.”

What is driving this expanding interest in smart homes? Across the board, and across the generations, security and convenience are of primary interest. Security is exemplified by devices like smart door locks, smart video cameras and doorbells, and smart lighting. Some may even speak with a speak with a roller shutter motor supplier to get shutters installed for an extra layer of security and visible deterrent. And convenience is added to security when these devices can be controlled remotely from mobile devices. Smart Home Smart Choice

No matter what your age or interest, protecting one’s home and family has always been of paramount importance. But now that this peace of mind can be accomplished through smart home technology, from a phone and from anywhere in the world, it’s no wonder smart security is right up there with eat-in kitchens and master baths as a home buyer attraction.

And just as with kitchens and baths, the ability to increase a home’s value is another reason why smart security is catching the eyes of a wide range of home buyers. According to the NAHB and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), installing smart home technology can increase the final closing price of a home by 3% to 5%. And a 2017 Coldwell Banker survey found that 72% of Millennials are willing to pay $1,500 or more, and 44% are willing to pay $3,000 or more to make their home smart.

These devices not only add value, but they are increasingly being offered at lower prices. The rich and famous may own smart locks, but their wealth no longer gives them exclusive access to purchasing them. Smart lock manufacturers are now offering a wide selection of connected locks, with a range of capabilities and price points. Smart Home Smart Choice

For example, electronic lock manufacturer Kwikset offers the SmartCode 888 electronic deadbolt with Home Connect Technology that works with home automation systems, enabling locking and unlocking from a smart phone, at a low price point. And the Kwikset Convert is a conversion kit that affordably transforms mechanical locks into smart, electronic locks.

Who Is Knocking at the Smarter Door?

Tech-savvy Millennials still thrill to the “cool factor” of living in a home with the latest and greatest technology. But they are not the only category of buyer that is enjoying the benefits of smart security. This pool of prospective buyers is diverse, and it is expanding. And the opportunities for smart lock dealers and installers to form relationships with builders, or strengthen existing ones, have never been greater.

According to a 2016 smart lock consumer audience segmentation study conducted by Kwikset, 31% of potential smart lock adopters fall under the category of “Smart Home Savants” and 26% are “Enthusiastic Adopters.” These prospective customers are “ready to convert” and in fact are likely to already have connected smart products. Smart Home Smart Choice

But, according to the same study, the savants and enthusiastic adopters are not the only prospective buyers of smart locks. Also in line to purchase smart security are what the study refers to as “Good Life Gurus” and “Super Moms and Dads.” “Good Life Gurus” (17% of the prospective consumer market) are suburbanites who skew female and care most about convenience. “Super Moms and Dads” (10% of prospective buyers of smart locks) are an even male/female split, focus on their children, and juggle busy lives.

The study found that a primary difference between the first two types of buyers and the last two is that the “Good Life Gurus” and “Super Moms and Dads” may need some education to be converted. They may not be readily aware of all the potential applications for smart locks, and the reasons why home buyers of their particular generation, with their means and their life situation might want to own a connected home with smart security.

Example #1: Smart Parent

Here’s one typical potential application that we’ll call “Smart Parents.” A pair of young working parents are looking for their first home. They are looking for a home near good schools, in a kid-friendly neighborhood, because they plan on having children soon.

For the foreseeable future, their focus will be on their children and on keeping them safe and sound. These parents are ideal candidates for smart, connected security. With smart locks, they would be able to monitor the comings and goings of their children through their smart phone. They could even use their smart phone to make sure the lights are on when their kids get home.

Plus, when their kids are old enough, they could provide their kids, and their baby-sitter, nanny or grandparents, with a personal user code to enter the home.

Another advantage, especially when the kids enter their teen years: smart locks connected to a home automation system can be empowered to maintain important information about their use and deliver it to a controlling device. In this way, these homeowner “Super Moms and Dads” can receive an audit trail of activity from those who have been granted access to their home, and when. Plus they can receive a text telling them when their kids have arrived home safely. Smart Home Smart Choice

Example #2: Smart Seniors

An older couple (over 55) have decided they want to “age in place” and are looking for a suitable, possibly smaller home that fits their current and anticipated needs. They want a home that is safe and secure, but they also want a home with all the conveniences of smart home technology.

These forward-thinking seniors are ideal candidates for smart locks. When part of a home automation system, smart locks can keep unwanted guests out, while granting access to loved ones, caregivers, and even first responders in emergency situations. Smart Home Technology on the Rise

There are so many different pieces of technology that can help and support seniors nowadays, meaning that more and more of them seem to continue living alone. Seniors may be interested in looking at some phones for hard of hearing people. These phones are essential for any home, especially in case of an emergency. Keeping in contact with families is also so important as we grow older, so technology, that ensures people with hearing difficulties can still talk on the phone too, is great. There are so many other smart home devices that can help old people too.

Maybe this couple is thinking less about health emergencies and more about controlling their locks, lights and other devices from a second home. Perhaps they are “snowbirds,” who want to monitor and control their home in New England from a winter home in Florida or Arizona.

Example #3: Smart Apartment Owners

A potential home buyer is seeking the extra income that can be gained from rental properties. They are looking to buy a multi-unit vacation property in a warm climate near a beach. There are plenty of homes for sale in the area with curb appeal. Smart Home Technology on the Rise

How does a home builder or realtor separate their properties from the rest? One way is through smart security. Home automation devices like smart locks not only add extra convenience and security to a potential rental unit, they also can make maintaining the building and controlling access easier than ever before. This is a really important thing for people who own rental properties, as they will want to make their life a lot easier as a landlord. It doesn’t just have to stop here with smart homes, you can take it that one step further and make use of property management services as well.

First, rental property owners can have complete access control without managing and potentially losing dozens of keys. With the ability to conveniently send electronic keys or user codes to renters through a smart phone or other internet-connected device, property owners no longer have to make an extra trip to deliver the keys. Plus they never have to use one of those fake key-hiding rocks, or make new keys after renters move out.

Also, property owners can have complete control over who has access to their property. Neither the owner nor the resident has to be home to let a plumber or other contractor inside. And when paired with certain smart locks and security cameras, services like Amazon Key lets delivery people leave packages inside the front door while the property owner controls the access and views the delivery through a smart phone app. Smart Home Smart Choice

Of course, as with the super parents and modern seniors described earlier, the rental property owners can enjoy the peace of mind of always knowing who is coming or going from their property, and when. Smart Home Smart Choice

Educating the Buyer Is Smart

As you can see in just the few examples we’ve provided, the market for homes with smart locks is extremely diverse. Combine the range of smart locks and smart security applications with the product’s greater affordability and it is easy to understand why so many prospective homebuyer customers have smart locks on their checklists. Once soon-to-be homebuyers have secured a Nevada loan, thoughts quickly turn to how they will adapt their home to their needs and desires. Smart features appear to fit that category! Smart Home Technology on the Rise

There is a challenge, however. The Kwikset segmentation study showed that one thing – perhaps the main thing – separating “Good Life Gurus” and “Super Moms and Dads” from becoming smart lock converts was a lack of understanding of the benefits of these still relatively new home features.

To this end, it’s important for builders, realtors and even smart lock sellers and installers to develop a clear understanding of the ways in which smart locks make a home more attractive – and sellable.

Become more at home with the features and benefits of smart locks, and you’ll have a better chance of meeting the needs of every different type of prospective home buyer and smart lock customer – and a better opportunity to take advantage of the growing smart security market. Smart Home Technology on the Rise

Ted with Plano Texas Handyman and our sister company, Monarc Technology is a expert on home automation, call us at 214-507-3415 to see how easily we can integrate your Smart Home at our website.

There are so many different pieces of technology that can help and support seniors nowadays, meaning that more and more of them seem to continue living alone. Seniors may be interested in looking at some phones for hard of hearing people. These phones are essential for any home, especially in case of an emergency. Keeping in contact with families is also so important as we grow older, so technology, that ensures people with hearing difficulties can still talk on the phone too, is great. There are so many other smart home devices that can help old people too.

Maybe this couple is thinking less about health emergencies and more about controlling their locks, lights and other devices from a second home. Perhaps they are “snowbirds,” who want to monitor and control their home in New England from a winter home in Florida or Arizona.

First, rental property owners can have complete access control without managing and potentially losing dozens of keys. With the ability to conveniently send electronic keys or user codes to renters through a smart phone or other internet-connected device, property owners no longer have to make an extra trip to deliver the keys. Plus they never have to use one of those fake key-hiding rocks, or make new keys after renters move out.

Also, property owners can have complete control over who has access to their property. Neither the owner nor the resident has to be home to let a plumber or other contractor inside. And when paired with certain smart locks and security cameras, services like Amazon Key lets delivery people leave packages inside the front door while the property owner controls the access and views the delivery through a smart phone app.

Of course, as with the super parents and modern seniors described earlier, the rental property owners can enjoy the peace of mind of always knowing who is coming or going from their property, and when. Smart Home Technology on the Rise, Smart Home Smart Choice

Educating the Buyer Is Smart

As you can see in just the few examples we’ve provided, the market for homes with smart locks is extremely diverse. Combine the range of smart locks and smart security applications with the product’s greater affordability and it is easy to understand why so many prospective homebuyer customers have smart locks on their check lists. Smart Home Technology on the Rise

There is a challenge, however. The Kwikset segmentation study showed that one thing – perhaps the main thing – separating “Good Life Gurus” and “Super Moms and Dads” from becoming smart lock converts was a lack of understanding of the benefits of these still relatively new home features.

To this end, it’s important for builders, realtors and even smart lock sellers and installers to develop a clear understanding of the ways in which smart locks make a home more attractive – and sellable.

Become more at home with the features and benefits of smart locks, and you’ll have a better chance of meeting the needs of every different type of prospective home buyer and smart lock customer – and a better opportunity to take advantage of the growing smart security market. Smart Home Technology on the Rise

Ted with Plano Texas Handyman and our sister company, Monarc Technology is a expert on home automation, call us at 214-507-3415 to see how easily we can integrate your Smart Home at our website.

Smart Home Devices Lower Bills

Smart Home Devices Lower Bills

Smart Home Devices Lower Bills.  There’s nothing smarter than having smart home devices that save you money. Smart home devices can be used to make you your money, and your time more efficient. By adding household automation and remote control access to some of your home systems, you can lower your consumption and lower your bills in the process. These are some products that will help you do just that. As a homeowner, it is important to know the potential utility costs on your home as they will impact your monthly budget. If you’re looking for the top choice for utiltiies in Edmonton, visit Regional Energy’s website. Monarch Technology can install these devices and make your home a smart home and your business a smart business.  Call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 to discuss your Smart Home and Smart Business. Visit our sister company website Monarc Technology.

APPLE HomeKit

Apple’s HomeKit is simple enough for novices who just want to say, “Siri, I’m home,” into their iPhone, before walking through their automatically unlocked door and entering a relaxing scene with just the right lighting, temperature and electronics running.

Apple HomeKit is a system that lets you control your smart home devices all in one place. It allows you to adjust your thermostat, lights, locks and more in multiple rooms, creating comfortable environments and just the right ambiance with a tap on your smartphone via the Apple Home app. You can even use it to control your devices remotely. Apple HomeKit, What it does. Smart Home Devices Lower Bills

In contrast to Amazon’s Echo smart home hub, Apple’s HomeKit isn’t compatible with a ton of devices. However, it could be an easy starting point for Apple fans who are just beginning to set up their smart homes.

LIGHT BULBS

For one, smart light bulbs tend to last longer, for the reason that they are LED rather than incandescent. Its simple math, the longer the light bulb last, the less time you have to spend buying new bulbs. Another plus side to LED bulbs is that they tend to use 70 to 80 percent less energy than older bulbs, which is great because lighting uses more energy than anything else in residential measurements. A great option for smart light bulbs in The Philips Hue line, which provides long-lasting, energy saving, convenient lighting for your home.  Smart Home Devices Lower Bills

Smart Plug

A smart outlet is ultimately a plugin or power strip. -They plug directly into a wall outlet or traditional power strip and have their outlet you then plug into with the device you want to automate. You’re not gaining or losing any outlets by plugging one in—you’re simply making an existing outlet smart by connecting it to your home Wi-Fi network. When deciding which smart plug works best for you, it is important to research the plugin that works best with the products you already have. Smart plugs make it easy and affordable to automate just about anything in your home. Whether you’re new to smart home gadgets or a pro, smart plugs are a must have, and energy saving.

Thermostat

Thermostats are one of the best ways to cut costs when it comes to your household bills. For example, you might like the temperature a degree or two cooler after you fall asleep but not while you’re awake in bed, and being able to make that ch Smart Home Devices Lower Bills ange automatically can add up over time when it comes to your utility bills.  Lower your Bills with These Smart Home Devices

Some smart thermostats, like the Nest Learning Thermostat. ($249) You will learn your habits over time and know what temperatures you and others in your home prefer at different times of the day. Not only does it make your living space more comfortable, but it can also help you spot any routine wastefulness. The perfect addition to your smart home, creating a more efficient environment for you and your family.

Smart Blinds

It’s not surprising that prevent heat from getting inside your home, will help keep your house cooler, which means your AC won’t have to work so hard. Regardless of where you live, your window coverings only work when you remember to open and close them. With smart connected shades, you don’t have to. Smart Home Devices Lower Bills

There are a variety of smart window coverings on the market, and one example is MySmartBlinds. This system is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Smart Assistant, or you can use it independently through its app.Monarch Technology can install these devices and make your home a smart home and your business a smart business.  Call Monarch Technology at 214-507-3415 to discuss your Smart Home and Smart Business.

Whole House Surge Protection

Home Surge protection consists of 1 surge protector installed at the electrical panel and commercial grade surge suppressors installed at critical equipment. Well, a good whole-house surge protection device does essentially the same thing. It allows in only the electricity your home needs and not the unruly over-voltages from the utility—then it protects your devices from any trouble that can occur from surges inside the house.

Whole-house surge protective devices (SPDs) are typically wired to the electric service box and located nearby to protect all the appliances and electrical systems in a home. They are typically a $200 to $500 add-on.

80 percent of surges in a home we generate ourselves.

whole house surge protection-cascaded surge suppression

Like many of the surge suppression strips we’re used to, whole-house surge protectors use metal oxide varistors (MOVs), to shunt power surges. MOVs get a bad rap because in surge strips one surge can effectively end the usefulness of an MOV. Home Surge protection , Smart Home Devices Lower Bills

But unlike those used in most surge strips, the ones in whole-house systems are built to shunt large surges and can last for years.

More home-builders today are offering whole-house surge protection as standard adders to help differentiate themselves and help protect homeowners’ investments in electronic systems—especially when some of those sensitive systems can be sold by the home-builder. Home Surge protection .

These are our go-to smart home devices that are guaranteed to cut costs when it comes to your household bills. Get smart with your devices and your money this year!

Call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 to discuss your Smart Home and Smart Business. Visit our sister company website Monarc Technology. Lower your Bills with These Smart Home Devices

Smart Home Design

Smart Home Wiring Design

Smart Home Design – Build a Network for Your Smart Home – Today’s average home has a plethora of connected devices. And all smart home products, such as laptops, smartphones, TVs, electronic door locks, and thermostats, require a solid, reliable networking infrastructure to function at their full potential.  Plano Texas Handyman has the expertise to install a system to keep your home running smoothly, call Ted at 214.507.3415 today for more information on Build a Network for Your Smart Home or visit our website for all our capabilities.  Build a Network for Your Smart Home. Smart Home Design

Most home networks today are usually comprised of an Internet connection to the house, which links to a wireless router with which everything else—smartphones, smart light switches, surveillance cameras—communicates. This setup functions adequately when the only products connected to the router are laptops and Xbox gaming systems. Today, in many households these legacy devices have been joined by a new generation of connected devices, including media streamers, home automation hubs, cloud storage services, security systems, and other products which the industry has come to refer to as the “Internet of Things,” or “IoT.” As the number of IoT devices on a home network increases, it becomes increasingly more difficult for the network to function well. Problems such as buffering in video streams, latency in music streams, and signals that don’t reach their intended destinations can result. Build a Network for Your Smart Home.  Smart Home Design

Thankfully, there are solutions and our company can install these in your home for optimal internet and gaming performance.:

1.  Install a Good Wiring Backbone
A connected smart home generally starts with an incoming cable, fiber, or standard phone line (DSL). This wire connects to a modem and that connects to a router (or combined modem/router) which has Wi-Fi capability. Where that wire enters your home is important. If it comes in far from the central part of your house, like a deep corner of the basement or at the far end of a guest wing, latching on to that Wi-Fi signal is going to be difficult for devices located far from the router.

To solve this issue, leave the modem provided to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) where it is, place a router in a central spot, and connect the two with high-quality Ethernet cable.  Smart Home Design .

For devices that stream HD video (as well as other smart home devices), nothing beats the communications reliability you’ll get from a wired connection between the devices and the router. This will involve fishing either Cat 5e or Cat 6 cabling to wall jacks in tech-heavy areas like a media room, home office, bedrooms, and a utility room where you might stow A/V and automation equipment. Terminating the wire to an Ethernet jack is straightforward. Match the wire colors to the jacks. Be sure to test the connection with an Ethernet cable tester. In areas where several smart home devices might exist, like a home theater, plan on plugging those components into an Ethernet Switch.

An Ethernet Switch is intended to work in tandem with a router by connecting multiple devices in the same vicinity to your home’s network, and is able pass traffic through as quickly as possible without too much interference. A gigabit switch, like the Netgear Prosafe GS108, when used with a gigabit router will allow you to use your local network at speeds up to ten times greater than the previous generation (10/100 Mbps Fast Ethernet). If either of these components, however, is not gigabit rated, the entire network will be limited to 10/100 speeds. So, in order to use the maximum amount of speed your network can pump out, you need every single component in your network (including your computers) to be gigabit compliant.  Build a Network for Your Smart Home.  Smart Home Design

If you are building a new home you should plan on running at least two Cat 6 cables to each Ethernet jack (one for the network and one for future use). Locate these Cat 6 cables in places where you plan on putting your TVs, computers, security cameras, and other devices. And if you plan on adding a home control system, pull a Cat 6 cable to the wall light switch locations, as well. Should you ever replace these light switches with home control keypads, they can be easily wired into the network. Each run of cable is then “homerun” back to a central point, usually in an attic, basement, or garage. Here you generally will locate your router in a rack along with network switches and other gear. Plan to spend between $100 and $150 per cable drop. For a finished home, fishing cabling will be more labor intensive, and therefore, more expensive: between $150 and $500 per cable drop.

2.  We think of your home’s network like a highway system.
A wired network is a multilane highway. Multiple cars can have their own lane and travel at the speeds they want without impacting others. Not so with Wi-Fi. It’s like a two-lane highway. The slowest device dictates the speed of all the others. Invest in a router that supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Having the second band (5GHz) helps as it gives you two additional lanes. Also available are routers with two 5GHz bands so you can have a total of four lanes in the 5GHz space.  Build a Network for Your Smart Home.  Smart Home Design

3.  We provide systems for getting better Wi-Fi coverage
Today the most common Wi-Fi standard (third-generation) is 802.11n, which has a maximum speed of 450Mbps (megabits per second). The newest deployed standard is 802.11ac. It has a maximum speed of 1.7Gbps (gigabits per second). The good news is the ac standard is backwards compatible, which means that the devices you currently own (which most likely are n) will work with the newer ac-based wireless routers.

Additionally, Wi-Fi works on two different wireless radio-frequency bands. The most common is 2.4GHz (gigahertz), and the newer and much less crowded is 5GHz. People who live in congested areas, like cities or neighborhoods, will certainly experience interference when using a 2.4GHz router, so be sure to invest in a dual-band model, which supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Routers that support 802.11ac are even better.  Build a Network for Your Smart Home.  Smart Home Design

However, even the best router won’t ensure adequate Wi-Fi coverage, so in many homes it helps to add range extenders (often called repeaters, although they don’t actually repeat) and access points. Range extenders connect to your home’s network and then broadcast a new signal with a slightly different network name (often they add “EXT” to your existing SSID). This will allow you to connect to the web, and stream video or audio to new rooms of the house that your existing wireless signal can’t reach. Range extenders should be placed where a moderately strong Wi-Fi signal already exists to ensure that they can lock onto Wi-Fi and provide a stable extension.

4.  We can add a Network Bridge
Multiple Ethernet ports are built into some range extenders and access points. On range extenders these ports can connect non-wireless devices to your network. This is called a Bridge. Network Bridges can also be purchased separately for the sole purpose of connecting a non-wireless device to your network.
Access points connect to your home’s wired network, thus negating the performance issues of range extenders. They can be set to the same SSID as your main network and can provide a seamless roaming experience. Multiple access points can be added, even outdoors (be sure to look for weatherproof models). This is the preferred way to extend a network.  Build a Network for Your Smart Home.  Your Smart Home

Know Your Limitations
Be mindful of Wi-Fi limitations and understand that the more smart devices you add to a wireless network, the more bandwidth will be used. You can beef up the bandwidth with a high-quality router and complementing it with range extenders and/or access points. Still, Wi-Fi can be finicky so, whenever possible, connect your home’s smart devices via a wired network. Depending on your home, you might not be able to fish wire to every device, but this could still help lighten the load of your wireless network and enable it to function more reliably.

Plano Texas Handyman has the expertise to install a system to keep your home running smoothly, call Ted at 214.507.3415 today for more information on Build a Network for Your Smart Home or visit our website for all our capabilities.  Build a Network for Your Smart Home.  Smart Home Design.

Your Smart Home

Structured Wiring for New Construction Homes

Build a Network for Your Smart Home

Your Smart Home – Build a Network for Your Smart Home – Today’s average home has a plethora of connected devices. And all smart home products, such as laptops, smartphones, TVs, electronic door locks, and thermostats, require a solid, reliable networking infrastructure to function at their full potential. Plano Texas Handyman has the expertise to install a system to keep your home running smoothly, call Ted at 214.507.3415 today for more information on Build a Network for Your Smart Home or visit our website for all our capabilities. Build a Network for Your Smart Home. Your Smart Home

Most home networks today are usually comprised of an Internet connection to the house, which links to a wireless router with which everything else—smartphones, smart light switches, surveillance cameras—communicates. This setup functions adequately when the only products connected to the router are laptops and Xbox gaming systems. Today, in many households these legacy devices have been joined by a new generation of connected devices, including media streamers, home automation hubs, cloud storage services, security systems, and other products which the industry has come to refer to as the “Internet of Things,” or “IoT.” As the number of IoT devices on a home network increases, it becomes increasingly more difficult for the network to function well. Problems such as buffering in video streams, latency in music streams, and signals that don’t reach their intended destinations can result. Build a Network for Your Smart Home. Your Smart Home. If you would like to invest in some property because you need a new floorplan then you can check out Parc Clematis Floor Plans which will be a great investment to build a plethora of connected devices in!

Thankfully, there are solutions and our company can install these in your home for optimal internet and gaming performance.:

1. Install a Good Wiring Backbone
A connected smart home generally starts with an incoming cable, fiber, or standard phone line (DSL). This wire connects to a modem and that connects to a router (or combined modem/router) which has Wi-Fi capability. Where that wire enters your home is important. If it comes in far from the central part of your house, like a deep corner of the basement or at the far end of a guest wing, latching on to that Wi-Fi signal is going to be difficult for devices located far from the router.

To solve this issue, leave the modem provided to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) where it is, place a router in a central spot, and connect the two with high-quality Ethernet cable. Build a Network for Your Smart Home.

For devices that stream HD video (as well as other smart home devices), nothing beats the communications reliability you’ll get from a wired connection between the devices and the router. This will involve fishing either Cat 5e or Cat 6 cabling to wall jacks in tech-heavy areas like a media room, home office, bedrooms, and a utility room where you might stow A/V and automation equipment. Terminating the wire to an Ethernet jack is straightforward. Match the wire colors to the jacks. Be sure to test the connection with an Ethernet cable tester. In areas where several smart home devices might exist, like a home theater, plan on plugging those components into an Ethernet Switch.

An Ethernet Switch is intended to work in tandem with a router by connecting multiple devices in the same vicinity to your home’s network, and is able pass traffic through as quickly as possible without too much interference. A gigabit switch, like the Netgear Prosafe GS108, when used with a gigabit router will allow you to use your local network at speeds up to ten times greater than the previous generation (10/100 Mbps Fast Ethernet). If either of these components, however, is not gigabit rated, the entire network will be limited to 10/100 speeds. So, in order to use the maximum amount of speed your network can pump out, you need every single component in your network (including your computers) to be gigabit compliant. Build a Network for Your Smart Home. Your Smart Home

If you are building a new home you should plan on running at least two Cat 6 cables to each Ethernet jack (one for the network and one for future use). Locate these Cat 6 cables in places where you plan on putting your TVs, computers, security cameras, and other devices. And if you plan on adding a home control system, pull a Cat 6 cable to the wall light switch locations, as well. Should you ever replace these light switches with home control keypads, they can be easily wired into the network. Each run of cable is then “homerun” back to a central point, usually in an attic, basement, or garage. Here you generally will locate your router in a rack along with network switches and other gear. Plan to spend between $100 and $150 per cable drop. For a finished home, fishing cabling will be more labor intensive, and therefore, more expensive: between $150 and $500 per cable drop.

2. We think of your home’s network like a highway system.
A wired network is a multilane highway. Multiple cars can have their own lane and travel at the speeds they want without impacting others. Not so with Wi-Fi. It’s like a two-lane highway. The slowest device dictates the speed of all the others. Invest in a router that supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Having the second band (5GHz) helps as it gives you two additional lanes. Also available are routers with two 5GHz bands so you can have a total of four lanes in the 5GHz space. Build a Network for Your Smart Home. Your Smart Home

3. We provide systems for getting better Wi-Fi coverage
Today the most common Wi-Fi standard (third-generation) is 802.11n, which has a maximum speed of 450Mbps (megabits per second). The newest deployed standard is 802.11ac. It has a maximum speed of 1.7Gbps (gigabits per second). The good news is the ac standard is backwards compatible, which means that the devices you currently own (which most likely are n) will work with the newer ac-based wireless routers.

Additionally, Wi-Fi works on two different wireless radio-frequency bands. The most common is 2.4GHz (gigahertz), and the newer and much less crowded is 5GHz. People who live in congested areas, like cities or neighborhoods, will certainly experience interference when using a 2.4GHz router, so be sure to invest in a dual-band model, which supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Routers that support 802.11ac are even better. Build a Network for Your Smart Home. Your Smart Home

However, even the best router won’t ensure adequate Wi-Fi coverage, so in many homes it helps to add range extenders (often called repeaters, although they don’t actually repeat) and access points. Range extenders connect to your home’s network and then broadcast a new signal with a slightly different network name (often they add “EXT” to your existing SSID). This will allow you to connect to the web, and stream video or audio to new rooms of the house that your existing wireless signal can’t reach. Range extenders should be placed where a moderately strong Wi-Fi signal already exists to ensure that they can lock onto Wi-Fi and provide a stable extension.

4. We can add a Network Bridge
Multiple Ethernet ports are built into some range extenders and access points. On range extenders these ports can connect non-wireless devices to your network. This is called a Bridge. Network Bridges can also be purchased separately for the sole purpose of connecting a non-wireless device to your network.
Access points connect to your home’s wired network, thus negating the performance issues of range extenders. They can be set to the same SSID as your main network and can provide a seamless roaming experience. Multiple access points can be added, even outdoors (be sure to look for weatherproof models). This is the preferred way to extend a network. Build a Network for Your Smart Home. Your Smart Home

Know Your Limitations
Be mindful of Wi-Fi limitations and understand that the more smart devices you add to a wireless network, the more bandwidth will be used. You can beef up the bandwidth with a high-quality router and complementing it with range extenders and/or access points. Still, Wi-Fi can be finicky so, whenever possible, connect your home’s smart devices via a wired network. Depending on your home, you might not be able to fish wire to every device, but this could still help lighten the load of your wireless network and enable it to function more reliably.

Plano Texas Handyman has the expertise to install a system to keep your home running smoothly, call Ted at 214.507.3415 today for more information on Build a Network for Your Smart Home or visit our website for all our capabilities. Build a Network for Your Smart Home. Your Smart Home

Smart Home Technology

Smart Home Technology:
You wake up refreshed after a good night’s sleep. That’s because your mattress not only adjusts itself to your ideal sleeping temperature, but also has an alarm that wakes you at just the right moment of your sleep cycle. Your living room blinds automatically open, and the coffee maker has a fresh cup brewed and waiting. Leave for the office and your lights turn off; the alarm and security surveillance systems are enabled; the thermometer has already started lowering the home temperature, not raising it until 10 minutes before you return home in the evening.

These are just a few of the scenarios that can play out if you look at this smart homes guide. Smart home technology can provide automation of just about any household chore, from remotely firing up a slow cooker to alerting you to water leaks.

The smart home has arrived, but many of us remain confused about what one is. That’s because the devices and services that make a home “smart” will be different for every individual. In fact, whether you know it or not, chances are that you already have some type of smart home device. Ted at Plano Texas Handyman can design a system for you and your family, call him at 214-507-3415. Smart Home Technology

Smart Home Technology / Home Automation – With one touch, dim the lights, play music, turn up the heat, lock the doors and arm the security system. Check in on your home from your smartphone, no matter where you are. Press a “Goodnight” button that will put your house to sleep, turning off all lights and locking all doors. With Control4, your options are virtually limitless. We examine all the options available to make your home more efficient, more energy efficient, and completely automated at an affordable price. We look at the price of a smart home system detailed by each electronic device. Contact Ted at Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 for a quote on your perfect home automation. For a small investment of less than $2500.00, you can convert your home into the most tech savvy home anywhere. Below is a list of the items we recommend and install. Please feel free to contact us for more information. Plano Texas Handyman recommends the Rachio Sprinkler System Controller, Arlo Wireless Camera Systems, TP Link wireless light switches and plugs, August Smartlocks and Nest Thermostats. Contact us for more information.

Home Automation System Overview
Description Features Controls Cost
Rachio Sprinkler system controller Highest Rated on Amazon / 8 & 16 zones Smart Phone & Alexa $200 (8 zone) & $250 (16 zone)
Arlo Wireless Camera System Indoor / Outdoor / Rechargeable Batteries (3 month) – Audio Feed Smart Phone $350 (4 camera system)
TP Link Wireless Light Controls Single Pole / 3 way / In Wall Switches / Outlet Plug-Ins Smart Phone / Alexa / Google Assistant $35 Each
August Smartlock Deadbolt attachment Inside Home / No more Keys / Access Monitor Smart Phone / Alexa / Apple Home Kit / Google Assistant $229 each
Nest Thermostat Wifi Phone Tablet or Laptop / Home Away Assistant Smart Phone / Alexa $275 each

To help you make smarter decisions about this rapidly evolving category, we’ll answer some key questions: What are the elements that make up a smart home, and how do they connect? What are the security concerns and implications? And what does the roadmap of this much-hyped technology look like?
What Is a Smart Home?
We are way past the days of the Clapper. Simply put, a smart home is one that includes some gadget, system or appliance that is connected either to the Internet and/or to your smartphone. You can typically control and interact with these devices using an app. Smart Home Technology

Smart home products and services come in all shapes and sizes. Have a security system that taps into your Internet connection for monitoring? You have a smart home. Do you have LED light bulbs that you can dim or turn on using your smartphone? Guess what, you have a smart home. Do you own a webcam installed that monitors your windows or front door, or perhaps the baby’s room? You, my friend, have a smart home. Even if you only have a wireless router connected to the Internet with a laptop or a tablet or two connected via Wi-Fi — you have the foundations of a smart, connected home.

In the coming years, you will likely make your home even smarter. Gartner, a leading tech analyst firm, predicts that a typical abode (in a “mature affluent market”) could have more than 500 smart home devices by 2022. It’s a projection some tech-industry watchers question, but it’s one that Nick Jones, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, stands by.

“The Internet of Things will bring billions of connected Wi-Fi enabled devices to homes,” said Dana Knight, TP-Link’s director of marketing.

Still, the automated home is the exception and not the norm. Acuity Group’s 2014 study of the Internet of Things adoption (of which smart home tech is a subset) found that smart technology was in about 4 percent of all U.S. homes. What’s the biggest barrier to adoption the study discovered? Unfamiliarity with the concepts of the Internet of Things and smart tech.

Making a House Into a Smart Home
There are two ways to make your house smart: DIY gadgets that you install yourself, such as smart outlets, baby monitors and light sensors; or by subscribing to services such as ADT’s security systems or those of an ISPs, such as Time Warner Cable’s IntelligentHome Service. Smart Home Technology

Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most popular options:

Nest and Smart Thermostats. No device exemplifies the DIY smart home as much as the Nest Learning thermostat ($249 on Amazon). This gadget, designed to be installed by a homeowner, learns your habits, and then adjusts the temperature based on your patterns. The more you use Nest, “the more accurate it gets,” said Mike Soucie, product partnership lead at Nest Labs.

But what really makes the Nest smart is that it can interact with a number of other devices in your home and perform a set of actions without you having to lift a finger. For example, if the thermostat is connected to the Nest Protect smoke detector, it can automatically shut off your HVAC system if smoke is detected.

Nest’s enormous success in the smart home space can be attributed to its focus on ease-of-use. “We really focus on the end-to-end consumer process,” Soucie said. The main goal for Nest is to create products that don’t require customers to program things, according to Soucie. Smart Home Technology

The hassle-free setup of the Nest thermostat and other products in the nest ecosystem have proved to be a winning formula — as is the energy cost savings Nest users are experiencing. As of January 2014, there were 40,000-50,000 Nest thermostats shipping per month. No wonder it was acquired by Google last year, for $3.2 billion. Nest is not the only smart thermostat on the market, however. Honeywell, which has been a leading name in the home heating industry for more than 125 years, has also jumped into the home automation arena with its Lyric Smart thermostats. A number of “green” tech startups, including Ecobee, also offer smart thermostats and are battling for market share.
Security Cameras
To date, the most popular type of smart home device, as a category, has been security cameras, also known as IP cameras. iControl’s 2014 State of the Smart Home Report revealed that of 1,000 people surveyed, 90 percent said personal and family security is one of the most important reasons for using a smart home system. Revenue from the video surveillance market is expected to reach $42.81 billion by 2019.

A number of companies, including D-Link, TRENDnet, Linksys and Belkin, have developed Web cameras that integrate with their traditional products. For instance, the TRENDnet Wireless Cloud Camera TV-IP751WC ($39.95, Amazon) works with TRENDnet’s cloud service and routers to allow for easy remote viewing of the camera’s video stream. Smart Home Technology

Now owned by Nest, Dropcam made a name for itself by making cameras that are easy to view and control from your smartphone. The $199 Dropcam Pro’s 3-megapixel, 130-degree field-of-vision camera provides home surveillance as well as video-recording to the cloud.

Baby Cams – An offshoot of security cameras, baby cams not only provide live feeds and motion detection, but also two-way audio and other features tailored to this segment. For example, the D-Link HD Pan & Tilt Wi-Fi Baby Camera (DCS-855L, $269.99, Amazon) monitors temperature fluctuations in a nursery and also plays lullabies. It’s almost like a micro-chipped Mary Poppins.
Smart Lights

Lighting is also getting smarter. Smart LED bulbs can be controlled with an app and dimmed, turned on and off, and, in the case of the Philips Hue system (starting at $199.97 for starter kits), even change color to set a room’s mood. Other smart lights can do more than just brighten a room. For example, the Sengled Pulse ($179, Amazon) has a built-in wireless speaker. Smart Home Technology

Smart Plugs – Smart plugs sit between your electrical outlet and the appliances in your home (smart or not). The plugs then connect to an app on your phone, allowing you to remotely turn those appliances on and off, such as with the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch ($59.99). Some plugs, such as the MeterPlug ($49), will even monitor how much energy an appliance uses.

Smart Locks – Smart locks such as the Goji Smart Lock ($278) allow you to control when your home is locked or unlocked, great for scheduling access for babysitters and dog walkers. Goji also takes pictures of everyone who appears at your door in front of your lock — adding an extra layer of security.
Appliances

When it comes to making appliances smarter, companies such as Whirlpool and GE are seeking to discover what people want to automate.

“Say you want to be one step ahead of dinner prep,” said Lou Lenzi, director of industrial design for GE Appliances. “Just tell your oven to ‘preheat 350 degrees’ from your mobile device while you’re heading home from the office. Or maybe check your refrigerator’s ice maker to see how much ice you have in the dispenser — and tell it to make more before those unexpected house guests arrive.”

Perhaps to no one’s surprise, smart appliances are a little pricier than their “dumb” non-connected counterparts. Whirlpool’s 30-inch Drop-In Electric Range with smart sensors to remotely manage oven temperature is priced at $1,699. You can typically find a crockpot (or slow-cooker) on Amazon, ranging from $30-$80, but Belkin’s Smart Crock-Pot, which lets you change the cooking time or adjust the temperature using your smartphone or tablet. Smart Home Technology