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  • Donna Baker

SMART HOMES FOR SMART PEOPLE

Say “meet George Jetson” to anyone of a certain age and they will likely finish the theme song of the popular animated sitcom that aired in the 1960s featuring a family that lived in a futuristic society with all the bells and whistles of convenience of the future. Fast forward to current times and many would say we live in homes with many of these conveniences.

Arguably the smart home began with the harnessing of electricity and the introduction of machines to make our lives easier but for most of us the origins of the smart home began with the 1975 release of X10, a communication protocol for home automation, the smart home, once a pipe dream a la The Jetsons, came to life. X10 sends 120 kHz radio frequency (RF) bursts of digital information onto a home's existing electric wiring to programmable outlets or switches. These signals convey commands to corresponding devices, controlling how and when the devices operate. A transmitter could, for example, send a signal along the house's electric wiring, telling a device to turn on at a specific time. However, as electrical wiring isn't designed to be particularly free from radio-band "noise," X10 was not always fully reliable. Signals would be lost and, in some cases, signals wouldn't cross circuits that were wired on different polarities, created when 220-volt service is split into a pair of 100-volt feeds, as is common in the U.S. Additionally, X10 was initially a one-way technology, so while smart devices can take commands, they cannot send data back to a central network. Later, however, two-way X10 devices became available, albeit at a higher cost.

But enough techno speak (which we sourced from the internet). Homeowners are taking their homes into the 21st century with smart home technology at rapidly increasing rates. These gadgets and gizmos might be cool and convenient but they also provide a few other benefits for your household.

PEACE OF MIND

High-tech security systems let you keep an eye on your home whether you are at the office or on vacation. Controlling appliances and electronics can easily be accomplished with a smartphone to make changes throughout the day.

SAVE MONEY

Did you forget to turn off the lights this morning? Perhaps you are headed home from vacation and want to turn the temperature to a more comfortable setting. Smart home devices all you to switch off lamps and turn on the AC from your phone.

BOOST HOME VALUE

Smart appliances, wall plugs and light bulbs can instantly boost your home’s value and appeal.

What are some of the more popular devices on the market today? While we are not promoting any particular product or brand here are a few popular gadgets for your consideration:

Ring Doorbell is a motion activated video doorbell system with an app that enables you to see and even speak to visitors at your door from anywhere. Cost is $99-$250.

Smart Lightbulbs are dimmable, wi-fi enabled LED light bulbs that allow you to change lighting from anywhere using an electronic device or smart speakers. Cost is $10-$12 per bulb

Smart Speakers like Google Home or Amazon Echo can us Wi-Fi to sync with your smart electronics allowing you to use voice commands to lower the lights, turn on the heat, or even make a cup of coffee. Cost is $50-$200.

Nest Thermostat is a sleek thermostat you can control from your phone or tablet to adjust your heating and air. This device learns the climate of your home and automatically adjusts the temperature when conditions change. Cost $170-$235.

TP-Link Smart Plugs are Wi-Fi enabled adapters that you can plug appliances like your coffee maker into so you can turn them on and off from an app on your smartphone.

Before investing in these and a multitude of other smart devices you will want to ask yourself whether you are a Siri (Apple Homekit), Alexa (Amazon) or Nest (Google) fan. Each of these companies are major players in the smart home technology industry and it may influence what products you ultimately buy. There is no “one size fits all” in home automation. You may have some version of all of these products or just a few basics—it all depends on you.

The bottom line: boosting your home’s IQ can provide lots of benefits but you will want to do your research and think about how you live in your home.

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