Lately everything seems to be getting smarter. I now have a smart phone, a smart tv, a smart watch and many other “smart” appliances. The thing is that my kids are the only ones smart enough to run it all!
That’s one of the reasons I haven’t jumped on the whole “smart home” concept. It just seems so complicated. Boy was I wrong. We found some simple solutions that make having a smart home a whole lot less complicated.
The average home has 7 “connected devices”. With a family of 8, we have ALOT more than the average. . . actually I think I can see 7 connected devices from where I am sitting right now. If you want to have a more connected home, it is a good idea to start with what connects all your devices — the wifi router.
The Netgear’s DST AC1900 Wireless-AC Gigabit Router with DST Adapter seemed like a perfect fit for my family. Not only is it designed to handle the demands of a household full of devices, like in my house, by including a range extender to help eliminate wifi dead spots but it has to be the easiest router on the market to setup and configure.
I set it up entirely without the help of my kids…but I admit that I did have a little help from Best Buy’s 24/7 Geek Squad tech support. I took it out of the box, plugged it in, opened a chat window on my computer and then hit the Geek Squad button on the unit which allowed them to take it from there. They configured everything and now it works great! Just don’t tell my kids I had any help.
Next, I tackled the first smart home feature that would make my kids’ friends go “wow!” I added the Philips Hue White and Ambiance Starter Kit and a Hue Go portable light. Basically, these are internet connected LED lightbulbs with some neat tricks. I like that the LEDs use less energy than the bulbs they are replacing, but the fun part is that they can change colors to almost any color you want. Whether I am reading, relaxing, or concentrating on work they can produce different colors of light at the touch of button. My kids are even programming a black light setup for Halloween and red and green for the holidays.
Philips new Hue setup goes way beyond being able to change the colors of the light though. It now works with the Apple HomeKit which means I can tell Siri on my iPhone or Apple Watch to “Hey Siri, Please turn on the lights” and she does it. She won’t listen to anything else I say (Siri and I have a love/hate relationship) but she WILL turn on the lights. It also means that Hue works with other smart home devices such as door locks and thermostats.
Hue has geolocation and timer capabilities. This means that my home lights turn on when I arrive in my driveway and I can set them to turn off when my kids should be going to bed. I’ve also found that the Hue Go light makes a great night light as it is rechargeable enabling it to be moved around the house to wherever my kids might be sleeping that night. which I have found makes it a great nightlight. It even has a setting that flickers like a candle.
Finally, with a router that can handle the demands of streaming video, it is much easier to cut the cord to the TV. Sling TV is the only streaming service I am aware of that let’s my kids stream Disney Channel WITHOUT needing a subscription to traditional paid TV. It also includes ESPN, AMC, A&E, TNT, HGTV and more. More info about the devices that work with Sling TV can be found here.