The day we closed on our home we went straight to Home Depot and made a big purchase. First, we purchased all new appliances. That was a major adult moment. Then we added a few boxes to the cart that we (well, mostly me…Danielle wasn’t as excited) had been lusting over. We purchased a Nest Thermostat and multiple Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors. I had been dreaming about how we would have the smartest home of anyone we knew, and so far that statement stands true. But that was just the beginning.
Having a full Apple ecosystem makes finding the right smart home products more challenging, as HomeKit is not yet as globally popular as Google and Amazon systems. It requires a lot of research. Even Nest isn’t compatible, but in my opinion it is the best smart safety suite of products and eventually will become HomeKit compatible (yes, I predict this will happen in 2020).
First up in the comfort category should come as no shock – our thermostat. We replaced our 17 year old furnace that ran at 50% efficiency to a new 2 stage intelligent 96% efficiency setup. We also added 3 Nest Sensors in key rooms of the house where the average temperature is lower…you gotta love these older 1950 homes. The thermostat reads the average temps transmitted by each sensor, and automatically adjusts the temperature to a more desirable level throughout the home.
Just prior to the furnace update we made a significant change to our home…we FINALLY added a fireplace! But not any fireplace, ours is powered via a smart switch that can be activated by Siri. This was a tough update as gas fireplaces are low voltage. We had to custom wire the unit to a relay that controls the amount of voltage from one device to a switch, therefore giving us the ability to use a smart switch. We went with a simple smart switch typically used for fan or lighting control and it is working perfectly. The only downfall – no way to adjust the level of heat. But with winter in Michigan full force is ok by us.
We live in a super safe, family oriented area. The crime rate is low, which is amazing, but you can never have too much trust in people nowadays. We added 2 Nest Outdoor Cameras and a Nest Doorbell, which also has a built-in HD camera. One of the outdoor cameras are mounted on the house and faces down the driveway towards the street, and the other is above the side entrance of our garage/workshop. Surprisingly enough the wifi signal is spot on!
The doorbell is a recent addition to our home as we had to have a wire and power installed to operate it. Prior to the Nest we had the Ring wifi doorbell, which served its purpose but constantly had to be charged. Quite annoying. Plus, as you may have figured out by this point we are a huge fan of singular eco-systems.
If you want to blow through a relatively nice chunk of cash quickly we recommend you invest in smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. We have four in our house, but it gives us a serious piece of mind so it is a win. The Nest devices we have also feature the option for a night light that turns on when it senses motion…perfect for two young boys that get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.
Smart lighting is a big hit in our house and was one of the earlier integrations we made. Every light in our living room and bedroom is operated via smart lighting tech from both Philips Hue and Lutron Caseta. This allows us to turn lights on and off when we are home or away, specify which lights (lamps, sconces or recessed) we want on and at what level we want them.
Our plan this year is to integrate more Lutron Caseta switches throughout the home so we can maintain a singular eco-system and leverage all of the 3000k bulbs we want. Room by room this should be no issue to obtain…it just comes down to time and a little investment!
With our new exterior doors came some awesome smart door hardware from Kwikset. The Kwikset Premis is a stunning modern design that blends in perfectly against our already black doors. And being Apple Homekit ready it integrates into our setup with ease, allowing us to unlock and lock our doors anywhere we are. We have one on our side entrance and the back entrance to our office, giving our team access whenever we’re not home.
We also added a smart garage door opener this Fall when our previous opener died on us. The wifi enabled Liftmaster opener is integrated with MyQ, a module that links directly to Apple Homekit. Yes, telling Siri to open the workshop is a bit overkill but hey, why not right?
We hope you got some solid info and inspiration to bring some easy smart technologies into your home.