BrothaTech's Smart House Wish List

My Smart House Wish List

It’s been a while since I discussed my Smart House plans (Damn you hardwood floor installation!). Now that things have settled a little, and our move-in date draws closer, I want to share all the Smart House/Home Automation/IoT (Internet of Things) brands and devices that are on my Smart House wish list.

Lighting – Insteon

Probably the first thing most people “smartify” (I just made that up) in their homes is lighting. Insteon has been at it for a while and has a large selection of entry-level and professional Home Automation products. Additionally, Insteon has added a HomeKit-compatible Hub that will allow the control of lights, HVAC, security, entertainment and more with Apple’s Home app, or voice-controlled via Siri.

So Insteon will be my go-to brand when it comes to controlling my lights, lamps, fans, shades, and outlets and will serve as the main system to which other HomeKit-compatible devices communicate with each other.

Home Security – Scout Alarm

I will try my hardest to integrate as many HomeKit-compatible brands as possible because I won’t be the only person living and operating our home. So I’m shooting for seamless compatibility and operation across all the different smart house equipment and all our mobile devices. But what’s more important is that my family, particularly Mrs. Tech, feels safe and sound.

So while Scout Alarm doesn’t currently have the “Works with HomeKit” tag on its door, access, and motion sensors *crosses fingers for future integration*, it’s one of the few smart alarm systems that offers monthly monitoring plans…Something Mrs. Tech was vehement about. She wants that extra layer of security on hand if for some reason neither of us can respond to an alert from Scout from our mobile devices. Add that with the fact that Scout Alarm is compatible with a variety of other smart house brands, it’s definitely my number 1 pick for security.

Access – August Home and Chamberlin MyQ

There are several smart door locks on the market, and since smart house devices are not so new, there are several ways I can string together a complete system, even if my system is not 100% HomeKit ready. Based on my research. August Home products (doorbell camera, smart lock, access keypad and hub) is compatible with most if not all of the HomeKit and non-HomeKit devices I already own or plan on integrating. So the decision to go with August for my home access needs was a no-brainer.

Chamberlin MyQ will handle my garage door needs. According to Chamberlin, MyQ will be HomeKit-compatible and offers the ability to integrate with my current garage door opener. All I need to do is make sure I have a decent network connectivity/signal in the garage, the MyQ system installs in minutes.

Heating and Cooling – ecobee3

This was a tough decision as most of the people I know with smart thermostats use Nest Home (also have a smart camera and smoke/fire alarm) and absolutely love it. So while tempted to follow the masses, I decided I want to go with the ecobee3 smart wi-fi thermostat.

Why? Because it is HomeKit-compatible, something I don’t think Nest will ever be. It’s also compatible with just about every other smart house/IoT device on the market. So the ecobee3 is pretty much future-proof based on my needs. Another cool feature that sets it apart from Nest is that I can position remote sensors in different areas of the house that communicate the temperature in that area back to the main unit so it doesn’t have to work so hard to provide a comfortable temperature, no matter where I am in the house.

Cameras?

Although there are a ton of indoor/outdoor smart cameras currently on the market, folks like me who are looking to build a HomeKit home, the pickings are slim to none. That is until iOS 10 (with Apple’s Home app) is finally released later this month. Then I’m sure brands will come out the woodworks with their HomKit-compatible cameras. But as of right now, I haven’t picked a brand to go with. But, I am looking to see what companies like D-Link come up with in the next weeks or months.

Entertainment – Sonos and Logitech Harmony

I’m already a fan (and heavily invested in) Sonos Wireless HiFi system, so I am going figure out a way to integrate it into my SmartCrib that makes sense, HomeKit-compatible or not. Sonos is currently compatible with Insteon and Logitech Harmony remotes, and has recently announced Amazon Echo integration. So it’s safe to say the ability to queue up my theme song (‘Higher Ground’ by Stevie Wonder) when I wake up in the morning will be a reality.

I’ve also been a long-time fan of Harmony universal remote line from Logitech. with my Harmony Elite remote and Hub, I can already control all my entertainment components (TV, DVD, Cable Box, Apple TV, and gaming system). While Harmony is not HomeKit-compatible, it’s nice to know my remote is future-proof and has the ability to control my Sonos speakers, Insteon Lights, and other aspects of my home using the remote or any one of the many iOS devices (Harmony remote app) laying around the house.

Honorable Mention – Amazon Echo and IFTTT (If This, Then That)

Back during Amazon Prime Day last month, I jumped at the opportunity to grab a deal on the popular Amazon Echo that uses voice control for a wide range of commands including but not limited to web searches, deep Amazon integration (or course), and yes, smart home control. There are several pieces of my home that just won’t be HomeKit compatible, so I look at “Alexa” as the red-headed step-child of my SmartCrib when I want to use my voice to operate my non-HomeKit devices.

In an attempt to tie everything together, the only smart house “hacking” I plan on doing is by using the popular IFTTT service to create “Recipes for the Home” to control certain aspects of my SmartCrib that may not currently compatible with HomeKit or talk to each other directly. For example, I can create a recipe to lock all my doors (August Home) when the security system is activated (Scout Alarm). Even though the two systems don’t natively talk to each other directly or through HomeKit, IFTTT serves as the bridge to carry out one task after another task is triggered.

As you can see, I’ve put some thought into this, and the time to start some SmartCrib integration is coming in the next two weeks. I will make sure to share my SmartCrib experience, so be sure to check in on my progress.

If any of these brands I mentioned are listening, or there are others who want to throw their proverbial hats in the ring, it’s not too late to sponsor a Brotha’s SmartCrib Project…Holla At Me.

Terrance Gaines
terrance@brothatech.com

Terrance Gaines is an Apple Certified Support Professional living in Atlanta. When he is not spending time with his lovely wife and two smart, sweet, and sassy daughters, he's providing individuals and small biz owners with exceptional, comprehensive, and affordable technology support that will enable people to do great things. For more information, visit terrancegaines.com