Tony Pratte, our once-a-month guest co-host from The Sound Room, joins us today to talk about no-touch smart homes.
Tony has an extensive background in smart homes and automation. With the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s very helpful to have automated, no-touch systems in place in your home.
A wireless world
Currently, we are going further and further along the route of wireless internet inside the house. A couple of years ago, Tony saw some interesting statistics that showed that 65% of people under a certain age will never plug into a hard-line internet connection.
Tony explains that no matter what you do in the smart home world, everything starts with making sure that you have good wireless internet coverage in the house. For the do-it-yourselfer, the products that you will need are available online.
What you will need
With everybody at home right now, there could be four or five people, with each of them using multiple devices, all needing to be on the internet at the same time. So you need to ensure that the wifi signal in the house is strong enough and that there is even coverage that’s accessible throughout the house.
You will need a wireless router. A good wireless router will provide enough coverage for an average, smaller home. For a bigger home, however, you will need a wireless repeater, or a wireless access point of some kind, to extend the range of the wifi signal from the router throughout the house.
The easiest thing to do
For the homeowner, the easiest thing to do once the wifi in your home is up and running is to take a smart device like a smartphone or an iPad, log onto your wireless wifi network, and walk around the house. That way, you will be able to check the strength of the signal in all the different areas of the house and verify that you have internet coverage in every room.
Ways to make your home more of a smart home
With a smart home, or a connected home, you’re trying to simplify your life and make things easier, so you don’t have to touch things as often. The three easiest things that you can add to a smart home are thermostats, lighting, and sound.
If your thermostat knows what to do, you won’t have to touch it. There are a lot of different wifi thermostats available. Tony’s company mostly uses Ecobee thermostats. You can program smart thermostats, and many of them will learn your patterns as well.
There are several different kinds of do-it-yourself smart lighting systems available. These have modules that you plug into the wall, and then you can plug a lamp into the module and automate it. That way you will touch only your personal device and not the lamp itself. This can then be tied into voice-control.
Smart houses have features like thermostats, lights, or TVs that can be controlled remotely by an app on a smartphone, iPad, or some other device. There will also be some kind of controller in the house that all the remotely controlled devices and features talk to. The controller allows everything to be brought into the same app, and it allows you to create scenes. Scenes allow you to select your preferred sequences with the devices in your home, and bring them together to create an experience. For example, first turning on the coffee pot in the morning, then the music, and then the shower.
Voice and app control
Voice and app control make it easier for people with limitations or disabilities to have more independence and freedom.
Tony recommends Sonos for do-it-yourself sound.
The Sonos app will guide you through the installation, step-by-step.
Voice command module
The voice command module allows you to control the thermostat, the lighting, and the sound systems.
Sonos, Nest, and Ecobee integrate with a bridge, called Caseta, made by Lutron, available from Home Depot, which will allow you to create scenes.
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