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ZWaveProducts Blog - Lifestyle


Kit Suggestions for new WINK 2 owners

Kit Suggestions for new WINK 2 owners
A few visitors to have asked, 'What home automation hub do Z-Wave retailers use at home?' and 'What devices work with my WINK 2?'

Here's the answer to both questions. Pictured above is my WINK 2, which has joined the army of other Z-Wave hubs in operation at home. The WINK 2 a good device (read my overview here), and there are many things you can do with it. In this blog entry are devices that you you consider when getting started with your own smart home network. Going back through my blogs, you'll see similar entries, but I tried to keep this one simple.
Click on the device names for links with more information.

In-wall Switch Lighting Control

Already have a WINK 2? Add these products to add lighting control to your smart home project.

Add two GE 12722 Smart Switches or two GE 12724 Smart Dimmers
Have a 3-way circuit that you want to control? Add a GE 12723 Add-On and READ THIS BLOG on Understanding 3-way Switches.

No Wiring Apartment Lighting Kit!
Have a WINK 2 but are not able to change the wiring in your home or apartment? Check out these plug-in and screw-in units that will have you up and running in less than 20 minutes.

Add two Z-Wave Dimmable LED Light Bulbs and two GE Plug-in Smart Switches for total control of a living room or bedroom.

Security Add On
Want to get notifications or trigger a robot when someone enters a room ? These devices work well with your WINK 2.

Three Aeotec Door/Window sensors are a great start and will allow you to really understand how these will work best for you and your smart home.
One Go Control Z-Wave Wireless IR Motion sensor covers those places where a door sensor won't work.

Energy Saver Add On
Want to cut down on your A/C bills this summer? Use schedules and robots on your WINK 2 for best effect in your busy life.

Add a Go Control TBZ48 Z-Wave Thermostat and program the device to fit your schedule.

Door Lock Add On

Get a notification to your WINK 2 App when someone comes home, or even lock/unlock doors from your phone when you're not there

Add one Kwikset Smartcode Lever Lock and a Ecolink Z-Wave Garage Door Tilt Sensor to manage the coming/going of your family and stop unauthorized access to your home.

Complete Kits Available Too!

We also have WINK 2 kits with a hub and some devices, if you haven't purchased your WINK 2 yet.

Please let us know if you have any questions!
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Swing For the (Geo)fences

How To Add Geofencing to your Smart Home

Swing For the (Geo)fences
We've been really busy answering WINK questions. With the closure of the Staples Connect back end, questions regarding the WINK 2, a natural replacement for Staples Connect, have been flooding the Ask An Expert portal (as well as my inbox). Geofencing has come up enough times that I feel it's time to update the blog I did way back in May of 2015 (Geofences Make Good Neighbors)

A geofence is nothing more than your smart phone knowing where it is, and sending you a notification when you get to a pre-determined location. The timeless example is, the user sets a geofence reminder that any time he/she goes to the supermarket, be sure to pick up the dry cleaning. Geofences can be used as a calendar of sorts; only instead of doing something at a specific date and time, the trigger is a specific place (within the limits of the technology).

How does that help your smart home? Apps that allow you to remotely turn off a light or set a temperature are great. But the whole idea of a smart home and home automation, is that it's automated. What's nicer than coming home and having your exterior lights automatically turn on because your geofence was triggered.

Since summer heat and humidity is in full swing on the East Coast of the US, here's an example to cool off my office before I get home. My schedule (like yours I'm sure) is quirky enough that a pre-programmed schedule would never suffice. I could be in the work office one day, on site the next, going to a customer on a third day, and working from home the rest of the week. Then there's the kids, volunteer events, and maybe even a little fun (gasp) that will make any schedule interesting for the best learning thermostat. How does my home know how to keep up with my busy life?

Let's talk about a hypothetical scenario where I'd like to leave my A/C at a high(er) temperature while I'm away, but have my home nice and cool when I return.

I know that I go past one of two places that are roughly 20 minutes away from my home, which should be plenty of time for my home to cool off. For this geofence we'll use a WINK 2 hub, and one point of reference, but this would work with just about any Z-Wave hub or gateway that supports position-based triggers. You may have to undo some privacy settings on your smart phone to let the NSA in. (That part is up to you).

To start, I'm going to make a new Robot. Instead of the schedule or the device triggering the event, I'm going to use a place. Start a New Robot, and select LOCATION:

Instead of using our home location (which you can set separately) we will select the + to add a New Location as the trigger.

In the next two panels, I've created and named the new location; Turn On AC Spot. When I 'drive through' this address, it will trigger the scene.  Once saved, the trigger is simple to understand when we go to create the Robot.


After the cause is set (trigger), we'll now add the effect, which is whatever we want the thermostat to do when the phone gets to the Turn on AC Spot. In this case the Robot will tell the Living Stat (easy words for Amazon Echo/Alexa to understand in another blog) to change the stat mode to Cool.

That's it! There's really nothing to it. Geofencing can go beyond home automation; it may be part of the 'life automation.' But it can tie in nicely to automatically run your home; the only deciding factor is your imagination.

Have a question about this setup, or any other?
In the bottom right corner of this website is a link to Leave me a Message.

Alternately . . . Ask An Expert by filling out this form.

I hope this was helpful.

Need more information about Geofencing? When it comes to your personal technology, the manufacturer or your customer service department will have the best advice on geofencing. To get you started I dug up a few links that should point you in the right direction.

From the MacObserver (third party site) Set up a geofence Reminder

Basic information was a little lacking on setting up geofences with Android; search through your own instructions or check out this sample from Parental Board (third party site) How do I set up a a geofence?
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Home Automation for Renters

Can I have a Z-Wave-powered Smart Home if I rent?

Home Automation for Renters
Having a smart home doesn’t have to be impossible just because you rent. You may not be allowed to rewire the place, but there are many devices available for you to install.
Here are a few tips about installing or adding to a home network in an apartment.

Heart of the matter:

Like any smart home, the center of the network is a hub or gateway. Z-Wave requires a hub, even in apartments. The WINK 2 is a great way to automate your apartment without making holes for panels or wires. The WINK 2 sits close to your internet router, and connects via WiFi or CAT5 cable (preferred). Once you download the app for your smart phone, you’re ready to add devices. Some of the better features of the WINK 2 can be found in this blog; WINK 2 OVERVIEW.

Another good choice is the Vera Edge. The Vera Edge offers a staggering level of accepted devices (including generic IP cameras). Consider the Vera Plus if you already have a lot of other non-Z-wave devices (Zigbee, Bluetooth, WiFi).

Controlling lighting

Plug-in modules are the meat and potatoes of any smart apartment. These work exactly like their in-wall cousins, without needing to open the switch boxes. Pair the plug-in with the WINK (or any other Z-Wave controller) and you can control any lamp plugged into the module. GE has a good selection of modules; the GE 12718 Plug-In Smart Dimmer handles dimming duties for most lighting, and the GE 12719 Plug-in Smart Switch can even handle small appliances.

In places where there are no receptacles available for plug-in modules, consider a Go Control LB60Z-1 Dimmable Z-Wave LED . These work really well in hallways, bigger closets, or even living room fixtures. One big caveat for smart LEDs; they need power all the time. Mark or put a guard on any light switches to avoid a roommate shutting them off, which would break your Z-Wave network.

Adding automation and security

Having to turn on/off lights from your phone is not what home automation is all about. Getting the most from your smart home usually involves a trigger to make something happen. These triggers can be from within the Z-Wave controller itself (Sunset/Sunrise, or another scheduled time), voice control (Amazon Echo, which works really well with WINK 2 and some other controllers), or sensors. A door/window sensor, like the Aeotec ZW120 or motion sensor, like the Ecolink PIRZWAVE2.5-ECO can turn your plug-in modules on/off, and give you a notification on your smart phone, if you happen to be away.

If you do want to control your lights from your smart phone, you can group them into scenes. A scene is a command that sends preset parameters to multiple devices. You could have an ‘entertaining’ scene which evenly (but dimly) lights the living area. A ‘homework’ scene could turn up all the lights so your children can see their books. A TV scene could turn on back lights behind your TV, but dim all others. The combinations are endless. You could even have a trigger control a scene. Watch it all from a camera compatible with your gateway. For WINK 2 check out the Dropcam. For Vera and some other gateways, check out the incredibly affordable D-Link 933L.

Energy savings
A properly set home automation network will reduce the amount of energy consumed since you are only using the light you need. But what about HVAC? Adding a thermostat, like the Go Control TBZ-48, is a relatively easy project, but requires permissions not granted by the author of this blog. Understanding the type of climate control you have in your apartment will go a long way of convincing your super to allow a swap. Since most HVAC systems are low voltage, this may be the type of DIY project your super would allow. Installing a Z-Wave thermostat will not only save you (or your landlord) money, it will also keep your home more comfortable. Keep the old ‘dumb’ thermostat for replacement when you leave the apartment for good, so you can take your Z-Wave stat with you.

Smart home
Simple appliance modules like the GE 12719 can be used for coffee makers, crock pots, or similar devices. Check with the manufacturer's instructions, as some devices don’t like a hard shut off (like pulling out the plug), and don’t exceed the rating of your smart module. Never use a dimmer for control of an appliance; not even a fan (it won't work).

A tenant can get a lot of control out of relatively few devices. Imagination and creativity go a long way to make smaller spaces feet bigger. Home automation is no different.

Check out our Getting Started Kits for some ideas on where to begin. If you are a landlord, consider the possibilities of keyless entries, security cameras in hallways or outdoors, and automatic lighting and HVAC to save energy. Call or email us for more info.

Have a question about this blog, or any other?
In the bottom right corner of this website is a link to Leave me a Message.

Alternately . . . Ask An Expert by filling out this form.

I hope this was helpful.
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Wedding Season Gift Guide

Wedding Season Gift Guide

They’re dropping like flies. All your friends are doing it, taking the plunge into the institution of marriage! It’s time to dust off that suit or dress that you will wear multiple times over the next few months to wedding after wedding.

Of course, that also means you’ll need to do some serious gift-giving. But what do you get for someone whose registry has already been purchased? Or someone special for whom a “traditional” registry gift just won’t do? After all, how many dish sets and towels does someone really need?

Enter the gift of the smart home. Instead of presenting the newlyweds with a questionably tasteful punch bowl, give them the gift of convenience, security and energy savings. You can help them get started down the smart-home path without breaking the bank, while laying the foundation of a system that can grow as their needs change.

Start with a smart home hub, also known as a controller. There are many popular Z-Wave-based units available at a variety of price points and with varying feature sets. To decide what is best for the couple, think of their lifestyle and how you envision them using it. Will they want to remotely control their door locks? Keep an eye on their pet? Turn the heat or A/C up and down before they get home? Examining these uses will help you find the ideal hub for the happy couple.

Once you’ve selected a hub, consider the multitude of devices that can be attached to it. Popular devices include smart lighting, dimmers, door locks, garage door controllers, motion sensors, water leak sensors, and cameras. And much, much more.

Their new smart-home technology can be put to use almost immediately. Consider the honeymoon. During this blissful time, newlyweds surely have better things to think about than what’s going on in their home. They’ll likely be out of the country (or at least out of state) for a week or two. Whatever the period of time turns out to be, the couple can relax, knowing that their home is being watched over by hard-working smart devices that never take time off. And should husband or wife feel the need to check on the status of their living quarters, relevant information can be accessed from the hub via smartphone - from anywhere in the world.

By introducing newlyweds to the benefits and peace of mind of smart-home technology, you’ll be giving them gifts that will enhance their lives for years to come. And they’ll use it way more than the set of ceramic lawn gnomes they got from Uncle Fred.

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