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ZWaveProducts Blog - Lifestyle


Do I really need to know every movement in my home?

Do I really need to know every movement in my home?

No, you don’t. But you probably want to know most of them. Wouldn’t you want to know if someone has come by your house a few times while you’re at work or on vacation - and who they are? Don’t you want to know if the door was left unlocked or the A/C was left on? By having this intel as to what is going on in your home, you can save energy and make sure your home is safe. Even if you don’t have children or pets, there are still a lot of benefits a smart home can provide.

More specifically, many smart home devices can provide you with the greatest benefit of all: peace of mind. Smart home devices can wirelessly communicate with another through a central control unit, or hub. Once you have a hub, your home becomes your playground. Here are some examples of smart devices that truly answer the question: Why do I need a smart home & what can it do for me?

Flood Sensor - This device will let you know of potential water leaks and water damage. When you combine a flood sensor and a water shutoff valve, you can turn your water off remotely in the event of a leak to prevent further damage while you’re on vacation or working. If you also decide to add a smart door lock, you can call a plumber and let them into your home upon arrival.

Doorbell Cameras - These popular devices are becoming increasingly common. When someone arrives at your front door, the camera will take either video or a snapshot of the person and send it to you. This will inform you if someone is visiting your home on a regular basis, potentially casing your home for a robbery. Or if a package was delivered. Or if the person at your door while you’re in the kitchen cooking dinner is worth stopping for. You’ll also know which service folks have arrived - dog walker, gardener, pool maintenance, cleaning service, etc.

Door Locks - Did you lock the door this morning? Are you expecting the in-laws to come for a visit and want to make sure they got in safely? A smart door lock will allow you to check both of those things with one quick look at your smartphone. Unlock and lock the door as you see fit, change the code when your weekend renters leave, and receive alerts when your kids arrive home.

Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarms - These alarms are growing in popularity because of their value in keeping your home and your family members safe. They will tell you the nature of the alert (whether it is smoke or CO) and potentially even where the problem is so you know what needs to be done. Many of these are also equipped with a photoelectric smoke sensor to reduce false alarms.

As you can see, the more smart devices you have in your home, the more you can control and truly be “in the know” about what’s going on under your roof.

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Your First Smart Apartment

Your First Smart Apartment

Your First Smart Apartment

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the term papers and the finals, and managed to graduate from college. The world is your oyster (at least that’s what your commencement speaker said). On to being a professional and landing that job you’ve trained for. And what’s the best part of it all? Moving into your own apartment and paying your own bills. Wait, that can’t be right. Independence, we mean, independence.

Along with this independence comes your very own apartment that you get to decorate any way you like. Lucky for you and your limited disposable income, teching out your new place is easy and affordable. The smartest way (no pun intended) to fill your place with technology to make your friends jealous, and make your life easy is to invest in a smart home, or in some cases, smart apartment.

First, think about what you would like to remotely control in your smart apartment. Once you decide, find the right Z-Wave hub (also known as a controller) that will work for you and your budget. Be sure to check for hubs that come with recurring monthly fees, as there are many without these costs.

smart apartment

After selecting a hub, look at what other smart home devices can work with it. This is pretty easy to find as most hub manufacturers provide a comprehensive list of compatible products. The beauty of selecting a Z-Wave controller is that there are over 1200 products to choose from that can all communicate with one another.

It’s a good idea to start small and add on as you see fit. After deciding on the hub, select some devices you will find useful and that you want to control from your smartphone. There are almost limitless options: door/window sensors, door locks, garage door controllers (if your place has a garage), water leak sensors, cameras, etc. It can seem overwhelming, but without a doubt you’ll find a few devices that are right for you - like door/window sensors to ensure your place is secure or a smart thermostat to reduce energy costs.

One of the many benefits of smart home devices is their mobility. You can easily take them with you from smart apartment to smart apartment until that wonderful day when you buy a home.

These devices will help you start your new life with convenience, security and comfort. You’ll have peace of mind knowing you didn’t leave the heat on since you can’t call mom anymore to ask her to turn it off for you. Your future is wide open; a smart home will make sure your windows aren’t.

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Mother's Day - Shower Your Mom with Smart Home Tech

Mother's Day - Shower Your Mom with Smart Home Tech

If your mom is like most, she wants to know what is going on in the house when she isn’t there. That’s why smart home technology was literally created for her.

So for Mother’s Day, why not introduce your mom to all the control, convenience and, of course, security that the smart home can provide? Start with a Z-Wave hub/controller, and then add as many devices your mom can use!

Security cameras are a great place to start. These multi-purpose devices aren’t just for intruder alerts anymore. There’s a wide array of cameras that, when positioned inside the home, will send video snapshots of the kids when they arrive home from school or a slumber party via mom’s smartphone. These cameras will also allow her to check in on her beloved pet, ensuring that the little darling isn’t tearing the couch pillows apart. Some even have speakers to allow two-way communication, so she can instruct Fido to drop the pillows from his jaws.

In addition to allowing your mother to keep tabs on home activity, a smart home also comes with the gift of convenience. She can turn the lights on and off with ease from her phone at night when shutting the house down - even after she’s already comfy in her bed. After a rough day at work and tending to everyone else’s needs, she will also be able to set a relaxing mood, dimming the lights to her preference.

An appliance module would be the ultimate in convenience for the woman who brought you into this world. Once the module is enrolled into the smart home hub/controller, it becomes controllable by her smartphone. Plug anything in to it that has an on/off switch, including popular items like coffee makers, crock pots, lamps, and phone chargers.

These are just a few examples of the smart home devices your mother would love to have. Keep in mind, there are many other options including smart locks, garage door controllers, and a plethora of sensors for every need!

The only thing a smart home won’t do for your mom is pour the wine for her. But somehow, we don’t think she’ll mind.

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3 Must Haves for Vacation Homes

Some things to consider when setting up home automation at your second home

3 Must Haves for Vacation Homes

Vacation home seems to be the new practical application for the technology coming out of the west. If you're a realtor, own a time-share, or just want to let a handyman in from time to time, a gateway, a camera, and a Z-Wave door lock can make your life a lot easier (Isn’t that what your spouse promised when you bought that property?).

Just about any hub will do for your second home. If you have an alarm system or gateway at your primary residence, it’s usually easier to replicate it again at your vacation home. You can usually combine interfaces (log in once and choose the property you want to view/control) and the learning curve will be less with something you already know. We like Vera Edge for this application, as long as the internet is fairly reliable. Zipato is rapidly closing this gap and will be a real contender (I say by the beginning of next year). Fibaro has some nice features for multi sites (including a VoIP connection possibility) and their solid performance speaks volumes.

  1. So the first part of the vacation home trifecta is the gateway. (Contact us if you want to discuss a controller that will fit your needs). 

  2. The second would have to be the door lock. Your real estate agent wants to preview the property to someone interested in a summer rental. It’s last minute, and you don’t feel like driving down to drop a key (you just didn’t want to leave a key; how many times have you changed the lock?). You can give the agent a code to open the door, or you can just unlock it remotely. Temp codes can be given for renters, mechanics, family (or your spouse). One word of warning. If you depend on a deadbolt to ensure security of your entry door, purchase one with a motor. There are less expensive deadbolts with the Z-Wave protocol, but they depend on a person ON SITE to throw the lever. Entry locks don’t suffer that fate, but they are not as secure as metal thrust into the threshold of your brick molding.

  3. HVAC is the third on the ‘must haves’ in your home away from home. There is a balance between heating the place for people, and keeping the temps just high enough that the pipes don’t freeze. A Z-Wave thermostat can give you reports, trigger warnings, and generally hold down the fort while you work during the off season.  Have an HVAC specialist tune up your system before you leave; there’s no reason to invest in a smart home to have the heating system fail while you’re away.

Speaking of fail, once you get the basics installed, you can monitor them on your smart device; pining for the day you’ll return. But you don’t have to stop there. Z-wave and home automation can give you even more peace of mind. If you are in an area prone to flooding, there are water sensors. If you’re worried about the pipes failing, there are remote controlled zone valves. Security cameras in rental properties are a little strange, but one outside the front door (so you could see who you’re letting in) is acceptable.

In the case of a smart vacation home, a notification to your smart device that someone is breaking in, probably doesn’t raise anything but your blood pressure. But motion sensors, door and window sensors, and sirens can thwart intruders, and wall switches and low wattage Z-Wave LED’s can give the home a lived in look to deter thieves from the start.

Contact us a to help you with customizing a solution for your seasonal residence.

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