IF YOU SPEND enough time trying to rig up a smart home—one in which your smartphone magically turns on the lights when you walk through the door then sets the temperature just so—you’ll eventually long for a Clapper. Remember the ad? Clap on! Clap off! Simple—and a lot catchier than Take out your iPhone! Swipe down! Tap the screen! Which is what most Internet-connected devices require of you now.
My own quest to create a smart home started in the mid ’90s, back when I was single and living in a studio apartment. Now, after 20 years of wrestling with various systems—from X10 to the recently released Apple HomeKit-certified products—I’ve come to a stark realization: Until all the kinks are worked out and the set up is simplified, the best way to create a home of the future is to use products from the past—those tried and true devices that just work, whether or not they have a steady Wi-Fi connection.
Below, five tricks that any house can learn, without your having to configure complicated gizmos.
1. Turn on the lights when I enter a dark room.
The Too-Smart Scenario: Internet-connected light bulbs that illuminate when family members’ smartphones are within range.
The Simpler Solution: Lutron’s Caséta line—which includes light switches, plug-in lamp modules and small remote controls—is intended to be connected to the Internet. But you don’t have to do so to create a rock-solid automated lighting system. If you’re willing to forgo smartphone control, the Caséta plug-in lamp dimmer ($55) can be triggered using Lutron’s Radio Powr Savr occupancy sensors ($90, available online for less), a little-known feature. They’ll let you turn on multiple lights automatically when you enter. You can also have them just turn off lights should you forget to. The same can be done for TVs, space heaters and other devices using Lutron’s Maestro Wireless appliance modules.
2. Create mood lighting at the push of a button.
The Too-Smart Scenario: Connecting your lights to the Internet so you can use an app to program various “scenes,” like “relax” or “work.”
The Simpler Solution: Again, Lutron Caséta products are one of the easiest ways to, say, turn a desk lamp on while dimming overhead lights to 10%. The company makes a small remote control called the Pico Wireless that can be mounted to a wall like a light switch ($24 for the complete kit as shown; $15 for the remote only). Pushing a “favorite” button on the Pico can automatically bring lamps and appliances to preset levels. Feel free to get creative: Mount a Pico by your front door to turn off all the lights that are linked to the system before you leave. Another Pico, stored by your bed, can turn on all the connected lights in the house should you hear an alarming sound. Syncing all the devices is similar to adding a remote to a garage door opener: Press and hold buttons on each device to link them—no Internet configuration required.
3. Have dinner ready when you get home.
The Too-Smart Scenario: Wi-Fi-enabled Crock-Pots that allow you to tweak the cooking temperature of your chili con carne from the office.
The Simpler Solution: A programmable rice cooker, like the Zojirushi NS-WAC10 ($150), is nearly as versatile and has a set-it-and-forget-it simplicity. Even midrange models these days calculate when to start a dish after you specify when you want your fare ready. And you can cook more than rice. Load it with steel-cut oats at night to have piping hot oatmeal ready come morning. Queue up quinoa or the legume of your choice before you leave for work, and the machine will start cooking at just the right time so your dish is ready when you get home.
4. Put your appliances on a schedule
The Too-Smart Scenario: Expensive Wi-Fi enabled plug-in models that you have to set up with your smartphone.
The Simpler Solution: Getting your electric hot-water kettle to turn on automatically each morning or having your air purifier whir into action during the night isn’t rocket science. The Defiant Heavy Duty Mechanical Timer ($10)lets you create a schedule for just about any appliance with a hard on/off switch—from radios and fans to kitchen gear. Point the “Time Now” arrow to the current hour, then push down the tabs around the dial that are marked with the times you want your device to turn on (you get 30-minute blocks). Nighttime hours are shaded to avoid the AM/PM mix-ups that are so easy to make when setting digital devices. homedepot.com
5. Master your thermostat
The Too-Smart Scenario: A thermostat that connects to the Internet to calculate what temperature to set based on your past behavior.
The Simpler Solution: A more basic programmable thermostat—but not just any one, since most are completely confounding. Alan Meier, a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has studied how homeowners use programmable models. Roughly half the households surveyed simply gave up on them, he said. “The programming was so difficult that people would disable it.”
A good middle ground is the Sensi Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat . You’ll want to use its smartphone app to set its weekly schedule. (The app interface is much more intuitive than any I’ve found on traditional programmable thermostat). But the Sensi also functions as a regular Internet-free thermostat, too—one that’s especially easy to figure out how to use. Dedicated buttons for adjusting each of the basic settings, for example, ensure that guests will have no problem figuring it out.
Source : (https://goo.gl/FhB1LU)