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For tech gadget geeks, home automation promises efficiency, cost savings and a cool-factor that’s second-to-none. When we bought our new house last year, the idea of controlling it with our iPhones was too tempting to resist. Six-months later, here are our reviews of our favourite smart home technologies:
Sonos Wireless Speakers
Gone are the days of built-in speakers adding value to a home-in fact, that just might hurt you these days. Of all the wireless speaker options out there, Sonos is by far our favourite. The concept is simple: connect a Sonos speaker to your router, wirelessly link other speakers in your house with one touch and control them with your smartphone or tablet. It’s like magic. You can play different music on different speakers, or play the same thing on multiple speakers throughout the house (party mode). It’s easy to access all your music – whether it’s on your computer, iTunes, Songza, Spotify or satellite radio. We have Sonos speakers in our office, living room, dining room, master bedroom, workout room and outside.
Pro tip: It’s fun to control the music in the room your spouse is in from somewhere else in the house. I get way too much enjoyment out of waking Brendan up to Britney Spears or country music, and he enjoys torturing me in my office with Gregorian chants or opera. Yea, that’s how we roll. Don’t judge.
Nest Learning Thermostat
Run, don’t walk to the Depot to buy a Nest. The Nest Learning Thermostat not only looks great on your wall, but it helps you save energy too. By learning your habits, the nest remembers what temperatures you like and creates schedules. Like a cooler room at night but want to wake up to warm floors in the morning? The Nest has you covered. It even turns itself off automatically while you’re away so you aren’t heating an empty house. Connected to your wi-fi, the Nest is controlled by a mobile app and you can change the temperature from anywhere. Monthly energy reports analyze your heat and AC use and give you tips to save more energy. Nest Thermostats work in houses with gas, electric, oil, forced air, heat pump and radiant heat. The Nest is so much fun that you’ll want to talk about your thermostat at parties. Really.
Pro tip: Nest claims that most people can install it themselves in under 30 minutes…but we brought in our handyman.
Lighting is important, right? Hue lights are LED lights that allow you to customize the light colour with your smartphone. You can experiment with shades of white or play with all the colors in the spectrum. Want a red room? Blue room? Done and done.
There are pre-set ‘light recipes’ to help you experience the right kind of light for whatever mood you want or activity you’re doing. You can even set Hue to wake you up with the colours of a sunrise in a room with no windows!
Pro tip: You can relive your favourite memories by re-creating the colours of that beach in Bora Bora or that sunset in Cabo. It’s as easy as picking a photo in your Library and Hue does the rest.
There’s a security benefit to Hue lights as well. Because you can turn your lights on and off from anywhere, it’s easy to make it look like you’re home when you’re really on a beach in Mexico.
Hue lights don’t come cheap and outfitting a whole room of pot lights with Hue will probably cost you a week’s worth of wages. But it might be worth it.
Apple is about to come out with a whole collection of home automation with their soon-to-be-released Home Kit product. Here’s a sneak peek of what is expected from Apple!
What’s your favourite smart home product? Tell us in the comments below!