What is a smart home? – Hillsboro Times Gazette
Going back a few weeks to my column on free and paid TV/movie streaming services, CNet recently published a list of the channels each of the major services carry. Handy if you’re looking for a certain channel. It’s at https://go.ttot.link/CNetChannels.
Last week we talked about smart LED lights and I hope you’re better equipped to read about and make your own decisions about color, light output and brand. If you’re on the fence, try one out and if you don’t like it, return it. My smart lights have become almost indispensable. I have them tied in to Google Assistant routines so I can turn them on and off with voice commands plus when I leave and return home they also turn off and on automatically (check out Google Assistant’s help for how to accomplish this last little trick). It’s nice to come home to a lit house.
This week we’ll talk about smart outlets, something else that I really can’t imagine being without. I have a charging station with several USB outlets that is plugged into one of my smart outlets and I have it automatically turn on every day at 4 p.m. and turn off at 10 p.m. When I leave the house it, along with a number of other outlets and lights, automatically turn off so I don’t have to wonder if I remembered to turn them off. The smart outlets I have plug in to a regular outlet but you can get smart outlets that replace a regular outlet if you like. You use the outlet’s app or, in some cases, your preferred assistant (Google, Siri, Amazon) to set them up. Some even report how much power they use.
Different smart outlets have different ways of connecting. Some use WiFi, some use Bluetooth, others use techniques that require the use of a hub or controller and you’ll see terms like Zigbee and Z-wave and Matter. Here is a good discussion of the various options — https://go.ttot.link/ZigbeeVs. The short answer is if you’re only going to have a few devices then WiFi is probably fine, but if you get more than a few they’ll compete with all your other devices for WiFi bandwidth, in which case a hub and Zigbee or one of the other connectivity methods might be worth considering. When you’re shopping, pay attention to these terms. Often, the product description will also tell you if they work directly with Google or Amazon or Siri.
I’ve had smart outlets for quite a few years and have a mixture of brands with various features. All of them integrate with both Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home. When I first started there weren’t many (any?) WiFi smart outlets so I got a hub from SmartThings (https://go.ttot.link/SmartThings) which allowed me to connect and control Zigbee and Z-wave devices, ultimately also interfacing with Google and Amazon’s assistants. I continue to use and prefer SmartThings and generally try to buy products that work with SmartThings.
Where can you find smart outlets? Search Best Buy (use this link to easily search https://go.ttot.link/BestBuyOutlets), Amazon (via this link https://go.ttot.link/AmazonOutlets), and Lowe’s (https://go.ttot.link/LowesOutlets). There are power strips and even outlets safe for outdoor use (Christmas lights, anyone?). If you’re ambitious and enjoy that kind of work, you can even …….