Technology. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the incredible impact its had on our lives over the past 300 or so years. I’ve had reason to try and track down a personal cassette player recently (Urban Outfitters to the rescue FYI) after one of my friends made me an 80’s inspired mixed tape for my 40th birthday (I’m impressed he even managed to make one all these decades later!) Cue an amusing conversation with the shop assistant at Dixons at Heathrow Airport as I took a very long-shot they may have them in stock and we reminisced about times gone by.
These days technology in our homes has gone next level with everything from fridges to lights taking on a “smart” element. We don’t have Alexa or Siri, but we do use our phones to control everything at home from our smoke alarms to our cat flap and so much more. While the thought of gadgets that talk back might not be everyone’s cuppa (much like a real-life episode of Black Mirror), smart devices can actually be really useful in our daily lives. Here are seven smart home switches you need to know about this year.
Smart locks are one of the best entry points to home automation—literally. They’re convenient, tech-savvy, and add a layer of style to your front door, the entry point to your home. If you’re worried about the security of smart locks, you needn’t be. A smart lock analysis on CNet shows that they’re actually more secure since they eliminate the risk of thieves getting in with a duplicate key. Smart locks are also concealed within the sides of your door, so passers-by would have no way of knowing if you even own one in the first place.
Similar to locks, smart lights are also a popular entry point feature. Whether it’s from an app or voice command, these neat bulbs can be turned on from anywhere at any time. They cost a little more than your average compact fluorescent bulb. But since smart lights always come in LED, they’re energy-efficient, so you’ll be saving more in the long run.
This is definitely one of the smart home switches that’s on my to-do list for our home since living in our beautiful island often means dealing with miserable winters so smart thermostats are becoming a must-have. These nifty little tools are getting popular all across Europe not only because they’re terrific at keeping you warm, but because they also help save money, thanks to their customisable controllers and cooling schedules. Before upgrading your system, however, you must ensure your current set-up can handle such modifications or is at least insured for damages. HomeServe explains how insurance for heating systems and boilers often comes with a guarantee that lasts for at least 12-months on any repairs. So if you do decide to install a smart thermostat, you have some leeway if there are any complications and you will avoid shelling out more for unexpected repairs.
Water Leak Detectors
If there was one thing I’d say causes homeowners most angst from the people I follow on Instagram, it’s water leaks and the worst cases are right after renovations have been done. And remember kitchen gate when I discovered we’d been living on a leaking kitchen floor for 5 years? Gross! Broken pipes are a real pain, since the problem is usually discovered after the damage has been done (either from puddles, mould, or high utility bills). By installing water detectors in areas you’re most likely to encounter a problem, such as sinks and toilets, you’ll be alerted to the problem the moment it occurs. This will give you the time to shut your water off and call your plumber before any further damage.
I have to admit I was a total cynic where robot vacuums are concerned until I started using one and it’s now one of my favourite smart home switches. He’s called Nigel and honestly, it’s the dream. Granted I don’t use him throughout the whole house but it’s a godsend for our top floor bedroom so not only do I not have to lug the main vacuum all the way up there, but he merrily goes about his business even cleaning under the bed. Invaluable since we still have a carpet up there and that pesky pet hair gets everywhere. A home that cleans itself is the stuff dreams are made of in my book and you can see what I think of Nigel in this review of the Roomba 980 that I wrote previously —a tiny but powerful smart vacuum that can reach the smallest of crannies. Connect it to the Irobot home app, and you’ll be able to control Roomba 980 even when you’re out of the house.
Home Security System
CCTV cameras are one thing, but if you’re concerned about the safety of your home, it’s better to install actual home security. Most smart security technologies like Ring and ADT offer a selection of eight different sensors—from smoke and fire to glass break and unwanted human signatures. These devices can even be linked to the local police and nearest fire department for faster emergency responses.
It feels like there’s little purpose in the convenience of all these systems if you have to access different control devices to make all the tech work. This is why smart hubs like Samsung SmartThing or Iris by Lowe’s are essentials to controlling more than one smart tech all on the same platform. Alternatively, you can get a universal remote similar to Logitech Harmony, which lets you control up to eight types of smart devices such as security cameras, lights, and locks among others, from over 6,000 different brands. As a general rule, hubs are more convenient but have certain restrictions (such as the brand they work for), while standalone remotes can support several other third-party devices.
As I said at the start, technology isn’t for everyone. But I’m game for anything that can make home life that little bit simpler and these are definitely some smart home switches that I’ll be looking to implement.