Sept. 23, 2020

Feeling dumb about “smart homes”?

Volume 2 - Jumping In

If you've been following this blog you'll know I have been doing a deep dive into how to automate my home as of late.   I touched upon some of my early research in my last blog post, which was basically to get my bearings about how to approach this pretty intimidating subject.   It left me with questions, as opposed to answers. 

 

But it gave me a starting point, and so I jumped in, headfirst!    

Photo: Business Insider

SELECTING MY PLATFORM

 

The first question I needed to answer was which platform to adopt.  In our case we already have a home full of electronics, and no intention of trashing everything and starting from scratch! As a result, it took a big chunk of my Saturday to figure out what I can do on which platform with my stuff. Late in my research I discovered a hack that would have likely saved me loads of time at the outset:  do an Amazon search of your device and look for the filter for “works with Alexa”.  For Google and Homepod it’s not as easy – or maybe there is a hack and I couldn’t find it.  

 

After a few hours of research, this was the outcome:

The winner:  AMAZON ECHO.   Feel free to make fun of me and my OCD ways right about now. In cases like this it serves me very well!

 

 

WHAT TO AUTOMATE – CREATING MY WISH LIST

 

First of all, full disclosure, my husband is NOT a big fan of this project.  He has serious concerns with security and believes that there is more data about all of us out there than there should be and worse, that it is not only being used to make our lives easier.  Regardless, I was able to get him to agree to a wish list, which I also priced out.  Here the list:

I have dimmers in four areas of my condo, and these are ideal candidates to automate, particularly the dining room and my TV Room.  

 

My main TV is a Samsung Smart TV, so the sound bar will not only be compatible with Alexa, but should also play well with the screen.  It was also a pretty inexpensive option (see below).  The smart lock I chose – August brand, is installed INSIDE – which is key since there are regulations in my building about door knobs and locks that face the hallway.  

I have a first-generation Roomba that is due to be laid to rest (the only device that I will be replacing).  So since I was green with envy when my sister got the Roomba mop (Braava) for Christmas – they are both on the list. 

 

In addition to what's on the list we will also be automating what we currently have in our home to the extent possible, so the end product I believe is going to be quite impressive! 

 

WHAT’S THE BUDGET?

 

I costed out all of the above, and added hiring a Honeyman Handyman. I’m not confident that my husband nor I can do the dimmer or lock installation. Plus, we have contractors with lots of experience in smart homes in case we screw it up.  My estimate is 3 handyman hours. If it turns out to be less, I can always use any extra time on other projects that my husband has not gotten around to.  

 

We're looking at a budget of about $2,000 when all is said and done, so we're doing the work in phases:  

THE FIRST LEG OF OUR JOURNEY - PHASE 1

 

SUCCESS!  Though not entirely seamless, in about 2 hours we were able to set up all of the items of phase 1.  I’m sure that someone more tech savvy would have done it in less than 30 minutes, but hey, we’re learning.  Check it out!

In the coming weeks we'll complete phases 2 and 3 of our home automation journey. Stay tuned!

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We're looking at a budget of about $2,000 in costs when all is said and done, so we'll be doing the work in phases. 

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Go to Volume 3 - The Final Chapter

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