Home Automation

Nov 13 2017

Review - GoControl/Linear GD00Z-4 Z-Wave PLUS Garage Door Controller

The first time I went crazy with Z-Wave at my house, I had to build my own garage door controller. It was not hard, involving a Z-Wave switch, some components from Radio Shack and a door sensor – all tied together with a couple scenes. As I am sure you all know, time has been very kind to the home automation (HA) enthusiast. So this go around it was possible to buy an off-the-shelf controller that includes everything I needed in a convenient package. There are even a few different options, although most seem to be rebrands of the $83 ($90 SRP) Z-Wave PLUS GoControl/Linear GD00Z-4 I selected.

Nov 05 2017

Review - Insteon Home Solutions

I have an older home. One thing about older houses is pull chain lights, many, many pull chains. Anyone who has walked around a basement in the dark or near dark fishing for a light pull chain can attest that it is a massive pain. After one stubbed toe too many, I turned to home automation as a lower cost solution versus rewiring. With so many options to choose from, ranging from protocol+controller level solutions like Insteon, Z-Wave and Zigbee, to device specific options like Hue, Cree, LIFX, etc., I ended up with Insteon because it provides a richer ecosystem with opportunities to control more than just lightbulbs. Insteon has a range of light management options, RF and hardwire, depending on your needs and automation requirements. Aside from lighting Insteon can automate and monitor appliances and integrates with compatible home automation products including Amazon Echo and Nest Thermostats, providing opportunities to grow the system as my requirements change. Adopting Insteon products does not require using their Home Automation Controller (HAC), the Insteon Hub. When I started automating my home’s lighting in 2013 Insteon’s Hub reviews were spotty at best. I chose to skip it at first, not as many features for my configuration but their wall switches, keypads, RF lights and RF wall keypads were fit for the purpose at hand.

Oct 03 2017

Review - Ring Video Doorbell Pro

Ring offers a variety of different doorbell cameras, with options available for those without a doorbell ($200), power-over-Ethernet (PoE) ($500, I imagine for new builds or challenging wireless environments), and the Ring Pro for those with an existing low-voltage setup. The $250 (can be found for $190 occasionally) Ring Pro, is not quite in impulse buy territory. But, if it works well, it would be a cheap way to add interactive video recording at the main entry point(s) to your home.

Mar 03 2015

Review - NETGEAR Arlo

NETGEAR arlo

Where in the past OEMs have happily sold wireless cameras, and the infrastructure to put them on the network, no one has tried to tie it all together into a consumer product that is reliable and easy to use. With the recent release of Arlo, NETGEAR has done exactly that, signaling a strong a desire to build a discrete brand leveraging its deep networking expertise to deliver a rich and approachable monitoring ecosystem. To accomplish this Arlo is the combination of up to three 2.4GHz 802.11N base stations + up to fifteen weatherproof and completely wireless cameras. This holistic approach is unique because it provides a solution instead of just the parts, but to fully scale out the system there are hardware ($350 for a two camera setup to $500 for four, $160/camera à la carte) and ongoing service costs ($10-15/month or $99-149/year). There is no denying that NETGEAR Arlo is quite intriguing, let’s dig into the details.

Jun 26 2014

Review - D-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug (DSP-W215)


Home automation has always been one of the most sought after pieces to anyone’s home or home theater environment—at least to our fans. Getting ready to watch a movie, you press a button and the lights dim, the curtains go down, and your movie collection shows up. In the past this was impossible to suggest without an exorbitant price tag, as most home automation systems operated on their unique network and required proprietary and expensive hardware—not to mention the software that required a computer programmer to configure! D-Link’s newest $49.99 Wi-Fi Smart Plug (DSP-W215) is just a small component of home automation, but it’s attempting to do so over your existing wireless network, and with an extremely simple smartphone utility to configure and use.

Apr 09 2013

Review - Yale Real Living Electronic Touch Screen Deadbolt with Z-Wave

Yale Real Living

Even those without a Home Automation (HA) system can appreciate the value in a keyless entry option for the home, but the real value for a lock like the Yale Real Living Electronic Touch Screen Deadbolt is realized by leveraging Z-Wave to integrate it in a HA system. After doing that, it unlocks a wide array of actions that simplify home security; offering features like: conditional access, short term key codes, and automated responses to lock and other device events. Other Z-Wave locks offer the same automation features, but the YRD220-ZW full numeric touch screen and excellent build quality set it apart. The additional features demand a premium versus competing devices; let’s find out if it is worth it.

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