Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

Smarten Up Your Stupid Home

The first time I heard about “smart home automation”, I was reading a Wired magazine article in university, so sometime around 2000.  I was blown away at the potential, but it sounded like the future our parents envisioned where we’d be living in pods on the moon.  Well, it’s here and it looks like it’s here to stay.

If, like me, you aren’t sure where to start with smartening up your home, I’ve got great news; you can start small and relatively cheap.

While our electrician was wiring our house, I picked up a WEMO Light Switch for our front porch lights, and I love it.  I can turn it off and on like a normal switch, I can operate it from an app on my phone from anywhere, and I can set it to a schedule.  Mine is set to come on at sunset and turn off after midnight, then come on again at 6am and turn off at sunrise.  I rarely have to touch it or think about it.  It just works.

Since the switch requires some wiring, a better place to start would be a WEMO Wi-Fi Smart Plug.  It does all the same stuff as the switch, has a switch right on the fixture, and it only takes up one plug in an outlet.  You can differentiate between plugs and switches in the app (by names you can pick) and you can plug in just about anything.  I picked one up to run our Christmas tree lights on a schedule much like the porch lights.

My next step in automation (aside from a few more outlet plugs and switches for other lights in the house) will be a virtual assistant; mostly likely Google’s Alexa.  Then I can tell her to turn on the Christmas tree, play “Mele Kalikimaka” by Bing Crosby and brew me a tea, Earl Grey, hot.   The future is here, so engage.

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