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How to take your smarthome traveling

Josh Hendrickson is the Editor-in-Chief of Review Geek. He has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read more.

Just because you’re leaving home doesn’t mean you can’t take smart home tech with you. Whether you’re camping, road tripping in an RV, or staying in a hotel, you can bring some of your smarthome tech with you.

Put Google or Alexa in Your Vehicle

How to take your smarthome traveling

Just because you aren’t home doesn’t mean you can’t have your favorite voice assistant. Some cars manufacturers are baking Google Assistant and Alexa into the infotainment system, but even if you’re in an older car, you still have options.

Anker makes both an Alexa and Google version of its Roav product. The Roav looks like a standard car charger, but it syncs with your phone and your vehicle’s speakers to give you a voice assistant on the go. You’ll need a data signal from your phone for the devices to work of course.

Amazon did announce the Echo Auto, but it’s invitation only right now, so third-party options are the only viable choice currently.

Or if you’re using a hotspot, you could take your Echo Dot or Google Home mini with you. Some hotels are starting to include Echo devices in guest rooms as well.

Determine Your Internet Options

Many smarthome gadgets require the internet to work. Your video doorbell, cameras, Wi-Fi devices, all need some network access to enable all the features they provide.

So as a first step, determine what your internet access is going to be. If you’re tent camping, you may not have convenient internet access; or if you do it may be slow. But if you’re staying in a hotel, or you have a mobile hotspot with good reception, then you have more options to consider.

Keep in mind that most hotels have a guest login page, which can prevent Google home and other smart devices from reaching the internet. If you have an Amazon Echo, there’s a process for working with web browser sign-in pages. But for everything else, you may want to consider a travel router.

Travel routers can connect to a hotel’s network and then create a custom Wi-Fi network for you to use. That process bypasses the sign-in page for all your smart devices and gets around any ‘one device only’ rules some hotels have.

The easiest thing to do is to make a plan for not having the internet.

Consider a Smarthome Hub with Local Control

Since you can’t guarantee internet access wherever you go, and mobile hotspots often have data caps, control of your devices without the internet is the way to go. The easiest way to manage that is with a hub that works locally.

SmartThings and Wink hubs both have a small amount of local control capability, but they still mainly rely on the cloud, so you’ll want to skip those for travel. Instead, you may want to consider Hubitat, HomeSeer, or OpenHab.

Local hubs are more challenging to set up than cloud hubs like Wink or SmartThings, but the fact that they can work without the internet is the main advantage of using them for traveling. As long as you also choose smart gadgets that don’t rely on the internet (or you provide a mobile hotspot), your only concern will be electricity to power your gadgets.

Choose Z-Wave or Zigbee Devices

The other advantage of using a hub, especially a local control hub, is Z-wave and Zigbee. Most smarthome hubs support Z-Wave and Zigbee protocols, and these create a mesh style network. That means you can bring plugs, lights, and sensors with you even if you don’t have a way to provide internet access.

If you’re staying outdoors, choose gadgets that work with the weather. Setting everything up is relatively close to the same experience at home, and that’s probably where you should do the setup work anyway. That way, when you arrive, you’ll only to plug everything in and provide the internet if you have that available.

With smart sensors, you can automate your arrival and departure, and if you do have internet access, you can even build a light security system that alerts you if anyone enters your room, vehicle, or campsite.

Bluetooth Is a Decent Alternative to Smart Hubs

As we mentioned above, smarthome hubs with local control are typically difficult to use. If you’d prefer not to work through that, or spend money on one more hub, Bluetooth is another option.
You can control Bluetooth bulbs and plugs directly from your phone without the need to set up a hub. This option also works without the need for internet, although some devices offer Alexa or Google compatibility if you can provide network access.

In a hotel, placing Switchmates over the light switches will prevent you from having to get out of bed one more time to find the one switch you missed to get the last of the lights off. Your tired body will thank you for the easy controls. Just don’t forget to put the original bulbs back.

The main downside to this option is the short range of Bluetooth. You likely won’t run into issues in a hotel or RV, but at a campsite, you may need to keep things close to stay within range.

You Can’t Take Everything With You

Some smarthome devices won’t travel well. Cameras like Wyze Cam or Nest cams are an attractive option and would be useful, especially from a security aspect. But they use lots of data and likely would blow through any cap a mobile hotspot may have or suffer from throttling.

Similarly, anything you would typically attach to a house like a smart lock, thermostat, or switch, isn’t a viable choice.

But as you long as you plan correctly for the options you do have available, you can take at least some of your smarthome comforts with you when you travel.

How to take your smarthome traveling

Just because you’re leaving home doesn’t mean you can’t take smart home tech with you. Whether you’re camping, road tripping in an RV, or staying in a hotel, you can bring some of your smarthome tech with you.

Put Google or Alexa in Your Vehicle

How to take your smarthome traveling

Just because you aren’t home doesn’t mean you can’t have your favorite voice assistant. Some cars manufacturers are baking Google Assistant and Alexa into the infotainment system, but even if you’re in an older car, you still have options.

Anker makes both an Alexa and Google version of its Roav product. The Roav looks like a standard car charger, but it syncs with your phone and your vehicle’s speakers to give you a voice assistant on the go. You’ll need a data signal from your phone for the devices to work of course.

Amazon did announce the Echo Auto, but it’s invitation only right now, so third-party options are the only viable choice currently.

Or if you’re using a hotspot, you could take your Echo Dot or Google Home mini with you. Some hotels are starting to include Echo devices in guest rooms as well.

Determine Your Internet Options

How to take your smarthome traveling

Many smarthome gadgets require the internet to work. Your video doorbell, cameras, Wi-Fi devices, all need some network access to enable all the features they provide.

So as a first step, determine what your internet access is going to be. If you’re tent camping, you may not have convenient internet access; or if you do it may be slow. But if you’re staying in a hotel, or you have a mobile hotspot with good reception, then you have more options to consider.

Keep in mind that most hotels have a guest login page, which can prevent Google home and other smart devices from reaching the internet. If you have an Amazon Echo, there’s a process for working with web browser sign-in pages. But for everything else, you may want to consider a travel router.

Travel routers can connect to a hotel’s network and then create a custom Wi-Fi network for you to use. That process bypasses the sign-in page for all your smart devices and gets around any ‘one device only’ rules some hotels have.

The easiest thing to do is to make a plan for not having the internet.

Consider a Smarthome Hub with Local Control

How to take your smarthome traveling

Since you can’t guarantee internet access wherever you go, and mobile hotspots often have data caps, control of your devices without the internet is the way to go. The easiest way to manage that is with a hub that works locally.

SmartThings and Wink hubs both have a small amount of local control capability, but they still mainly rely on the cloud, so you’ll want to skip those for travel. Instead, you may want to consider Hubitat, HomeSeer, or OpenHab.

Local hubs are more challenging to set up than cloud hubs like Wink or SmartThings, but the fact that they can work without the internet is the main advantage of using them for traveling. As long as you also choose smart gadgets that don’t rely on the internet (or you provide a mobile hotspot), your only concern will be electricity to power your gadgets.

Choose Z-Wave or Zigbee Devices

The other advantage of using a hub, especially a local control hub, is Z-wave and Zigbee. Most smarthome hubs support Z-Wave and Zigbee protocols, and these create a mesh style network. That means you can bring plugs, lights, and sensors with you even if you don’t have a way to provide internet access.

If you’re staying outdoors, choose gadgets that work with the weather. Setting everything up is relatively close to the same experience at home, and that’s probably where you should do the setup work anyway. That way, when you arrive, you’ll only to plug everything in and provide the internet if you have that available.

With smart sensors, you can automate your arrival and departure, and if you do have internet access, you can even build a light security system that alerts you if anyone enters your room, vehicle, or campsite.

Bluetooth Is a Decent Alternative to Smart Hubs

How to take your smarthome traveling

As we mentioned above, smarthome hubs with local control are typically difficult to use. If you’d prefer not to work through that, or spend money on one more hub, Bluetooth is another option.
You can control Bluetooth bulbs and plugs directly from your phone without the need to set up a hub. This option also works without the need for internet, although some devices offer Alexa or Google compatibility if you can provide network access.

In a hotel, placing Switchmates over the light switches will prevent you from having to get out of bed one more time to find the one switch you missed to get the last of the lights off. Your tired body will thank you for the easy controls. Just don’t forget to put the original bulbs back.

The main downside to this option is the short range of Bluetooth. You likely won’t run into issues in a hotel or RV, but at a campsite, you may need to keep things close to stay within range.

You Can’t Take Everything With You

Some smarthome devices won’t travel well. Cameras like Wyze Cam or Nest cams are an attractive option and would be useful, especially from a security aspect. But they use lots of data and likely would blow through any cap a mobile hotspot may have or suffer from throttling.

Similarly, anything you would typically attach to a house like a smart lock, thermostat, or switch, isn’t a viable choice.

But as you long as you plan correctly for the options you do have available, you can take at least some of your smarthome comforts with you when you travel.

Josh Hendrickson is the Editor-in-Chief of Review Geek. He has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read more.

When you think of a smarthome, you might envision the interior with color-changing lights, smart plugs, and voice assistants, but don’t forget about your yard and patio. You can bring your smarthome outdoors in some fun and useful ways.

The Great Outdoors Can Be Smarter Too

Once you have your home’s smart devices set up, voice assistants trained, and automation created there’s still more you can do. Your smarthome doesn’t have to stay outside—it can expand into your yard, whether you’re playing in the backyard, hosting a cookout, or putting up Christmas decorations. With plugs, lights, and battery add-ons, your outdoors can be just as smart as the inside of your home.

Outdoor Smart Plugs Are A Simple Way to Automate Many Things

Whether you need to plug in Christmas and Halloween decorations or lights, a smart outdoor plug is a great way to add intelligence to anything you might plug in outside. Outdoor smart plugs come in several varieties, whether that means Z-wave, Homekit, or Wi-Fi.

The thing to pay attention to is whether the plug has one outlet or two. If it has two, you will always want to double check whether both are smart. With some outdoor outlets, the second port is passthrough only. It’s effectively the same as any other outlet in your home, and you can’t control or automate it.

If you have a fountain, pool filtration system, or landscape lighting to which you’d like to add automation, outdoor smart plugs are ideal as well, in part because they are water resistant. Just keep in mind that whatever you connect to a smart outlet has to be “on” at all times to work well. You’ll turn off the device by turning off the outlet.

Outdoor Lights Provide Color For All Your Nights

You shouldn’t grab just any hue bulb and stick it in your porch light. But companies like Philips do make smart lights intended for outdoor use. The benefit is that you get automation (such as turning on at sunset and off at sunrise), and depending on the bulb you choose, colors that change. It’s handy to have lights that turn off or on depending on the time of day or change color with the weather.

Smart bulbs will liven up an outdoor party that winds into the night, providing your neighbors don’t mind the music and light show. An outdoor strip light, like the one offered by Philips, can light your walkway and be keyed to time and motion.

Take Your Assistant With You With a Battery Add-On

Other than the Amazon Tap (which Amazon now only sells in refurbished form), Google and Alexa devices are designed for indoor use first, including tethering them to a plug. But if you don’t want to buy a Tap to supplement your existing devices, you could consider battery packs the speakers you do have. Battery packs exist for both Google and Alexa devices, and once you plug these them in and charge them, then you can take your Google Home or Echo outside with you.

If you bring two or three, you can take advantage of multi-room speaker capabilities to add overall volume. In addition to music, you’ll have all your usual voice commands to control your smart devices, including the smart plugs and lights you have outside.

Use Mesh to Strengthen Your Smarthome Network Outside

Wi-Fi networks can have a short range, especially those operating on the 5 GHz range. If you’re having trouble connecting your voice assistant and Wi-Fi smart devices outside, you might want to consider switching to a Mesh Wi-Fi system.

Mesh Wi-Fi systems work much like Wi-Fi repeaters to extend your wireless network further, but they’re designed to work seamlessly. As you move around your house and outside your house, the network will automatically determine what Mesh device is closest to you and perform a handoff. It does all this while showing one single SSID, to enhance ease of use.

If you’re using Z-Wave and Zigbee devices, they’ll form a mesh network to extend their range as well. If you’re having trouble with a particular device at the extremes of your house, or outside, it may help if you add a Z-Wave or Zigbee device somewhere between the troublesome device and your hub.

If you happen to be a Smartthings user, you may consider switching to the Samsung SmarThings Wifi Mesh routers. These routers double as SmartThings hubs, which gives you both mesh Wi-Fi range, but also extends your Z-Wave and Zigbee range as well. If you place one of these hubs as close to your backyard as possible, for instance, then you will extend both your internet and Z-Wave/Zigbee network outside.

Anytime you take electronics outside, be mindful of the weather. If a device was designed first for outdoor use, you should be fine. But if it’s meant for indoors, then you’ll need to bring it in when it rains or snows. Or find some method to protect it from the weather.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

How to Take Your Smarthome Traveling

Although the phrase “Elementary, my dear Watson” is deeply linked with the Sherlock Holmes literary series, at no point in the text does Holmes ever utter the phrase.

Did You Know?

Although the phrase “Elementary, my dear Watson” is deeply linked with the Sherlock Holmes literary series, at no point in the text does Holmes ever utter the phrase.

How to take your smarthome traveling

Just because you’re leaving home doesn’t mean you can’t take smart home tech with you. Whether you’re camping, road tripping in an RV, or staying in a hotel, you can bring some of your smarthome tech with you. Read More »

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Craig Lloyd is a smarthome expert with nearly ten years of professional writing experience. His work has been published by iFixit, Lifehacker, Digital Trends, Slashgear, and GottaBeMobile. Read more.

How to take your smarthome traveling

When you go on vacation, there are probably a handful of things you to do to your house to prepare it for a prolonged vacancy. That list should include taking care of your smarthome devices.

If you rely on a smarthome automation from day to day, it’s important to know how to put all of it into “vacation mode” while you’re away. Otherwise, that automation becomes less useful while you’re not there to take advantage of them. Here’s what you should know.

Some Devices Have a Dedicated “Vacation Mode”

How to take your smarthome traveling

Not all smarthome devices have a dedicated vacation mode feature, but some do, and you can use that to have that device automatically go into and out of vacation mode at certain times.

For example, the Ecobee line of smart thermostats lets you schedule a vacation mode, which is basically nothing more than just setting the thermostat at a specific temperature starting at a certain time and day. You then set the end time and date, which makes the temperature settings go back to normal once you get home—or even have your home already comfortable for you when you get back.

Each smarthome device is a bit different when it comes to vacation mode and how you set it up, but more often than not, you can find it in the app settings for the device.

Randomize Your Smart Lights

How to take your smarthome traveling

Perhaps one of the best features you can take advantage of while way from home for an extended amount of time is randomizing your smart lights so that it looks like you’re home. Most smart lights have a dedicated feature for this.

For Philips Hue lights, you just need to create a routine. When you select the times that the lights should turn on and off, you can make it choose random times within a certain time window. So if usually go to bed around 10pm, you can have your Hue lights turn on and off at random times each day between 9:45pm and 10:15pm—simulating someone being there.

Other smart light brands may have this kind of feature set up differently within the app, but it’s usually easily accessible in the settings.

Make a List of All Your Devices and Set a Reminder

How to take your smarthome traveling

For smarthome devices that don’t have a dedicated vacation mode, your best bet is to set yourself a reminder so that you can manually adjust all of your devices before you take off for the week, and another reminder to re-enable them when you get back.

For instance, if you have smart plugs automatically turn on your coffee maker or space heater every morning, you don’t want those things to automatically turn on while you’re on vacation away from home. So you’ll need to go in and turn the automation off manually.

Depending on how many devices you have across your home, it can be easy to forget some. With that in mind, make a list of all the smarthome devices that you’ll need to adjust manually and then set a reminder for it right before you leave for your vacation.

It can be tedious work for sure, and while you could probably let some devices remain on without harm, you don’t want things like smart plugs turning on stuff automatically while you’re away.

How to take your smarthome traveling

The holiday season is a big time for consumer electronics and smarthome gadget sales. With so many advances and innovations that we saw in the Internet of Things in 2016, there’s a likely chance that one of those connected devices has found its way into your home, or that of one of your loved ones, this Christmas.

But while IoT devices make our homes more efficient, drive energy saving and reduce costs, you should also take note that IoT devices are a source of security headaches . A huge number of smarthome gadgets are developed without sound development practices and end up being used for evil purposes .

So if you don’t want your smarthome gadgets to be used to spy on you , hurt you in some other way, or be used in the next massive IoT DDoS attack , take a minute to read these guidelines. They will help you get the most out of what your IoT devices have to offer without suffering the privacy and security repercussions.

Install the latest updates

Seldom you see a software or hardware released without glitches or bugs. Many of these loopholes leave your devices open to attacks and exploits. That’s why developers and manufacturers regularly roll out updates and security fixes.

First of all, before installing your new device, do a little internet research for known vulnerabilities, and make sure that the manufacturer has released a patch for the bug (patches are announced and delivered on the manufacturer’s website).

Make sure that the manufacturer has a policy and good track record of delivering updates. If a manufacturer doesn’t deliver security patches, I would recommend returning the gadget back to where you bought it from.

In some cases, there are workarounds that can help you plug a security gap by disabling some of the features or changing settings, but do it with caution.

Last word on updates: Since smarthome gadgets are usually installed and forgotten, register your device for update notifications in case the manufacturer does have such an option. This way, you can make sure that you don’t miss any important updates.

Protect your network from IoT hacks

Per se, connected devices such as light bulbs and coffeemakers might not contain sensitive information or functionality, but their vulnerabilities can provide attackers with potential footholds into your home network, giving them a beachhead to conduct more critical attacks against your laptop or workstation.

The first thing you should do is to change factory default settings (e.g. administrative passwords) on your devices after installing them. This is critical as many attacks are conducted by scanning the web for devices for unchanged factory settings .

Also make sure you don’t reuse a password you’ve set on a critical email or social media account, unless you want a breach to propagate to unwanted domains.

If your device offers several different connection channels, disable the ones you’re not using, and always prefer wired connections over WiFi and other wireless mediums. This will minimize the attack surface. If the device is associated with a mobile app, review the privileges it requires (microphone, camera, GPS access, etc.) and only grant permissions if it is absolutely necessary.

If you’re going away for a long time (vacation, business trip, etc.), make sure to turn off unneeded devices or at least disconnect them from the internet.

Last word on network protection: If your home router has a guest network option , you can use it to isolate your IoT devices from your local network. This will prevent breached gadgets from giving attackers network access to your laptop and other devices containing personal and sensitive information.

Protect your IoT devices from hackers

In the previous step, we discussed how to prevent IoT vulnerabilities from harming your network. But you should also protect your smarthome gadgets themselves. Some devices such as smart thermostats can deal real damage if hacked , while nearly all compromised IoT devices can be used to raise botnets and stage widespread DDoS attacks.

Unfortunately, a considerable percentage of IoT devices lack proper defense measures (and will continue to miss them for some time to come), therefore the first order of business should be to set up a firewall.

Most home routers have firewall rules and settings that can be easily set up to block access through unused ports. This can help prevent access to devices that don’t let you turn off unwanted remote access features.

To add an extra measure of defense, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your outgoing and incoming traffic. The advantages of using VPNs is twofold. First, it’ll make up for lack of encryption in IoT devices . And second, it can make it more challenging for eavesdroppers to deduce life patterns from analyzing network traffic metadata.

Last word on device protection: You might want to consider investing in a smarthome intrusion detector , a breed of devices that analyze your home network’s traffic and look for patterns of malicious activities.

Protect your privacy

Most home IoT devices silently collect data about your daily routines and habits and often send them over to the cloud. While this helps devices and their manufacturers to analyze patterns and deliver better services, it can also become the source of privacy controversies.

First of all, you should clearly know how your data is used and processed before you connect any new device to the internet. Review the vendor’s data collection and sharing policies and make sure it explicitly states whether your data will be shared with third parties or not. There should also be an opt-out option for users who don’t want to have their data collected.

Also, if your device has a microphone or camera component and you’re not using it, disable it outright, because they can lead to some of the worst kind of privacy troubles . If there’s no switch or feature to turn off the camera, cover it or turn it to face the wall.

Last word on privacy: If you decide to sell your device or give it away to someone else, reset it to factory default settings and wipe out any user data you might have stored on it.

Over to you

IoT is the future. But it shouldn’t cost you your privacy and security. Hopefully, with these tips, you’ll be better positioned to make good and safe use of your smarthome gadgets while avoiding the pitfalls and unwelcomed tradeoffs.

How do you vet and secure your devices? Share with us in the comments section.

How to take your smarthome travelingWith a smart home security system, your home can watch over itself while you travel. These five smart home products will help you to keep your home safe while you’re away, and they all connect easily to your smartphone via an app.

1. Set your smart lights on a schedule

The easiest way to keep your home safe while you’re away or travelling is to make it look like you’re not away at all. Ideally, it would be awesome if a hologram of yourself could come and go throughout the day and drive your car to work for you, but technology isn’t quite that far advanced yet. Instead, app-controlled smart lights on timers can create different scenes for you home at different times of day so that it looks lively and occupied to deter prying eyes.

How to take your smarthome travelingI grew up with wall timers and table lamps that would be scheduled to turn on and off throughout the day, but today’s smart home takes that one step further. The Philips Hue system has everything you’ll need to set up smart lights, and it’s all controllable from your smartphone via the Philips Hue Bridge. Just make sure to schedule your lights before you leave, as the bridge requires you to be using the same Wi-Fi network to connect. My partner and I use these lights on a daily wake-up timer, which is perfect for travelling because it’s already set and ready to go. All we have to do before we take off on any flights or train rides is make sure our lamps are plugged in and turned on, and Phillips does the rest for us.

Plus, when paired with the a motion sensor or motion sensor lights, you can ward off sketchy behaviour even at night. To make things even easier, you can use your Google Assistant to set up your smart lights for you.

2. Switch to a smart lock to let the house sitter In

I love the feeling of a key sliding into a super-smooth lock, but there’s nothing better than no key at all. A secure smart lock will give you key-free entry into your home all the time, as well as setting you up to keep your home safe during your travels.

I always recommend getting a house sitter to check up on things while travelling, especially if you’re taking off in the winter. They don’t need to come by every day, but if they can stop by a few times a week and make sure that your mail isn’t piling up and your water pipes haven’t burst, it can help put your mind at ease while you’re on vacation.How to take your smarthome traveling

Some neighbours can get a little too Wisteria Lane (that is, a little too ready to copy their guest key while you’re away), though, so key-free entry is a great option to have. Smart locks are a great option for key-free entry that syncs to your smartphone and helps you moderate controlled entry for people like guests and house sitters.

Wi-Fi-enabled locks with controlled entry let you add and remove users when needed, and can even provide entry for specific amounts of time (an excellent option if you’ll have house sitters or guests at your home while you travel). Smart locks typically sync with an app or Apple HomeKit for full integration, and can track comings and goings while you’re away to ensure that you aren’t missing any wild parties at your own home while you’re gone.

3. Get the elements on your side

As a general rule of travel, I like to play it safe and assume that the worst will happen when I’m away. That means going the whole nine yards: assuming that my luggage will be tossed around, my flights will be overbooked and cancelled, and that floods, drought, and extreme cold snaps will happen in my home city while I’m away.

If I could plan for the collapse of an infinite number of multiverses at my home while I was away, trust me: I would!

How to take your smarthome travelingGrowing up, my mom would very rarely travel without the family. When she did, however, something disastrous would always strike. Once, it was a small kitchen fire; another time, the dishwasher sprang a leak and flooded the main floor. Now, I know better than to assume that everything’s going to be just fine during travel.

Nothing replaces an actual, live, house sitter to keep your home safe, so it’s still a good idea to have someone checking on your pipes and houseplants. (Make sure you turn off your water before you leave, if that’s an option and you don’t have a live-in house sitter!) A smart smoke alarm system can keep an eye on things while you’re away, and in the event of an emergency, it can alert you or your house sitter so you can make sure someone goes to check on things.

The Safety Checkup features from companies like Nest allow you to test all of your devices before you leave, and Google or Apple Home compatibility makes for an altogether safer experience.

4. Monitor your home from the road

How to take your smarthome travelingIf you’re still worried about what’s happening at home, brands like Google Nest offer other helpful tools as well. High-resolution cameras and video doorbells can track exactly what’s going on at home when your fire alarm goes off, you get a motion alert, or anything else.

Products like the Nest Cam are often fully weatherproof, and with features to look for including motion detection, night vision, wireless operation via battery, and cloud video storage.

Having a visible security camera on your property works as a constant deterrent for burglars. Should someone look suspicious, you’ll have the recording to either send to the police or text to your neighbour for a drop-in when things look safe.

5. Do even more with a smart doorbell

Expecting a package while you’re away? Worry not—a smart video doorbell will let you chat with the delivery person when they drop by. With two-way communication, a great smart doorbell lets you connect to your door (even when you’re not on the same Wi-Fi system).

A smart video doorbell lets you chat with private and public postal workers when they come, so they can drop off packages in your backyard or another secure location to stay out of sight from the street until you return home. With motion sensor-triggered two-way audio, you can even deny packages and just ask postal workers to take them back to the post office if you’re worried about porch pirates or weather damage.

When you’re travelling, the last thing on your mind should be what you’re missing at home. Take advantage of smart home systems at Best Buy today to make the most of being away.

How exactly to Control Your Entire Smarthome Through One Application

Josh Hendrickson spent some time working with it for pretty much a decade, such as four decades spent restoring and maintaining personal computers for Microsoft. He’s additionally a smarthome enthusiast exactly who created his or her own wise mirror with only a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source laws. Read more.

Once you include products to your smarthome, you usually need certainly to install and employ extra applications, which will be aggravating and complicated. You can easily stay away from all that—and you don’t require a hub to do it. You simply need one app.

The Key to Smarthome Bliss: A Single Application

Apart from sound, top to method to take control of your smarthome is through a single software. This is especially valid if several family interact with the smarthome. If most people are always second-guessing which app manages the living room area lights and which manages the smart plugs, you might be lured to stop in problems.

it is even worse if you have to switch occasionally put choices, like programs, timers, or views. Should you decide can’t recall which app locks the doorway each and every day, you must search through everyone one by one.

If, however, your manage every purpose of your entire smarthome devices through an individual application, it is possible to do away with all (or most) of misunderstandings. After it’s correctly install, you’ll merely require the more apps for firmware updates and, periodically, some added attributes.

You Have Choices For Which App to Use

The typical smarthome will most likely not require very complex routines, in which case either Google Residence or Alexa is going to work really as your single app. The incentive let me reveal all smartphone, tablet, and vocals settings are within one place.

You do have to make certain all your valuable gadgets supporting the sound associate preference. That listing is growing everyday, however. Any time you already own yahoo Home or Alexa speakers, absolutely start thinking about whether any smarthome gizmo you get is compatible with all of them.

If you’re an Apple fan, you need to use HomeKit additionally the Home application. But just like Google Home and Alexa, you’ll want to ensure any products has HomeKit help. HomeKit has many specific characteristics (like Apple Check out support) and, according to your devices, additional neighborhood control. What this means is the the instructions will processes quicker than they will with Alexa or Google Residence.

Should you get a smarthub, like SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Hubitat, or HomeSeer, they likewise have applications with dashboards to control your gadgets. You might not be able to controls all attributes (like programs) into the software, however. Also, numerous Wi-Fi units made for Alexa and Google house aren’t suitable for hubs.

Hubs don’t give local sound control either, which means you still have to set everything your Bing homes or Alexa application if you would like that. However, smarthubs generally render more powerful automation than vocals personnel carry out.

Just how to Arrange It

Unfortunately, “single app control” does not indicate “single application install.” To get started, you still have to set up the app associated with your brand new smarthome product. You employ that to create the device and get they operating. Subsequently, you hook it up to your single-app remedy, whether that’s Google room, Alexa, or HomeKit.

For Bing Home, open your home software, tap the put switch, tap “Set Up unit,” then engage the “Works with yahoo” option. The Google Residence application presents you with a list of producers. Find the correct one and proceed with the back linking process.

The procedure for Alexa is similar. Open Up the Alexa application, engage the hamburger menu inside best remaining, and tap “Add Equipment.” Select the group of the wise device—for instance, “Light” or “Plug.” Select their maker and proceed with the prompts to connect the accounts.

HomeKit features probably the most user-friendly procedure to add a computer device. Touch “Add Accessory,” after which use your new iphone 4 or iPad’s digital camera to skim the QR laws on the device’s container. Stick to the prompts to-name these devices and add it to a bedroom.

Every smarthub has another solution to put products. The method can also differ with respect to the sorts of equipment truly (Z-wave, Zigbee, lamp, light turn, etc.). You can check the website to suit your smarthub to see the existing method to include a computer device.

You may also put up sharing for your family people, so everyone has single-app accessibility. When you look at the Bing Residence application, tap “Add,” right after which determine “Invite a property affiliate.” For Alexa, your log on on Amazon’s family webpages and create users your Alexa family. In Apple’s Residence software, touch your home symbol into the higher left-hand area. Tap “Home Settings,” right after which engage the Home (you most likely only have one) to which you intend to ask anyone. According to the individuals area, tap “Invite” and follow the prompts.

You’ve kept to utilize the first App (often)

Inspite of the single-app intent, you will want ton’t uninstall the original app for your wise systems. You’ll however want to make use of them sometimes. Like, Alexa and yahoo can not update firmware for the wise plugs, you need to do that through initial application.

Sometimes, additionally you miss out on a number of functions when you are through a different software. For instance, the Philips Hue app offers additional colors choices for your lights versus How to take your smarthome traveling Google house application. For the reason that certain circumstances, it may be useful to generate a scene within the Philips Hue app (there is comparable alternatives for some other products inside their specific software).

Yahoo homes, Alexa, and HomeKit all supply some number of scene assistance, with regards to the device, which allows you to stay static in the solitary application more frequently. For much more fine-tuned control, though, you nonetheless still need the original application.

However, as much as possible get a handle on at the very least 90 percentage of your devices, programs, timers, etc. in a single software, you’ll fork out a lot a shorter time racking your brains on which app to use. While in addition to remainder of all your family members can be thankful you spend the time and effort.

How to take your smarthome traveling

So you’ve got a house you are pleased with and would really like to talk on the internet but you end up putting it off since… A. You do not have a wonderful camera along with a photo editing program. B. You will find houses out there which are much wider than yours. C. It is generally not that clean and you do not wish to feel like a fake.

Here are five tips which have helped me shoot better photographs of my home and given me the confidence to discuss them online.

1. 1 room at a time

If you would like to share these pictures as a home tour you are likely going to need to clean up any area that will be photographed. Consider it as the equivalent to shooting relatives. Sureyour house probably does not remain that way all of the time but you would not show as much as a portrait studio sporting your yoga trousers along with yesterday’s make-up.

2. Look at your home through your own lens

Create an inventory of all of the spaces you need to picture. As you proceed throughout your house, casually have a picture of the distance that you need to incorporate and then determine how it appears on your camera.

Would you enjoy the makeup of items? Can a vertical shot seem better than a flat shooter? Are there any strings poking from things which may distract from the remainder of the shot? Do you have to edit any mess?

3. Shoot in organic light.

My studio includes giant windows however they do not let a good deal of lighting in being in the rear of the home. If I wish to take photographs there I must pull all the colors up, go the drapes back, and then take until 4 p.m. so sunlight is not too low. I shot all my photographs on a single side of this studio using the drape revealing in it’s rightful place and others twisted up. Then I changed. Tricky, huh?

I am learning how to utilize my DSLR so the majority of my shots have been in automatic mode. I’d recently learn that altering my ISO into a greater number helps when shooting photographs in low light. It is also possible to change your shutter speed but in case you are like me and have not gotten so far, experimentation with your ISO. It is wonderful how much brighter your photographs will be put at 800 compared to 200.

4. Bend over and see

Unless you are roughly 4′ 5″ you’re likely not taking photographs of your area for an optimum angle. I’d Brett (6’1″) shoot the photograph above to demonstrate how different a vignette can seem when you are standing vertical to how it could seem when you are at eye level (see below). When taking wider space shots, getting somewhat lower may make your space appear larger and keep things focused on what is interesting.

5. There is a time to take wide and also a time to take vignette.

When photographing a space shoot some wide shots which share a complete room, or chunks of a room which are well-defined, then take some vignette shots.

A vignette is a concentrated grouping like the things on the cover of the shelf over. You can tell it is there in the first photograph but it’s missing in space and I am not sharing anything else rewarding. Above, I have taken a broad shot but should have obtained a vignette.

Below, I have relocated myself in front of the items on screen but at an angle so I may share the print found on the wall near it. Not only are you able to see my things better, but also the makeup is more powerful with fewer distractions.

Just because you’re leaving home doesn’t mean you can’t take smart home tech with you. Whether you’re camping, road tripping in an RV, or staying in a hotel, you can bring some of your smarthome tech with you.

Put Google or Alexa in Your Vehicle

How to take your smarthome traveling

Just because you aren’t home doesn’t mean you can’t have your favorite voice assistant. Some cars manufacturers are baking Google Assistant and Alexa into the infotainment system, but even if you’re in an older car, you still have options.

Anker makes both an Alexa and Google version of its Roav product. The Roav looks like a standard car charger, but it syncs with your phone and your vehicle’s speakers to give you a voice assistant on the go. You’ll need a data signal from your phone for the devices to work of course.

Amazon did announce the Echo Auto, but it’s invitation only right now, so third-party options are the only viable choice currently.

Or if you’re using a hotspot, you could take your Echo Dot or Google Home mini with you. Some hotels are starting to include Echo devices in guest rooms as well.

Determine Your Internet Options

Many smarthome gadgets require the internet to work. Your video doorbell, cameras, Wi-Fi devices, all need some network access to enable all the features they provide.

So as a first step, determine what your internet access is going to be. If you’re tent camping, you may not have convenient internet access; or if you do it may be slow. But if you’re staying in a hotel, or you have a mobile hotspot with good reception, then you have more options to consider.

Keep in mind that most hotels have a guest login page, which can prevent Google home and other smart devices from reaching the internet. If you have an Amazon Echo, there’s a process for working with web browser sign-in pages. But for everything else, you may want to consider a travel router.

Travel routers can connect to a hotel’s network and then create a custom Wi-Fi network for you to use. That process bypasses the sign-in page for all your smart devices and gets around any ‘one device only’ rules some hotels have.

The easiest thing to do is to make a plan for not having the internet.

Consider a Smarthome Hub with Local Control

Since you can’t guarantee internet access wherever you go, and mobile hotspots often have data caps, control of your devices without the internet is the way to go. The easiest way to manage that is with a hub that works locally.

SmartThings and Wink hubs both have a small amount of local control capability, but they still mainly rely on the cloud, so you’ll want to skip those for travel. Instead, you may want to consider Hubitat, HomeSeer, or OpenHab.

Local hubs are more challenging to set up than cloud hubs like Wink or SmartThings, but the fact that they can work without the internet is the main advantage of using them for traveling. As long as you also choose smart gadgets that don’t rely on the internet (or you provide a mobile hotspot), your only concern will be electricity to power your gadgets.

Choose Z-Wave or Zigbee Devices

The other advantage of using a hub, especially a local control hub, is Z-wave and Zigbee. Most smarthome hubs support Z-Wave and Zigbee protocols, and these create a mesh style network. That means you can bring plugs, lights, and sensors with you even if you don’t have a way to provide internet access.

If you’re staying outdoors, choose gadgets that work with the weather. Setting everything up is relatively close to the same experience at home, and that’s probably where you should do the setup work anyway. That way, when you arrive, you’ll only to plug everything in and provide the internet if you have that available.

With smart sensors, you can automate your arrival and departure, and if you do have internet access, you can even build a light security system that alerts you if anyone enters your room, vehicle, or campsite.

Bluetooth Is a Decent Alternative to Smart Hubs

As we mentioned above, smarthome hubs with local control are typically difficult to use. If you’d prefer not to work through that, or spend money on one more hub, Bluetooth is another option.
You can control Bluetooth bulbs and plugs directly from your phone without the need to set up a hub. This option also works without the need for internet, although some devices offer Alexa or Google compatibility if you can provide network access.

In a hotel, placing Switchmates over the light switches will prevent you from having to get out of bed one more time to find the one switch you missed to get the last of the lights off. Your tired body will thank you for the easy controls. Just don’t forget to put the original bulbs back.

The main downside to this option is the short range of Bluetooth. You likely won’t run into issues in a hotel or RV, but at a campsite, you may need to keep things close to stay within range.

You Can’t Take Everything With You

Some smarthome devices won’t travel well. Cameras like Wyze Cam or Nest cams are an attractive option and would be useful, especially from a security aspect. But they use lots of data and likely would blow through any cap a mobile hotspot may have or suffer from throttling.

Similarly, anything you would typically attach to a house like a smart lock, thermostat, or switch, isn’t a viable choice.

But as you long as you plan correctly for the options you do have available, you can take at least some of your smarthome comforts with you when you travel.

Just because your home is smart doesn’t mean it’s secure, but Bitdefender Total Security will monitor for and block attacks, look for unusual behaviour and do all the things you’d expect from a security specialist.

How to take your smarthome traveling

Forty years ago or so, only the more affluent people in a neighbourhood would have a burglar alarm. TVs were heavy to shift so they were mostly seen as something for people who had a lot of expensive jewellery, otherwise they were just an expense – until you were robbed and saw the cost of not having an alarm and all the right insurances.

Nowadays almost everybody has an alarm, and if you’re reading this publication or anything like it you have good reason – you probably have hundreds if not thousands of pounds worth of extremely portable equipment around your home. So your bank may well have insured it by default and you’re likely to have an alarm, but what about all of the devices themselves? Are they vulnerable?

If you’ve done nothing about it, the chances are that several items in your household may be vulnerable. This is because of something the IT industry calls the Internet of Things and that everyone else calls ‘smart’ things. So you control your dimming lightbulb by asking Alexa or Google to dim it and it does so, really easily. Under the bonnet it’s going through the Internet, interpreting your voice command and coming back to the device through your Internet connection. It’s the same for your kids’ connected toys, maybe your smart meter for your electricity and a great many other items.

Handled properly this is noting to worry about, indeed it’s a terrific thing. You don’t want to have to pay for all of the networking equipment that would otherwise be necessary to make all this stuff work, you want to take advantage of the infrastructure that’s already out there.

Only, the default settings may not be all that secure. In fact they rarely are; the nature of mass produced items is that an awful lot of default settings are pretty standard. So what happens when your IoT kit is hacked?

You might think that hacking your doorbell might not be a massive deal. At the very worst, they can commit some annoying pranks, right? Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. The hacker’s interest is in using this to find a way into your network, as they could with your kids’ connected toys’ default passwords, or your voice control hub if you haven’t changed the default password. And once they are in behind the password protection, everything on your network you had sought to protect could become available to them. Confidential files for work, pictures of the children, maybe bank and other sensitive details they’re all at risk.

Bitdefender’s answer is to take the worry away by putting it all into a box – and in fact we’ve called our offering in the area just that, “Bitdefender BOX”. Install it and apart from Bitdefender Total Security for unlimited devices, it also offers protection for devices without an operating system – in other words Internet of Things devices. It will monitor for and block attacks, look for unusual behaviour and do all the things you’d expect from a security specialist – it’s just that it’s aware that your lightbulb or light switch is just as good a way in for the hackers as your log-in details.

Previous generations didn’t have many burglar alarms and generations before them boasted of being able to leave the door open when they went out. If they’d had the Internet they might have heard a little more about the burglaries actually happening, but no matter. The point is that things have changed, and the most recent change is that we’re much more aware of physical vulnerabilities in our homes. The difficulty is that we’re a bit less savvy about electronic vulnerabilities, particularly when the vulnerable thing doesn’t look like a computer, phone or tablet. It’s therefore worth getting security from someone who understands the new issues – and fastening that electronic gate after you, for good.

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How-to Take Control Of Your Whole Smarthome Thru One App

Josh Hendrickson spent some time working on it for nearly 10 years, such as four age invested repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s additionally a smarthome lover just who constructed his own smart mirror with just a-frame, some electronic devices, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source signal. Read more.

As soon as you incorporate gadgets towards smarthome, you generally must download and rehearse extra programs, that is frustrating and complicated. It is possible to prevent all that—and you don’t require a hub to get it done. You just need one application.

The Key to Smarthome Satisfaction: One Software

Aside from vocals, the greatest to solution to manage your smarthome is through just one software. This is particularly true if multiple family interact with their smarthome. If many people are constantly second-guessing which app manages the living room area bulbs and which manages the wise plugs, you are tempted to throw in the towel in frustration.

it is a whole lot worse when you have to improve occasionally used options, like programs, timers, or views. If you can’t remember which software locks the doorway each and every day, you have to search through them all one after another.

If, however, you control every purpose of all your smarthome units through a single application, it is possible to eliminate all (or the majority of) of this misunderstandings. After it is precisely created, you’ll only have to have the various other apps for firmware updates and, sometimes, some added qualities.

You really have Choices For Which Software to Use

The typical smarthome may well not want incredibly complex routines, whereby either Google homes or Alexa will work well as the unmarried app. The incentive here is all of your current mobile, pill, and sound settings all are in one single spot.

You do have to ensure all of your systems supporting your own vocals associate preference. That checklist is continuing to grow everyday, however. Should you decide already own yahoo homes or Alexa speakers, absolutely consider whether any smarthome device you buy works with all of them.

If you’re a fruit follower, you can make use of HomeKit plus the Residence app. But just like Bing room and Alexa, you ought to make sure all your valuable tools posses HomeKit service. HomeKit has many distinct pros (like Apple Check out help) and, dependent on your own hardware, extra neighborhood controls. This means several of their commands will processes quicker than they’d with Alexa or Bing Residence.

Should you possess a smarthub, like SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, Hubitat, or HomeSeer, they also have software with dashboards to manage your own devices. You may not have the ability to control all services (similar routines) when you look at the software, however. Furthermore, many Wi-Fi products created for Alexa and Bing room aren’t appropriate for hubs.

Hubs don’t offer local voice control either, and that means you still need to pair every little thing your Google house or Alexa app if you want that. But smarthubs normally supply better automation than vocals assistants manage.

Tips Set It Up

Unfortunately, “single app regulation” doesn’t mean “single app install.” To get started, you’ve still got to install https://sugardad.com/sugar-daddies-canada/ the application related to your new smarthome equipment. You utilize that to set up the device and get it employed. Next, you hook it up your single-app remedy, whether that’s Google homes, Alexa, or HomeKit.

For Bing Residence, available the Home application, engage the add button, faucet “Set Up tool,” and tap the “Works with Google” alternative. The yahoo Home software offers you with a summary of firms. Choose the best one and stick to the linking procedure.

The method for Alexa is similar. Start the Alexa application, engage the hamburger diet plan from inside the top left, and engage “Add Device.” Select the category of the smart device—for sample, “Light” or “Plug.” Choose its producer and stick to the prompts to link your own reports.

HomeKit has one particular user-friendly process to provide a tool. Tap “Add equipment,” right after which make use of your new iphone 4 or iPad’s digital camera to skim the QR signal on device’s box. Proceed with the prompts to call the device and include it with a-room.

Every smarthub keeps a different way to include systems. The procedure also can differ according to particular equipment its (Z-wave, Zigbee, lamp, light switch, etc.). You should check website for the smarthub observe the present way to incorporate a device.

You’ll be able to developed posting for your needs people, very all of us have single-app accessibility. From inside the yahoo house software, faucet “Add,” and pick “Invite a property affiliate.” For Alexa, you log on on Amazon’s domestic site and incorporate users towards Alexa domestic. In Apple’s Home software, tap the house symbol into the top left-hand spot. Engage “Home configurations,” following engage your home (you more than likely only have usually the one) to which you intend to receive anyone. According to the visitors area, tap “Invite” and proceed with the prompts.

You’ve still got to Use the first software (often)

Inspite of the single-app objective, you ought ton’t uninstall the initial application to suit your wise systems. You’ll still need to utilize them often. Like, Alexa and yahoo can not improve firmware for your smart plugs, you need to do that through original software.

Occasionally, you also overlook some properties when you are through another type of application. By way of example, the Philips Hue app supplies more colors choices for their bulbs compared to Google Home application. Because specific case, it could be useful to develop a scene inside Philips Hue app (there might be comparable choices for other equipment inside their specific programs).

Yahoo house, Alexa, and HomeKit all provide some number of world assistance, with respect to the unit, which lets you stay-in your own unmarried app more frequently. For more fine-tuned control, however, you nevertheless still need the initial app.

Still, if you’re able to control no less than 90 percent of your products, behavior, timers, etc. in one software, you’ll fork out a lot less time racking your brains on which app to utilize. While as well as the rest of family is thankful you put in your time and effort.

How to take your smarthome traveling

Reviewed by IT security expert Pete Canavan

While smart devices can make daily tasks easier, connecting everyday devices to the internet means there’s a potential for unwanted cyber intrusion.

It’s important to first size up the security of each connected product you bring into your home. Once everything is online, take the following precautions to keep your smart home safe.

Our hacking-proof tips work for all sorts of brands and products. But if your smart home is partial to a specific brand, we’ve got a Guide to Alexa and Guide to Google to help you squeeze out your tech’s full potential.

By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

6 steps to protect your internet connected devices

How to take your smarthome traveling

1. Choose devices wisely

As you look for smart home devices, check to see that they have security features in the first place. Most major brands shouldn’t pose a problem on this front, but it pays to see if there are reviews from reputable publications if you come across an unfamiliar brand.

When possible, choose Power over Ethernet (PoE) devices instead of wireless ones since PoE is the more reliable and secure choice. A hacker must get past your network’s firewall to hack into a PoE device, which is a lot harder than busting into a Wi-Fi connection.

PoE cameras include some ZOSI, EZViz, and Lorex models, to name a few.

After you get the devices you want, take time each month to check for updates. And as tempting as it may be to snooze (or ignore) update notifications, these updates strengthen your line of defense against malware and other online threats.

2. Change default username

As you tap through the smartphone app to set up a device, make sure it doesn’t create a default username or account for you. This is especially true for wireless routers that help your smart home run smoothly, not just smart devices themselves.

One of the first things hackers look for is a list of default usernames, which does half of their work for them. Changing the default username gives you more breathing room and takes you off the list of easy targets.

While some smart devices still use default usernames and passwords, it’s falling out of practice as companies look to create more secure devices for informed consumers. Instead, you’ll probably create an account using your email address, which isn’t as readily available to hackers.

3. Use strong passwords

Don’t lock your smart home behind a cheap luggage lock when it needs a deadbolt. The best thing you can do is to set up a secure password using a password manager. With a password manager, you don’t have to remember dozens of passwords or hit the “Forgot your password?” link each time you log in.

Most password managers generate random passwords that are difficult for hackers to crack, even with the best tech. The password manager also helps you track how long since you last changed your password. Changing passwords a couple of times a year helps keep hackers at bay.

Make sure you create an extra-strong master password to ensure the password manager doesn’t get hacked. Otherwise, hackers will have all of your passwords at their fingertips.

If you share smart home devices with other members of your family, make sure they each have their own account (rather than passing along a shared password for one account).

A strong password doesn’t always need numerals and special characters unless your smart device sets those conditions. Where possible, use a passphrase of at least six random words with spaces between them, which is easier to remember than a string of numbers and characters. To learn more about creating passphrases, check out this helpful page about Diceware.

Connecting Home-Assistant to Node-red

Quick and easy one today. There are several different ways of installing and running both Home-Assistant and Node-red. I have one instance of Home-Assistant Supervised (formerly Hassio) on an Intel Nuc. As it’s supervised, it has all the add-ons baked into it, and launching Node-red was as simple as clicking on the add-on and waiting for it to start. This is simple to set up and is serving me well. That said, it can be a little annoying at times. If I need to restart Home-Assistant for whatever reason (maybe an update of Core or the OS, or HACS) then it means Node-red is also down for the count. Effectively, my smarthome and automations are out of action whilst it’s doing its thing. I also have a remote server running Home-Assistant and Node-red but they’re in separate docker containers. The beauty of this, is that when Home-Assistant needs to be restarted Node-red can happily sit there working away in the background. All of my smart plugs and switches are running Tasmota and are controllable via MQTT, so even if Home-Assistant is restarting, we can still use the voice assistants to control the automations. I have both Alexa and Google Home set up directly in Node-red via a third party bridge, so even without Home-Assistant, everything still works (more on that here)

Today I am going to show you how to connect your Home-Assistant instance (regardless of Core or Supervised) to an external Node-red instance. As there are different ways of installing both Home-Assistant and Node-red, I’m going to assume you’ve got both installed and are able to access their respective web interfaces even if they’re on different machines, or in different locations.

In Home-Assistant go to the user icon in the bottom left of the screen.

Getting a Token

Getting a Token

Next scroll to the very bottom of the page until you get to Long-Lived Access Tokens. Create a token. Make a note of this, because when you first create it, it will be the only time you’re ever shown the string. So copy it, as we’ll need this later. If you mess it up, it’s simple enough to just delete and repeat.

Long Life Token

Long Life Token

Next go to your Node-red instance and click on the hamburger icon to bring up the drop down menu. You’ll need the Manage Palette option.

Click on the Install tab, and type in home-assistant. You’ll see it brings up a variety of different nodes. You’ll want the one titled “node-red-contrib-home-assistant-websocket” You can see it’s been updated fairly recently. If you wish to learn more about this node, you can browse here.

Home-Assistant Node-red palette

Home-Assistant Node-red palette

Install it and wait for a few moments for the new palette to appear. Incidentally, if you click on the left tab (Nodes) you’ll see what you already have installed. I regularly check here because often there will be updates which you need to manually install.

New Home-Assistant Palette

New Home-Assistant Palette

You should now see a new palette on the left hand side. Next we need to configure the palette so it actually links to your Home-Assistant installation. Drag out any node from this list and double click it to configure.

Configuring the State Change Node

Configuring the State Change Node

Here we need to go into the “server” field and add-server, or click on the pencil icon to bring up the next window.

Configuring Home-Assistant Server in Nodered

Configuring Home-Assistant Server in Nodered

Here we add the information required. Base URL requires http:// and the port number, don’t just add the IP address. Paste the long life token we created in Home-Assistant into the “Access Token” field. Leave everything else the same as above. Hit update, close the window and deploy. If everything is connected correctly, you should see a green icon under the state change node. If you go into the state change node and click on the entity field, you should now see a list of all your entities in Home-Assistant. Now go and create flows until your heart’s content!

Using the above method is good for connecting more than one Home-Assistant installation together. You can have several Home-Assistant servers connected to one Node-red instance, although be mindful to choose the correct server when deploying flows. I have a remote Home-Assistant server at another location (B). I can add this and interact with the entities there easily from location (A).

Remote Location Configuration

Remote Location Configuration

Remember to Choose the Correct HA Server

This is all free of charge, requiring nothing more than a single port forward or Nginx Proxy setup at the remote location (beyond the scope of this tutorial).

If your interested in sharing your own solutions, tips and tricks with like minded people perhaps you’d consider joining our facebook group. The aim of this group will hopefully be more show and tell rather than support, but that’s not to say we can’t lend a helping hand!

Microsoft keeps an eye out for unusual sign-in activity on your account, just in case someone else is trying to get into your account. If you’re travelling to a new place or using a new device, we might ask you to confirm that it really is you.

When we detect a sign-in attempt from a new location or device, we add a second layer of protection and send you an email message and SMS alert.

Things to do before you travel

Make sure your Microsoft account security is up to date. Everyone with a Microsoft account needs to have up-to-date security contact info, which is an alternate email address or phone number where you can get security codes.

Download and install the free Microsoft Authenticator app for Android, iOS or Windows Phone.

Tip: You don’t need Wi-Fi or mobile data to use the Microsoft Authenticator app. Additionally, because the app stops running as soon as you close it, it won’t drain your battery.

Use automatic replies to tell people you won’t be responding to their messages right away. Automatic replies are sent once to each sender. Learn how to send automatic replies in Outlook.com.

Keeping your Microsoft account security up-to-date

Security contact info is an alternate email address or phone number that you add to your account. If you forget your password, or if someone else is trying to take over your account, we send a security code to that alternate email address or phone number. When you enter the code you received, we know that you’re really you and we can get you back into your Microsoft account.

Go to the Security basics page and sign in with your Microsoft account.

Select Security contact info > Add security info .

Follow the instructions to enter your email or phone number. Microsoft will send a security code to that new email address or phone number.

Enter the security code, and select Next. Your new security contact info will appear in your list.

To remove security contact info, select Remove next to the email address or phone number you no longer wish to use. You may be asked to add new security contact info before you can remove the old info.

Add a trusted device to your Microsoft account

On trusted devices, you don’t need to enter a security code each time you try to access sensitive info.

On the device you want to make a trusted device, go to the Security settings page and sign in to your Microsoft account.

You’ll be prompted to enter a security code. Choose whether to receive the code through email, text, or an authenticator app. Once you have the code, enter it in the text box.

Select the check box for I sign in frequently on this device. Don’t ask me for a code.

How to take your smarthome traveling

You can now sign in and edit your info on this device whenever you want, without entering another security code.

Eric Ravenscraft has nearly a decade of writing experience in the technology industry. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, PCMag, The Daily Beast, Geek and Sundry, and The Inventory. Read more.

@lordravenscraft
Updated Aug 5, 2020, 9:27 am EDT | 5 min read

Whether you’re having family over or renting out your place on AirBnb, making your smart home tech easy for your guests is a good idea. Here are a few tips on how to do that.

Let’s face it: even when you’re the one that set up the smart home system it isn’t always the most intuitive or user friendly. Add guests into the mix—who may never have even used a smart home system in the first place—and it’s a recipe for frustration. If you want your guests to enjoy the feeling of living in the future as much as you do, then a little tweaking is in order. With the following tips and tricks you can customize the smart home experience so your guests can walk away raving about how awesome your smart home is.

Turn On Guest Mode On Your Google Home to Let Guests Stream Music

How to take your smarthome traveling

Anyone can request music with a voice command on an Amazon Echo or Google Home, but it’s not always easy to control. Instead, you can use the Google Home as a Bluetooth speaker, but you’ll have to enable Guest Mode if you want to let someone outside your family use it that way.

We have more detailed instructions over at How-To Geek, but the short version is that you’ll need to open up the Google Home app, tap the Devices button in the top right corner, find your Google Home speaker in the list, tap the three-dot menu button and choose Guest Mode. It’s buried a little bit, but you only need to enable it once.

After this mode is turned on, users who are in the same area as your Google Home will be able to pair with it so they can play and control music from any app on their phone. The speaker should use a combination of location and Wi-Fi data to pair, but if that fails, your guests can use a 4-digit PIN to connect with the speaker.

Use a Remote Dimmer Switch (Or at Least Tape Your Physical Switch)

How to take your smarthome traveling

You might be used to controlling your lights with voice commands, but when your guests come over, they’ll probably look for a switch. Of course, many smart lights don’t work right (or at all) if you flip the switch on your wall. For example, Philips Hue light bulbs won’t work if your turn your lights off, and when you turn them back on, they’ll go back to their default scene (if they can change color or temperature).

There are a couple of ways to solve this problems for guests. An expensive but convenient solution is to get a physical switch. Philips Hue offers a dimmer switch kit that gives you a physical switch you can put on the wall, and even pull off the wall and use as a remote. If you don’t own Hue lights, Logitech also sells one-touch buttons that support a wide array of other smart lights including LIFX, Insteon, and Lutron. Put either of these next to your existing light switches and let your guests know which one controls the lights.

Alternatively, if you’d rather not spend the extra money, you could go lo-fi and put tape over your existing switches when guests come over. Tape is the universal and unambiguous sign for “Do not turn flip this switch.” (If you want something a little more polished than tape, grab an inexpensive “switch guard” to cover the physical switch.) You’ll have to do the legwork to let your guests know how to use your voice control (as we expand on below), but at least they won’t reset your lights accidentally.

Add a Guest Account to Your Streaming Services On Your Smart TV

How to take your smarthome traveling

As you use your TV, sites like Netflix and Hulu get to know you and provide recommendations on shows you might like. Your guests will want to watch TV too, but their preferences might not mix with your own. Fortunately, most sites offer a way to deal with that: profiles.

For Netflix, you can head to this link to add a new profile. You can choose to mark a profile for children if you want to limit the types of content your guests can watch (say if you’re babysitting or watching a family member’s children). You can do a similar thing with Hulu in the Profiles section of your account page.

YouTube is a little more complicated, since you can’t create different viewing profiles, but you can at least create a YouTube Kids account and even create multiple profiles for different kids (since what your two year old can or wants to watch is probably way different from your ten year old). That doesn’t help your adult guests who might not care for your YouTube app filled with cake decorating videos and yodeling Japanese men. Still, it’s better than nothing.

Give Your Guests a Temporary Passcode to Your Smart Locks

How to take your smarthome traveling

If you use smart locks on your doors, you’ve probably got it set up so you rarely have to think about your locks, or can control them from your phone. Your guests need to get in the house, too, but your guests might still need a key (or the passcode if you’re using a keyless lock).

Fortunately, many smart locks give you an alternative, temporary way to share access with guests so you don’t have to turn over a key or add them to your accounts. The Kwikset Kevo, for example, lets you give guests eKeys that they can use to get into the house using the Kwikset app (make sure to tell them to download the app). Or you could just give them the key, since the Kevo still supports regular keys.

If you’re using a keypad lock, don’t just give your guests the same combination you use. Most offer the ability to create multiple combinations, and even ones that expire after a certain time frame or a set number of uses. It may be easier to give your guests the one you already know, rather than to make a new one, but it will be safer for you and them if you control who has access to the lock.

Write Down a List of Useful Voice Commands

The simplest way to make sure your guests can use your smart home system: teach them how to use it. If you’re using your voice assistant to turn the lights on and off, control the temperature, or lock the door, then you’re probably already familiar with the syntax. Your guests are not. Give them a cheat sheet so they know how to control your gadgets.

Here are a few basic tasks you should fill your voice assistant cheat sheet with:

  • How to turn shared living area lights on and off
  • How to turn the thermostat up and down
  • How to play music
  • How to lock the doors
  • How to control smart plugs (for things like coffee makers, etc.)

This is especially useful for your guests to determine what your gadgets are called. It’s easy to get tripped up on the specific names for each room or gadget, so having it clearly laid out for your guests lets them know how to control everything, even if you’re not around.

With a little legwork, you’ll take your smart home from a frustrating experience for your guests to a really neat showroom of how fantastic smart home tech can be.

What is a Water Meter?

A water meter is a device that measures the volume of water delivered to a property. Some water meters measure water in gallons while others measure in cubic feet.

Most residential water meters are located near the curb or sidewalk at the front of the property in a concrete “box.” The water meter box will have a metal or plastic lid and may be marked, “Water Meter.”

Use a long screwdriver to remove the lid. However, be cautious as insects, reptiles or other small animals occasionally take residence inside the boxes. Some water meters will have a small, hinged cover while others may not. Lift the cover and use a damp rag to wipe the face clean.

How to take your smarthome traveling

Understanding the Water Meter

Look at your water meter to determine if you have an analog (dial) or a digital display. Instructions for reading both types of water meters are included in this section.

Reading the Analog Display

The large sweep hand on the dial measures water use in gallons or cubic feet. One gallon or one cubic foot of water passes through the water meter as the sweep hand moves from one number to the next (e.g., 0 to 1). A complete rotation equals 10 gallons or 10 cubic feet depending on the unit measured. Most analog dials have a low-flow indicator that turns as water moves through the water meter. This typically looks like a small triangle (shown), star or gear.

Analog Example: The sweep hand is on the “1” so the read is 1,356,411 gallons. The last number on the right is a static zero (does not change). When the sweep hand is on the “3” the read will be 1,356,413 gallons. When you record your reading in the Leak Detection Test , make sure to use the number indicated by the sweep arm as the final digit.

How to take your smarthome traveling

Activating and Reading the Digital Display (LCD)

The digital meter needs light for activation so you may need to shine a flashlight on it. The display alternates between the meter read and the flow rate. The meter read equals the gallons (or cubic feet) used while the flow rate equals the number of gallons (or cubic feet) per minute flowing through the water meter. Some digital meters allow review of historical water use. This feature helps track water use trends such as when leaks have occurred. Check your water provider’s website for more information.

How to take your smarthome traveling

Leak Detection Test

Once you know how to read your water meter, you can begin to check for the presence of continuous leaks by following the procedure below. Do not use water or operate any water-using devices in or around your home during the test.

For Analog Display Meters

  1. Observe the sweep hand. If it is moving, you have a continuous leak.
  2. Observe the low-flow indicator. If it is moving, you have a continuous leak.
  3. Some leaks are so small that the movement is almost undetectable. To determine if you have a slow leak:
    1. Read your water meter and record the numbers in the boxes we’ve provided (” Fill in your meter readings Fill in your meter readings “). Use the number indicated by the sweep arm as the final digit.
    2. Wait 20 minutes then read your water meter again and record the numbers.
    3. Subtract the first water meter reading from the second.
    4. If Gallons Used is greater than zero you have a continuous leak.

For Digital Display (LCD) Meters

  1. Observe the flow rate screen for at least 10 flashes. If the number is greater than zero on any of the flashes, you have a continuous leak.
  2. Some leaks are very slow and may not show as a continuous flow. To determine if you have a slow leak follow Step 3 above.

Next

Example of the presence of a continuous leak:

Fill in your meter readings:

Wait 20 minutes between taking meter readings. Enter readings below to determine number of gallons used.

How to take your smarthome traveling

Methods to Detect the Location of Leaks

This guide provides two methods to detect the location of leaks: the Isolation Method and the Visual Inspection Method. A brief description of both methods follows.

Isolation Method

How to take your smarthome traveling

The purpose of the Isolation Method is to isolate different sections of the plumbing in and around your home. If your Leak Detection Test (Section 1) indicated a continuous leak, consider using the Isolation Method to discover the leak location. This is often the quickest way to locate ongoing, hard-to-find leaks. You will turn water supply valves “off” to prevent water from flowing into water supply pipes. If you are comfortable turning valves on and off, go to Isolation Method for Continuous Leaks (Section 4).

Visual Inspection Method

Conduct the Visual Inspection Method if you did not detect a continuous leak when you performed the Leak Detection Test (Section 1) or if you are uncomfortable with the Isolation Method. Use the checklists in the Outdoor Visual Leak Inspection (Section 2) and Indoor Visual Leak Inspection (Section 3) to conduct visual leak inspections around your home.

How to take your smarthome traveling

Did You Know?

A 0.1 gallon per minute leak wastes 4,320 gallons per month.

That equates to as much as 51,840 gallons of water per year!

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The Beginner’s Guide to Node-red with Home-Assistant (Part 3: Timers)

If you’ve read part 1 and part 2, then you’ll already know how to work with MQTT (both receiving and sending commands), how to take sensor information from home-assistant as well as control entities directly in home-assistant, and most importantly, how to work with the switch node for determining what outputs occur according to which specific inputs. Here I want us to look at timers in a bit more detail. A lot of the things that people want to do when working with home automation is to turn various things on and off at certain times of the day or night. Whether that’s simple lighting, computer screens, power plugs etc. There are various approaches to it. We’ll start with the timer that gets suggested the most online, and that is bigtimer.

Bigtimer

At first glance this node can look overwhelming and not for the faint hearted. For our purposes, we’re going to ignore 95% of what it can do. All we want it to do is switch on and off a simple light at certain times. Bigtimer doesn’t come included in Node-red, you will need to install it manually. You can do this by going to the hamburger icon in the top right of the screen and then > Manage Palette. Click on the Install tab, and paste the following in:

node-red-contrib-bigtimer

Once installed, you should be looking at the following. Let’s drag it out.

Here we’re going to set up a simple evening light. I want the lights to come on at sunset and turn off automatically at sunrise. As I am using sunset and not a specific time, I will need to include my latitude and longitude in order for the system to work out when sunset and sunrise occurs according to my location. For the actual switching side of things, I am only using the ON text and OFF text.

Bigtimer configuration top

Bigtimer configuration top

Bigtimer configuration bottom

Bigtimer configuration bottom

Lets create a flow that turns on a single lamp at sunset and turns it off at sunrise.

How to take your smarthome traveling

As we have already set the payload messages in bigtimer to be On/Off, in the switch node am using On and Off as the variables. For the service calls at the end, it’s a simple turn_on / turn_off of the entity switch.lamp.

If you look further into bigtimer you can see there are all sorts of additional extras you can add, including additional timers, random outputs (good for vacation lights to deter burglars), as well as offsets, i.e. maybe you need the lights to come on an hour before sunset or go off an hour after sunrise. Bigtimer is a topic in itself!

Time dependent sensor flows

Another type of timer that people may wish to use is one that determines whether a flow should be used or not. Again, you can use Bigtimer for such a flow, but I find it a little bit overkill in this instance. I prefer to use the much simpler Time range node.

time range node

time range node

An example where I would use this is in our motion sensor flow that we created in part 2. I.e. if the motion sensor triggers, the light comes on for 5 minutes before turning off. I would add this sensor to it, to amend the flow that the light would only come on between sunset and sunrise. i.e. to turn that flow into the perfect nightlight. I actually go through how to create a motion activated night light in detail here, so I’ll skip over a few of the steps in this post.

Here’s a flow showing two outputs. A flow that occurs between sunset and sunrise (our main goal) and also an optional flow that occurs during the day. Again check out my other post for full configuration options (including the need for a delay and to recheck for motion, so as to not turn the light off too early).

time range node flow

time range node flow

Delay Node

Another timer that we briefly covered was the delay node. I know some people prefer to use the trigger node after a certain period of time, I prefer to send the payload and then delay the outcome. It’s just simpler (in my mind) to configure – and fault find!

Here I’ve created a flow that encompasses pretty much everything that we’ve gone through so far. Imagine you want your child to go to bed, but they keep gaming. Here’s a flow which takes the single click input of the xiaomi aqara push button and issues a voice warning via google home that the monitor will be turned off in 30 minutes. I am controlling a pc display via IOTlink (more on that here). I could just as easily swapped out the MQTT “display off” command for a smart plug connected to an xbox or playstation. One thing I want to introduce though is the change node.

the change node

the change node

Display off with delay and google tts

If you remember from part 2, the aqara push button sends out payloads like single, double, triple etc. This is good to capture the options, but in our case, we then need to modify the payload to move along the flow and to trigger the display to turn off. Therefore at some point we need to modify the payload from single to off for the MQTT command. See below:

Change Node Payload

Change Node Payload

The delay mode is self explanatory, and you know by now how to send an MQTT command. Check the IOTlink post for specifics on the topic.

IOT link display off MQTT command

IOT link display off MQTT command

I also introduced another function (TTS) to make Google Home announce the warning to the household, so no one is caught by surprise when the display goes blank.

How to take your smarthome traveling

You can see here for the full Data required to make google home announce…

google home json

google home json

Summary

In this post, I’ve showed you how to create a standard timer for evening lights which runs permanently in the background. We’ve also created a timer that takes it’s input from a sensor automatically, and we’ve also created a manual timer utilising all the nodes that we have learned so far. New nodes in this post included Bigtimer, the change node, and the time range node.

I hope you’ve found these mini tutorials interesting. If any of you have any feedback, or constructive criticism, I’d gladly listen. We’re in the process of starting a facebook group here so that we can show off solutions and cool tips and tricks, so if this is the sort of thing that would be of interest, feel free to sign up. It’s in its early stages, but hopefully it will continue to grow and inspire!

Travel plans? Make sure you’ve got these devices installed first

How to take your smarthome traveling

Updated May 9, 2022

Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

Whether you’re heading out for a summer vacation or work long hours at the office, it’s always nice to be able to check in on your home while you’re away. Knowing that everything is safe and secure will give you peace of mind, allowing you to truly relax and enjoy your time off, and with the right smart home gadgets, you won’t even have to send your neighbor over to check on your house—instead, you can monitor everything that’s happening right from your smartphone.

If you’re looking for smart devices to protect your home (and family!), the following are some of the best products we’ve tested, all of which will provide a sense of security when you’re not there.

1. Google Nest Doorbell

How to take your smarthome traveling

Google’s Nest Doorbell is an interactive device that can allow you to speak, record and transmit audio for you.

Smart doorbells offer audio and video to let you to see who’s at your door, and the best smart doorbell we’ve tested is the Google Nest Doorbell. This battery-powered device delivers crystal-clear footage of what’s happening outside your door, and it even comes with free intelligent alerts that can differentiate between people, packages, animals, and vehicles. Plus, the battery lasts for up to six months per charge, so you don’t need to worry about it dying while you’re away on vacation.

TELUS Communications Inc.

    • #18 in Lifestyle
    • 4.6 • 6.9K Ratings
    • Free

Screenshots

Description

TELUS SmartHome is your simple all-in-one security, safety and smart home solution. Protect, automate and monitor your home in real-time from anywhere in the world, from any current mobile device. All you need is internet or mobile service, a TELUS SmartHome Security service plan and the smart devices you wish to install at home.

The TELUS SmartHome app offers solutions for:
• Security and safety alerts
• Interactive video monitoring
• Energy efficiency management
• Home automation

Optimize your home from wherever you are. Just tap your app, and you’ll have real time access to what’s happening at home. View your video screens or clips, change and control settings and make your home the safest and smartest it can be.

Whether you’re down the block or halfway around the world, still in bed or halfway through a busy day, TELUS SmartHome Security has you covered. The TELUS SmartHome app can send you notifications, you can instantly view your front door or living room, make and change rules to maximize energy efficiency or improve comfort, and have direct access to every security and smart home device you’ve installed.

Simple icons and easy-to-follow screens give you remote access and control. Guide a slider to dim a light, tap to chat with someone at your front door, or pre-program an early morning warm up of the house before you even open your eyes.

Have an Apple Watch? Keep your home running smart with a flick of the wrist. Arm and disarm your system, check notifications, and control all of your installed devices right from your watch.

Note: This TELUS SmartHome app requires a compatible system, internet access and a TELUS SmartHome Security service plan. The app features and their usage varies based on the solution chosen, equipment and service plan. Visit telus.com/home-security for more information.

With the TELUS SmartHome app, you can:
• Receive real-time emails, text messages and push notifications for unexpected activity and events that matter to you
• View your property from installed video cameras
• Watch live and recorded video clips from your security cameras
• Pre-program or turn lights on or off
• Set the ideal temperature on your smart thermostat
• View images of activity captured by motion sensors
• Search your complete event history
• View and speak remotely to a visitor at your front door

How the TELUS SmartHome helps you stay connected to home:
• Know instantly when your kids are home from school
• Arm your system and lock up from anywhere or automatically as you leave the house
• Know when service people arrive or leave
• Be alerted when the garage door is left open
• Receive a notification your medicine or liquor cabinet has been opened
• Know if someone changes your thermostat settings
• Be alerted if someone attempts to log on to your account
• And much more!

When the power goes out, it can wreak havoc on the smart home. Here’s how to automatically reset your Philips Hue smart bulbs with the Power-On Behavior feature.

How to take your smarthome traveling

Philips Hue smart bulbs allow for a customized and voice-activated smart home setup. But they will also go back to their original color and brightness after you lose power.

You can fix that with the Power-On Behavior feature, which gives you two options for when your lights regain power. They can go back to the Philips Hue default—which is a warm, white color at full brightness—or the last color and brightness level you chose. The latter is a lot less jarring, especially if you lose power in the middle of the night. No one wants to be woken up by a bright light in their face.

Here’s how to find and tweak the Power-On Behavior setting.

Update Your Lights, If You Haven’t Already

Make Sure Your Lights Are Compatible

Even if you update your app, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be able to use this feature. Power-On Behavior only works with Hue Bulbs (E26/E27/E12/E14/BR30/GU10), Hue Lightstrips, and Hue Lamps. You will also need the second-generation Philips Hue Bridge (BSB002), which is the square model, as opposed to the round one. If you’re using the older Bridge model or any other lighting product, you won’t be able to make these changes.

Unsure if one of your bulbs is compatible? The update section in the Hue app (Settings > Software update) is a good place to find the specific model number for each of your bulbs, and can save you a lot of time and frustration.

Change Each Bulb’s Power-On Behavior

Navigate to Settings > Power-On Behavior to view a list of your connected light bulbs. Tap one and choose which power-on behavior you prefer—whether you want the bulb to revert back to default settings or maintain your preferred settings. Repeat this process for every bulb and light you want to change.

If one of your lights isn’t supported, you’ll see an orange “Not supported” label underneath the bulb’s name.

Test Your Lights

The Power-On Behavior feature is most useful when you lose power, but you can test it by hitting your light switch and turning your lights on and off. If they go back to their previous state, then it’s clearly working.

Notably, this also means you have a little more flexibility when using your light switches. Typically, you have to leave your switches on if you want to control your smart lights with voice commands or your phone. However, now if you accidentally flip a switch, the lights will at least return to your preferred setting the next time you turn them on.

The Best Smart Home Devices

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SaskTel is bringing the next level of home security and automation to Saskatchewan with its new smartHOME service. With smartHOME, customers can easily automate nearly everything in their home from their security cameras and door locks to their power outlets and thermostat, plus they can control it all with a touch of a button from their smartphone, laptop, or tablet.

“We understand that our customers want to be connected to what matters most to them and with smartHOME our customers can now connect directly to one of the most important pieces of their life, their home” said Doug Burnett, SaskTel Acting President and CEO. “SmartHOME will not only provide our customers the peace of mind in knowing that their homes are safe, but also the convenience of being able to control their home from anywhere in the world any time they want.”

With SaskTel smartHOME customers can:

  • Be safer by checking household surveillance cameras or locking doors or windows from anywhere with a touch of a button and protect their family from break-ins, floods, and fire through cutting edge technology and 24/7 monitoring
  • Fully automate their home by connecting everyday household items (door locks, thermostat, power outlets, garage door, lights, etc.) and controlling them from anywhere with their smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
  • Save money by managing energy consumption with a smart thermostat and intelligent lighting solutions.

SmartHOME has full end to end support complete with professional installation by specially-trained SaskTel technicians and 24/7 real-time monitoring provided by SecurTek, the local industry leader in innovative security monitoring solutions.

Residents of Estevan, Martensville, Moose Jaw, North Battleford, Pilot Butte, Prince Albert, Regina, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Warman, Weyburn, White City, and Yorkton can sign up for smartHOME or learn more at www.sasktel.com/smarthome or call 1-800-727-5835 (1-800-SASKTEL) or visit your local SaskTel Store.

Added Burnett, “smartHOME is the next step forward in making the fully integrated digital home a reality and is another example of our commitment to bring innovative products and services to the residents of Saskatchewan both today and into the future.”

If This Then That (IFTTT) can circumvent communication problems between all your smart devices, from smart speakers to connected light bulbs. Here’s how.

How to take your smarthome traveling

It’s clear that Internet of Things (IoT) integration is the Next Big Thing in tech; just ask Alexa, Siri, Cortana, or the Google Assistant. But i ronically, IoT integration suffers from too much buy-in; the industry is in an all-out war for control. And it isn’t just big tech—car manufacturers, home appliance makers, and even retailers have entered the IoT arena, each with new platforms that further osbscure the consumer dream of an industry standard at every level.

Introducing IFTTT

Fortunately, there is a solution to all of this. If This Then That (IFTTT), which debuted in 2010, is a platform that can circumvent communication problems between all your smart devices.

Its name comes from a logical operator that is universal across programming languages, but don’t worry—you won’t need any experience to use it. In most cases, IFTTT is as simple as pressing a button (or two).

IFTTT works by using Applets to connect devices, apps, and other services that won’t play nice like you want them to. IFTTT regularly releases convenient “recipes” with popular services for common devices and apps, but you can also customize your own recipes (Opens in a new window) . IFTTT also gives you the ability to add your own devices, apps, and services. It’s so versatile that you can even use it to integrate with more complicated systems, like smart-home tech.

Getting Started

First, in order to connect IFTTT with your devices, download the IFTTT app (iOS (Opens in a new window) , Android (Opens in a new window) ) onto the gadgets you’ll use to control your IoT devices, or navigate to ifttt.com (Opens in a new window) .

Then, create an account, and make sure all your devices are on the same Wi-Fi network. After that, you should be able to find recipes that are already available for your devices by performing a simple search, like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Nest.

The following is a list of some popular IoT and smart home devices that you can integrate seamlessly using IFTTT functions.

Security Cameras

Netgear Arlo Pro 2
The Netgear Arlo Pro 2 is a PCMag Editors’ Choice for home security cameras. Not only does it work with Alexa for voice control, but it is also 100 percent wireless, weatherproof, and boasts 1080p HD resolution with night vision.

Check out available IFTTT recipes for Arlo Pro 2 here (Opens in a new window) . Once you connect, at the press of a button you’ll be able to:

  • Integrate Google Assistant to arm/disarm your cameras
  • Begin recording when motion is detected during specific hours
  • Automate phone alerts if motion is detected
  • Connect Arlo’s motion-detection features to smart lights
  • And a lot more

You’ll find lots of similar features available for other popular smart cameras like the iSmartAlarm iCamera Keep Pro (Opens in a new window) and the Nest Cam Outdoor (Opens in a new window) .

Smart Speakers

Amazon Echo Dot
Echo devices like the Echo Dot are voice-controlled units that use Alexa to play music, integrate smart home devices, place calls, send messages, and more. Through Alexa, you connect your Echo with devices like WeMo, Philips Hue, Sony, Samsung SmartThings, Nest, and many others. With IFTTT you’ll have access to a wider array of features like:

  • Syncing your social media profiles
  • Connect Alexa to your iRobot or Neato robot vacuums
  • Sync to-do/shopping lists in Asana, Remember the Milk, and iOS reminders
  • Control access to your child’s internet connection via Circle

You’ll also find a lot of similar features available for other smart speakers like the Google Home Max when you connect IFTTT to the Google Assistant. This includes the ability to control SmartThings devices, manipulate smart lights, and operate your television.

Thermostats

Ecobee4
The Ecobee4 thermostat is an advanced system that can save you money on energy costs by heating/cooling your home more efficiently. Through Alexa, you’ll be able to integrate your Ecobee with IFTTT (Opens in a new window) and take control of the following:

  • Create toggle chains to automatically switch lights on/off when toggling other switches
  • Toggle lights on/off via timers
  • Receive updates for your thermostat activities on various devices
  • Set up comfort profiles for different individuals in your home
  • Integrate with Alexa voice controls

IFTTT also offers a lot of similar features when you connect with your Nest Learning Thermostat (Opens in a new window) . Plus, you can also set up phone notifications for the Nest’s motion-detection features.

Smart Lights

Philips Hue
With an average lifespan of 20 years, auto-lighting features, and integration with Alexa, Philips Hue smart light bulbs already boast a lot of advanced features. But when you connect Philips Hue bulbs with IFTTT you can also:

  • Set automatic triggers based on different conditions like time
  • Use your phone to trigger individual lights or groups of lights
  • Tell the Google Assistant to “set the scene” for you
  • Have Alexa “start the party” by generating a colored light show

Doorbells and Smart Locks

Live monitoring features, a 1080p HD camera resolution, and night vision make the SkyBell HD smart doorbell a feature-rich device. But connecting your SkyBell HD doorbell camera to your IFTTT-enabled network unlocks so much more:

  • Set up email alerts and auto recording when your doorbell rings during work hours
  • Connect smart lights (Hue, LIFX, etc.) to automatically trigger with doorbell
  • Use different recording platforms (like Alexa, etc.) to capture video
  • Receive alerts for motion-detection features
  • Get alerts through your Comcast X1 service

You’ll also notice a lot of similar features for other popular devices like the August Smart Lock (Opens in a new window) .

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Michael Crider has been writing about computers, phones, video games, and general nerdy things on the internet for ten years. He’s never happier than when he’s tinkering with his home-built desktop or soldering a new keyboard. Read more.

@MichaelCrider
Nov 7, 2018, 11:00 am EDT | 3 min read

How to take your smarthome traveling

The Echo from Amazon and the Home from Google are both pretty great as web-powered voice assistants. But they do have one fatal flaw: they’re tethered to a power supply. The solution is a battery base.

Stick your smart speaker on one of these gadgets, with an integrated battery that can power it for several hours, and suddenly you can take it anywhere in the house. Or anywhere with a Wi-Fi signal, for that matter—if your speaker supports direct input, it can even work as an amplifier for your phone or laptop. Just to round out the list, we’ve also selected the best low-cost, third-party smart speakers that include their own batteries.

The Best Battery Base for Google Home: Ninety7 Loft ($50)

How to take your smarthome traveling

Niche manufacturer Ninety7 has a few spots on this list, because they’re clearly the best in this oddly specific product category. The Loft is the crown jewel of their product line, offering a base that fits neatly in with the replaceable fashion covers for the Google Home itself.

And speaking of fashion, it comes in black, grey, and brass finishes to complement your choice of décor. The magnetic battery powers itself with the Home’s own adapter cable, so you can leave it plugged in when you’re not using it in portable mode, and it will last for up to eight hours on a charge.

The Best Battery Base for Google Home Mini: Ninety7 JOT

How to take your smarthome traveling

This base is essentially the same design as the Loft above, albeit not quite as sleek-looking since it needs to hold the much less avant-garde Google Home Mini. That said, the Jot and the Home Mini make for a fetching little combo: slide the speaker in and plug in the USB charger and it’s good to go for eight hours.

Again, you won’t need an extra charger since it uses the one that comes with the Home Mini. The finish comes in silver or black to match your Home Mini, though to be honest, contrasting the colors looks pretty good, too.

The Best Battery Base for Amazon Echo: Smatree Portable Battery Base ($49)

How to take your smarthome traveling

For Amazon’s larger Echo and even larger Echo or Echo Plus, we’ve selected this design from Smatree. The extra-firm base is handy, since neither Amazon speaker is as bottom-heavy as their Google counterparts and you’ll want a little extra stability.

As a bonus, it comes with an extra USB-out power slot, so you can also use this base as a handy phone charger. Depending on how much music you use, the portable battery base will last somewhere between five and ten hours. Note that this is specifically for the second generation Echo (with the fabric cover) and the Echo Plus: if you have the older, original Echo, get this model.

The Best Battery Base For Amazon Echo Dot: Ninety7 DOX ($40)

How to take your smarthome traveling

We’re back to Ninety7 for the much smaller, cheaper Echo Dot. This fetching fabric cover works with the second-gen Amazon Echo Dot (sorry, the curvier third gen doesn’t have any options at the moment—they’ll certainly be along in a few months).

With the extra room in the cylindrical base, the DOX can last for up to ten hours on a charge. Note that, despite the look, this base doesn’t include a separate speaker—you’ll want the VAUX design for that.

The Best Stand-Alone Google Assistant Speaker: Insignia Smart Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($45)

How to take your smarthome traveling

Insignia is Best Buy’s budget in-house brand, but they hit it out of the park with this economical portable speaker design. While it’s not as loud or as hi-fi as the Google Home, it can do everything that the more expensive model can, and it includes both an integrated battery for portable use and an LED clock.

At the time of writing Best Buy is selling these Google Assistant-compatible speakers for less than fifty bucks, and you can pick up a refurbished one for under thirty. If you’re looking for an easy, cheap way to fill your house with Google’s CIA listening device smart speakers, this is it.

The Best Stand-Alone Alexa Speaker: DOSS Assistant ($40)

How to take your smarthome traveling

With the curvy build, white color scheme and rainbow LEDs, you might mistake this thing for an off-brand Google speaker. Psyche: it’s an off-brand Amazon speaker. The DOSS Assistant includes all the same features as the Alexa, minus some of the nicer sound (it’s only 20 watts after all), at about half the price of an Echo. The built-in battery will go for eight hours, and it’s available in grey, pink, or mint green bases.