A few years back I made the decision to start outfitting my house with some connected devices. I'm a geek at heart (I always have been) so having my humble abode outfitted with electronic gadgets felt like the right thing to do. I took the plunge with a Nexia start kit and installed a keypad door lock, simple lamp module, thermostat, and one wireless camera inside my house. From there I got sucked into a spiral of connectivity and a few years later, My house is teched out more than I believe it ever would be, and I'm loving it.
When I first bought my house four years ago, there was plenty of work to be done on it. We needed new floors, new doors and all kinds of other fixes, but one thing I was set on was getting my Nexia system installed. I set aside a day to do just that, and within a few hours I was officially living in a connected home. I was able to keep track of who was coming and going at my front door, monitor things in my living room while I was away, turn on my heat from bed, and even turn my lights on and off no matter where I was. In just a few hours time, I was suddenly living in the future, and it was pretty awesome.
In just a few hours time, I was suddenly living in the future, and it was pretty awesome
Over time I've added quite a bit to my system as time and funds allow. I purchased a wireless outdoor camera for my driveway, three more for inside, a few motion sensors, some door/window sensors, and a water sensor for the basement. While I have plenty of devices connected to the system, there is always room for more, which is both good and bad.
I love that I can monitor things through the web, or get alerts on my phone when I'm out of the house. I have various automations enabled for overnight or vacation, and I can tweak them as needed depending on what's going on. At night, all of the motion sensors and door sensors will send me an alert as well as turn on lights should something be up. This also triggers recordings on the cameras so any would-be thieves will be caught in action. On vacation things work much the same, but any and all movement regardless of the time will send me an alert. Thankfully the sensors are smart enough not to pick up the cats wandering around either.
One of the biggest fears of any homeowner is that their pipes will leak or the hot water heater will bust when they're out of the house. Thankfully I'm covered there (for the most part) with a water sensor in the basement. If it detects any water at all, I get an alert. If the temperature drops below a certain level (freezing) I'll get an alert for that as well. Of course if I'm halfway across the country there isn't much I can do to fix it, but I'll know when it happens so I can take action accordingly.
My connected thermostat is awesome as well. Not only can I turn on the heat on a cold morning without ever getting out of bed, but I can schedule my heat to help save energy and only go on when I need it. If I forget to turn it down before going away, I can do that from my phone too. Plus my thermostat tells me when I need to change the filter, which I always forget to do. A newer model (which I hope to upgrade too soon) actually connects to your home Wi-Fi and can give weather alerts in addition to other fun features.
All of those goodies are within the Nexia umbrella and work in conjunction with one another. Of course there are some other fun toys that I want (or have) that work totally independently from this system, like my Nest Protect. I picked up one of these after they were recently re-released (after a recall) and it's the one connected device that my wife absolutely loves having. It works at both a smoke and carbon monoxide detector, and also talks to a companion app on my phone. It has fun status lights and talks to you when it senses danger, and also alerts me on my phone if something is detected — which is great if I'm not at home. Much like my water sensor I can then act accordingly no matter where I am.
I also can run into issues having dedicated myself to one system as well. I've been eyeing a Nest thermostat for quite some time, but given that my Nexia system incorporates a thermostat already, it makes the need for a Nest unnecessary. Even if I did add one, I wouldn't be able to integrate it with my Nexia system and use it in my automations, and I also would need to use a separate app to control it. A light drawback that irks me a bit, but I won't dwell on it too much. Of course things like Apple's upcoming HomeKit could fix this problem too by integrating all of the connected things under one roof.
I doubt my addiction will stop anytime soon. I'm currently contemplating adding some Hue lights to my setup, but I haven't been able to justify them just yet. I'm not sure I'd get a ton of use out of them aside from the "cool" factor, so I may just invest that money in more Nexia goodies or other toys that I'll play with much more. I do love having a connected home though — it's fun to geek out with, makes for great conversation and helps me keep things secure while being able to automate plenty.
In the words of the great Ferris Bueller, "If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up".