Common Questions: Home Automation
There are NO monthly fees. All the products we support allow you to do what you want without the need to pay for the service. You own it, you control it – you shouldn’t need to keep paying for it.
Although other providers offer “paid” services, this never made sense to us at Smart Home Made Easy. Not only are the products we carry well advanced from many offered by AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, they also offer much more automation.
Don’t get trapped in a plan that’s designed to keep you stuck with their service. It’s your home and no other company should own or control the contents within.
There are a few good uses for “Smart Bulbs” (such as Phillips Hue or Cree), but let’s start off with the reasons we don’t recommend them for most installations:
- The cost of “Smart Bulbs” is often greater than replacing your standard wall switch/dimmer with one that’s controllable by a Hub. Think about it – unless your wall switch controls only a single light (usually not the case), you’d need to replace all the bulbs on that switch. Additionally, when “Smart Bulbs” burn out, they are expensive to replace.
- If you turn your wall switch off with “Smart Bulbs,” they are no longer Smart. No matter what you do, they don’t have power so they won’t turn on. This defeats the purpose of a Smart Home.
- When the power goes out (even for a second) all “Smart Bulbs” will automatically turn on to 100% brightness. If it’s 3am, or you’re away on vacation, this means all those lights are on full blast. Yes, this also means they come on FULL when you turn the switch from off –> on.
- When power comes back on, all those bulbs try to reconnect to your system. We’ve seen up to 40% of “bulbs” fail to “pair.” In order to fix the pairing issue, you need to un-screw, re-screw, un-screw, (repeat 3 times). You’ll need to do this for every bulb that failed (even if they are hard to reach).
- With certain bulbs, such as Phillips Hue, you can change the color. Although this can be a great feature, it’s more of a novelty. These can work well for theatre rooms or??? In our experience, this feature doesn’t get used after the novelty wares off.
Why Smart Home Made Easy recommends using switches over bulbs:
- Replace one “switch” and every light on that circuit is now “Smart.” Not only are your switches often set up for your home’s “zones,” this means you can also keep buying the bulbs you have always bought (including new LED’s) and save money. ALL lights on that switch are now Smart.
- The lights don’t care if you use your voice, an app on your phone, or the light switch – they will always work. This makes all your commands work.
- You guessed it, if the power goes out/comes back on, they return to the last state they were set. This means if they were off, they stay off.
- They stay paired. We have never experienced a case where a “Smart Switch” failed to connect after a power failure. In short, you won’t spend an hour+ trying to get all your lights to work again.
- Want to control your ceiling fans? You’re going to need switches anyway and it’s best that they all work/look the same.
- We can use them to fix those annoying three-way lights or make any switch turn on any other lights based on what you want. This type of customization just isn’t possible if you go the route of bulbs.
- The initial cost of a switch (when including installation) can, in some cases, be higher than bulbs. That said, if you have more than 3 bulbs on a circuit it’s usually less expensive. Pair that with the fact that you can continue to buy whatever bulbs you want (whether it’s a certain price or color), the small additional upfront cost is paid back quickly in addition to all the additional benefits listed above.
Smart Home Made Easy recommends the following two hubs for 90% of all applications:
- Samsung Smart Things: Consider the Smart Things hub the “Android” of hubs. It offers tons of customizable features including some advanced options not found on other devices. Smart things is compatible with every major brand including Nest, Leviton, Phillips Hue, Schlage, Yale, Google Home, Alexa, and all most other common brands.
- Wink: Wink is the “Apple” of hubs. It is just as compatible as the Smart Things Hub with devices, only it offers a much more simplified approach. What it lacks with some of the customization, it makes up for by being extremely intuitive and easy to use.
We’ve tested both, use both, and each is equally as good. They have fast response time, great security features, and are compatible with the widest range of products (most of which will work on either if you ever change your mind).
What about Apple’s “Home Kit”?: Although Smart Home Made Easy does instal and support the Apple Home Kit, it’s the least compatable hub on the market. Apple has made it difficult for manufacturers to join their community and although there are devices to choose from, it signifigantly limits your choices.
At Smart Home Made Easy we’ve made it our mission to get you the best solution for your needs and to give you the best choices for your home. Since both Wink and Smart things “play nice” with the widest variety of devices, it allows us to give you the best options. Although this may change in the future, we don’t currently reccomend Apple’s Home Kit (and we are die-hard apple fans).
Glad you asked (you’re already off to the best start)! There are countless options and brands that offer home automation devices – each with their own version of a “hub” that is typically paired with an app. The trick of having an automated home is not to simply control a thermostat, lock, light etc., it’s to control your entire home. Although many products work together, you’re not going to have the best experience if you need to open several apps to perform normal activities.
The key to successful home automation is to start with one central Hub/App that will control all of your home. Once that is selected, our experts will work with you to select products that work together so you have an intuitive experience that adds value to your every day life.
So what is a hub? A “hub” is a central device that is capable of communicating signals typically referred to as “Home Protocols”. These include Bluetooth LE, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Kidde, and Lutron Clear Connect. This will allow you to control all devices from a central app via a connected hub. Smart Home Made Easy has and continues to research the best options for our clients. Additionally, most of the products we support work with multiple hubs. This means that as new technologies emerge, you’ll be able to keep all your devices.
This approach gives you the peace of mind with your investment.
Once our team has helped you select the best Hub for your needs/wants, we’ll make sure all the products work together without the complication of too many apps to manage. Additionally, voice control such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home pair with our supported Hubs make your new home a lot smarter from day one.