Week 12: Paul's Smart home diary

Plugging the gaps in a connected home

This is going to be another one of those weeks on the smart home diary where you're not going to get too many juicy details. That isn't because nothing has happened. Quite the opposite, in fact. In terms of regular old dumb stuff, like hanging and painting doors, putting flooring down and assembling kitchen cabinets, a great deal has been done on the new house.

But that's left little time to think about smart, connected, tech. Instead though, I've been thinking about non-smart, non-connected, tech. Stick with me, I'm going somewhere with this.

You'll remember, if you've been reading this diary week-to-week, that I decided against buying Wi-Fi enabled kitchen appliances. I decided that, at their current prices, you can get a lot more bang for your buck, without the gimmicks, if you stick to mid-range white-goods. However, that doesn't mean that some of the notifications aren't appealing.

I'd like to kick my washing machine into a spin from a remote location, for example, or be alerted when a load has finished its cycle. That's possible using a smart plug, such as the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch or the TP-Link HS110.

Belkin WeMo Insight Switch
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Think of these as timer switches for the connected-tech age, with plenty more bells and whistles. You plug your regular appliances and devices into them before they hit the mains, and they allow you a huge range of controls using a smartphone or tablet app.

Take the WeMo, for example, which I'm going to plug my washing machine into. I'll not only be able to schedule when to turn on the power, but I'll also be able to get things going while I'm on the train home and receive alerts as to when things are happening. The latter is thanks to the custom notifications that you can set up in the app.

Of course, there are a bunch of IFTTT recipes that you can set up as well, and the number of devices you can use smart plugs on is endless. For example, I'm going to have an IFTTT recipe telling a plug that's connected to my kettle to start the boiling process once my morning smartphone alarm goes off.

I'm also going to connect a smart plug to an old electric heater in my external shed/office so I can get the room heated up before I walk down the garden.

The beauty of smart plugs is that they are super simple to use and are a (relatively) cheap way of connecting up your old (but still perfectly good) non-IoT tech.

Now read Week 13


Week 1: Planning the ultimate smart home
Week 2: Getting started with home networking
Week 3: Deciphering the matrix
Week 4: Burying Ethernet cables
Week 5: Not much happened
Week 6: Things are heating up
Week 7: What smart home platform to use
Week 8: Do I really need a smart washing machine?
Week 9: Smart nursery made simple
Week 10: Lock all the doors, maybe they'll never find us
Week 11: There's more to connected speakers than music

What do you think?

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