Week 14: Paul's Smart home diary

Living in the new smart home...

Apologies for the lack of action on the smart home front. That's because there's been a lot happening on the home front. We're in. After months of the house effectively being a building site, we're finally in. We live here.

So, let's jump right in to the smart action. What's the tech that I got immediately set up, even before unpacking the furniture?

Nest. I've spoken about Nest before, and how despite my plans to stay smart home platform agonistic, I've surrounded myself with loads of Nest and Works with Nest tech. I've not done any connecting of the non-Nest products for the latter, but I have got five different Nest devices up and running… the Cam, three Protects and the Thermostat.

It's all so easy to use, and the app is pretty fool proof. My only gripe is that, given it's an Alphabet brand, I thought you'd be able to sign-in with your Google account. Not so though, which is a bit daft.

Ring doorbell. This is awesome. It's essentially a smart intercom system, with a HD camera that lets you know on your smartphone who is knocking at your door. It's particularly useful when you're not in, and someone comes to deliver something – as you can see them and speak to them, and give them instructions of what to do with your parcel (in my case, more often than not, throw it over the fence).

Ring Wi-Fi doorbell
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I've not tapped into the full feature set of Ring just yet, I'm looking forward to getting it synced up with Nest, smart locks and the like but as a standalone device, it's still great.

Smart home showdown: Nest versus Hive

Withings Home. We're using this smart security camera as a baby monitor essentially, which is the way Withings repositioned the marketing effort for it in the last few months. You can stream HD video and audio to a connected smartphone or tablet on your Wi-Fi network, talk to the baby with a tap of the screen, and even start light and music shows from with the app.

I've got the Withings Home connected to a Belkin WeMo switch, meaning I don't have to have it turned on and streaming video all the time, I just have to fire up and tap an icon in the WeMo app. Again, easy peasy. The WeMo switch also does clever Nest integration, but we'll come back to that in a few weeks.

The big issue I have so far is that my Ethernet cabling (I know, I promised I'd done talking cables a few weeks back) is proving troublesome. I'm not sure yet if this because my electrician did a botch job on the terminations, whether my router is playing up, or something more serious. I'll be investigating this week and reporting back in next week's diary.

So, in the meantime I'm relying on Sky Q's Wi-Fi meshing system for wireless connectivity. And I'm impressed. I've used various boosters and repeaters in the past but nothing that works (so far) as seamlessly as the new Sky setup.

Hopping between 2.4GHz and 5GHz signals, my Sky Q setup, comprising of a Q box and 2 mini boxes, plus the router of course, gives my connected tech eight access points to the web.

There isn't an area of the house that I'm getting less than a 95% signal – and my 39Mb speed is consistently testing above 25Mb, which I consider a more than acceptable result.

That's it for now, I've got walls to paint and shelves to put up. Here's hoping that doesn't affect the Wi-Fi performance.

Now read Week 15


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
Week 12: Plugging the gaps in a connected home
Week 13: Building a Nest

1 Comment

  • scatterthought says:

    Hi Paul,

    I'm really enjoying reading your smart home diary. I'm running a bunch of Wemo light switches and plugs in my house to control my lights and my cat's electric feeder, and I recently added a Nest Protect. I like being able to control all of it with my Moto 360 watch.

    Before you write more about the Wemos, you might want to check out the Automation Manager for Wemo app on Google Play, which gets rave reviews from anyone who's been frustrated by the delays and challenges of a cloud-based rules server (and Belkin's buggy Wemo app). The Automation Manager app functions as a local server for Wemo devices with some really advanced rules processing, and it makes the Wemos much faster to respond and much more reliable. And so long as you don't have any conflicting rules, it can coexist nicely with the Wemo app and IFTTT (though the app also offers other methods for remote access).

    I have no connection to the app, other than being a very happy customer. The developer is incredibly responsive to emails and very eager to help individuals solve their challenges, and I'd love to see more Wemo users benefit from his work.


    Russ Wong

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