So the last 14 months or so this has become a hobby of mine and Marko hope this helps. This may be long but maybe it can help some folks out. Side note to just be up front... if you are worried about privacy and hacking (valid concern) don’t automate your home. This is meant solely for anyone looking to automate their home that may need some insight from someone who has been there and done it and enjoyed the process.

Last Christmas I got a Echo and some Philip hue lights, what started off as a “what the hell will I use this for” quickly became... this is handy as hell. The lights went into every lamp in the living room and I quickly appreciated the ability at the end of the night to say “Alexa turn off living room” and not have to walk to every light and turn them off... my wife approved as well and from their all hell has broken loose and this house is like the starship enterprise.

There are a bevy of smart home devices out there and here are my thoughts on the items we have deployed

1. Smart Lights- whole house has them and frankly I can’t imagine not having them. When my elderly parents come for visits I can easily set a couple of lights to the bathroom downstairs and the kitchen to be on all night. When we aren’t home I have them tied to the security system (more on that in a moment) to turn on and off to make it look like we are home.

2. Smart locks. Purchased on a whim might be more useful than the lights. Doors lock automatically when we leave and unlock when I pull in the driveway... super handy when you have your hands full of grocery bags no more messing to get keys out of the pocket. When we leave for a weekend I can send the dog sitter an access code that lets him or her unlock the door for the weekend and then expires... no more messing with keys. Even more handy with two teenage boys who always have their smartphones but would lose a key in a day, as soon as they pull in door is open... when they leave door is locked.

3. Nest Thermostat. Version 3 is better than the E.... has farsight and is much better looking. That said, this is one smart home item that will pay for itself. No more setting schedules that change, this thing legit learns on changing schedules and frankly looks amazing on the wall. This winter already I think it’s paid for half the cost in lower propane bills... if not the whole thing compared to our old mercury unit that no one ever remembered to turn down when they left in the morning.

4. Smart plug ins. These are cheap and depending on what you use them for can be rather handy. You would never want to use them in an outlet where items are plugged in and out of often “Alexa Turn on vaccum” would get old... but for a couple of accent lighting options in our house where I can use existing lights and buy a 10 dollar plug as opposed to 60 dollars in hue lights, they are handy....

5. Security System... we live in a rural area so depending on your philosophy this could a terrible purchase or a smart one since we live in a rural area. The days of contract security systems are over. There are many DIY security systems out there that are excellent. After much research I went with the RING security system and could not be more pleased. For the price and features, I’d argue it’s the best on the DIY market. The best part of DIY security today is the monitoring fees are optional... you can still have a great system without paying contract fees to get a phone call if your alarm goes off. The benefit here is you can add sensors and alarms and smoke detectors ala cart... buy what you need not what you don’t.

6. Cameras. Again, YMMV on the area you live as to whether you need these. I tend to go all in regarding everything I get into. I have NEST cameras and Canary cameras. The FORMER are amazing and after running arlo, canary, and Nest.... I would never put a camera anywhere it really needed to be unless it was a nest camera. The canary cameras I picked up at walmart on clearance, really cheap off MSRP... I have a feeling that company is about to go under and the cameras and APP would be a testament as to why.... I love NEST cameras because of the instantaneous live stream and they are “currently” the only WIFI camera maker out there that offers 24/7 recorded video. Everything all the time is recorded. All other makers allow live stream when you want but default on motion to record, hence an algorithm determines what is and isn’t recorded. Ring just released Cameras indoor and outdoor with the promise of 24/7 recording coming this spring.

Keep in mind every camera maker out there from Nest to Ring to Arlo to Canary requires a subscription for the really good features but they are reasonable.

FInal thought... some people want to be in one ecosystem Google vs Amazon. A lot of that makes sense. For me, my approach is who makes the best product and I will use multiple apps if I need to. Nest is owned by google... their cameras are superior... Nests security system is overpriced and lacking on a lot of features.. hence I bought a ring security system owned by amazon and my voice assistant of choice is Alexa again owned by amazon... and my thermostat is a nest again owned by google... I dn’t know if this helps anyone... blame MARKO he asked Smile.

Rebus Knebus, Lipripper660, Standard and 5 others like this post
(This post was last modified: 01-18-2019, 12:49 AM by 49erShaver.)
Thanks to you & Marko! Great & very helpful information on something very important like home security and peace of mind. Thanks again for sharing!

Happy Shaving!

Philadelphia, PA
the problem I have with 'smart homes' is how insecure and poorly designed some of the products really are. to get stuff to the market quick and for cheap, a lot of vendors will cut corners and not worry as much about engineering a secure product.

jimofthecorn likes this post
Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito.

Super Moderator
(This post was last modified: 01-18-2019, 01:04 AM by Marko.)
thanks steeleshaves , that was really helpful. I'm happy to hear that you don't have to go all in with one system or the other because, as you point out, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I'm looking forward to trying some of this. Thanks again, I knew I could count on you to deliver the goods! Happy2

steeleshaves likes this post

Philadelphia, PA
(This post was last modified: 01-29-2019, 12:11 AM by andrewjs18.)
my wife and I were looking into a ring doorbell, until I saw this online: https://theintercept.com/2019/01/10/amaz...ty-camera/

this is the type of stuff that concerns me with home automation and security cameras, etc..

Burtonburger, Rebus Knebus, 49erShaver and 1 others like this post
Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito.

Des Moines, IA
hope this is on topic.

What brand(s) of plug ins are compatible with Alexa? Is a hub required?

(This post was last modified: 01-29-2019, 08:11 PM by steeleshaves.)
MaxP most smart plugs these days are compatible with both Alexa and Google.... in fact I'm not aware of any that are on the market that are not.... TP LINK makes a pretty good unit and they are easy to set up and I have not had any issue with them... unlike my Insigna smart plugs which were a dumpster fire... Smile For smart plug ins a hub is not required in most cases... in fact in smart home automation "hubs" are on the way out and more and more items are hub free and the market continues to go that way.
(This post was last modified: 01-29-2019, 08:25 PM by steeleshaves.)

I get that point perspective I really do. For me it comes down to what I would argue everything comes down to risk vs reward/convenience. Could someone hack a security camera and spy on me... sure hacks have happened and breaches of footage as laid forth in the article you shared lays out have also taken place. Has the same not happened with cameras on laptops, smartphones etc? I mean we live in a world where ANYTHING can be hacked; equifax, banks, restaurants, etc. Do these hacks keep me from having a debit card, credit card, and putting my money under my mattress.... of course not.

At the end of the day, the convenience that a smart home provides for me and our family is worth the risk that someone might access my cameras at some point. We leave them out of bedrooms for that very reason and it's the same reason we have trained all three of our kids to have laptops closed when not being used.... ANYTHING with a camera is vulnerable to prying eyes...

Should a hack of my security cameras in the house happen, My best defense against this type of occurrence is simple Take my shirt off, open the fridge and drink milk right from the carton.... trust me no one wants to see that, not even the most nefarious of hackers.

Burtonburger likes this post

Des Moines, IA

Super Moderator
(01-29-2019, 12:10 AM)andrewjs18 Wrote: my wife and I were looking into a ring doorbell, until I saw this online: https://theintercept.com/2019/01/10/amaz...ty-camera/

this is the type of stuff that concerns me with home automation and security cameras, etc..

But the Ring spokesperson said everything was ok right? Right.

This is disturbing. Then there's the 10 year aged picture scam that only wants to refine facial recognition software. I'm so comforted by the fact that the Ukraine based company values profit over cumbersome security encryption.

Not only is there the creepy privacy issues but I'm assuming that all of these video files would become records that would be subject to subpoena / discovery in either criminal or civil legal procedures.

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