Welcome Home; Now That’s Smart

Raina and I closed on our new home last month. It is on a lovely street with gorgeous, architectural homes. Ours is not one of them. No, we bought a cute, and fairly non-descript split level. We love it and, along with a traditional renovation, we are updating the technology; here’s what is going into our house’s tech-makeover…

GearDiary Welcome Home; Now That's Smart

Schlage Sense Smart Lock and Ring Doorbell

The front door is a mess. It is painted red, has an ugly knocker on the door and, until I removed it, there was a corroded doorbell that may have still worked when Jimmy Carter was President. It certainly had seen better days.

The door is getting sanded and painted and, once it is cosmetically updated, it’s getting a major tech update thanks to Schlage and Ring.

GearDiary Welcome Home; Now That's Smart

The Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt [affiliate link] has a keypad and Bluetooth; it also looks amazing. As the company explains:

One of the strongest, most intelligent Bluetooth – enabled locks available, the Schlage Sense Smart deadbolt gives you the option to enter your home with an access code on its illuminated touchscreen or by using your iPhone.

Schlage notes that, with this deadbolt, “Strength. Style. Smarts. Are no longer mutually exclusive.” That’s because the deadbolt is strong. It “meets the highest industry rating for security and durability,” and it is stylish. “The slim profile and tasteful design creates a stylish look that pairs well with Schlage interior door hardware.” It is also savvy. “Programming and using the lock is as simple as using an app. No incremental fees, no subscriptions and no additional payments for electronic access.”

Better still, the Schlage Sense Smart deadbolt is compatible with Apple HomeKit technology. That means we will be able to use Siri and an iOS device to have total control of our home’s front door, and THAT means there will be no more fumbling for keys. That means there will be no need to leave a key out for contractors or other trades people. And that means I’ll feel more confident when I’m working late and Raina is home alone.

Check out the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt here. A full review is coming once it is installed.

GearDiary Welcome Home; Now That's Smart

The Ring Video Door

The deadbolt is only half of the makeover story with our front door. Judie reviewed and loved the Ring Video Doorbell. Our house needed one since, as previously noted, the traditional doorbell was a corroded mess. Add to that the fact that the door chime in the house was huge and hideous (hideous as in Raina saying to me, “that goes first when we move in!”), and something had to give. The doorbell came out, the chime got pulled down, and a Ring Video Doorbell will be replacing the brass knocker on the door. (Quick… Cite the line from Young Frankenstein!!!)

In place of the regular doorbell ding, Raina and I will both have our iPhones, but since we want to hear the door even if our phones are in another room, we also got a Chime — Judie covered it in her review, but it is small, non-descript, and it plugs into any outlet. Sometimes the best makeover means taking things out. Taking the ugly old doorbell and chime out and replacing them with a Ring Doorbell [affiliate link] and Ring Wi-Fi Enabled Chime [affilliate link] made a world of difference.

Check out the Ring Video Doorbell here.

GearDiary Welcome Home; Now That's Smart

Haiku H Series ceiling fan from Haiku Home by Big Ass Solutions.

Haiku Smart Fan

Raina and I love ceiling fans. It’s why, when the renovation is done, almost every room will have one. Most are simple white fans with a single light and a simple remote. In the bedroom, however, we wanted to do something special. Thanks to the good folks at Big Ass Fans, we are. We now have a Haiku L Series fan. It has a 52″ span and an integrated LED; it also exceeds EnergyStar ratings by four times and integrates with the Haiku Wall Control. The special SenseME technology (much more on that in the full review) is available via the Haiku Wall Control unit (the good folks at Big Ass Fan were kind enough to include one with the review sample).

GearDiary Welcome Home; Now That's Smart

I love the look of the fan. I love the fact that it has an integrated LED light that offers 16 different brightness settings. I love that it has a silent motor with ten different speed settings — seven speeds, Sleep Mode, Woosh Mode and Timer mode. I love that the Wall Unit adds tons of tech sophistication. And, perhaps most of all, I love the company name!

Check out the Haiku L Series fan from Big Ass Fans here. A full review is coming once it is installed.

GearDiary Welcome Home; Now That's Smart

Honeywell Lyric Thermostat

Fans are great, but a home needs a good HVAC system. One of Raina’s and my requirements when hunting for a house was something with central air already in place. Summers in New Jersey can simply get too hot and humid to not have one. Thankfully, the house we ultimately bought has central air. Unfortunately, however, the thermostat was like something from the 1970’s. That’s changing also, thanks to a Lyric thermostat [affiliate link] from Honeywell. I’ll admit that at first I thought we were going to get a Nest smart thermostat; it’s the best known of the smart thermostats, and I see them in many of my congregant’s homes. But I’ve read (and heard) a few too many stories of people having issues with them. So when Honeywell reached out with a chance to review the Lyric, I jumped. I love the small size, the easy installation, and the brainpower behind its simple design.

Don’t let the simple round, polished glass fool you. This smart thermostat is Einstein-smart; it has a gorgeous touchscreen. It sends notifications to your phone, it uses your phone to create a geofences scenario so the house only heats or cools when you are nearby (Who needs a house that is super-cool when you are traveling overseas? Talk about wasteful!?!), and it works with Apple Home Kit so you can say what you want and let Siri and the Lyric do their thing. (Yeah, it works with Samsung Smart Things, but I’ve decided to pick an ecosystem and stick with it. Apple Home Kit is the system I chose, and the number of accessories that work with it is growing rapidly.)

You can learn about the second generation Honeywell Lyric here. We’re will have a full review once the new thermostat is installed.

GearDiary Welcome Home; Now That's Smart

You Light up My Home

Finally, Raina’s and my new home is getting a Phillips Hue makeover. I love my Hue bulbs [affiliate link] and especially love that they work with my Amazon Echo. Seriously, being able to say, “Alexa turn the bedroom lights to 20%” is awesome. So I’ll be spreading the Hue bulbs I already own throughout the house once it is done. There is, however, something new we will be adding.

We have installed a new kitchen. And while we have recessed lighting in the ceiling and a rather cool LED lighting fixture over the island, we also needed to have some sort of lighting under the cabinets. Rather than use cheap under-cabinet LED lights that tend to fail every few months, I picked up three of the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus units [affiliate link]. Each has its own power source, so it is a matter of plugging in the power cord and affixing the lights with the adhesive once the backing is removed.

GearDiary Welcome Home; Now That's Smart

The reason we needed three of the somewhat pricey strips is that there are three distinct cabinet areas, and Philips doesn’t offer a wire to connect the various lighted areas. As a result, each needed its own strip. I’ll create a scene that connects all three and, from there, the triplet of lights will act as one.

Check out the simple white light Hues I’m using here.
Check out the Lightstrip here.

GearDiary Welcome Home; Now That's Smart

Elgato Home

I also have a few items from Elgato that I’ll be using and reviewing.

The Eve Weather Sensor [affiliate link] “senses temperature, humidity, and air pressure in the immediate vicinity of your house and makes that personal weather data accessible via a free app on your iPhone or iPad.”

Elgato’s Eve Room [affiliate link] “senses indoor air quality, temperature and humidity, and it makes that environmental data accessible on your iOS device.

Both take advantage of Apple’s HomeKit technology and offer “unparalleled ease of use, advanced security, and tight integration with Siri.” The Eve Room “senses indoor air quality, temperature, and humidity with a “sophisticated sensor analyzing volatile organic compounds (VOC) helps you improve your comfort.”

We will have a closer look at both in the full review. For now, check out the Eve Weather here and the Eve Room here.

GearDiary Welcome Home; Now That's Smart

“Alexa, Play the Theme From Get Smart”

All of the items I’ve chosen to use in my home work with Apple’s Home Kit technology.

GearDiary Welcome Home; Now That's Smart

As an added bonus, and as the centerpiece of the system, I’ll be using an Amazon Echo  [affilliate link] and Amazon Echo Dot [affiliate link] to do much of the controlling. The Echo is a decent Bluetooth speaker, but more importantly, it connects to Amazon’s excellent voice technology and grows “smarter” each week with the addition of new and updated features. Thus far, I’ve been using the Echo to control my Philips Hue bulbs by voice. The system I’m putting in place will take that to an entirely new level of sophistication and ease-of-use.

We will have all the reviews in the next few weeks. First, however, we need to stop living in a construction zone; that will happen before the end of the month!


About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.