Home, made easier: Residential gadgets and appliances are linking up like never before

Lutron Homeworks QS is a hardwired solution that integrates interior and exterior light control with automated window treatments. The system is also capable of talking to HVAC and audio systems, like Sonos. Lutron Homeworks QS is a hardwired solution that integrates interior and exterior light control with automated window treatments. The system is also capable of talking to HVAC and audio systems, like Sonos.

If homes aren’t getting more high tech around Charlottesville, they’re at least getting more connected, according to Ben Feiner of local home integration specialist ProLink.

Where at one time appliance and gadget manufacturers focused on making their own products more interactive, they’ve since focused on playing well with others. “Once the iPhones-slash-iPads came out, most of the manufacturers adapted to some sort of app, and that exploded the market at that point,” Feiner says.

Just about every electronic in the home these days, from fridges and furnaces to security cameras and speakers, can be controlled from a central hub. That means you’re just a tablet computer (or smartphone or Alexa) away from controlling your home from that spot in the couch with the you-shaped depression.

“People tend to think about automation on the AV side of things—music and television control—then they start thinking about lighting and thermostats,” Feiner says. “Beyond that you get into talking about security systems, door locks, surveillance.”

Feiner says ProLink technicians favor the Savant app for home electronics control and rely on a few products on the audio and lighting side but for the most part are device neutral—“once you have the main control systems, that will allow you to do almost anything,” he says.

That doesn’t mean all devices are created equal, of course, and new technology is rolling out every day.

“You’re going to start seeing a lot more appliances that are going to tell you when they need service, if you left the door open, if there are clothes left in the machine, your house is too hot, you forgot to arm the security system—two-way identifications,” Feiner says.

Geo-fencing is also changing the game, Feiner says. The GPS-enabled software feature allows devices to know where you are and act accordingly. Your lights may come on when you’re within a mile of your house, or your doors may lock if you leave that boundary.

“[Devices] are going to be a lot smarter, and most are going to be plug and play,” Feiner says.

Go hubs

There’s an app for that, if by “that” you mean centralizing all your home electronics controls on one device you can take anywhere.

And while a variety of residence control apps are on the market, local home connection specialist Ben Feiner of ProLink says Savant is your best bet. With a high-quality Apple iOS and Android version, Savant breaks your home down by room and lets you control video, audio, lighting, HVAC, security and more from any smartphone or tablet.

“We really like Savant—it does it all,” Feiner says.—S.G.

Posted In:     Abode,Magazines


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