Tag Archive for ‘Connected Appliances’

‘Smart’ Homes Are Dumb ➝

Matt Hauger:

I don’t really understand why anyone would install a semi-permanent smart device in their house.

On the one hand, there’s the “faux-convenience” factor. With many smart home gadgets, you’re trading a device that’s simplistic but predictable for one that’s “advanced” but finicky. Consider: if a dumb light switch stops working, there’s a very limited number of things that could have gone wrong—basically, either the wiring came loose or the circuit breaker blew.

But with a smart light switch, you have those potential problems, plus many others. Maybe the device’s firmware is buggy. Maybe the manufacturer hasn’t updated their app for your new phone hardware. Maybe the smart home platform itself is half-baked. Maybe the trigger service (e.g. IFTTT) is offline. Perhaps the automation you programmed failed to anticipate the fall time change. The list of potential troubleshooting steps goes on and on.

This is exactly why I’ve been very cautious to add these devices to my home. The nerd in me wants to replace every light switch and power outlet in my house with HomeKit-compatible replacements, but that just isn’t practical and could cause countless headaches at some point down the road.

So far, I’ve purchased two iDevices Switches and an Ecobee3 lite. If anything goes wrong, the switches are easy to remove, but the thermostat purchase was a bit more risky. If there’s a security flaw that Ecobee decides not to fix or it’s not able to connect to some future router I buy with a yet-to-be-conceived version of 802.11, I’ll have to replace it with something new.

It’s a bit frustrating that we have little control over how long these devices will function compared to the near-bullet-proof traditional models with no smarts, but a large helping of reliability. If you do decide to dip your toes in the smart home waters, I highly suggest sticking with reputable brands that work well with platforms like HomeKit. It’s no guarantee, but doing so will give you the best chance at a long life span for your devices.

The HomeKit-Compatible iDevices Switch ➝

My wife and I are in the process of buying a home and plan on purchasing a myriad of HomeKit-enabled products when we move in. We currently have our eyes on a thermostat, smoke detector, power outlet, light switch, and ceiling fan that we are considering. But we had no experience with the HomeKit system until we purchased one of these a few weeks ago.

The iDevices Switch was quick and easy to setup and works flawlessly. We have a box fan plugged into it in our bedroom, which allows us to turn the fan on at nighttime without having to get up. Because, who wants to get out of bed to turn on the fan when you’re already half asleep from the episode or two of Property Brothers you just finished watching?

If you’re looking to dip your toes in the HomeKit water, the iDevices Switch is a great place to start. It features a built-in nightlight, energy monitoring, and a physical button for triggering the switch when a device isn’t within arms reach. It doesn’t require a hub and is one of the more inexpensive HomeKit switches on the market.