Smart home — Freedom or Just the Opposite?

Photo by Nathan Riley on Unsplash

Running a remote software development company with clients from all over the world means that there is quite a lot of travelling involved with my work. Setting up a smart home with remote management capabilities seemed like a logical step about two years ago, when IoT devices became popular.

The main reason for setting up a smart home was to be able to control heating remotely, or even better for the thermostat to set the temperature automatically based on my geolocation.

This is handy as even when I am in my home town my daily routine does not follow the usual 9 to 5 pattern. Some days I work from home without leaving for more than a quick trail run in the woods, on others I take my daughter to the kindergarten, then go to client meetings or to a co-working space, leaving the apratment empty for most of the day. There is no way to pre-program a traditional thermostat to follow this schedule.

As I already used quite a lot of Apple devices I wanted to build my smart home around the Apple HomeKit eco-system which ruled out the Nest thermostat early on. After a bit of research I found Tado. Besides other eco-systems Tado plays well with HomeKit. The design is very minimalistic and the step by step guided installation process is fairly simple. Once set, Tado uses your geolocation to heat up the apartment or to turn off the heating saving you all the hassle — and some money too as you will never run your heating anymore when not at home.

There are some other components in my smart home setup worth mentioning. I have a set of Phillips Hue lights — my daughter loves playing with the colour settings. An Air-Play compatible router is plugged to my HiFi so I can stream music from my phone wirelessly. I also have carbon monoxide detectors that send me alerts in case something is not right even when I am not at home.

A couple of considerations before you chose to build a smart home for yourself:

  • Pick an echo system that suits you best. Some of the better known options are: Amazon Echo & Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home and Works with Nest.
  • Some devices will require to use your geolocation. It is your decision wether you are comfortable with this or not. Make sure to check the supporting company’s reputation for security and privacy matters.
  • You need a stable internet connection, otherwise you won’t be able to manage these devices remotely.
  • Firmware updates and software updates are regularly released and if you want to keep your devices up to date, which you should, that will require your attention from time to time.
  • You will need to trouble shoot every once in a while. In most cases this will be just rebooting a smart home device.

For me not having to deal with poorly designed, thermostats with cumbersome menus and without remote management capabilities well worth the initial investment and the time that it takes to keep the system running and up to date.

If you have your own experience with smart homes or if you have questions about the topic feel free to leave a post in the comment section below.