My Home Is an Honors Student

My Home Is an Honors Student

The list of things a smart home can do is growing every day. Here’s a sampling of automation devices along with a few of the manufacturers that make them. Not every device works on every automation hub, so shop accordingly.

The iconic Nest isn’t the only smart thermostat you can buy. Plenty of companies make them, and most offer more than one model. There are also smart-controlled window AC units out there, as well as DIY-installable smart HVAC vents that can reduce utility costs by up to 30 percent.
• Nest • Honeywell •Trane • Ecobee • Insteon •2GIG

•GE Aros (window AC)
•ecovent Systems (wireless HVAC vents and sensors)

Lighting (Bulbs, Switches, and Dimmers)
There are many ways to automate one or more of the lights in your home. Some bulbs and switches/dimmers work with multiple companies’ hubs, while others require their own controller.
• Lutron • Insteon • Philips Hue • Leviton • Linear • GE • Aeon Labs • Belkin WeMo • Ninja Blocks

Door Locks
Electronic door locks are some of the most expensive individual smart devices, but they’re extremely useful and appreciated because you can lock/unlock them from anywhere, including your bed, your car, and your office (if your son or daughter forgot his or her key…again).
• Yale • Kwikset • Schlage • Doorbot • SkyBell • Danalock

Security and Cameras
DIY home security that includes monitoring with cameras is one of the most popular applications of the smart home. Add motion sensors, lights, door and window sensors and locks to your system, and you’ll have a formidable guard around your castle.
• D-Link • Dropcam

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
With a smart smoke/CO detector, there’s a significantly greater chance of discovering a potentially disastrous situation before it gets out of hand.
• Nest • First Alert

Open/Closed Sensors
These sensors can be used to monitor the open/closed status of just about anything, from drawers, doors, and windows to your fridge and your garage. The applications are extensive, including senior care and monitoring.
• Aeon Labs • Linear • Fibaro • Insteon • Elk • SmartThings • Ninja Blocks

Environmental Sensors
These measure motion, temperature, light, sound, and more. Some can monitor one particular condition, while others are capable of measuring multiple parameters.
• Insteon • SmartThings • Fibaro • Linear • Netatmo • Leviton • Belkin WeMo • Ninja Blocks

Remote Controls and Keypads
It’s not always convenient to grab your smartphone or tablet, so it’s nice to have at least one four- or six-button remote control or in-wall keypad in the house for frequently performed actions.
• Insteon • Aeon Labs • Ninja Blocks

Water, Flood, and Irrigation
Let your smart home hub take care of watering your outside garden or indoor houseplants. It can also notify you if your water heater or plumbing springs a leak when you’re away from home.
• FortrezZ • Fibaro • SmartThings • Orbit Irrigation • Linear • Elk

Outlets and Power Strips
The ability to turn outlets and power strips on/off remotely at will, at predetermined times, or under specific conditions (such as arriving home) seems like a simple thing, but it’s something every smart home must have.
• Belkin WeMo • Aeon Labs • GE • Leviton

Window Coverings and Fan Controllers
Automated window coverings and fan speed controllers seem like mere luxuries until you discover that they can also save lots of energy. Motorized window treatments can also enhance the security of your home as well as automatically protect furniture and flooring from fading due to excessive sunlight.
• Somfy • Lutron • Insteon • Leviton

Voice Control
The technology is still a bit basic. But for certain tasks, voice control can be the easiest, quickest way of getting something done in your smart home.
• ivee Sleek

Internet Services, Location and Fitness Trackers
More and more companies are offering online services that can integrate with smart home systems. Many of the services are totally free, too.
• IFTTT • Dash • Jawbone

SixOneTwo's picture


One area where home automation tends to fall short is in the control of A/V gear- the vast majority of this equipment still uses IR for control. Logitech has recently released a new version of their Harmony hub that also serves as a Home Automation hub. I would love to see a review of this product from you, and it seems like exactly the type of product that other readers of S&V would be interested in.


Darryl Wilkinson's picture
You're absolutely correct about the lack of AV gear control with virtually every home automation system. I believe that Vera's controllers can be expanded to include it, and the upcoming Fibaro controllers have similar potential. Interestingly, Revolv recently signed a development agreement with Global Cache to work on integrating Global Cache's IP-to-IR devices into the Revolv system. One of the conversations Rob and I had about covering home automation concerned the dearth of AV control, so we jumped on the chance to review the new Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home. It arrived about a week ago, so you'll see the review soon.