Home automation is not limited to controlling the interiors of your smart home but also the outdoors, be it your garage, lawn, garden, or backyard. This year has seen some interesting smart home accessorieslaunched to control your outdoors – a concept we like to call smart garden automation.
Smart garden automation has a line of accessories including smart weather stations, plant sensors, smart sprinkler systems, lawn mowers, rain sensors, and so on. Smart home products companies have gradually worked to make every accessory compatible with Apple’s HomeKit.
The latest addition to the outdoor home automation is Rachio 3 smart sprinkler controllerthat added Apple HomeKit and Siri voice support. A Rachio app offers zones and scheduling customization. It has gone a step further to make your garden ‘smarter’ by using hyperlocal weather to control sprinklers. With the new Flow Meter, the smart sprinkler will know how much water your yard is getting given your home’s water pressure. Its new Weather Intelligence Plus will also help make this smart sprinkler more accurate than before.
Earlier this year, Orbit integrated its B-hyve smart hose faucet timerwith HomeKit and released a new version of B-hyve smart sprinkler timer. Its features certainly made all Apple fans happy since the faucet and sprinklers can be controlled by all Apple devices including iPad, iPhone, and the Apple Watch through the HomeApp and Siri.
Elgato extending it’s Eve line of home automation accessories by launching Eve Aquain May 2018. The Eve Aqua, integrated with HomeKit, controls the watering system of your garden through both hose faucets and sprinklers. Elgato calls it the “smart water controller” which is justified because the Eve Aqua does its job well. It’s a small device that is installed between the faucet and the hose and can be turned on or off with the HomeApp. You can control the Eve Aqua with Siri.
Moving from the watering system, Philips extended its Hue outdoor lighting systemthis year by launching its HomeKit-enabled products Hue Calla and Hue Lily. The Hue Calla is designed to illuminate doorways and pathways while the Hue Lily is a range of spotlights meant to light up the lawn or garden. Philips Hue Smart Spotlightoffers colorful outdoor lighting as well. Both products connect with Hue Bridge by Philipsto control each light. It can also be controlled and timed using Apple’s smart home app, Siri, and PowerHouz.
We are hoping that there are more exciting HomeKit-compatible smart garden accessories launched before 2018 ends.
A home weather station sounds like a smart home accessory for meteorologists or weather junkies, but it actually isn’t. Home weather stations convey real-time insight into everything from wind speed and expected rainfall to solar radiation and UV levels. They give data that is more accurate than the local news and is specific to your needs, offering practical measures for outdoor activities like gardening.
The Netatmo Weather Station is unique among all the home weather stations available. It comprises of only two slim, metallic sensor tubes. They are integrated into your home network via Wi-Fi, and you can use the PowerHouz app instead of a dedicated console.
Setting up Netatmo Weather Station is as simple as other smart home accessories. It includes a USB connection to your computer, batteries to power up, and configuring your location and wireless settings. The outdoor hardware has to be mounted in the shade by drilling only a single screw into the wall.
Netatmo reports indoor and outdoor temperature, humidity, and air pressure. It’s unique feature is that it measures the indoor noise level and the indoor and outdoor air quality through parts per million of carbon dioxide (ppm of CO2). This data helps you determine if the indoor air quality is acceptable and safe for your family. If it’s not, you will need to check if you air conditioners and ventilators are doing a good job.
All of this is tracked through the Netatmo app. Three additional indoor modules per station are supported and a rain gauge can also be added to the system. Netatmo relies on public weather feeds to report on rain, wind, and UV conditions. You can add your sensor to Netatmo’s public database and, using app’s map-based display which, compare your weather conditions with those of neighbors.
Netatmo is so easy to use and it’s highly likely that you might frequently depend on it to check what the temperature was through out the day. The connectivity and accuracy Netatmo has beats every other weather station built for smart homes. You have the option of starting from the basic and gradually adding other components.
Imagine what it would be like to connect your car to your smart home. You would have gone a couple of steps ahead with home automation. With a connected car, you can control all your HomeKit-compliant accessories at home while driving – the lights, the doors, the thermostats, the switches. With home automation, your home prepares itself to welcome you just the way you like it. Here is how you can connect your car to your HomeKit-enabled smart home.
Apple HomeKit: You can use any one of these devices to control Apple HomeKit hands free while driving – the Apple TV, an iPad, or an Apple HomePod. Apple requires at least one of these devices to be connected on the same WiFi network to ensure security.
Apple CarPlay: You need a car stereo that complies with an Apple CarPlay. If your car is not equipped with this feature, you will need a stereo to upgrade. The Pioneer MVH-2400NEXis a favorite car stereo compliant with Apple CarPlay.
Siri: With your Apple CarPlay and Apple HomeKit installed, it’s time to take Siri seriously. Siri bows to every voice command for HomeKit accessories that are designed to recognize Siri. You can ask Siri to check your garage door with a simple command – “Hey Siri, is my garage door open?”. If the answer is yes all you have to say is, “Hey Siri close my garage door.” You can issue similar commands for lights. Just say “Hey Siri, turn on my living room lights”. Here are top 10 Siri voice commands for home automation.
The starter kit includes three 2-foot LED strip segments, the Bluetooth radio module, and the power supply. Additional 2-foot segments sell in a two-pack and a single power supply and Bluetooth radio can control up to 20 feet in total. You can also trim a segment with a pair of scissors if it’s a little too long. Each strip includes its own 3M peel-and-stick backing, making it easy to stick them up just about anywhere that isn’t too far from a power outlet.
Sylvania has a 6 feet smart, color-changing light that can connect directly with your iPhone or iPad without any hubs. You just stick them up under your cabinets or behind your TV, sync them with Apple’s Home app. From there, you’ll be able to automate them alongside other HomeKit-compatible gadgets, or control them using Siri voice commands on your phone, tablet or HomePod smart speaker.
Since they communicate using Bluetooth, Sylvania’s HomeKit light strips don’t require you to connect a hub to your router. Just plug them in, open up the Home app and scan the pairing code that comes printed in the instruction manual. To control the lights when you — and your phone — are outside of Bluetooth range, you’ll need to have an Apple TV, an Apple HomePod or a dedicated, always-on iPad connected to your home network.
Hunter ceiling fans is the first home ceiling fans in the market that are compliant with Apple HomeKit. The Hunter Signal ceiling fan is Wi-Fi enabled and includes a built-in LED light and can be controlled by Siri from other Apple devices and can be integrated with other smart home accessories through the Home app.The Hunter ceiling fan can be switched on/off and the speed can be adjusted with the HomeKit control. The fan also comes with a tiny remote. The light is bright enough and the speed is impressive, effective, and quiet. It responds instantly to my Siri voice commands to adjust the lights and fan speed.
The light can also be controlled and the mode switching can be automated based on time and location. You can set up a goodnight scene in the HomeKit app. The sleep timer ranges from 15 minutes to 12 hours and has separate fan and light settings. The feature allows you to set the fan and the light multiple daily or weekly times. It also offers a security setting that you can use while you’re away by randomly switching the lights on and off between the set times and days to make it look like somebody is home.
Installing the fan is relatively easy, but you’ll need a basic knowledge of wiring, a couple of tools, and of course a ladder. Once you have installed the fan, you will have to download the iOS app to set up the fan to work with HomeKit, and create a Hunter account. You’ll have to configure its Wi-Fi settings and pair the fan to the app. The instructions are quite clear.
With the Hunter fan, you can use your iOS smartphone you can cool down and light up any room in your home. Integrate it with your HomeKit platform and connect it with other HomeKit devices.
The Fibaro Motion Sensor is spherical, with a simple snap-on stand to keep it in place. It’s hard not to notice the similarity between the Fibaro Motion and an eye —which is even more noticeable when the light is on.The shell is able to rotate and separate to house the small CR123A battery hidden inside. On the front is a diffused LED light to give visual feedback whenever motion is detected. The base is rather small, so if placed near an edge, has the propensity to be knocked over and roll away. At the same time, the shape gives you a huge range of orientations. Placement is key with motion sensors, so being able to angle this in nearly any direction you’d like is ideal. Instead of just setting it on a table, the tiny base can be mounted to a wall or ceiling, making it even more secure. At a minimum, a piece of removable adhesive can be placed under it to make sure it never accidentally gets bumped around.
Fibaro didn’t just pack a single motion sensor into this device, they also packed in a light and temperature sensor as well. Those are usually two separate devices. With this combination, it is even more powerful. Fans can be turned on when it becomes too warm or the thermostat can be adjusted. Using the light sensor of the Fibaro Motion, we can even say only turn on the nightlight when it is after sunset, people are home, and it is dark in the hallway or room. These types of intelligent rules make a big difference living with it every day and having a light turn on only when needed, and not otherwise.
There are a ton of perks to having a motion sensor in your HomeKit-equipped home. Motion sensors can do everything from alert you if there is someone in a restricted area, to triggering lights on and off as you enter or leave rooms, or enabling a nightlight in hallways.
Siri can also be used. She can let you know if lights are on in a room based on the light levels, if there are people in a specific room based on the motion, and what the temperature is.
A quick note, like many HomeKit accessories, Fibaro Motion runs on Bluetooth. That means to run automation tasks and recieve alerts remotely, you will need a Home Hub. That can mean a HomePod, an Apple TV, or an iPad.
Now you can say “Siri, open my garage doors”. The LiftMaster MyQ Home Bridge is garage door opener that syncs with Apple HomeKit and is Siri-enabled. The MyQ bridge is relatively small at about the size of two iPhone Pluses side-by-side (it’s much thicker, but that’s the square dimension). It mounts directly to your wall in the garage via two screws, and needs little more than a power outlet and WiFi signal. Your garage likely has a ceiling outlet for the garage door, and the MyQ bridge can simply tap right into the free outlet there.The MyQ installation is conceptually simple. It finds the MyQ bridge, and offers to sync it with HomeKit. From there, you simply have to pair the actual opener with the bridge by pressing a button on the opener itself, and you’re up and running.
MyQ Home Bridge works with MyQ enabled garage door openers (without built in Wi-Fi) and MyQ lighting. It also provides these compatibility details:
The MyQ Home Bridge requires that your existing garage door opener already support MyQ wireless connectivity through one of three methods: built-in MyQ Wi-Fi support within the opener, a non-smart garage door opener linked to a MyQ Garage hub, or add-on Wi-Fi connectivity for a MyQ-enabled opener using a MyQ Internet Gateway.
To sum it up, LiftMaster MyQ garage door is a great extension of your HomeKit Accessories and will allow you to include your Garage Door into any of the PowerHouz functions.
There are lots of ways to put smart home tech to work, but one of the easiest and most compelling might be voice-activated control of your lights. iDevices Dimmer Switch does that job no matter which voice control platform you’re using.
iDevices Dimmer Switch replaces traditional wall light switches to add smart home features to traditional lights. Wire it into your wall in place of one of your existing light switches, and you’ll be able to program that light to turn on and off automatically, control it remotely from your phone or adjust the brightness using voice commands. The dimmer switch works with HomeKit support means you can use Siri to turn lights on or off, adjust brightness levels, and create scenes and automations through Apple’s Home app.
Dimmer Switch looks similar to a traditional wall switch. It also features a small nightlight so you can easily find the wall switch in the dark. You can also pair multiple Dimmer Switches together over Bluetooth to control one light from more than one wall switch.
More details on iDevices Dimmer Switch:
Customizable Dimming Capabilities: With intelligent features such as in-app dim range settings to prevent low-level bulb flicker and last-state brightness memory, users can truly personalize their lighting and smart home experience.
Works with All the Leading Voice Control Platforms: The iDevices Dimmer Switch is the only hub-less smart dimmer that works with Siri®, Alexa and the Google Assistant.
Fits into the Walls of Any Home: With a sleek, minimalist design that fits any standard rocker faceplate, the iDevices Dimmer Switch seamlessly integrates into any home’s existing lighting system.
Enhanced Functionality and Simple Installation: The iDevices Dimmer Switch is installed just like a traditional wall switch, and can be installed in single pole, 3- and 4-way setups with no extra wiring needed.
Customizable LED Night Light: One of iDevices’ signature design features, the built-in LED night light is both functional and attractive, allowing users to locate the iDevices Dimmer Switch in the dark with a wide range of color choices.
Wemo is adding Apple HomeKit support, with the new Wemo Bridge joining the gap between the iOS smart home system and its remotely-controlled plugs and light switches. The Wemo Bridge is small so don’t expect it to take up too much space as it sits on the shelf beside your router. It weighs just under an ounce and a half, so feel free to leave it dangling off the back, too.
You’ll need the 8-digit HomeKit code on the back of the device to pair the Bridge with Apple’s Home app during setup (a security feature designed to keep hackers from taking control of the device from outside of your home). Apple lets you enter that code simply by pointing your phone’s camera at it, but that might be a challenge with the bridge connected to your router. Fortunately, you can also just type the code in manually, which is where that reference pic will come in handy.
Once done, you’ll be able to link it up with HomeKit, opening the door to control all your Wemo accessories via PowerHouz, the iOS Home app, or Siri. For instance, after it’s paired up with Wemo smart plugs, you can ask “Siri, turn on Wemo” and have an outlet turn on: that could be for a lamp, a coffee maker, or something else. Similarly, “Siri, dim the bedroom lights” could issue a command to Wemo’s smart light switches. The Wemo bridge is compatible with the Wemo Dimmer, Mini, Light Switch, Insight, and Motion Sensor, adding Siri and Home support along with the existing Wemo app. If you’ve got an Apple Watch, you’ll be able to control them through that, too.
Wemo started out as a product line within Belkin, but has since graduated to a brand of its own – has been one of the longer-lasting smart home options on the market. Its WiFi-enabled light switch, for instance, is around $50. The Wemo Mini Smart Plug, meanwhile, can be found for under $30.
The Wemo Bridge is available now, priced at $39.99.