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Looking for a z-wave Robot Vacuum? 

I was too.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there are currently (Feb 2019) no Z-Wave enabled robot vacuums on the market that I can find. Sorry. 

BUT

There are of course tons of great options for robot vacs out there, our list is here, but there are other great lists and roundups too. 

However, if you still really need the z-wave connectivity for your robot vac, you could make it happen with a little DIY circuitry. 

Check out this post over at z-uno, they add an arduino based controller that allows communication between a roomba and a z-wave network. Pretty slick. 

There is also a discussion on this topic on the SmartThings forum that may be of interest, but again it's a roll your own type of solution. 

Here is my question to you:

What do you want to accomplish by having a z-wave robot vacuum?

If you are looking to control and schedule your vacuum via z-wave, why? You can already probably control it via voice and google home or alexa, and by its own app, what would adding a z-wave radio do for you? If you have other questions or ideas for why a z-wave robot vacuum is something the world needs, please drop a comment and let's discuss. 

Or better yet...

Join us in the enthusiast group on facebook for a discussion of this and all things z-wave related. 

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While there are many guides on which Z-Wave hub is best and how to set up specific devices, it's rather difficult to find one that outlines exactly how to setup Z-Wave smart homes with limited prior knowledge. That's why we created this article to help you turn your dumb home into a smart home even if you haven't so much as heard of Z-Wave before.

With a Z-Wave home automation system, you can control thermostats, security systems, door locks, irrigation, lights, fans, and even electrical outlets. Basically, everything in your home can be controlled if you want it to be.

What makes it even better, is that the controller can be a tablet mounted on the wall, a voice controller, like Alexa, a standard computer, or even your phone. In other words, you can control your home using any method you choose. The possibilities are endless!

If this intrigues you, here are the steps you need to take to get your smart home set up and running!

How to Setup a Z-Wave Smart Home
1
Buy a Smart Hub

Choosing a smart hub is arguably the most important part of setting up a smart home. A Z-Wave hub is essentially the brain of a Z-Wave system. The hub tells the other devices what to do and when to do it, so it's a necessity in every system.

There are literally thousands of Z-Wave products, from door sensors to thermostats, that work with almost every Z-Wave hub out there, so choosing one that works with specific devices isn't 100% necessary. Instead, you need to look at the specs, the community, and it's features.

Deciding on a smart hub may be a challenge for a beginner, but with this guide you'll be able to make a much more informed decision when buying a hub.

Before choosing a smart hub, there are certain things you need to consider. Some of these things may be more of a preference than a requirement, but by looking at every aspect of a hub, you can be sure that you're getting the product that will suit your home.

What to Look For
  • Price

    The first thing you need to consider when buying a new hub is the price. While that may seem pretty obvious, some people fail to realize the importance of it, which can lead to buyer's remorse and/or other frustrations. Most Z-Wave companies require a one time purchase of a hub, there are some fantastic hubs out there that do not have reoccurring fees, so this shouldn't be too hard. Full hub guide with editor's picks.
  • Wireless Protocol Support

    Smart hubs communicate to their devices via wireless protocols. Some of the most popular are Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. These languages simply represent how your hub speaks to other devices within your network. While some hubs only support Z-Wave, others have multiple chips built in to communicate with a wider range of devices. Basically, the more protocols your hub supports, the more options you have when buying devices. [2019 update] Now that Google home and Alexa are able to communicate with hubs of different protocols, the choice between z-wave and zigbee is becoming less and less important. I use both in my home and interact with them seamlessly through google home.
  • Local vs. Cloud

    Some hubs communicate with devices through a local network setup, while others can only connect via the cloud. If you choose a hub that can only connect through cloud, you will only be able to access your devices while your internet and the cloud server are online. If your network or the server your hub communicates with goes down, you will not be able to control any of your devices. On the other hand, hubs that communicate over a local network will still be able to control devices if the internet goes down.
  • Logic System

    Every hub has a different logic system. For example, Vera hubs have scenes and Smartthings hubs use SmartApps. They are both logic systems that help the user create an action when a sensor goes off, but they go about it differently. In a smart home, the logic system is paramount, so I suggest watching some videos on your favorite hub's logic system before purchasing. You're likely going to spend a lot of time in these systems, so you'll want to make sure they can do everything you want them to.
  • Additional Features

    The above are general things to look for when shopping for a Z-Wave hub, however, there are some features that are unique to certain hubs. Most of the time, these features aren't necessities to your smart home, but they're nice to have. Some examples of these are: built in battery backups, alarm panels, and cellular backups.

If you're just starting to build your smart home, you should target an affordable hub that offers room for future growth. There are a few Z-Wave hubs that fit these requirements, so it will ultimately come down to preference.

2
Buy Your Devices

Z-Wave devices receive commands from a hub to trigger events based on certain triggers that you set up. Here is a great example of a starter hub and device.

Android Home Automation - Vera Lite - Z Wave | Part 1 - YouTube

Now that we've talked about hubs, it's time to talk about the different devices available and which ones you should start with. From deadbolt locks to light switches to thermostats, there are numerous devices you can add to your Z-Wave network. In fact, almost every electronic item in your home has a Z-Wave alternative, so you can virtually control everything you desire to.

Z-Wave devices fall into five categories: screw-in, wired, in-wall, battery powered, and plug-in devices.

Screw-in devices are devices that screw into existing light bulb sockets. They give you control over the bulb, so you can switch it on/off and dim it. This can be hard for kids to master, if they turn off the light using its switch, you lose access to the bulb via your hub. 

Wired devices consist of energy monitors, outlet controllers, etc. This type of device requires a little wiring but is a great solution to controlling whatever device you want to plug in. 

In-wall devices are usually traditional switches and dimmers. Other in-wall devices are thermostats, tablets, alarm panels, ect. Using z-wave switches is very unobtrusive and still allows you to use the switches in the traditional way as well, your kids and guests will appreciate that. 

Battery powered devices are just that: battery powered. These types of devices are usually sensors such as motion, door, and tilt sensors. Anything not near an outlet should be battery powered.

Plug-in devices are devices that you can plug into an outlet. Most commonly, these are used to control lamps and other lighting fixtures. 

The beauty of Z-Wave lighting is that you can control them from your smartphone and you can automate them so they turn on when you come home and off when you leave. You even make their logic more complex by adding in other devices to the mix such as motion and door sensors.

3
Add the Device to Your Network

It would be near impossible to put together a guide on how to setup Z-Wave devices for each hub, since there are literally thousands of hubs and devices, however I've included a setup video below for some of the more popular hubs.

The basic strategy to add a device to a Z-wave hub is this: You turn the hub's discovery mode on, which basically means it's looking for new devices, then put the device into pair mode after which the hub will see it and then add it to your network. It's a pretty simply process, but each device pairs differently, so you will need to read the manual on your new device to see how to pair it.

How to Add a Device to Vera Running UI7
Vera UI7 ▾ Adding a Z-Wave Device ▾ How To - YouTube
How to Add a Device to HomeSeer
Z Tool+ Mobile App for Z-Wave Network Setup - YouTube
How to Add a Device to Wink
How to Install the Wink Hub (George Jetson is Jealous!!) -- by Home Repair Tutor - YouTube
How to Add a Device to Smartthings
How to Connect the FortrezZ Siren/Strobe Alarm to SmartThings - YouTube
4
Customize Your System

After you have a hub and a couple of devices, you can start customizing your home automation setup to your liking. The possibilities are endless when it comes to Z-Wave home automation, so if you can imagine it, you can make it happen.

At this point, I would suggest visiting your hub's forum, because you'll find all the information you could want in regards to your hub, plugins, and devices. In fact, you may even stumble on some hidden gems your hub has to offer.

The post How to Setup Z-Wave Smart Homes From Scratch appeared first on Z-wave Zone.

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Keep tabs on your oil tank!

I think we can all agree going into your basement to check your heating oil gauge is no fun at all. Thankfully that's no longer your only option, and this article will outline how to avoid ever doing that again. 

We are going to be covering a smart oil gauge manufactured by Connected Consumer  Fuels that will keep an eye on your heating oil for you. 

Here is the reality for heating oil users:

  1. The tank is not in a convenient spot in your home 
  2. You have to keep an eye on the fuel level to keep your house warm
  3. You want to be able to do it while you're not actually in the house.

The smart oil gauge from Connected Consumer fuel gives you all these features and more.

Installing the smart oil gauge

Installation cannot be easier, this gauge just screws into an existing hole in almost any oil tank. You will only need a pipe wrench and some thread sealer, both of which can be found at any home store or on Amazon (wrench) (thread seal). 

In almost every oil tank out there you will find at least one plug in the top of the tank, using the pipe wrench remove the plug, and then place the wifi oil gauge in its place, simple right? Here is a video guide if you want to see a step by step walk through.

Smart Oil Gauge - YouTube
The Smart Oil Gauge app

So now its installed, and you're wondering how to use your new toy to keep an eye on your fuel oil.

The app from the manufacturer is simple and straightforward to install and configure, one suggestion is to do it before you install the gauge on your tank so you don't have to do the install in the basement! You will need to be able to reach the button inside the unit to do the setup and that might be hard if its already on the tank. Full instructions here.

So what does the app do for you?

  1. Shows you how much oil is currently in the tank 
  2. Shows you how much you have used over time
  3. Shows you the level of oil in the tank over time

What doesn't the app do?

  1. Alert you when oil reaches a certain level
  2. Allow you to download data on your oil consumption

It's got the basics in place, but it missing a few things I hope they add in the future. I tried using Alexa to set up a reminder when my fuel reached a certain level but it wasn't able to do it. You might be able to achieve this via IFTT or other 3rd party service. 


I know it's not a Z-Wave device, but it's a great option for tracking your heating oil use and making sure you order oil at the right time. I use this thing all the time and can attest it's performing well and I really like being able to check my tank whenever I think of it, not just when I happen to be down in the basement. 

Grab your Smart Oil Gauge now and stop worrying!

These devices ship from the USA, and are designed and assembled here as well. If you ever need to contact the company they stand behind their products.

The post Smart Oil Gauge Review [new device] appeared first on Z-wave Zone.

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What to look for in a robotic vacuum cleaner

When you’re looking to buy a robotic vacuum cleaner, it's important to look the following attributes:

  1. Battery Life
  2. How it cleans various surfaces
  3. How it handles obstacles
  4. How well it operates without human help

In addition to that, you'll also want to look at customer reviews to make sure the product lives up to the manufacturer's promises. Sound like a lot? Well don’t worry, we’re experts when it comes to robot vacuums, so all you need to do is read on to learn which is the best robot vacuum for your home!

You can read our detailed comparison of the best robotic vacuum cleaners here, or read on to learn more about how they work and their history.

How Do Robot Vacuum Cleaners Work?

To put it simply, there are two parts: you’ve got the robot part of the machine and the vacuum part. That being said, let's break it down further.

The vacuum part is much like a traditional vacuum cleaner, as it features brushes to sweep up dirt and suction power to get the dirt off the floor. Many robot vacuums are round, so they will often have a side-mounted brush to sweep dirt into the path of the suction area. In addition to those side brushes, many also have a roller brush that sweeps up harder to clean dirt, such as pet hair. Also like a traditional vacuum, they have a reservoir for dirt, that needs to be emptied daily, and a filter, that must be changed regularly.

The robot part of the vacuum is the high tech part, obviously, that controls virtually everything. It's similar to a Z-Wave hub in that sense.

The best robot vacuums have state of the art sensors to detect obstacles,  such as stairs. These sensors act as the eyes and ears of the vacuum. They generally use infrared light to find walls, stairs, chair legs, and other items. Touch sensors, on the other hand, are used to let the vacuum know when it’s hit something, and some models have sensors that tell it where a room ends.

When these sensors are processing information, they send that info to a state of the art circuit board “brain” to process them. Once they are processed, the circuit board sends a signal to the wheels indicating where the robot vacuum should move next. Most wheels turn independently so that the machine can spin around easily.

Here’s a great video that explains how a robotic vacuum works.

How a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner works - YouTube
Robovac: A Brief History

Since the early 2000s, many technology and appliance companies have been manufacturing robot vacuums, as they are "the future."

Early vacuum models were super popular, but had a mess of problems: like running into furniture, getting stuck on, or under, things, needing regular maintenance, running out of battery life, and ultimately not cleaning very well.

Over the years, robotics has improved, and manufacturers are creating more efficient, rechargeable, and easier to use robot vacuum cleaners at more reasonable price points. With the launch of the Roomba from iRobot, robot vacuums sales have skyrocketed and now no smart home is complete without the best robot vacuum money can buy!

Modern robot vacuums have mapping technology that lets them learn the rooms in your house, and many of them can even be controlled with your smartphone or hub.

What's' next for robo-vacs in 2019 and beyond?

Trends we would love to see in the near future for our robotic vacuum friends:

  1. Seamless floor to carpet transitions
  2. A wet/dry robot vac
  3. An autonomous vacuum that can actually go up and down stairs

Will get these things in 2019? Who knows, but there are lots of great innovative companies out there working on it. 

The post Smart Home Buyers Guide – Robot Vacuum Cleaners appeared first on Z-wave Zone.

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Ready to Create the Smart Home of your Dreams?

The "Kitchen of Tomorrow," as promoted to 1950s housewives on film reels sponsored by GM, is all but here. The home automation touted in Epcot's House of Innoventions is no longer just an advertisement for Whirlpool.

The Smart Home is here, and you can have it.

Here are 10 ways you can make your home a smart home today. 

1. Turn on the Lights

Let someone or something else get the lights for you. Light switches and light bulbs have leveled up. 

There are timed lighting systems that will set your home's ambiance automatically. Or you can control your lights by voice with smart bulbs that interact with smart speakers. 

There are light bulbs that can change their color temperature, depending on your preference. From bright white to warm light, you can find your ideal combination of Lumens and Kelvins.

Other bulbs for outside have sensors that turn the lights on at dusk and turn them off during the day. This is a game changer for the Clark Griswolds among us still plugging their Christmas lights in manually. 

If you're looking for a gentle introduction to smart home technology, it doesn't get easier than changing out your light bulbs.

2. Switch Your Switches

If you're ready to start hard wiring intelligence into your home, switch out your switches. Smart switches allow you to control all the lighting in your home no matter where you are in the world.

You can use your smartphone to turn the lights on when you're on vacation. Or you can dim them for mood lighting via remote.

Get smart plugs for more lighting control. Plug floor and table lamps into smart outlets for ease of access. 

Smart plugs also allow you to automate your morning routine. Set kitchen plugs to a timer to have your coffee, your toast, and some Mozart waiting for you when you wake up. 

3. Get Assistance

If you're setting up an entire smart system, you'll need some assistance. For now, you have three choices: Amazon's Alexa, Google's smart home devices, or Apple's Siri. 

Your assistant will double as a speaker for broadcasting music throughout your home. Get a handful of Echos or Google Home Minis and you'll have intercom capabilities. You can check in on your kid's room or have true surround sound with the same song playing on each device.

You can play games with your assistant or ask it to tell you jokes. Set timers and daily reminders. Ask for a recipe, and Google will walk you through dinner. 

Light switches and smart plugs work in tandem with assistants allowing you to control your whole house by voice command. 

4. Climate Control

A smart thermostat gives you complete climate control.   

Smart thermostats can respond to ambient temperature and energy algorithms. They'll generate energy reports to help you maximize efficiency and reduce waste.  

You can set a specific heating or cooling schedule. Or leave it to the thermostat. Some devices can even determine whether or not you're home and respond accordingly.  

5. Feel Secure

There's nothing smarter than keeping your home secure.  

Today's security cameras stream right to your phone. Monitor package delivery or have photographic evidence of tampering or theft. You'll even get infrared footage at night.   

Install a smart doorbell with an integrated camera. This motion detecting device sends an alert to your home when sensors are activated. You can choose to listen in or interact with visitors, even when you're away from home.  

6. Lock Down

Keep your house on lock down or open it up remotely with a smart lock.   

You can use your phone to control smart locks, either with an app or via Bluetooth. Some locks allow you to set up expiring codes for temporary access. And some models work with an interior camera to start recording after a door is unlocked as an added security measure. 

7. Clean Up

If innovations are about making life easier, then automated cleaning is really how to make your house a smart house.  

Robotic vacuums are now voice activated and dock themselves after a job well down. Washing machines have remote start, pause, and refresh and will send reminders to your phone.  

Even the trash is smarter than it ever was. Smart trash cans let you know when it's trash day and have a baseboard vacuum for sweeping crumbs into. The can itself then automatically deposits swept crumbs into the trash bag. 

8. Better Detection

As important as home security is home detection. Smart detectors let you know what's going on inside your house.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors will send alerts to your phone. They broadcast together throughout your entire home at the first sign of danger. You can even install a smart battery that notifies you when it's time to replace it.

There are water leak detectors, some with water pressure mapping technology and automatic shut off. They'll offer to put in a call to your plumber if something goes wrong. 

9. Smart Cooks in the Kitchen

Too many cooks in the kitchen is a recipe for disaster unless they're smart cooking devices. 

The smart grill lets you know when it's hot enough to put the food in and when it's cooked enough to take the food out. Smart ovens have preset programming and voice recognition. Apps and devices offer interactive recipes. 

The smart fridge is the darling of the true kitchen of the future. It keeps track of expiration dates, grocery lists, and can tell you your schedule and the weather. Smart cooling technology reduces freezer burn and keeps your perishables from perishing prematurely. 

10. Hubba Hub 

Once you fill your house with smart devices, you'll want a hub to streamline your access to them all. Google Home and Alexa can both function as hubs, but they come with certain proprietary restrictions. There are also third-party hubs without brand loyalty that work to turn your cell phone into your home's universal remote. 

Even Small Changes Will Make Your Home a Smart Home

Smart home technology is fun and offers remote conveniences. You can start to make your home a smart home by changing out some light bulbs or you can give in to your love of futurism and automate nearly everything. 

We can meet your smart home needs, no matter how big or small. We have a whole line of devices available on Amazon. You can also read through our blog for trends, ideas, and shopping tips. 

The post Creating a Smart Home in 10 Easy Steps appeared first on Z-wave Zone.

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Z-Wave Motion Detector Reviews
The Best Z-Wave Compatible Motion Sensors on the Market

We all want to keep our family and our home safe and secure. We also crave automation. It makes our lives easier and Z-wave compatible motion sensors offer both – security and automation.

For years, people have had to settle for unreliable security systems. These included alarm systems that could easily be bypassed by intruders and thieves. Some even offered security cameras where you could see who gained entry to your home.

However, technology today offers an increase level in home security. Motion sensors allow you to identify when someone approaches your property. They can be used indoors or outdoors and are battery operated. Most are adjustable for the size of the room and come equipped with a view of 180-degrees. The newest motion sensors are compatible with Z-wave technology.

 Z-wave technology makes home automation possible. They can help control things like turning on lights, changing the temperature in your home and controlling appliances like television and radios. Motion sensors operate with a smart home hub to perform all of these tasks.

Here is a brief review of some of the popular motion sensors on the market.

GE Z-Wave Plus Wireless Smart Sensor

This motion sensor by GE is compatible with a variety of Z-wave hubs including Iris and SmartThings. This sensor will activate lights and send notifications to your phone or device to let you know there has been motion in your home. It can be placed on a counter or shelf and maintains a safe range of up to 150 feet from the Z-wave hub.

The GE Z-Wave Plus Wireless Smart Sensor can detect motion as far as 45 feet and offers 3 different motion sensitivity levels. It offers a 180-degree view and runs on batteries. The wireless device is battery operated. It comes with 2 batteries that have a life of up to two years.

Dome Home Automation Motion Detector

This light sensor also works with a Z-wave smart hub. It is compatible to work seamlessly with many different Z-wave hubs. It utilizes light to create a safe and secure environment for your home. The Dome Home detector offers a 110-degree view and can will alert you if there is any movement detected in the area.

The Dome Home Automation Motion Detector comes with batteries and uses CR125 3v that you can get anywhere. It also offers different levels of sensitivity so you don’t have to worry about false alarms waking you up in the middle of the night. These are highly rated on Amazon with lots of detailed reviews as well, check them out here.

Dome Home Automation Motion Sensor

There is so much you can do with these, they look good and fit almost anywhere. Grab a few today and I bet you'll be back for more very soon...

The post Z-Wave Motion Detectors appeared first on Z-wave Zone.

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The U.S. leads the way in the smart home industry. 2018 saw revenue of over $23 billion dollars with over 27% of homes in the U.S. being smart homes. By 2023, almost 54% of homes will fit the category. (source)

Here is what we are expecting for smart homes trends of 2019!

Z-Wave Hubs

In 2019 I expect more z-wave hubs to offer integration with the various voice powered home assistants out there, like AlexaGoogle HomeBixby and maybe even Bank of America's Erica. These voice based assistants have gained a huge amount of popularity recently as the technology has improved and as confirmed by Forbes and many others,  this trend is not going away in 2019.

If you're upgrading to a smart home, you'll need a Z-wave hub. This is like a router for your computer network, only it controls your smart home devices.

The hub operates on a different channel from your WiFi and Bluetooth. This avoids problems with interference to your computer network or smartphone. The hub is where you'll program all your smart home devices. You might already own smart technology devices, such as a television or refrigerator. Take a look at the type of Z-wave hub they'll interact with before you purchase your hub.

Smart home technology is now surprisingly affordable. And the convenience is hard to put a price on. 

Everyday Safety

How about a sensor that knows when someone falls and sends an alert? The sensor uses radio waves for mapping and detection. When the sensor thinks someone has fallen, it calls out and asks you to stand up. If there is no activity detected after a period of time, the device alerts a caregiver designated by the user. This type of monitoring is a little more specific to people who need it, as opposed to the general lights and doors type security stuff, but as the population ages while simultaneously getting more comfortable with this tech, I think it will become more and more prevalent in 2019. 

Money-Saving Smart Home Devices

Insurance claims are high when it comes to water damage in the home. How about a monitor that detects leaks and alerts your phone? Then you can turn the pipe off from your phone, even if you're not home!

Stopping flood damage before it starts is a great smart home feature. The monitor also works with Home Assistant and similar programs. Much like health insurance companies offering discounts for policy holders who can run a certain mile time, or participate in health screenings, I expect we'll see more companies offering discounts for homes equipped with monitoring devices. Perhaps a discount for a flood sensor with water shut off, or a connected smoker detector giving you a break on your homeowners policy. 

Energy efficiency has always been a hallmark of home automation, I think in 2019 we'll see better application of machine learning and automation into the energy efficiency space. Building on the original learning thermostat the Nest, there are many others competing to keep you comfortable and save your energy dollars. I think a great innovation we could see more of is incorporating automation of passive home features, such as shades and windows that help gather passive solar heat or fans that can use cooler outside air at the right time to avoid the air conditioner coming on. 

Smart Speakers

Smart speakers have been a central point in home automation for a while now, with Google and Amazon leading the way. These have recently evolved to include a screen so they can complete more requests than ever without you having to change to another device. Where will these devices go next? Its hard to picture whats left to do except maybe to enlarge that screen like Facebook is trying to do with their portal, and finally bring high definition video calling to the masses. 

Lighting

Always a central part of any smart home, lighting will probably remain the first thing that many homeowners add to their smart home plan. In 2019 I expect more and more users to opt for full customization, meaning not only automating the on and off functions of their lights, but also adding motion, darkness and proximity sensing in new places, and going for bulbs capable of a full spectrum of colors instead of just one. 

Smart Thermostats

We have written extensively on smart thermostats in 2018, in 2019 these will remain a very common first or second upgrade when making a home smarter. These are already able to control all functions of heating and cooling, in 2019 and beyond maybe we will start to see these controllers making decisions to operate other features of the home to save energy, such as blinds, fans, windows etc. The thermostat of the future may be more like a hub for all energy savings functions instead of just heating and cooling, 

Smart Kitchens

Kitchens are a great place for the convenience of smart devices. How about a smart refrigerator? Did you know refrigerators consume about 500-kilowatt hours per year of energy?

A smart refrigerator, like the Nest, can make money-saving decisions like when to run a defrost cycle. This saves money by reducing the refrigerator's energy needs. 

Need to preheat your oven before you get home? Use your smartphone app. You can change the oven temperature through the phone too. Most importantly, you can turn the oven off from anywhere. 


Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Smart smoke detectors are available now. They're efficient and come at a reasonable price. Some of them have batteries that last up to 10 years! Most of the smart smoke detectors double as carbon monoxide detectors too. 

At least one type of smoke detector doubles as a home sound system. Incorporating a speaker means the price is higher. But it's still reasonable considering the enhanced function. 

Smart smoke detectors tell you what room the smoke is coming from. I think this will lead to integration with first responders in the future, so they know exactly where to go first.

Home Security

Your home wouldn't be "smart" if it didn't include home security. There are many different alarm and monitoring systems that are now smart. Security starts at the front door when someone steps onto your porch.

Install a video doorbell that allows you to see who's at the door. You can speak to the visitor through the doorbell. And you can do all this even if you're not at home! 

The doorbell alerts your phone when someone is at the front door. They don't have to ring the doorbell. Sensors detect as soon as someone steps in front of the door.

Once you receive the alert, you're able to see who's there. Ignore them, answer the door, or speak to them through your phone. Or, if it's something more sinister, call the police. 

This is a great safety feature.  

Smart Home Trends

Smart home trends are the future. More than half of all homes in the U.S. will be smart homes by 2023. Smart home appliances save money, time, and even lives. 

The big trends I am looking for in 2019 boil down to this:

  • Better integration with all voice assistants
  • Better and better software that will make things more seamless and more and more devices inter operable
  • More comprehensive devices that can perform more than one function
  • The appearance of video calling and addition of a new screen to your home (the assistant hub)

Looking for help wiring up your smart house? Get answers to your questions here.

The post Smart Home Trends for 2019 and Beyond appeared first on Z-wave Zone.

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For those of us that like to take our home’s health into our own hands, owning, and using, a digital multimeter is a must. These devices are one of the best tools to have on hand for DIY projects, and can ultimately save you money in the long run by diagnosing different electrical issues in your home.

Our Favorite Digital Multimeter

The Innova 3320 is a very affordable multimeter with a lot of features!

What is a Multimeter?

For those readers that aren’t familiar with the term, a multimeter is a device that measures electricity. It performs different readings to measure the voltage, current, and resistance from different items in your home. More specifically, a digital multimeter measures two electrical values, and is a staple in any electrician’s tool box.

Having a multimeter in your house is a great way to take the ability of diagnosing electrical issues with ease, and even repair the problems yourself! While the thought of going near anything electrical can cause panic in some home owners and DIYers, using a multimeter gives the user peace of mind by eliminating guesswork from the scariest parts of working with electrical components.

Which Multimeter Should I Get?

As you can see from the list below, there are several different options that will serve your needs when shopping for the best digital multimeter. If you are a hobbyist, or someone that will not be utilizing the multimeter on a professional level, a less expensive option is a great place to start.

Most multimeters come complete with probes and easy to read displays. The functionality doesn’t vary much from unit to unit; the differences lie with the features that each multimeter possesses.

Professional Electricians

A professional electrician will need to ensure that the multimeter they choose holds a number of different functions. Multimeters with extensive functionality can exceed over $400/$500 per unit, so it is incredibly important to do your research and decide which multimeter will be the best for your needs.

The Fluke 87-V Digital Multimeter is the preferred choice of professional electricians, or those that are using their multimeters on a regular basis for home improvements, or automotive repairs. The Fluke 87-V has two features that make it desirable to professionals.

  1. The Fluke 87-V can measure as high as 10A and 20A for 30 seconds.
  2. The input jacks will beep and glow red if you input them incorrectly into their intended places. While experienced electricians won’t have an issue with this, newer electricians find this feature pretty helpful.

The beeping and red lights can become a little disruptive during jobs that don’t necessarily require where the input poles are placed, but if you can overlook this small issues, you’ll have an amazing digital multimeter on your hands!

Professionals that don’t need tons of bells and whistles (or flashing lights and beeps) can also consider the Fluke 117 Electricians True RMS Multimeter. It’s pricey, like it’s 87-V brother, so hobbyists may not want to consider this as a viable beginner multimeter.

The great thing about the Fluke 117 is that the unit can be switched from auto settings to manual if needed, and the LED screen is fantastic, something that is incredibly important during any job. You want to be able to easily read your results without glare or blind spots on the display.

The Fluke 117 is also small enough to be incredibly simple to hold with one hand, and offers accurate measurements of nonlinear loads.

While we’re discussing the Fluke brand, their 116 HVAC is highly specialized, and should not be purchased without research. Trust us, we’re trying to save you money! This multimeter has a built in thermometer, for HVAC applications, and microamps, which makes the cost a little more bearable.

If you do need a multimeter that will measure above 1 Amp, the Fluke 116 may not be the best option for you, but all others can feel free to try it out! Just like the Fluke 117, the digital display is great, and the 116 has a LoZ system to prevent false readings.

Professionals and Mid-level Hobbyists

If you aren’t looking for a bare bones multimeter, the following may be up your alley.

The Fluke 115 offers a compact design, and one of the few Fluke products that can be considered for mid-level to professionals. It’s over $100, but the features that are included make this unit worth a little extra money.

  • Auto ranging system that can be changed from auto to manual, depending on your need or preference.
  • RMS system provides accuracy for non-linear loads.
  • Only goes as high as 10 Amps, which is why it may not be the best option for a professional electrician, but is great for those starting out.
  • Holster is included as well as 9 volt battery.

The best thing about the Fluke 115 is that it will provide an alert to newer electricians if the incorrect amperage or voltage meter is set, and will not give you a zero reading as most multimeters will do.

If you are looking for a multimeter that will work for auto mechanics, look no further than the INNOVA 3340. This digital multimeter is great for those that want to diagnose a car battery, faulty car wiring, or any other electrical need that may happen in your automobile.

It includes an RMP clamp and thermometer probe, allowing the user to ensure that nothing is overheating. It will measure up to 10 mega ohms. This multimeter is specifically for mechanics, but can be utilized in other forms as well, just be aware that it is not as sensitive to smaller electronics as other multimeters on this list, but for the price, it may serve you well.

The best digital multimeters are good for everything including auto repairs, electrical work, and home automation!

Entry Level, Home Owners, and Amateur Electricians

Here are several different options for the best digital multimeter for those of our readers that don’t call themselves professional electricians. These multimeters that follow are on the lower price ranges, which also means that the features may lessen as we continue through the list.

Don’t let that be a deterrent for purchasing these multimeters! While the price tag is low, and features aren’t as robust, the need for all of the features that professionals require aren’t as necessary for those that are just starting out in the electrical field.

Let’s start with the Mastech MS8229. This baby does a ton of things, but none of them to perfection. It holds several features, but only goes up to 400m and 1000v. That’s why this is perfect for the beginner electrician! You don’t need anything higher than what this multimeter will offer. It will also be useful to the auto mechanic who needs to make sure probes are working properly.

One thing of note – the Mastech MS8229 does include a built in humidity and sound level meter, which is a pretty great feature for the starting electrician.

The Extech EX330 Autoranging Mini Multimeter is small, but don’t let that stop you from buying it! This multi meter packs a punch in its small package. It can measure up to 10 Amps and 10000V, and has the ability to switch from auto to manual if you prefer to go old school.

You will also get a K probe with your Extech EX330, that will test your engine temperature and your air conditioning read out, if you decide to use this for auto repairs! Overall, for the cost, this is a great little machine

Finally, we’ll talk about the Craftsman 11. This guy is the least expensive digital multimeter on this list, and has a great list of features. It includes a voltage detector, built in flash light, k sensor for temperature readings, AND is perfect for a newer electrician or new auto mechanic.

Features, Pros, Cons, and Prices

Let’s dive into some of the best digital multimeters for personal, and professional, home use.

INNOVA 3320 Auto-Ranging Digital Multimeter

Features
  • Accurately and safely troubleshoots household electrical issues.
  • Auto ranging scales take care of locating correct range of electronic measurements.
  • Large digital display.
  • Color coded LED lights.
Pros
  • Intuitive battery tester.
  • Great value for the money.
  • Built in wrist strap and stand.
  • Works not only for the household, but for automobiles as well.
  • Long life, works well through many uses.
Cons
  • Requires the unit to carry the current itself instead of an external source.
  • Can only measure up to 200 milliamps.

Cost: Inexpensive! Only around $20.

Fluke 87-V Digital Multimeter

Features
  • Measure up to 10a, 20a for 30 seconds.
  • Auto and manual ranging for flexibility and control.
  • Input alert sends audio signal when wrong use of input jacks is occurring.
  • Filter selection for accurate voltage.
Pros
  • Accurate readings every time.
  • From leading brand of multimeters.
  • Professional quality.
  • Analog bar works as well as digital readouts.
Cons
  • On the expensive side.

Cost: Pricey. Get ready to spend, but it’s worth it!

Extech Instruments EX330 Multimeter

Features
  • Built in non-contact AC voltage detector.
  • Measures AC/DC voltage and current, resistance, frequency, duty cycle, and temperature.
  • CAT III – 600 UL listed.
  • Type K temperature probe included.
  • Rubber holster included.
Pros
  • Ability to test a multitude of features like current, capacitance, frequency, continuity, diode, duty cycle, resistance, and voltage.
  • Tilt stand.
  • Readout can be set to three different settings: max hold/data hold/relative.
  • Runs on two triple A batteries.
Cons
  • Auto range is incredibly slow on resistance.
  • Known to provide inaccurate readings when batteries are dropping.
  • LCD lighting becomes invisible in certain lights.
  • Will provide several readings before settling on one that could potentially be correct, but not accurate 100% of the time.

Cost: Mid-range. Under $50 in most cases.

Fluke 88 V/A KIT Automotive Multimeter

Features
  • Measures AC/DC voltage, AC/DC current, resistance, capacitance, frequency, and temperature.
  • Manual and auto-ranging modes.
  • RPM measurements with inductive pickup.
  • Built-in thermometer.
  • Performs millisecond pulse width measurements for fuel injectors.
  • Millisecond pulse width measurements for fuel injectors.
  • Safety rated for Category III to 1000V and Category IV to 600V. Resistance, continuity and diode test.
Pros
  • Great for automotive works.
  • Can handle spikes up to 8,000 volts.
  • Lifetime warranty.
  • Great for professionals and amateurs alike.
  • Easy to read display reduces potential issues.
Cons
  • Can be a little hard to read on occasions.
  • Large unit, but okay for mechanics.

Cost: High – you’re looking at over $400.

Mastech MS8268 Digital Multimeter

Features
  • AC/DC 1000V/10a 200Khz 200Uf - 40Mohm relative measurement hfe diode check continuity.
  • LED/sound warning when incorrect banana jacks are used relative to function switch setting.
  • Auto and manual ranging with relative measurement (all ranges except frequency).
  • All range fused (resettable) with 1 year warranty.
  • Auto power off (could be disabled) & blue.
  • LED back-lit lcd display.
Pros
  • Great for professionals and hobbyists.
  • Great quality for the price.
  • Glowing light if cables are not plugged properly into the jacks
Cons
  • Not very reliable after a year or so of use.
  • Several different limitations can could potentially cause issues if not utilized properly.

Cost: Mid Range, perfect for hobbyist that won’t use this regularly.

Fluke 117 Electricians Multimeter

Features
  • Features true rms for measuring non-linear loads accurately.
  • Measures 10A.
  • Non-contact voltage detection.
  • AutoVolt automatic ac/dc selection.
  • LoZ prevents false readings.
Pros
  • Fits in one hand thanks to agronomical design.
  • Great LED backlight.
  • Can be used with magnetic hanger for hands free.
Cons
  • No holster included.
  • Display can be a little hard to catch at the right angle without practice.

Cost: Mid to high range.

Fluke 115 Compact Multimeter

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How Much Does Smart Home Automation Cost? How Much Does Smart Home Automation Cost? Are you thinking about installing smart home automation, but wondering about the costs first? Read on to learn how much smart home automation costs.

We live in the future. Our medical understanding is progressing by leaps and bounds every day, we are reaching further than ever into the depths of space, and every year brings new discoveries of species and better understanding of the world we live in. But for most of us, the evidence that we live in an age of wonders is clearest in our own homes.

Smart home automation is a growing industry with some very cool potential. But surely the average Joe on the street can’t afford a vacuuming robot or an oven that cooks dinner for you. Read on to learn a little more about home automation devices and how much they cost.

What Is Smart Home Automation?

Even if you’ve heard some about smart home automation, it can be hard to keep up with everything that falls under this umbrella. Smart technology is an industry that is growing at an astounding rate, and it seems like every day, there’s a new smart device out. So what exactly does smart home automation involve?

In short, smart home automation encompasses any system that learns from your patterns and automatically takes care of routine tasks, such as turning the thermostat down before you go to bed. It can also include devices that you can control remotely, such as lights you can turn off from your phone. The idea is to remove you from having to physically take care of something in your home.

Smart Thermostats – ($130 to $250)

Smart thermostats have been at the forefront of the smart home movement since its beginning. After all, in most cases, it’s a simple matter for an artificial intelligence system to learn your temperature patterns. Most people want more heat or air in the mornings and evenings while they’re active around the house, and less during the day and at night when they’re at work or asleep.

As will be the case with many of these smart devices, you can spend almost as much as you want to on a thermostat. It depends on how much capability and which features you want from your thermostat. Generally speaking, smart thermostats run between $130 and $250. Read our in depth comparison of the best thermostats right here.

Smart Locks – ($100-$350)

Smart locks are another popular device in home automation plans. How many times have you gotten to work or gotten in bed, only to have the lingering doubt, “Did I lock the front door?” Smart locks allow you to lock or unlock your doors remotely, which is useful in a whole variety of scenarios.

Your cost in the smart lock department will depend on how many locks you want to put around your house. If you only want one for the front door, you’re looking at somewhere between $100 and $350. But if you want one on every exterior door and one on your teenage son’s bedroom door, you should budget more in that department.

Smart Detectors – ($40-$230)

For those with children or who live alone, the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors may be on the top of the list of appliances to get an upgrade. Smart detectors will send an additional alert to your phone (or a loved one’s phone) if they pick up on dangerous substances. If you’re away from home a lot, or if you have an elderly loved one who lives alone, these devices can bring a huge sense of security.

Some of the swankier smart smoke detectors can also monitor carbon dioxide levels in the house. The lower-end models may have some flaws when it comes to differentiating smoke from steam (say from a shower), but the technology in that department is getting better every day. Most smart detectors will cost between $40 and $230.

Security Systems – ($150-$1000)

Of course, smart security systems are among the most popular devices in the home automation market. Given that the nature of a security system is to protect your home when you’re not there, they’re a shoe-in for the automation revolution. Not only can smart security systems call the police, but they can also call you, and you can set them from anywhere, including your bed or your vacation destination.

Once again, the amount you spend on your smart security system will depend enormously on how much capability you want. A simple alarm system may only set you back $150 or so. But if you want cameras, motion detectors, night vision, alarms, and all the bells and whistles, you’re looking at at least $1,000.

Lights and Shades – ($50 – $400)

Everyone has had that night when you’ve crawled into bed, you’re all cozy, and you realize the bathroom light is still on or the bedroom curtains are still open. Nobody wants to get up and take care of the issue, and that’s where smart lights and shades come in. These focus on the remote control aspect of smart home automation, though smart lights also have some fun tricks up their sleeve.

Smart lights and shades are another “the more you want, the more you’ll spend” situation. If you’re just planning to trick out your den with cool party lights, you can get a four-pack of smart bulbs for about $50. But if your whole house needs to be on the level, you’re looking at upwards of $400.

Smart Appliances – ($1000 and up)

Last but not least, kitchen appliances have some of the coolest smart capabilities on the market. Recipe developers are starting to build in the ability for their websites and apps to talk to your oven so all you have to do is mix up the ingredients and stick them in the preheated oven until your oven tells you the food is done.

That’s to say nothing of refrigerators that keep a running inventory of your grocery stock and dryers that prevent your clothes from getting wrinkled.

Smart appliances are on the more expensive end of the home automation market. Granted, these are expensive machines anyway, so the price you’re paying for the extra capability (come on, a fridge that keeps track of your grocery list?) isn’t that huge. But if you want one of these appliances, you’re looking at $1,000 to $2,000 pretty handily.

Get a Guide to Smart Home Automation – Z-Wave Zone!

The world of smart home automation is cool, ever-growing, and surprisingly affordable. You can spend as much or as little as you want, depending on your budget and your priorities. Make sure to assess your needs, and you can have a home that works for you without breaking the bank.

If you’d like a guide to the latest in smart home automation, check out the rest of our site at Z-Wave Zone. We’re here to help you through the home automation process and make everything a little easier.

The post How Much Does Smart Home Automation Cost? appeared first on Z-wave Zone.

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Count down to Black Friday 2018
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When it gets close to Black Friday and Cyber Monday we'll be posting all the best Z-Wave and home automation deals right here, just like last year. If you can't wait until November 23rd to start your home automation shopping, we have you covered with updated guides for all popular Z-Wave and WiFi smart home devices. Browse our posts below and we'll see you in November! 

p.s. The best way to stay up to date on Z-Wave and home automation is our Facebook group

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The post 2018 Black Friday Home Automation Shopping Guide appeared first on Z-wave Zone.

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