Emberlight review – Add wifi to your standard home lighting

Here we’re checking out the Emberlight – a cool little device that hooks your lights into your wifi.

The Emberlight (only $49.99 on Amazon here) is a small device that sits between your light socket and the bulb and gives it smart capabilities. Firstly this is great because you can use which ever bulb you want (not an expensive proprietary one – for example, Philips’ bulbs are $13 each).  We’re using some nice dimmable Edison bulbs similar to these that cost $3.30 each: Edison bulbs.

Simple setup
Before you setup your Emberlight you must download the app first. Take your bulb out, screw in the Emberlight then screw your bulb into the Emberlight. Setup is really simple, it’s all done through the app and primarily involves logging your now smart light bulb into your wifi network and giving it a name.

Simple control
That’s really it, you can now control your bulb from the app. A simple slider adds dimming capabilities to your bulb and tapping the dimmer on the app turns the light on and off. The bulb is very responsive with no noticeable lag when moving the slider on the app. If you have multiple Emberlights you don’t have to control them one by one.. instead you can group them together.

Advanced control
You can also hook you light up to other services via IFTTT (if this then that). For example, you could connect it to a timer when you are on vacation so that the light comes on and off in the evening to stop your house looking empty. You can get really creative and link it to many of the IFTTT services out there!

UK users
So, this Emberlight is an E26 screw fixing whilst the UK uses E27 fittings – this means there is 1mm difference in the socket sizes. Not a problem… The photos you see here are from a UK light socket running on a 230v power supply, the Emberlight fits in fine and the bulb fits in fine. The socket was actually a bayonet so we’ve used a bayonet to screw adapter from Amazon for £0.72 to make this fit.



Smart Home Security Camera Deal (Today!)

We recently wrote a review of home security cameras including the Nest Cam, the Canary and some DIY options. For those interested in this, Amazon have a deal on today.

You can see the original post here: Review of Home Security Cameras: Canary, Nest Cam, iSpy, Tenvis and DIY!.

For those interested in this, Amazon have a deal on today (running out in 22 hours at the time of writing).  This isn’t like the devices we reviewed above which involve no or minimal installation.  Instead this is a multi camera system which can be placed outside too, joined together with network cables to a main recording system. The system is paired with a mobile app. Marked down to $159.99 (a saving of $110 from the list price), you get a complete 4 camera HD recording system.

Whilst this is different to the All In One, no installation systems we reviewed in our article (here), this is a good deal if you are interested in the installed security system route, or if you are looking to put cameras outside the house.

See the deal on Amazon here: Zmodo Security System with 4 HD 720P Indoor Outdoor Night Vision IP Cameras



Forget forgetting your keys – Smart Lock with Amazon deal now!

So, I forget my keys and I’m sure I can’t be the only one.  I have a few smart gadgets around my home, a NEST thermostat, a Canary, and one of those smart plug sockets.  I did, however, just buy my next smart device in today’s Amazon deal, and it should stop me getting locked out!

The August Smart Lock is a keyless entry system that can be retrofitted to your home.  Instead of keys you open the door with your smartphone (as do other people that you live with).  There are no problems with getting locked out during a power cut as the device is battery powered, so you’re going to be able to get it!

If you’ve got people coming round you can send an invite and let them unlock your door if you are out, which is kinda cool.

The deal marks the cost of this smart lock down from $299 to $149, and at the time of writing it is set to expire in just under 18 hours.

Click here to see the smart lock deal on Amazon: August Smart Lock – Keyless Home Entry with Your Smartphone, Champagne

Open Your Garage Door From The Palm Of Your Hand With Overhead Door’s New OHD Anywhere™


LEWISVILLE, Texas, Jan. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Imagine you’re at work and your babysitter accidentally locks herself and your children out of the house.  Or a stranger somehow opens the garage door of your summer home. To help you with these and many other potential situations, Overhead Door, the inventor of the upward lifting garage door, has launched its new smart device enabled garage door controller, OHD Anywhere. OHD Anywhere allows homeowners to remotely monitor, as well as change, the open/close position of a garage door from their compatible smart device, providing convenience and peace of mind to those who need to know the status of their garage door while away from home. In addition, OHD Anywhere can be especially convenient for families who wish to monitor an elderly parent’s house or a vacation home.

“The OHD Anywhere controller makes homeowners the master of their garage’s security, which for many people is the main entry to their house,” said Ali Isham, marketing director at Overhead Door. “The ability to open the garage door for a loved one or neighbor, or instantly know if there is unexpected operation of the garage door is now literally at their fingertips.”

The OHD Anywhere system uses a Wi-Fi® enabled door control module, incorporating the low-power SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3200 wireless MCU from Texas Instruments (TI)*, to safely allow a homeowner to remotely operate the garage door from virtually anywhere. If the garage door is activated from the owner’s smart device, there will be an audible and visual notification, giving those around the garage door ample warning that it is about to move. The system is UL 325 compliant and can be used in conjunction with, or in place of, the opener’s standard wall console.



Along with the Wi-Fi® control module, OHD Anywherecomes with a door position sensor that attaches to the garage door itself. The sensor relays any change in its position to the control module, allowing the homeowner to know whether the door is open or closed via a signal to their smart device. Unlike remote access systems that are built into the powerhead, OHD Anywhere offers increased security by alerting a homeowner even if the garage door is opened or closed manually after someone has disengaged the door from the opener. One sensor comes standard with the unit; additional sensors can be purchased to monitor up to three doors.

For an up-to-date list of compatible openers and smart devices in addition to a detailed list of helpful FAQs, homeowners and builders can check www.overheaddoor.com for the Home Automation Compatibility List.

*SimpleLink is a trademark of Texas Instruments Incorporated

About Overhead Door Corporation

Overhead Door Corporation, based in Dallas, Texas, is a leading manufacturer of doors and openers for residential, commercial, industrial and transportation applications. The company has five divisions: Access Systems Division (ASD), which features the Overhead Door and Wayne Dalton brands; The Genie Company, manufacturer of remote-controlled garage door opening systems; Horton Automatics, a manufacturer of automatic entrance systems; TODCO, the largest producer of truck doors for the transportation industry; and Creative Door Services, Western Canada’s leader in providing door products and services to the residential, commercial and industrial markets. Overhead Door Corporation created the original overhead garage door in 1921 and the first electric garage door opener in 1926. Overhead Door now employs more than 3,500 people, has 22 manufacturing facilities, 78 regional sales and service and installation centers and more than 5,000 distributors and dealers that service national builders, national accounts, architects, general contractors and homeowners, as well as major retailers in the U.S. and Canada. Overhead Door Corporation is a subsidiary of Sanwa Holdings Corporation of Tokyo, Japan. For additional information, visit www.overheaddoor.com, our Facebookpage, follow us on Twitter or find us on Google Plus.

Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160120/324335

Logo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160120/324247LOGO

SOURCE Overhead Door Corporation
RELATED LINKS
http://www.overheaddoor.com

 

Original Press Release: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/open-your-garage-door-from-the-palm-of-your-hand-with-overhead-doors-new-ohd-anywhere-300207521.html

Heimsicherheit Kamera Test: Canary, Nest Cam, iSpy, Tenvis und DIY!

Für Heimsicherheit sind nicht weiter große Summen und Geld, komplizierte Installationen und viel Arbeit erfordert. Es gibt moderne und zeitlose Lösungen zu erschwinglichen Preisen. In diesem Artikel werden wir Ihnen eine Auswahl von verschiedenen Produkten vorstellen…

Canary

Canary ist ein relativ neues Produkt auf dem Heimsicherheitsmarkt und hat bereits für viel Gesprächsmaterial gesorgt.

Das Canary ist ein Gerät, das auf einer Oberfläche sitzt (Tisch, Regal, usw.) und erfordert als solches keine Installation. Das Gerät wird von einer mobilen App gesteuert. Die App ist verfügbar für iPhones und Android.

Die Installation ist sehr einfach. Mit Hilfe der App verbinden Sie die Canary Kamera mit Ihrem Wlan Netzwerk, fügen Mitglieder für Ihren Haushalt hinzu und richten das Gerät anschließend für einen optimalen Kamerawinkel aus.

Videos werden per Bewegungsmelder aktiviert und in die Cloud übertragen. Dies ist eine sehr wichtige Funktion, da Sie somit Bildmaterial besitzen, auch wenn ein Einbrecher die Kamera stielt. Wir haben den Bewegungsmelder als recht empfindlich empfunden, da dieser hin und wieder auch von Haustieren aktiviert wurde. Kürzlich Software Aktualisierungen erlauben jedoch die Kontrolle dieser Schwellwerte.

Neben der Überwachung in hochauflösendem Video- und Tonmaterial überwacht die Canary auch die Temperatur, Luftfeuchtigkeit und die Qualität der Luft in Ihrem Zuhause. Dies bedeutet, dass Sie auch bei Feuern alarmiert werden.

Wenn Bewegung in Ihrem Haus festgestellt wird (und die App erkannt hat, dass Sie nicht zuhause sind) werden Sie eine Benachrichtigung mit dem dazugehörenden Video erhalten. Sie können anschließend entweder einen Notruf absetzen oder einen wirkliche lauten Alarm in Ihrem Haus aktivieren.

Hilfreich hierbei ist, und dies war vermutlich nicht gewollt, ist die Tatsache, dass die Canary nicht wie eine Kamera aussieht. Dies bedeutet, dass Sie das Produkt auf einem Tisch aufstellen können und Diebe das Gesicht nicht vor dem Produkt verbergen!

Im Anschluss an die Kosten für das Gerät bietet Ihnen Canary Abonnements die festlegen, wie lange die Videos im Cloud-Dienst des Herstellers gespeichert werden (und somit in der App verfügbar sind).

Zusammenfassend kann gesagt werden, dass die Canary bei diesem Preis ein gut ausgestattetes, nützliches und sehr fähiges Produkt ist. Es erfordert keine physikalische Installation und eignet sich basierend auf die App sehr gut für Mieter, Vermieter und Eigentümer.

Nest Cam

Nest (nun Google) ist bereits seit längerer Teil des Heimautomationsmarktes. Das Nest Thermostat war ein großer Erfolg in den USA und auch der Next Protect Rauchalarm hat Fuß in GB gefasst.

Die Next Cam ist das Heimsicherheitsprodukt (obwohl eine Verwendung über die Sicherheit hinaus angegeben wird) und sieht aus wie eine traditionelle Webcam.

Geliefert wird das Produkt zusammen mit Clips die es erlauben das Produkt an einer Vielzahl von Stellen im Haus anzubringen. Die Kamera erfordert eine Internetverbindung und das gesamte Produkt wird mit Hilfe von mobilen Apps gesteuert. Sollten Sie bereits ein Nest Benutzer sein, dann ist die Kamera dazu in der Lage mit Ihrem Thermostat oder dem Rauchalarm zu kommunizieren.

Im Vergleich zu der Canary speichert das Produkt (in der Cloud) alles und nicht nur Clips mit Hilfe eines Bewegungsmelders. Es bestehen jedoch Algorithmen die festlegen, wann ein Alarm und eine Benachrichtigung an Sie gesendet wird.

Wie auch bei der Canary gibt es verschiedene Speicher Abonnements die festlegen wie lange die Videos für Sie im Internet verfügbar sind.

Wi-Fi Kamera mit PC Software

Diese Option ist eine sehr flexible DIY Lösung. Sie benötigen die folgenden Dinge:

  1. Eine Netzwerkkamera, vorzugsweise mit Wi-Fi Verbindung.
  2. Eine Anwendung um die Aufzeichnung von der Kamera zu steuern.
  3. Ein Computer auf dem die Videos gespeichert werden.

Optional ist eine Art von Cloud Speicherdienst wie Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive oder iCloud.

Zu aller Erst müssen Sie die Kamera konfigurieren. Wie haben die Tenvis Reihe von Kameras hierfür als sehr gutes Produkt mit akzeptabler Bildqualität empfunden. Die Qualität der Bilder ist niedrig und die Farben entsprechen jedoch nicht der Realität. Um die Kamera zu konfigurieren muss diese mit einer Netzwerkverbindung verbunden werden (mit einem physikalischen Netzwerkkabel). Die IP Adresse der Kamera kann anschließend mit dem Tenvis Discovery Tool in Ihrem Netzwerk gefunden werden. Anschließend melden Sie sich mit einem Web Browser auf der Oberfläche der Kamera an und verbinden diese mit Ihrem Wi-Fi Netzwerk. Die Web Oberfläche ist nicht sehr einfach verständlich und an technisch versierte Personen gerichtet.

Sie können die Kamera anschließend in Ihrem Haus herumbewegen (Voraussetzung hierfür ist eine Wi-Fi Abdeckung des Hauses) und eine Live Ansicht der Kamera in Ihrem Netzwerk erhalten.

Als nächstes muss die Software zur Steuerung der Aufzeichnung der Kamera eingerichtet werden. Wir verwenden die gratis iSpy Anwendung. Die Anwendung kann so eingerichtet werden, dass Videos bei Erkennung von Bewegung aufgezeichnet werden. Des Weiteren stehen eine Vielzahl von Optionen bezüglich Videokonfiguration und Speicher zu Verfügung – auch hier, das Programm ist nicht für Laien. Es handelt sich um ein sehr leistungsstarkes Programm.
Dies ist alles, was Sie für Ihr eigenes Videoaufzeichnungssystem erfordern. Wie empfehlen Ihnen die Lagerung von Videomaterial in der Cloud, sodass Sie auch bei einem kaputten oder gestohlenen Computer weiterhin Zugriff auf die Videos haben.

Zusammenfassung

Es gibt keinen wirklich Grund mehr sich für die DIY Lösung zu entscheiden (außer Sie haben eine Webcam im Haus). Die Lösungen von sowohl Canary als auch Next sind sehr umfassend und einfach zu bedienen. Uns gefallen beide Produkte, wurden jedoch die Canary empfehlen, da das Produkt nicht wie eine Kamera aussieht.


Answered: How do I extend the range of my home wifi?

Gone are the days when we plugged all our devices into a wired network to access the internet at home. In fact, many smart devices that you buy today don’t even have a network socket so you have to connect over wifi. However, what if the wifi doesn’t extend over your whole house? Maybe your house is rather tall, so the top floors or basement don’t get coverage? Or maybe it is a rather wide bungalow so the ends don’t have coverage? In this article we run through your three options for extending wifi across you whole house. We’ll also provide direct links to the products so that you don’t need to go hunting for them.

I can’t be bothered to read the whole article, please summarize!

The best option for most is to use the power network in your house as a data network which enables you to place an additional wifi access point in the dead zone that needs addressing.  This access point talks to your main router over the power cabling already in your house so there is no additional wiring.  You should buy a kit like this: Netgear Powerline 500 with Wi-Fi – Essentials Edition on Amazon .

For those that want to read on…

The equipment that your Internet provider gives you usually contains a modem (the bit that connects to the internet), a router (the bit that manages traffic on your network and talks to the router) and a wifi access point (the bit that provides the wifi signal). Now, these bits all work in tandem in one box usually, so you don’t need to worry about them being separate. However, what we want to do is get more wifi coverage, so you don’t need another modem or another router, you just need more wifi access points. The challenge is how these access points connect to your main router and hence the internet. We’ll walk through three options here: 1) rewire your home with fast ethernet cabling (extreme solution but the best), 2) add wireless repeaters (ok solution, but we’ve not had great performance) or 3) a powerline solution that turns your existing power cabling into a wired network (our recommendation).

So, in no particular order:

1. Rewire your home adding in network cable across the house. BUDGET: Depends on the local cost of labor
Performance wise, this is the best solution. Network cables are designed to carry computer communication traffic and they do this very well.

You’ll be looking to do two things:

  1. Place a wireless access point which broadcasts a wifi network in the dead spot(s) in your home. You can call this network what ever you like, but make sure you connect to it at least once on your devices so that they know it can be connected to
  2. Connect this new wifi access point to your main router with network cables. One end of the network cable plugs into the back of your router (make sure you have a spare network port) and the other end plugs into your new wifi access point

Whilst this can be done simply by buying some network cable from Amazon you’re going to want it not to look really crappy in your home. This means paying an electrician to lay the cables and place network sockets (as you probably have seen in your workplace) next to your new wifi hotspot.
On the plus side, this solution will give you excellent performance. Generally these network cables can operate at gigabit speed, which is going to be faster than pretty much all but the fastest of internet connections. If you invest in a good wifi hotspot you’ll be getting great performance.

Consider the following access point:Edimax BR-6428nS V2 300Mbps Wireless Range Extender / Access Point on Amazon

In addition you’ll need plenty of network cable, although your electrician should be able to provide this.

2. Add wireless repeaters at the edge of your wireless coverage. BUDGET: $35
This solution is completely wireless and doesn’t require adding any new cabling to your home. The idea is this: your main wifi access point that is broadcasting from your router gets to a certain distance in your home. You place a repeater, essentially a booster, inside this coverage area which in turn broadcasts another network which will extend further than the original signal. When your device connects to the repeater, the communication is then passed on to your main wifi network.

This is a good idea if you are extending your coverage just a little bit. In reality we’ve found that this tends to be quiet a flaky solution for real world use. To get any decent extension in coverage the repeater needs to be placed at the edge of the original wifi coverage area, this means it already is receiving quite a poor signal.

It is significantly cheaper than option 1, but unless there is some reason that holds you back from option 3 using powerline devices, there’s no really compelling reason to go with this option. If you are going to, then check out the following Netgear device:

Netgeart WiFi Extender Essentials on Amazon

 

3. Use a powerline device and a wifi access point. BUDGET sub $60:
This one requires a bit of an explanation. In essence you are doing option 1 (placing a wifi access point in the dead zone(s) and connecting it to your router with a wire) however, instead of placing network cable across your home you use a pair of devices that send the data signal over your home’s existing power network. There’s no need to add any extra wiring to your home.

The devices you need to get plug in to your power sockets and allow you to plug a network cable into them. You need to buy them in pairs, so that you plug one into the mains near your router (and connect a network cable from your router to the powerline device) and then you plug the other device into the mains next to your new wifi access point and connect the network cable from the access point to the powerline device. In this manner your new wifi access point is connected to your router over the power network in your house.

You’ll find that some devices put the wifi access point and powerline device into one unit in one of the pair so that you don’t need to have a separate access point (we’d recommend this option unless you have a good reason to keep the wifi access point separate from the powerline device).

Now, the speed you get will not be the same as running dedicated network cable around your home. It will also be influenced by the quality of wiring in your home. Most devices nowadays conform to the HomePlugAV500 specification – which in theory can transmit data across your powerline at 500mb / sec (you will see some devices which conform to the AV2 specification introduction in 2012, however there aren’t that many of them out there). In reality the speed you will achieve will be much lower, however even if you only get a 100mb transmit rate, this is likely still faster than your web connection and good for most use cases.

One thing to look out for on the devices is whether they allow you to plug other mains powered devices into them (known as passing through the power). This can be handy if you are short of mains sockets, but not essential.

We’d recommend a pair of devices such as these Netgear ones, they are completely plug and play (meaning no configuration) and one of the pair has a wifi hotspot included in it (no extra plugging in):

Netgear Powerline 500 with Wi-Fi – Essentials Edition on Amazon

 


Review of Home Security Cameras: Canary, Nest Cam, iSpy, Tenvis and DIY!

Home security no longer needs a massive investment of cash, huge installations and loads of mess. There are modern, contemporary solutions available at a great price. Here we walk you through a few of your options…

Canary
Canary are a relatively new entrant to the home security market, but they are definitely disrupting it.

The canary is a device which sits on a surface (table, shelf, etc) and as such it need no complex installation. The device is controlled and accessed via a mobile app with support for iPhones (find the app here) and Android.


Setup is easy, using the app you hook the Canary up to your wifi network, add members of your household to the device and then position it sensibly so the wide angle camera gets a good shot.

Videos are motion activated and streamed up to the cloud. This is important because if a thief steals the actually canary, you’ll still have all you videos. We’ve found the motion activation to be a bit sensitive, causing it to be set off by pets regularly. Recent software updates enable you to control the sensitivity of this though.

On top of high definition video with audio, the Canary also monitors the temperature, humidity and air quality of your home. This means that you should be alerted to fires also.

When there is movement in the house (and the app has detected that you are not home) you will get a notification with the associated video. You can then take action, either calling the emergency services or setting off a rather loud alarm in your home.

What’s particularly convenient, and perhaps unintended with the Canary, is that it doesn’t actually look like a camera. This means that you can leave it on a table surface and thieves won’t hide their faces from it!

Beyond the cost of the initial device, Canary offer you subscriptions which determine how long your videos are stored in their cloud service for (and hence are available in the app).

All in, for the price, the Canary is a very well equipped, useable and capable device. As it requires no physical installation into the building it is great for renters, but to be honest the usability of the app makes it great for home owners too.

Find it on Amazon here: Canary All-in-One Home Security Device

Nest Cam
Nest (now owned by Google) have been in the home automation market for some time now. Their Nest thermostat has been a massive hit in the US, and their Nest Protect Smoke Alarm has gained good traction in the UK too.

The Nest Cam is their home security offering (although it is advertised as having uses beyond security), and looks a lot like a traditional webcam.

It comes with some handy clips so that it can be mounted in various places around the home. Again, it requires a web connection and everything is accessed through their mobile apps and, a big bonus if you are already a best user, it will talk to your thermostat or smoke alarm.

Unlike the Canary it stores everything (in the cloud) rather than just motion activated clips, although it has ‘algorithms’ which determine when you need to be notified.

As with the Canary there is a storage plan which determines how long the videos are stored online for you.

Find it on Amazon here:Nest Cam Security Camera

Wifi Camera with PC Software

This option is a rather DIY approach, but is very flexible. You will need three things:

  1. A network camera, preferably with a wifi connection
  2. Software to control video recording from the camera
  3. A computer to store the videos on

Optionally you may also require some kind of cloud storage such as Dropbox, Microsoft Onedrive, Google Drive or iCloud.

First up you need to configure your camera. We found the Tenvis range acceptable cameras that produce recognisable images. However the quality is low and the colours are just all wrong. To configure the camera you first have to plug it into an ethernet connection (physical network cable), discover the camera’s IP address with the Tenvis discovery tool, log in using the web browser interface and finally connect it to your wifi network. The web interface is not particularly simple and is for the more technically minded.

You can then move your camera around the house (assuming you’re in wifi coverage) and view a live feed from your camera over your home network.

Next you need some software to control the recording of images. We use iSpy which is free and good software. You can configure it to store videos when they are motion activated and you can tweak many many parameters to do with video configuration and storage – again, not for the faint hearted but certainly a powerful tool.

This could be it with you up and running with a video recording system. However, we would recommend that you store the videos in a cloud storage device so that if your computer is corrupted or every stolen you still have your videos.

Summary
There is no real compelling case to go for the DIY solution anymore (unless you have a webcam kicking about the house).  The solutions from both Canary and Nest are very comprehensive and seriously simple to use.  We’d take either, but would recommend the Canary for the simple reason that it doesn’t actually look like a camera!



HomeKit enabled iDevices announce tighter home integration

iDevices are one of the leading suppliers of HomeKit enabled smart home devices and today they are announcing gear that offers tighter integration into your home.

The Verge reports that iDevices announced that they will make switches, sockets and dimmers that integrate directly into your home by sitting in the wall… You know… Like normal switches do.

This means that those who want smart tech don’t have to leave lights and sockets permanently switched on (causing conflict between the switches and the smart tech) or feel like you’ve retro fitted something to your house.

Light switches work like light switch should, but they’re also smart inline with iDevices’ usual smart home gear.

This is also the first time this has come to a HomeKit enabled system.

You can see some of iDevices’ existing kit on Amazon :

The full article by The Verge can be found here:

http://www.theverge.com/2016/1/5/10706816/apple-homekit-light-switch-power-outlet-idevices-ces-2016