measuring machine

Searching for a smarter home app for your iOS or Android device?

​When you purchase one of our eligible Z-Wave home automation systems, you’ll now also receive the option of bundling a copy of ImperiHome PREMIUM – the one and only smart home app! 

ImperiHome for Vera and Fibaro Z-Wave Gateway Controllers - RKM Australia

What is ImperiHome?

​ImperiHome (by Evertygo) is the very popular iOS and Android app designed to centralise smart devices via a simple to use, highly versatile user interface. It is often used as an alternative to other similar home control apps as it offers numerous benefits in functionality and features – all from a single, fully customisable UI.     

ImperiHome is normally sold in either “Lite” or “Premium” versions; the latter is available via a paid subscription service only.

We are offering a very special version of ImperiHome Premium, which has been created exclusively for our customers. It includes the following;

  • 10 year “Lifetime” Premium license. No limited trial period. No ongoing monthly fees!
  • Supports the following 4 types of Z-Wave controllers and smart devices: 
    1. Vera (all models) UI5/UI6/UI7
    2. Fibaro Home Center 2/Lite
    3. Security Cameras 
    4. Logitech Harmony Hub (for A/V and entertainment system control)
  • Available on up to 6 different mobile devices (smartphone or tablet, iOS and Android)
  • Fully customisable dashboards (all formats, unlimited pages, no restrictions)
  • Data and actions list view
  • Free unlimited updates
  • Direct email support

How Do I Get It?

More From Evertygo

Best Nest Cam Alternatives with No Monthly Fee

Have you looked at the Nest Cam and wished there was a cheaper Nest Cam Alternative (or a Dropcam alternative)? I wanted to find the best Nest cam alternative without the monthly fee. I was looking for an indoor security camera that had similar features and quality, and I found the best alternative to the Nest Cam.

With a little guy roaming around the house and wanting some extra sense of mind, video security cameras was a big deal to me. Here’s what I’ve found as the best alternative to the Nest Cam (previously the Dropcam – here are some good Dropcam alternatives.) is the YI Wireless Home Camera.

  1. How I tested Nest Cam Alternatives
  2. The Best Nest Cam Alternative for the price
  3. The Best Nest Cam Alternative (that’s a bit more expensive)
  4. Other options that are cheaper than the Nest Cam.
  5. What you’re missing out on with the Nest Cam Alternatives

Best Nest Cam Alternatives: How I tested

I’ve tested dozens of Cameras, ranging from the original Drop Cam to the new and improved Nest Cam. I’m looking for several key features when testing a Nest Cam Alternative.

Price. This is the biggest reason to even look for a Nest Cam Alternative. The monthly fees on a Nest Cam can amount to hundreds of dollars a year. I wanted something that could store a day or two of footage and didn’t have monthly fees.

Reliability. This is one area where the Nest Camera shines. It’s reliable (you’d hope something built by Google would be reliable!). The best Nest Cam Alternative needed to be extremely reliable.

Great Alerts. Any alternative you look at needs to be able to alert you when and how you want to be informed. I happen to have a neighbors cat that I’m trying to stop from using my backyard as a restroom. I want to turn on my Rachio when I see it in the yard. The alerts need to be quick.

Meet the YI Wireless Home Camera.

The Best Nest Cam Alternative

Look familiar? It should. It looks almost EXACTLY like the Nest Camera. It is available in Black, which looks even more like the Nest Camera. That makes this an INCREDIBLE alternative to the Nest Cam.

I wanted a simple WiFi camera for a couple of reasons: I have some contractors in the house, and I wanted to see what they were doing. Also, it’s silly, but to make sure there was no one in the house at night. This camera allows me to do all that.

Here’s where the YI Home Camera Wireless IP Security Surveillance System shines: the price. This Wireless Security Camera is only…wait for it…$35! Yes, $35. It even includes a 32 GB Micro SD Card to store videos. That means you no longer have to pay for Cloud Storage, a huge expense that can add up over time. When you review video clips of the camera, you are viewing them off of the memory card, which means you do not have to pay for cloud storage. YI Does offer a cloud storage option for your video security footage, with a small monthly fee.

So, you know that price-wise this is a good option, what about features?

First, there’s the video quality. The version I purchased was only 720p HD Version. They also make a 1080p HD version. I found the video quality of the 720p version to be just fine for my purposes. You can see my little dog walking through the frame in this short video sample:

The app is also very well-designed. You can see screenshots of the different cameras in your app when you first open the app.

Nest Cam Alternative

The app is even a good alternative to the Nest camera.

You can also set alerts to record particular times if there is motion (when we’re asleep, for example). Here’s what that screen looks like:

Nest Cam Alternative: The App

You can see on my app above; it’s mostly the lights turning on and off when there is a sensor for motion upstairs. I only have alerts set for night time, since I work from home.

Nest Cam Alternative with No Monthly Fee

No monthly fee: the main reason I bought the YI Wi-Fi Camera. No monthly fees to access your videos. How does it do this, you might ask? How do you get stored videos WITHOUT a monthly fee? Simple: it uses a memory card. The version I purchased had a memory card, too (it’s amazing that you can get a 32 GIG card these days for about $10!). Whenever you use the app the see old footage, you are accessing the video stored on the card.

The 32 gig Micro SD card stores about a week-plus of footage – which is more than enough for most people’s needs.

The only downside to this is: if your WiFi goes down at home, you can’t access the video right then and there. The good news is: it is still stored. This can save you $100s of a year.

If that is a concern for you, YI does offer cloud storage for the low price of $3/month. Much more affordable!

What are the Pros of this Nest Cam Alternative?

  • As I talked about already, the price and no need for cloud storage are the biggest sellers to me.
  • It has a great app, as mentioned above.
  • The viewing angle is incredible – 111 degrees to be exact. YI also uses a software algorithm to make the image appear flat, not “fish-eyed” like other cameras on the market.
  • It has two-way talking feature – you can imitate a conversation on the app with someone at home. Very similar to the Nest Camera features.
  • Tons of custom settings: defined activity regions, camera sharing, customize alert schedules, and lights alerting the camera is recording.
  • It’s quick and easy to set up: it uses a QR code on the device and your iPhone/Android app. It took me about 5 minutes to set up.
  • The app shows all of your security cameras in one spot – nice and convenient.
  • It has an excellent quality infrared camera to show you what is happening at night. It’s helpful with low light levels.
  • YI is always updating the app. I’ve only had this security camera for a couple of weeks, and I’ve received several updates with new features.
  • If you do want Cloud recording – if you’ve ever wondered “What happens if someone steals the camera?” This can give you peice of mind that it if it IS stolen, you’ll be able to at least see the footage.

Are there any cons to this Nest Cam Alternative?

Nothing’s perfect, right? There are a couple of shortcomings of this camera.

  • The app had, in one version, an ad for their new Cloud Storage. Not that big of a deal, but a bit annoying.
  • The App sometimes takes a second to connect to the camera. Since you’re connecting to the camera, that can be a little slower than some of the other apps.
  • If you don’t purchase the cloud storage, someone could only steal the camera, and you could not know who did it. But if that’s a concern, you can buy the $3/month storage option.
  • It’s not 1080p, but there is a more expensive option if that is a concern of yours.
  • The YI Home Security Camera does not integrate into other smartphone products (like Wink or SmartThings) right now. YI is always updating their software, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they update it soon. I didn’t need this.
  • The app isn’t as slick as the Nest Cam. But the price more than made up for it.
  • The cord is a little short to plugin. I was able to buy this 20 Foot Cord to help extend the range.

Overall, I think the YI Home Security Camera is an incredible competitor to the Nest Cam. The price – only $35 is a fantastic deal. The video quality is great, the app is more than enough, and the fact that you don’t need to purchase monthly cloud storage makes the YI Home WiFi Security Camera a great deal for me. Here’s what I’ve found the best deal on this WiFi Nest Cam Competitor.

Yi also makes a more expensive version of the same camera – The Yi Home Camera 2. If you’re looking for 1080P resolution and more features, this makes a great alternative to the Nest Camera.

Another suitable Nest Camera Alternative – the Yi Home Camera 2

The Yi Home Camera 2 has all of the great features of the original Yi Home Camera but adds a couple of key features:

  • Like I said, 1080P resolution.
  • A much higher viewing angle. The first Yi Home Camera has an 111 Degree Viewing Angle (360 Degrees would be viewing in a complete circle). The Yi Home Camera 2 has a 130-degree viewing angle
  • The Original operates at 20 Frames Per Second; the Yi Home Camera 2 runs at 25 Frames Per Second. In other words, the movement will be less choppy on the Yi Home Camera 2.
  • The Yi Camera 2 adds some cloud recognition of what’s happening – for example, it can decipher a baby crying and only alert you if it hears a baby crying.
  • It also has much better night vision capabilities.

The only downside of this camera is that it’s slightly more expensive. The original can be found for about $20; this camera is about $90. Still cheaper than a Nest Cam and it doesn’t have the extra cloud charges, so you’re still ahead of the game regarding price.

I, personally, really like the Ring Cameras. Ring has incredible customer service (read more about the Ring Doorbell) and a great quality product. Ring does charge for cloud service – but it’s much more reasonable – about $3/month. That’s much cheaper than the Nest Cloud service.

The Ring Cam looks like a Ring Doorbell without the button.

Overall the Ring Camera is more expensive (about $129), but the Ring Stick-Up Camera is a pretty mature product. Even though it’s not much cheaper than the Nest Cam, the monthly fee will save you some money.

Nest Cam Alternatives that work with Wink and SmartThings

Wink has announced several new cameras that work with their system. As I mentioned in my Wink Review, I think the Wink is the Best Smart Home system on the market right now. The Ring Camera works with Wink and SmartThings. Arlo cameras also work with Wink and SmartThings.

The best part about using the Ring Camera or the Arlo Cameras is that you can use them to trigger Robots on Motion from the camera. I have my Ring Doorbell set up to turn on the lights around the front door when there is motion in the middle of the night.

The Nest Cam is still a great product. Don’t get me wrong; I like it. Some people, like me, just hate paying for something monthly. I’d rather pay more upfront and nothing monthly. The Nest is the worst of both worlds – it’s more expensive, and they charge you monthly.

The Nest Cam is still a great product, but there are now some worthy competitors.

The one feature that Nest has that the Yi Home Cameras don’t is a great Apple TV app. I’d love to be able to put the Yi Home Cameras on the Apple TV, especially when our kid is in the playroom. Nest is also very widely accepted through their “Works with Nest” program.

If you want a camera that, for sure, is going to be around in a couple of years, check out the Nest Indoor Camera.

What do you think? What alternatives are you using for a Nest Cam?

 

 

allegro

Tile, the Bluetooth tracking chip, has released quite a few models over the last 12 months. Each model has slightly different features and benefits, which one is right for you depends how you plan on using it.

Below we have created the ultimate Tile comparison table, showing the differences between each type of Tile.

However part of the decision has been made for you as Tile have recently discontinued Tile Style and Tile Sport.

Tile Mate vs Tile Pro vs Tile Slim

Tile Slim Tile Mate (old) Tile Mate (2018) Tile Pro Tile Style Tile Sport
Model T2001 T3001 T5001 T6001 T4001 T4002
Colour White White White Black / White Gold Black
Battery Type Internal Internal Battery
CR1632
Battery
CR2032
Internal Internal
Range 30m / 100 ft 45m / 150 ft 45m / 150 ft 90m / 300 ft 60m/ 200 ft 60m / 200ft
Volume 82 db 88 db 119 db 128 db 98 db 98 db
Dimensions 54mm x 54mm x 2.4mm 35mm x 35mm x 6.2mm 35mm x 35mm x 6.2mm 42mm x 42mm x 6.5mm 37.5mm x 5.9mm 40mm x 5.9mm
Weight 9.3g 7g 7g 15.5g 11g 15g
IP Rating IP57 IP57 IP55 IP55 IP68 IP68
Cost £30 Discontinued £20 £30 Discontinued Discontinued

If this confuses you further here is a quick run through which Tile might be best for you:

Tile Pro

Great for items that need a little more protection as this Tile has the best range and is the loudest. You can also change its battery.

Tile Mate

This is your ‘everyday’ Tile, perfect for keys. It is second loudest in the range and has a good range. You can also change its battery.

Tile Slim

The super Slim Tile is designed for wallets, laptop bags or iPad cases. Anywhere you want to track but don’t have much space. As this Tile is so slim Tile tell us it’s not possible to create a version with a changeable battery. However you can join their reTile program to get a new Tile for a reduced price.

What is Tile Premium?

You can also subscribe to Tile Premium adding the plan to any of these Tiles. Tile Premium adds these additional features:

  • Automatic free battery replacement
  • Smart Alerts – to let you know if you leave house without your keys for example
  • Unlimited sharing
  • 30-day location history
  • 3-year extended warranty
  • SMS support

Tile Premium costs £29.99 annually or £2.99 monthly and can be purchased in the app.

What about Alexa, Google Assistant & Siri?

All Tile models support them, you just need to set them up with the assistant. For example for Alexa you need to setup the Alexa Tile Skill. Once setup you can as “Alexa, ask Tile to find my keys”.


VeraPlus Smart Home Controller – RKM Smart Home

VeraPlus AU Z-Wave Smart Home Controller
The wait is over! The official AU/NZ VeraPlus Smart Home controller is now available!! 

This is the 5th generation of the ever popular Vera gateway and offers the same rock solid performance as the previous model with the addition of ZigBee and Bluetooth radios, more memory, improved network connectivity options and a significantly faster processor.

Whether you’re just starting out in home automation or looking to upgrade your existing system, the VeraPlus is the most capable and cost-effective home controller on the market today. Order now! 

Best Smart Wifi Thermostats 2018

The best Smart Wifi Thermostats

2017 was a busy year for home automation – the battle has been so intense that it’s changed the overall best wifi smart thermostat, in my opinion. You have familiar names like Nest, adding to their assortment of Smart Thermostats to Honeywell offering some interesting options. You also (finally) have some Apple HomeKit Compatible thermostats.

How I picked the best smart wifi thermostat of 2018

This was tough. I’m reviewing a ton of smart home products all of the time. The main requirements for the best smart wifi thermostat of 2018 are pretty straightforward:

  1. The best smart thermostat has to be easy to use. There’s no reason to suffer from a “dumb” thermostat anymore.
  2. The best smart wifi thermostat needs to be easy to install. You shouldn’t need a PhD to install a thermostat. The best smart thermostat needs to work on many different setups and be easy to install.
  3. The best smart wifi thermostat needs to save you money. These smart thermostats aren’t cheap. They range from $100 and up. The Best Smart Wifi thermostat needs to save you money while keeping you comfortable.

Not only did I test the smart thermostats, I depend upon customer reviews of the product to validate or question my thoughts about the best smart thermostat of 2018.

The Best Smart Thermostats of 2018

Of course, there couldn’t be just one “best” – your needs will vary. I’ve broken it down into three winners of the best smart thermostats:

  1. The Overall Best Thermostat
  2. The Runner-Up, can’t go wrong second option
  3. The Budget Option

This will provide you with several options for the best smart thermostat of 2018. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the top smart thermostats.

 

Best Smart Thermostat

The best Smart Thermostat?

Why is ecobee4 the pick for the Best Smart Wifi Thermostat? It’s pretty simple: the ecobee3 was a much lesser-known thermostat than the Nest. The ecobee3 was a fan favorite. It got rave reviews. The ecobee4 builds on the ecobee3 by adding a KILLER feature: Amazon Alexa into the thermostat. That’s right: the thermostat has Amazon Alexa built into the Smart Thermostat.

Why is ecobee4 the best? Multi-room sensors

On top of the functionality of an Amazon Echo into the thermostat, it has features not available on the big dog in the market, Nest. The biggest is Multi-room sensors. This is a big pet peeve of mine with the design of most HVAC Systems: Usually, the thermostat is in an odd location – one bedroom, by the front door, etc. My thermostat is right by the front door, about 50 feet away from the living room. Sometimes the difference in temperature can be 5 degrees. We have a fireplace in the living room and it’s usually warm enough in the living room, but the thermostat is reporting the temperature. That means that the heater is running when it doesn’t need it.

The ecobee4 comes with a room sensor to heat or cool the room based on where the sensors are – not where the thermostat is. This is a killer feature for oddly-placed thermostats, but also if you want to make sure something like your kid’s room/nursery is the right temperature.

ecobee 4 has Amazon Alexa built in

The other killer feature is Amazon Alexa built right into the device. That’s right, you can ask your ecobee4 Smart Wifi Thermostat anything you can ask you Amazon Echo. Crazy! Imagine you’re having a dinner party and need to set a timer, you simply can say “Alexa, start a timer for 10 minutes.” The ecobee4 has a built-in far-field microphone and a speaker to respond.

The Best Smart Thermostat has Alexa Built in

The Best Smart Thermostat has Alexa Built in!

Another thing that makes the ecobee4 the best smart, wifi thermostat is that it integrates with Apple HomeKit (see more Apple HomeKit Compatible Products). The ecobee4 also integrates with Wink, SmartThings and Amazon Alexa. It can be controlled via IFTTT (and use Google Home to do it). It can not be directly controlled by Google Home.

I just installed a whole-home humidifier, which is helpful in the Colorado Winter. The ecobee4 can be used to control a home humidifier, if you have one. Nest can’t do that.

As of publishing, Amazon had $40 off the ecobee4 here.

That brings me up to a capable, cheaper runner-up.

Second Best Smart Wifi Thermostat: Runner Up

Is the Nest E the best smart wifi thermostat?

This is almost a tie. The Nest Thermostat E is a great device. Some even say that it’s better than the top-of-line Nest thermostat. Usually, the cheaper version is the less superior version. However, the Nest E takes the best from the Nest Thermostat and improves on the design.

Nest – the original smart thermostat

A Nest thermostat was the first Smart Home Product I ever owned. When I lived in Texas, the ability to pre-cool my house before I got home from work was like black magic. I loved it. I’ve had several versions of the Nest Thermostat, but not much has changed over the years (larger, brighter and thinner screen and minimal new features). The Nest Thermostat E is a full-powered smart Wifi Thermostat, just like the original Nest Thermostat. You can control the Nest with your smartphone and Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

Nest uses your smartphone location and motion sensors to determine when you’re home, when you’re not. You can even add multiple people to the account – so even if I’m not home, but my wife is – the app is smart enough to recognize it.

Nest is the original smart thermostat and it’s still one of the best.

What the difference between the Nest Thermostats?

Frankly, there’s no need for the full-color display on the regular ol’ Nest. Here’s what is different between the Nest Thermostat E and the full Nest Thermostat:

  1. The Nest Thermostat has a full-color display. The Nest E is a simple two-color display – a nice blue when air conditioning is being used and a warm amber when heat is being used. The Original Nest also has a feature called Farsight that will show you the time, weather, or temperature from across the room.
  2. The Nest Thermostat works with 95 percent of homes. The Nest Thermostat E works with 85 percent of homes. Nest has a great tool to see what product will work in your home.
  3. The Nest Thermostat has a metal ring and comes in multiple colors (Black, White, Silver, and Bronze). The Nest Thermostat E has a plastic ring and only comes in white.

The Nest E feels a little cheaper than the Original Nest. But, for something you barely use (it’s on your wall and I mostly control this with my phone – or automatically), you won’t notice the cheaper finish.

Best Wifi Thermostat

Best Wifi Thermostat?

None of the Nest thermostats are HomeKit Compatible. Nest is owned by Google. Apple makes HomeKit. That’s why you won’t see support anytime soon.

Both Nest Thermostats work with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

Independent studies show that Nest can save money on your heating (about 10-12%) and cooling (15%). Based on average energy costs, this equals $131 – $145/year. This makes the Nest Thermostat E almost a wash in the first year alone.

Here’s where I’ve found the best deal on the Nest Thermostat E.

Best Budget Smart WiFi Thermostat

Best budget wifi thermostat

Best budget wifi thermostat

This is the cheapest Nest thermostat alternative. But at $75, I’m not sure that I can recommend it with the new Nest Thermostat E being only $175 (and many utility companies giving a rebate to purchase).

Sure, this Honeywell thermostat has Wifi, but it doesn’t have the smart scheduling and home/away of the Nest Thermostats or the Ecobee Thermostats.

I think, in the long run (heck, even the shorter run), you’ll be better off purchasing the Nest Thermostat E.

The Don’t Buy List

Best Smart Wifi Thermostat? Not this one!

The Honeywell Lyric T5 is a strong no-buy on my list for a very odd reason: the screen never turns off. I tried this device in the middle of summer in my upstairs bedroom. Little did I know, you can’t turn off the screen. So, I was blinded by the light of the device. So, I put a blanket over the thermostat. Guess what? That made the thermostat think it was 100 Degrees. so, the A/C blasted all night long. I loved it, but my wife hates being cold.

It’s tough for me to recommend this product at all – especially since it costs about $125 – not much less than the Nest Thermostat E.

If you want the best overall thermostat, with the most integrations, you can’t go wrong with ecobee4. If you want something a little less complicated (and a lot cheaper), take a look at the Nest Thermostat E. You can’t go wrong, frankly, with either one.

What do you think? Do you agree/disagree?

Ring new feature hits UK – News

Ring, the leaders in video doorbells, have released their video preview feature in the UK.

This allows you to quickly see a preview of the live video as a static image in the app.  The frequency of updating the image depends on how the device is powered. This is done to not drain power if battery operated.

The feature has been available in USA since April 2018 with a gradual global roll out.

To enable the feature in UK:

1. Open the app, click the menu – top left

2. Click ‘new feature’ from the bottom of the menu

3. Swipe enable

4. Confirm you wish to enable the feature

You will now see preview tiles of the video stream in the app dashboard.

For full information see: /support.ring.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000685566-Camera-Previews-FAQ

8007972867

GOAP Z-Wave In-Wall Modules
RKM are pleased to offer the latest Z-Wave in-wall relays, dimmers and motor controllers by GOAP.

GOAP have been designing and manufacturing home automation products since 1990 and their range of Z-Wave in-wall modules are among the smallest and simplest to install. 

​European quality at an affordable price! GOAP create reliable and innovative products and they were the first company to develop a dedicated Z-Wave shutter module for DC motors and the first Z-Wave 0-10V dimmer.

Fully compatible with any AU/NZ-based Z-Wave gateway, GOAP in-wall devices feature the latest Z-Wave Plus (500 series) chip for improved wireless range and security, a tiny form-factor for stress-free installation plus a plethora of advanced optional configuration settings for even the most demanding setups. 

For the ultimate in style, function and simplicity, we’ve also updated our Clipsal Z-Wave lighting sets which now include GOAP in-wall relays and dimmers.

Make GOAP a part of your smart home today and if you have any questions about these or any of our products, please contact us!​

Best Smart Home Lights – Review of Philips Hue, LIFX and more

If you going to start a Smart Home, the first area people look is Smart Lighting. Who makes the Best Smart Home Lights? Who should you start with?

There’s the heavy hitter (Philips Hue) along with up-and-comer, LIFX, and many more. Read my honest reviews of the best smart lighting you can buy below.

The best smart lights?

The best smart lights for your home? Philips Hue

The best smart home lights: what you need to know first

There are two main ways that Smart Lights work: ZigBee or Wifi. While almost everyone knows what WiFi is, ZigBee is a bit more obscure.

LIFX is the most popular smart light system that uses Wifi. This is just like any other device you’d connect to Wifi in your home. While this seems like a positive, it can actually be a negative. Here’s why: in congested areas like residential areas, or even worse, condos, Wifi is very congested. This can lead to unpredictable controls and behavior in your smart lighting system.

ZigBee is a bit more reliable than Wifi for smart lighting. Here why: it uses a different part of the spectrum than wifi. This means that you’re less likely to have congestion around your smart lights. Also, ZigBee uses a mesh network with each device. So, the more devices you have, the more reliable (and more distance you can cover). Philips Hue is the big dog in the ZigBee Lighting area.

The best smart lights: how I picked

I’ve tried out every major brand of Smart Lighting you can imagine. From the standard (and by standard I mean simply on/off/dim controls) GE Link light bulbs, Cree Connected and Osram bulbs to more advanced systems like LIFX. What ended up being the most important to me was simple: reliability. I wanted lights that never disconnected and always worked when they were supposed to.

This wasn’t as easy as it sounds, unfortunately. Which brings me to the winner of the Best Smart Home Lights…

Best Smart Lights? Philips Hue

Best Smart Lights? Philips Hue

Philips Hue is my hands-down winner in the smart lighting category. They are more expensive, but they are incredibly reliable. This works with Wink and Amazon Alexa perfectly. I actually don’t use the Philips Hue app as much because it isn’t as easy to use. As mentioned in my Smart Home Start Guide, I really don’t need the app with all of the Robots and Shortcuts set up.

As I mentioned, Philips Hue operates on the ZigBee spectrum, creating a mesh network of devices. I’ve got 49 Philips Hue devices right now in my home and they are all operating perfectly. I’ve got a couple of non-Philips Hue lights (outside and in the basement, for example) and it seems like 1 or 2 of them is always offline. While this may seem like not a big deal, it really is. Having a reliable Smart Lighting System is one of my most important aspects of any smart home.

Philips Hue also has a full eco-system of products. From the standard, full-color A19 (the size of the common standard American light bulb socket) Light Bulb:

Best Smart Light – Philips Hue

To BR30 Lights (over-head, recessed lighting):

Best Smart Lights

Best Smart Lights – BR30

Down to accessories, like the Philips Hue Remote/Wall Switch:

Read some other best buttons and remotes for smart home devices.

My favorite is the Philips Hue Motion Sensor:

Why Philips Hue is the best Smart Light – great accessories.

All this together makes for an incredibly powerful set up for your smart lighting system.

The only downsides of the Philips Hue Smart Lighting System are:

  1. Price. All Smart Lights are expensive. However, here’s where I’ve found the best deal on a three-pack.
  2. Philips Hue Requires its own hub. It’s not ideal, but it’s part of what makes Philips Hue the best smart lighting out there. You do need a hub that you can plug into your wireless router.

Best Smart Lights: My Suggestions

I have mostly Philips Hue light bulbs and the Philips Hue hub.

I have some GE Link light bulbs (both BR30 and standard size), Cree Connected and some Osram RGB bulbs. If I had to do it over again, I would buy all Hue light bulbs.  I would, however, get more tunable Hue bulbs, not RGB. The tunable Hue bulbs allow you to only change the color “warmth” – from a “cold” white to a “warm” white – which is what I mostly use the RGB bulbs for. They are also a lot cheaper!

I use the GE Link Light Bulbs outside (on my front porch overhand), as I don’t care if they are ruined. They are just a simple warm white, which works really good. If you need some cheap lights without color, these are good ones to get for outside. So far, no problem with them. I just don’t love them for inside.

I also just got these Osram RGB Garden Spots for the front lawn. They are BRIGHT! I’ll post some photos soon. So far, these work really well with my schedules set up to light up the outside at night.

Best Smart Lights: What else I tried

I also tried LIFX Bulbs before ultimately settling on Hue. I was able to trade someone online for the bulbs, which was nice. There is a good trading post/used forum on Facebook for home automation products. As I mentioned, there can be a ton of interference with Wifi signals, especially in a close neighborhood or even worse – an apartment/condo. I had Fiber internet installed in my home and was getting 3-4 MBPS (when I was paying for 1,000!) over WiFi. That’s why I bought the Google OnHub, which has several antennas that send signals at 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz. Not to get too technical, but the 5 Ghz band is much less crowded. Google OnHub can then send different signals to different devices automatically based on what needs the bandwidth. You can also set priority devices.

The LIFX bulbs were my favorite in terms of color reproduction and brightness. If that’s important to you, and you only need a couple – LIFX may be a good solution.

What about LIFX? Should you look at LIFX?

What about LIFX? Should you look at LIFX?

Long story, short, the more WiFi-dependent devices you have, the more interference and competition for the same signal. LIFX wasn’t as consistently responsive on my network, so I made the change. However, I preferred the actual light bulb and app over Philip’s hue. I just didn’t want another 30+ devices on my WiFi network. Some people don’t like the added Hub, but I think it’s worth it.

LIFX also just debuted the LIFX+, I don’t have any need for it but it also adds the ability for infrared (invisible) light for use with your security cameras. This is the latest generation LIFX and I haven’t heard anything bad about the new LIFX+ lights.

Pros and Cons

One of the biggest pros of any Smart Light is that they are LED! LEDs last a long time (typically 50,000 hours vs. 1,200 hours for incandescent lights). They also are (usually) cool to the touch. The best news, they use a LOT less power. LEDs use about 6-8 Watts. Incandescent lights use about 10 times that amount, typically around 60 Watts! That’s a huge difference. You don’t need to worry about having a couple extra lights on. Some municipalities will also give you rebates for buying LEDs. You’ll save money and have full control over your smart lights.

Here’ aresome of the Pros and Cons of each Smart LED Lights

Bulb PROS CONS
Philips Hue Uses unique frequency. Most reliable. 3rd-party apps available. HomeKit compatible. Price. Official app isn’t great. Doesn’t respond to Wink commands as quickly as other lights.
LIFX Brightest, best colors of any of the lights. Great official app. Cheaper than Hue. Uses WiFi. No native Wink integration.
GE Link Cheap. Very responsive with Wink. Unreliable. Have had to reset same lights over and over.
Osram RGB Cheaper than Hue. Native Wink support. Unresponsive. Unreliable. Official app doesn’t work unless you get an Osram hub (then it doesn’t work with Wink). Weird effect when changing colors.
Cree Connected Similar to GE Link. Cheap. Responsive. My least favorite of all the lights. I’ve had reliability issues and the reset process is difficult (To reset: 2 seconds off, 1 second on…really?!).

Remember how I didn’t want to have to use my phone? In addition to the GoControl motion sensors, I have the Lutron Connected Lightbulb Remote. This lightbulb allows me to assign shortcuts to buttons on the remote. See my current set up below:

My Lutron Connected Bulb Remote setup in Wink

My Lutron Connected Bulb Remote setup in Wink

I also use motion sensors a lot! Check out my quick start guide to a smart home where I talk about some of the short cuts that I use and robots that I use. You can also get the Philips Tap to act like a light switch.

I also use Amazon Alexa a lot to control the lights. You can set up groups (the Amazon Alexa app even has a section devoted to smart home devices) to tell Alexa, “Turn Downstairs On.” She will then turn on all the lights in the downstairs group. You can also use IFTTT to tell Alexa to Wink trigger shortcuts. There are some other apps that I haven’t used very much that allow you to do similar functions (Yonomi and Stringify are the front-runners here).

The Downside of Smart Lights

Here’s the biggest issue with Smart Lights: light switches. You’ll have to train your family (and guests) to not use the light switches. I know that sounds really silly, but in order for the lights to work, they need to be powered “on” all the time. This allows the hub to communicate to the light, even when the light itself is off. This was easy for my wife and I since we moved into a new house and the switches were really confusing.

Are there any other options? Sure – you could do a smart light switch AND a light, but that’s a bit overkill. If you just want simple on-off functionality, you could simply buy a smart switch. I’ve played around with them, but I greatly prefer the Smart Light option. One option that I wish I knew about before was a micro, in-wall controller like this bad boy. It fits snug within your existing switch and it acts like a toggle. If you flip the switch up isn’t always on, it just changes it from the previous state. If it was on before, it would turn it off. This is really nice to use with a setup like Wink. It allows you to control via an app (and Robots and Schedules) without telling people to not touch the switches.

What about power usage? I can’t find the article right now, but somewhere I read that a single LED light that is not turned on but is powered on, will use the same amount of energy in 1 YEAR in that state than a standard light bulb uses in 2 MINUTES! So, don’t worry about power usage.

The great news is that if you don’t have your system fine-tuned to where you don’t need an app and someone needs a light on, you can simply switch the switch off then on again. The light will come back on. All the lights I’ve used will come back on. At what state they come back on is a different story. If your light was previously a green color, for example, LIFX is the only one that will remember that previous state. Philips Hue and most other lights will simply turn to a warm white color (I hate the color but the light works!).

I chose not to review any Bluetooth lights simply because of range.

Bottom Line

It all depends on what you are looking for. What Hub do you need to sync with? What’s your budget? If budget is no issue, I’d recommend that Philips Hue system. It works with Wink and SmartThings. It’s not perfect, but constantly being updated. Even better, if you want to change only color warmth, Philips offers a cheaper version that doesn’t produce all the crazy colors but different levels of “cool” and “warm” light.

What do you think? What lights do you enjoy?

See also:

The Best Cheap Smart Lights

Coming soon: Best Wink Lights

 

KODAK Security Outdoor Camera EP101WG Review – Outdoor

KODAK has always been synonymous with Cameras and tech, since 1888! Fast forward to 2018 and KODAK has made a move into the Smart Home space, releasing a KODAK Smart Security System. This has been done via a licensing deal with Liz Invest.

The system includes a range of HD indoor and outdoor cameras and sensors. We are having a look at the EP101WG the outdoor HD motorised camera.

What does the EP101WG outdoor KODAK camera do?

This is a monster of an outdoor camera, not a stealth or discreet outdoor camera. The camera itself is inside a done mounted on an arm – this allows it to offer impressive pan, tilt and zoom functionality.

The camera is full HD 1080p is IP66, so fully safe for outside and has internal SD recording option as well as Google Drive. This means no on-going subscriptions are required, great news as most of the new cameras in this space come with hefty subscriptions.

The camera also has 10-meter night vision and infrared filter, for clear vision.

As the camera is part of a full security system it can be connected to KODAK sensors. When these sensors are triggered the camera will automatically turn to the sensor if triggered.

How easy is it to setup?

First you need to install the camera, this is straightforward as the cables run nicely through the arm. The cables and connectors are not waterproof so these need to be ran inside.

Kodak security system

However, as the cables both come together through the arm a small hole can be drilled for the power cable and ethernet if needed. We didn’t use the ethernet just WiFi. It can then be fitted flush to the wall.

The next step is to download and installing the free KODAK Security mobile app.

Like most smart home tech, the setup is done by connecting to the cameras own WiFi signal then adding it to the local network WiFi. We did have a small hiccup during setup, but a quick reset fixed it.

(If you are reading this and having issues the reset button is not labelled and hidden inside the SD cover. Press it in for 8 seconds to rest)

Once setup one essential step is to change the default password as it is 123456. This can be changed inside the advanced settings.

What is the connectivity?

The KODAK system connects to Google Drive to store recordings however that aside it has no third party connectivity. We can only assume this is by design as it is a security system so not wanting IFTTT is understandable. However a Amazon Alexa Skill or some smart home connectivity does seem like a missing feature.

How much does the EP101WG cost?

£169.99 for the camera, additional security accessories are sold separately.

Alternatively If you are after the full solution you can buy a starter kit that contains a camera and sensors for a reduced price.

What’s it like living with it?

The camera is great, excellent picture day and night – the super smooth pan and zoom work very well.
Kodak EP101WG Night view

The app is packed with features  although all oddly hidden within settings, the cog, and  advanced. These include:

  • Email alerts – receive emails when motion is detected
  • Video settings – change quality, light and flip image
  • Cloud settings – connect to Google Drive
  • Sensitivity settings  – change motion sensitivity including masking an area

KODAK Security Camera SettingsMost of these options normally are setup within the main menu so why they decided to hide them under advanced we are not sure.

What are our final thoughts?

This is a great subscription free camera solution, especially if you add the functionality of the sensors. The app is packed with features, even if it does take a while to find them all. Motion masking is great, not all cameras offer this.
Kodak EP101WG reviewThe only thing missing is third party connectivity. For example; Alexa show my garden camera or triggering Philips Hue lights if motion. Hopefully that will come later!

For more information please visit their website: /be-connected.com/

(717) 973-7963

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