Taking my 60s home into the 21st century has been a little challenging but luckily there are plenty of gadgets on the market to help achieve this. I could probably spend thousands on all the latest tech but unfortunately I have to work to a budget so here are my top 10 and must haves for the smart homes of the future.
- Solar panels. Luckily we purchased a house with panels pre-installed so saved a fortune. We love the idea of being more self sufficient and these panels produce about 2500 watts (Kwh) on a warm summer day, which is more than enough to power most of our household appliances. Free electricity… Great! All the electricity we don’t use gets fed back into the national power grid and the best bit about this is we get paid for it! It works out as about £1000 a year. Enough to feed my wife’s holiday addiction… well, one of her holidays anyway.
- ImmerSun immersion hot water heater. This clever little bit of kit utilises the energy produced by our solar panels and feeds it into our hot water emersion tank. So, free hot water when the sun is shining. Happy days.
- Hive, heating and hot water smart control. Hive active heating system allows you to control your heating and hot water from your smart phone or any internet browser. Set schedules and temperatures from the comfort of your sofa or turn your heating on remotely anywhere in the world. A great tool to help manage costs and gone are the days of reading manuals and trying to program a schedule with a couple of buttons. Hive have also released an number of other home security and home automation gadgets that’ll make your home that little bit smarter. I’ve got my eye on the smart plugs that will allow you to switch lights on and off from anywhere.
- Network file storage. As we move further into the digital age, data storage requirements keep growing. Its all very well buying another USB hard drive to store all those sentimental photos and important documents but what happens if the hard drive fails? And how do you share these around all your home computers? The answer is networked attached storage (NAS). These cushty devices give you the ability to mirror two drives and access them over your home network. Called RAID 1 mirroring, you install two hard drives in one box and save all your important files on one drive, the NAS box then copies all the files to the other drive, giving you two copies of all your files. Then, if anything happens to one drive you can still access all the data from the other drive. Some of these will also offer cloud access which gives you the ability to access all your files from anywhere in the world. Mine was only £46 for the NAS box and £160 for 2 x 1TB drives. You can buy them with or without the drives. Setup is really quite easy but you need to make sure you have two of the same drives.
- Panasonic Smart Home. One of my latest editions to the smart family home is this security and home automation kit. Again, all controlled from your smart phone, this completely wireless system allows you to secure your whole home with censors, cameras, alarms and smart plugs. The thing I love about this system is that it’s all completely wireless and the range of the devices can reach up to 300m from the hub! 300m!! Thats insane! I fitted out my garden workshop and shed with this system which are about 30m from the house and all the devices get a full signal. Thats impressive. I’ve started with the KH-HN6011EW Home Safety Starter Kit which comes with the main hub door/window censor, motion censor and siren/strobe alarm. It was only £100 and covers both my garden buildings. Any movement inside each building or attempt to open a door will instantly trigger the alarm (loud siren and bright strobe light) and notifies me on my mobile phone. You can add up to 50 devices to one hub and install multiple hubs so theres no shortage of coverage around even the biggest houses. I’ll be adding a camera or two soon too. These are great as they allow two way communication to your smart phone. Watch the video here.
- Bluetooth radio. My wife Victoria recently got sent this Hepburn bluetooth DAB radio to review and we love it. Connects direct to our iPhones and has great sound quality for the size of the unit. We put ours in the kitchen but it’s a great portable unit both in and out of the house.
- TV linked to a PC with mini wireless keyboard. As we watch most films and TV through the internet we needed something suitable and easy to control on our main family living room TV. This works great with the mini wireless keyboard. It’s as small as a normal TV remote and contains a full QWERTY keyboard and touch pad. Easy to control the computer from the comfort of the sofa.
- Apple TV. This is much more than just a TV, it’s also great for wirelessly screen sharing from any apple device. We use it to do slide shows from our iPhones when family come over. It’s also great for accessing your iTunes library to play music and watching a host of TV programs, not to mention a bargain at under £80 (for the 3rd gen).
- Powerline network extenders. These clever little gadgets utilise your existing home power cables as network cables, transferring and linking data from your router to anywhere in the house. This is great if your wireless network doesn’t cover all areas of your house and it gives 1000Mbps speeds.
- G-Tech AirRam. We love this vacuum cleaner as it makes cleaning so much easier. With two kids we find so much dirt gets dragged into the house and dropped onto the floor that vacuuming is a daily task. This AirRam means we can just grab it, switch it on and go wizzing round the house in less than 5 minutes. We purchased the AirRam and Multi bundle at £299.00 so that we had the hand held to clean stairs and difficult to reach areas. They’re both wireless, easy to empty, powerful and last about 40 minutes which is more than enough to clean the whole house. A must have and no brainer for future tech.
Well thats it for now but I’m sure there will be plenty more on the way… If I can get Victoria to stop buying holidays 🙂 Love you wifey X