Imagine changing the color that emits from your light fixture when you’re thousands of miles away or checking whether you’re running low on milk with a peek into your fridge while sitting at your desk at work. These are just some of the latest innovations that exist today to automate your home.
With the advent of integrated technology, you can stay in the kitchen while accessing the internet for recipes, video chatting with friends, creating shopping lists, adjusting the thermostat, controlling door locks and lights, and using other functions that used to require different devices and applications. And, if things get a bit too smoky or hot while you’re cooking, you can simply turn on its exhaust fan.
What's new GE’s Kitchen Hub combines touch-screen technology, home automation and cameras. Though it looks like an above-stove microwave, the product is actually a 27-inch tablet with an exhaust fan, says Alan Howard, vice president of Plesser Appliance of Babylon. “Think of it as an oversized cellphone that integrates social media, video chat and runs all Android applications,” says Howard. “You can watch TV, surf the web or check in on another room utilizing apps from Nest or Ring.” With built-in cameras and WiFi, the Hub allows you to watch cooking demonstrations or demonstrate your own cooking chops through livestreaming and even see who’s at the door. The cost is $1,199. Installation is $149.
With an app on a phone, tablet or other smart device, you can control door locks, lights and dishwashers, see live video and even detect smoke in the air, either through upgrading your existing security system or installing a new one.
“It’s a totally integrated solution,” says Richard Soloway, president and chief executive officer of NAPCO Security Technologies, an Amityville-based manufacturer of security products.
What's new NAPCO’s StarLink Connect Cellular Communicator/Hub provides cellular alarm reporting and remote smart home control, video and text notifications via an app called iBridge. “Once the Starlink Connect is installed, any alarm system can be operated with a cellphone app, so the homeowner can adjust thermostats remotely, see live video from interior and exterior cameras on their smartphone, turn lights on and off, lock doors, turn the alarm on and off,” says Soloway. The cost is $250, plus installation. Fees for central station monitoring vary from company to company.
Interconnectivity is key to the systems that integrate everything in the house, from TV, audio and video to lighting and shade control and the pool and spa, says Paul Genovese, owner of Sound Dimensions in Syosset.
“With a touch of a button, we can set up an outdoor party scene that turns on your outdoor TV," he says. You can "listen through your speakers or play music while watching your favorite sporting event."
What's new Séura, a Green Bay, Wisconsin-based tech company, sells larger outdoor televisions — up to 86 inches — that come in two versions: one for sunny areas and another for shade. Both are completely weatherproof. “You can leave it outdoors 365 days a year,” says Genovese. They range from 49 inches for $5,999 to 86 inches for $21,999, plus installation.
Lighting and electricity
Advances include centralized and remote systems that enable homeowners to control features that can either be installed during home construction or retrofitted to a home. . Although they can still be turned on and off manually, lights can then be controlled via an app, says Gary Salice, owner of GJS Electric in Mattituck. Such a system has multiple functions, including an astronomical time clock, which sets exterior lighting to correspond to sunrise and sunset, and geolocations, which follow your cellphone location to do things such as turn on lights in a driveway as your car pulls up.
Other advances include monitoring systems that can shut off appliances when someone is not home or run a washer and dryer or other appliances during off-peak electric hours.
What's new Lutron QS Wireless lighting control system, a light management system, also controls audio/visual, security and HVAC systems. The cost for installation in a 3,500-square-foot home is $25,000 to $35,000.
As smart home technology becomes more popular, more companies are starting to offer home-tech consultations.
What's new If you’re looking to upgrade your home’s technology and don’t know where to begin, consider a room-by-room evaluation.
The $99 starting price for P.C. Richard & Son’s in-home tech survey goes toward the purchase price of any ordered products, and the product installed, says John Pflug, marketing director for the Farmingdale-based tristate appliance and electronics chain. In the past, these surveys started with someone looking to buy a specific product, such as a thermostat or television, says Michael Valente, marketing manager for the chain. Now, customers with a general interest in updating their home’s technology can have an expert come in to see what would work best in their homes.