Master in your own home

TECH TALK: Con­trol ev­ery de­vice from your phone says David Behrens.

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Front Page -

OT too long ago, the best you could hope for in the way of home au­to­ma­tion was a piece of cord that opened and closed the cur­tains when you pulled it. To­day, you can draw your drapes and much else us­ing your wi-fi net­work. A few strate­gi­cally placed switches dot­ted around your home and you can im­press your guests with ro­botic feats pre­vi­ously seen only in James Bond movies.

But there is more to au­to­ma­tion than sim­ply show­ing-off, es­pe­cially if used as part of a home se­cu­rity sys­tem. Re­motely con­trol­ling a few lamps can cre­ate the il­lu­sion that your house is oc­cu­pied more ef­fec­tively than a plug-in timer.

The wire­less tech­nol­ogy that fa­cil­i­tates this is known as Z-Wave, a pro­to­col which al­lows light­ing, en­ter­tain­ment sys­tems and other ap­pli­ances to com­mu­ni­cate with each other via a cen­tral con­troller, which in turn is op­er­ated from an app on your phone or iPad.

It’s pos­si­ble that you may al­ready have a suit­able con­troller, be­cause some of the new home se­cu­rity cam­eras are Z-Wave com­pat­i­ble. The Piper NV unit, which I tested the other week, can con­trol mul­ti­ple switches on the same net­work – which in prac­tice means turn­ing them on and off to a sched­ule, which can vary ac­cord­ing to whether you’re at home or out and away.

The sim­plest Z-Wave switch is an adapter that plugs into a mains socket and into which you plug the ap­pli­ance you want to con­trol. Your app sends it a sig­nal that turns the power on or off.

But, depend­ing on your con­troller, you can also con­nect wire­less door sen­sors, wall light switches and ther­mostats. Z-Wave con­forms to an in­dus­try-wide stan­dard, so you’re not tied to pro­pri­etary con­trollers.

Set­ting up a Z-Wave sim­ply in­volves plug­ging it in and press­ing a but­ton, which makes it vis­i­ble to your con­troller app. If you’ve ever used a Home­plug to hook up a de­vice to your net­work, you’ll be fa­mil­iar with the con­cept. Prices start at just un­der £30 for a plug-in switch but less if you buy in bulk al­low­ing you to turn off all your lights, fans, tele­vi­sions, com­put­ers and just about any­thing else with a sin­gle click be­fore you go out. A so­le­noid switch on your gar­den hose could ir­ri­gate your lawn while you’re on hol­i­day, and a hooked-up smoke alarm could alert you re­motely. Ex­pect Z-Wave en­abled bulbs, switches and even fridge freez­ers at your lo­cal Cur­rys soon.

RE­MOTE CHANCE: This Piper home se­cu­rity cam­era can re­motely con­trol other ap­pli­ances.

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