Smart Home Living
How I Transformed My Loft Apartment with These 4 Accessories
All the accessories you need to start controlling your lights, temperature, and more!
My smart home adventures began when I installed HomeKit-compatible lights in my loft apartment (a major change from the two separate remotes I previously used to control my lights). I now control the lights on both levels from my iPhone. And I'll never use the remotes again.
Setting up smart home devices is simple, yet still a significant achievement worthy of techie points. While most devices—such as light switches, bulbs, motion sensors, thermostats, and door locks—will have their own app, you can also control them from Apple's Home app. Even basic home automation can add to the security and convenience of your home, and now Apple has put this great power in the hands of its users, and it feels like a leap into the future. Here, I'll share how I set up four smart home accessories and what I learned along the way.
PureGear PureSwitch Wireless Smart Plug ($49.95)
If smart home tech intimidates you, I recommend starting with just one HomeKit device: a smart plug like the PureSwitch. With the flexibility of a smart plug, you can turn any household appliance you plug into it into a smart device you can control remotely with your iPhone or iPad. To set the PureSwitch up, plug it into the wall, and then pair it with your iPhone or iPad by scanning the HomeKit code on the package using your iOS device (the PureSwitch won't work with Android phones). The instructions say to hold your device close to the PureSwitch, but I found it connected whether or not it was nearby. The PureSwitch has a manual ON/OFF switch on the bottom, though it is a bit difficult to find, and also includes a USB port right on the outlet, which is nice.
You can control the plug through either the PureSwitch app or Apple's Home app (use the Home app to have the switch show up in third-party HomeKit device apps). Both PureGear's app and Apple's app allow for the creation of Scenes, which allow you to trigger certain settings on multiple devices with one tap, such as a nighttime scene that turns off the lights and lowers the thermostat.
Phillips Hue White Ambiance Starter Kit E26 ($149.99)
The Phillips Hue Kit is a set of four bulbs and a bridge that allows you to turn on and off the lights or dim the brightness right from your iPhone or iPad. But where these bulbs really dazzle is in their ambiance control. Their range of cool to warm tones is enough to really make a difference in the feel of a space. They list the color temperature range as being 2,200–6,500 kelvin, which allows you to adjust them from a cool white to a warm amber glow.
Setting up the bridge and the bulbs was easy. I plugged the bridge into my router, and in about a minute it recognized all the bulbs in my lamps. You can rename the bulbs and assign them to different areas in your home. Next, I set up Scenes. Good Morning, Arrive Home, Good Night, and Leave Home were all a blast to set up. For example, I set the morning Scene to 100 percent brightness with a cool white. You can set any Scene with a timer as well; I set this to come on at 7:45 a.m. Both settings worked flawlessly. For the Arrive Home setting, I was able to set my location in the Home app and link it to the Scene. Walking up to my door and seeing the lights turn on was extremely satisfying. I set my Arrive Home scene to 70 percent brightness and used the warm side of the spectrum for a nice yellow glow.
Between timers and location triggers, I was able to set up five Scenes that I use every day now. You can also tie the bulbs to a motion sensor, and trigger Scenes based on motion. Another feature that works really well is the ability for a guest to control lights, which is nice if you have friends over regularly.
Elgato Eve Motion Wireless Motion Sensor ($49.95)
The Eve Motion is a motion sensor that allows for the triggering of HomeKit devices and Scenes if it senses movement. The Eve Motion also has a timer setting, so if no motion is detected for a certain amount of time, it can turn off lights and devices. To make things a little more sophisticated, you can link the Eve Motion to the Eve Degree to detect for motion only if certain environmental conditions are met. Is there a situation where motion in an area turns on a heater if the temperature is below a certain degree? Most certainly.
I used the Eve Motion to automate my lighting based on motion. To get the most out of the Eve Motion (e.g., triggering Scenes, adjusting the timing, and adjusting the sensitivity) I had to access it through the Eve app. The Eve app also keeps a record of all motion detected by the Eve Motion. However, connecting it to the Home app was useful in that it allowed me to activate notifications. Any time the Eve Motion detected motion, it would send a notification to my iPhone. This would be a great feature for monitoring the security of the home. Of course, you can shut off this feature if you get tired of receiving notifications.
Elgato Eve Degree Connected Weather Station ($59–$69)
The Eve Degree is all about improving home comfort. You can use Siri to ask for the temperature and humidity measurement, and control your devices connected to Eve Energy (the company's switch and power meter) with just your voice.
The Eve Degree is small and features a digital readout screen, detailed aluminum trim, and a range of detection for temperature and humidity. Setting up the device with the Home app was easy too. At first the mode was stuck in Celsius, but after I downloaded the Eve app I was able to change it to Fahrenheit. Another absolutely stellar aspect of the Eve app is its tracking abilities, which includes a tracking history of temperature and humidity for the Eve Degree.
The coolest features of this device are its potential for automating atmospheric devices in the home such as fans, humidifiers, or heating and cooling units. I was not able to test out this functionality, but I have seen what people have done with this. This rising trend in DIY automation is a solid vote of proof that devices like the Eve Degree are ahead of the curve.
Start Your Smart Home Journey
When I first considered how smart devices would change my life at home, I had futuristic visions of a totally customized set of systems. With HomeKit's Scenes, I was able to get pretty close to my dream of full automation for my apartment's lighting. I am very satisfied with the improvements HomeKit and these smart devices have made to my home's ambiance. As the already massive list of HomeKit devices continues to grow, customization options for your home are limited only to your imagination.
Chris Vasques has worked for tech companies such as Avid and Gazelle, where his long history of gadget and technology fascination became a professional passion. He is currently studying Sustainable Community Development with a focus on Media Marketing, and enjoys writing, playing music, productivity hacks, and entrepreneurism.