Smart Home Liv­ing

How I Trans­formed My Loft Apart­ment with These 4 Ac­ces­sories

iPhone Life Magazine - - News - by Chris Vasques

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.

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