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How to bring your smarthome outside

How to bring your smarthome outside

A lot of smarthome devices connect via Wi-Fi, which is fine if you only have a handful of them installed. However, if you plan on decking out every room in your home with smarthome gear, be wary of Wi-Fi.

There’s nothing wrong with Wi-Fi-based smarthome devices, but the more you install in your home, the more congested your Wi-Fi network can get. If you’re just starting and are still slowly building up your smarthome, you don’t have anything to worry about yet. However, if you ever plan to add smarts to every switch, outlet, light bulb, and every other device in your house, you may want to use something other than Wi-Fi, and here’s why.

Wi-Fi Has Its Limits

Wi-Fi sure seems like a magical technology with limitless possibilities, but it’s not invincible. It has limitations you should consider.

How to bring your smarthome outside

A Wi-Fi router can theoretically support up to 255 connected client devices. But, even though it’s possible to connect 255 devices to your router, it’s not even close to practical. Not only would all of those devices be competing for bandwidth on your single internet connection, but all of your Wi-Fi devices would be interfering with each other to the point that nothing would get a good wireless connection.

Granted, you’ll probably never get to the point where you have that many devices connected to your home network. But, if you convert every switch, outlet, and light bulb to a Wi-Fi-enabled smart version, you might end up getting very close to hitting that 255 number, depending on the size of your house. And that’s not even counting your phones, laptops, streaming boxes, and more.

Wi-Fi 6 could fix the congestion issue once hardware supporting this new standard appears later in 2019, but you’ll still deal with the device quantity limitation. The fewer devices you have, the better.

Stick to Z-Wave or ZigBee for Lights, Switches, and Outlets

How to bring your smarthome outside

It’s completely okay to stick with Wi-Fi for smarthome devices like the thermostat, video doorbell, voice assistants, and more (plus, you don’t have a choice there, as most of these devices are Wi-Fi only). However, if you’re going to plaster your entire house with smart bulbs for every single light fixture, it’s best to use a different wireless protocol, like Z-Wave or ZigBee.

For starters, these protocols don’t interfere with Wi-Fi, which will cut down on congestion overall. Furthermore, since Z-Wave and ZigBee devices require a hub that they all connect to, the number of devices on your network goes down significantly. So even if you install 20 Z-Wave light switches in your house, they all connect to your one smarthome hub. Your Wi-Fi router sees that as just one device on your network.

How to bring your smarthome outside

For example, you could buy 20 of these Kasa light switches from TP-Link, which each connect to Wi-Fi individually and are seen as 20 separate devices on the network. Or you could buy a Lutron Caseta kit that comes with a hub and a switch, and then 19 add-on switches. These don’t use Z-Wave, but rather a proprietary radio frequency. Still, even though you have 20 installed, your network only sees them as one device, since the hub is the only thing that connects to your router.

If You Only Have a Few Devices, Don’t Sweat It

How to bring your smarthome outside

While I still recommend using Z-Wave or ZigBee for small things like switches and outlets, it’s not a huge deal if you’re only outfitting your house with just a small handful of smarthome devices—maybe a switch here and there, or some smart lights in only your bedroom.

Plus, for the average consumer who might not know a lot about smarthome, it’s a lot easier to set up Wi-Fi-based devices anyway. But, as you become more experienced and expand your smarthome, you’ll discover that hub-based devices are the way to go for a lot of the smaller stuff, and many companies make it easy to set up hubs and connect devices to them.

How to bring your smarthome outsideAs the summer begins to heat up, your outdoor space becomes your patio oasis. your barbecue kitchen… and your backyard football field. You want your space to be ready for every event this summer. In order to make your outdoor space feel like it’s ready for fun in the sun, you need to “deck” it out with all the smart home accessories.

You might think that a smart home only pertains to the inside of your home, but that’s not always true. There are plenty of ways to automate your outdoor space that will allow you to enjoy the outdoors while still enjoying the comforts of technology. You can make your dream yard into a reality. Here is a detailed look into ways you can bring your smart home outdoors:

Music

Sonos One – Everyone knows you can’t have a cookout without some summer jams. You can use a Sonos One to set the mood for your backyard party! Sonos is the wireless Home Sound System that fills the outdoor space with great-sounding tunes. The Sonos one can also be paired with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa!

Sonos Sub Woofer – Get the party started with the wireless sub-woofer. It’s perfect for a deep bass! Sonos speakers are perfect to amp every moment with intense, pulse-pounding sound. Make sure to keep your Sonos Sub Woofer under a covered deck or a screened in porch.

Sonos Beam – Add a little extra fun with the Beam. The Sonos Beam pairs perfectly with TV or music. If you have an outdoor TV, you can play everything that matters to you with the beam outside. You can also control it with your voice, remote, or the Sonos app.

Amazon Echo – Make sure you add this Amazon Echo to your list. The Amazon Echo is a hands free speaker you can control with your voice or the app. The Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, answer questions, and provide the latest updates in sports, news, entertainment and more. You can ask Alexa all your summer related questions.
Alexa, order extra napkins for Friday’s barbecue
Alexa, set a chicken timer
Alexa, launch grilling guide
Alexa, turn on the playlist, Backyard Beats
Alexa, turn on the “Sunset” lights for our evening drinks

How to bring your smarthome outside

Cameras

Nest Hello Doorbell – Let’s just say you are working in the backyard before your outdoor barbecue begins and your neighbors come a little early. A Nest Hello will send notifications right to your phone that the party people have arrived. You can even let them know through the app to come around to the back.

Nest Cam Outdoor – Beside from keeping your house protected and safe from unwanted guests all year round. The Nest Cam will also allow you to look back on a 3-hour snapshot history so you never had to miss a thing. Especially the epic catch you made in the backyard football game. The outdoor camera is a plug and play and lets you monitor your home with 1080p video quality. With 24/7 streaming, you can check in anytime. Touchdown!

Ring Floodlight Cam – After the night is over, your Floodlight Cam will keep you safe and light up your side yard if any intruders are lurking around after the after party. The Ring Floodlight Cam protects your home with a motion-activated camera with a 140 ° field-of-view , a siren alarm and two-way audio. How to bring your smarthome outside

Lighting

Kasa Smart Wi-Fi LED Light Bulb – It’s not a party without mood lighting. That’s right! As the sun starts to set and your outdoor party feels like it might be coming to an end, keep the night going with Kasa Smart Wi-Fi LED Light Bulbs. You are able to control your smart bulb from anywhere with your smartphone using the Kasa Smart app. Who needs Tiki torches anyway?

Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug: tp Link – Or, you can plug your cute outdoor lights into a tp link so you can control them from anywhere from your smart phone using the Kasa Smart app. You can even use voice commands through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant with your smart plug. Make sure your tp link is covered and is not in a place with where water can interfere. The tp link is not water resistant.

Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch – A Smart Light Switch will allow you to control your backyard lights with your smart phone. It’s great for connecting to your Wi-Fi for complete control at your fingertips. Use Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or the Kasa app to dim and brighten, create schedules, timers, countdowns, and turn off and on.

How to bring your smarthome outside

Extra

Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Hub – This isn’t your typical garage door opener. The Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Hub sends you alerts every time your garage door is opened, or if you forget to close it after a certain amount of time.

Nest Learning Thermostat – Keep your house cool for when you need a break from the heat outside. Nest thermostats are great to regulate the temperature in your home. They even learn your cooling/heating habits and begin to keep your temperature just the way you like it. The Nest learns what temperature you like and builds a schedule around it. Studies have shown that it can save people an average of 10-12% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills.

Nest x Yale Lock – This lock is great for your backdoor allowing you easy in access so you don’t have to carry a key around during any social gathering where you may be going in and out of the house. The Nest X Yale Lock is a tamper-proof, key-free deadbolt that connects to the Nest app. You are able to lock and unlock your door from anywhere. You can even give people you trust a passcode during your backyard bash, instead of a key. You are also able to check your door status with your voice using the Google Assistant.

How to bring your smarthome outside

If you liked all of these ways to automate your backyard space, subscribe to the blog for more information on Connected Home Devices!

It’s also important to make sure your Internet is strong enough to handle all of these Connected Home Devices outside. You can now evolve your Internet with Premier! Get Internet everywhere you need and more. This is perfect for coverage outside on your deck especially during the summer! Enjoy Whole-Home Wi-Fi, your wireless gateway, Repair Protection and Internet Security with Password Manager. For more information on the Featured Premier Bundles or to add Premier to your Internet, visit Cincinnati Bell’s website.

Not all smart home gadgets are meant to be used indoors. Here are some of our favorites that dare to step outside.

How to bring your smarthome outside

Rachio 2nd Generation Smart Sprinkler

We’ve tested plenty of smart home gadgets that offer to bring some new intelligence to the outside of your home. Let’s start with Rachio, makers of a smart irrigation system that promises to smarten up your sprinklers for automated watering. If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, it’s a terrific upgrade.

How to bring your smarthome outside

Philips Hue Outdoor Lights

If you’re more interested in lighting, keep an eye on Philips Hue. This summer, it’s set to introduce a new lineup of outdoor smart lights, including weather-proof bulbs, color-changing path lights, and decorative spotlights.

Philips Hue Go

If you can’t wait a few months, you could go ahead and try out the Philips Hue Go, a portable, battery-powered accent light that would fit in nicely on a porch, or perhaps in a backyard tent.

Amazon Tap

You could also bring Alexa voice controls outside with the battery-powered Amazon Tap Bluetooth speaker.

Fabriq Chorus

The Tap isn’t your only option for Alexa-activated music on the go — you could also try out the Fabriq Chorus. It’s basically the same product as the Tap, complete with the same Alexa controls, but it comes in a variety of attractive fabric finishes.

Ninety7 Vaux

If you’re already using Alexa via the Amazon Echo Dot, you could give it an upgrade with the Vaux speaker base from Ninety7. Pop the Dot up top, then take Alexa with you.

Ninety7 Loft

If you’re a Google Home user, Ninety7 makes a similar product for that speaker, too. It excelled in our battery tests, offering up to 10 hours of portable music playback, and lasts even longer if you’re just keeping it in standby mode.

JBL Link 10

If you’re looking for an all-in-one Google Assistant smart speaker with outdoor-friendly portability, then the JBL Link 10 is a decent option.

Feit HomeBrite LED

Back to lighting: if you just want a simple smart bulb that’ll work outdoors, the Feit Homebrite line of Bluetooth smart bulbs includes a weather-proof PAR38 floodlight. That’s it on the right.

Sylvania Smart Plus Zigbee LED

Sylvania makes a weather-rated smart floodlight, too. Unlike Feit’s Bluetooth bulb, it uses Zigbee to communicate, so you’ll need a hub to pair it with.

iDevices Outdoor Switch

If you want to smarten up some Christmas lights, a space heater, or anything with a plug on it really, then consider plugging into the iDevices Outdoor Switch. It pairs with your home network over Wi-Fi so it doesn’t need a hub, and it works with Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, letting you turn whatever’s plugged into it on and off using voice commands.

Ring Video Doorbell

For smart security at your front door, consider the Ring Video Doorbell. It sends you a video notification whenever someone’s at the door, and keeps an eye out for package thieves, too.

Ring Floodlight Cam

You could also install the Ring Floodlight Cam outside of your home for motion-activated smart lighting and watchful camera security.

Nest Hello

Ring isn’t alone at your door, by the way. Along with competition from names like Skybell and August , Nest has a new video doorbell of its own, too.

Nest Outdoor Cam

Nest also sells a standalone, outdoor-friendly version of its camera, too, just in case you want to expand past your doorstep.

Tips, tricks and technologies to help you use Hive to connect your home

The Hive family of products has the capacity to transform every house into a smart home.

The Hive Active Light can be scheduled or turned on and off remotely, and made brighter and dimmer on demand at the touch of a finger. Hive’s Window or Door and Motion Sensors keep a vigilant eye on everything happening in your home. And what’s more, they ‘converse’ with you, sending mobile notifications if there is any movement or if a window has not been properly shut.

How to bring your smarthome outside

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The Hive Active Plug allows you to turn on and off any house appliance directly from your phone, tablet or computer, or schedule them to be switched off after a given period — thus saving energy, money and delivering peace of mind.

A house powered by Hive Active Heating can be scheduled to fit your lifestyle – allowing you to easily override the schedule from your mobile or tablet if you’re away.

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How to bring your smarthome outside

Could you be your organisation’s biggest cyber threat?

In partnership with Capita

How to bring your smarthome outside

Taking things a step further, the Hive thermostat can even be programmed to react to certain events in predetermined ways. For instance, it can be set to automatically turn the heating off if the outside temperature soars over 20 degrees, or switch on if it turns unexpectedly chilly overnight.

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Similar “recipes” can be brewed easily thanks to Hive now supporting IFTTT, or If This Then That, capability. The free web application which allows Hive users to customise, automate, and to experiment with the connected home to their heart’s content.

How to bring your smarthome outside

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino is an interaction designer and founder of IoT consultancy Designswarm. She is also a Hive user and an IFTTT buff.

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How to bring your smarthome outside

Brain Bar: Dangerous ideas welcome

In partnership with Brain Bar

“I’ve owned Hive Active Heating for over two years now and couldn’t survive the winter without it,” she says.

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One of her recipes, which she dubbed “The usual, please”, is a clever way to cut down on energy costs and at the same time avoid entering a freezing home after a long working day.

“You can earmark a train or underground station as the trigger point for the IFTTT app to ask if you are on your way home. That can be convenient for a number of reasons: my home, for instance, takes a while to warm up (thanks to Victorian sash windows) so by geocaching a station, I know I’m far away enough for my home to be nice and warm when I finally get there,” she explains. Similarly, the IFTTT app can be customised to recognise when you leave the geocached station.

Deschamps-Sonsino also explains how the Hive system helps to whittle down the energetic cost of throwing parties.

“I have about two parties a year where lots of people show up and the oven is working in overdrive” she says. “By placing my thermostat near the oven, Hive knows when it doesn’t need to work as hard to get my home and my guests to that perfect party temperature.”

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Hive can already give your hot water a boost if you’re out for a run with Strava or plug in to Hive Sensors to monitor your home’s surroundings to let you know if things aren’t as they should be.

As more and more products of the Hive family start supporting IFTTT capabilities, the number of recipes that can be invented is bound to rise. Imagine when it starts to drizzle and blow a freezing gale outside, you can instruct your home to turn up the heating, flick on the lights, fire up the kettle and switch on your stereo with your favourite relaxing jazz soundtrack.

If you think that sounds like utopia, you’d be wrong. It’s just one of the potential futures of a Hive connected home.

Locked out on the first day. New privacy worries. It’s the upgrade many tenants didn’t ask for.

How to bring your smarthome outside

Not everyone wants a smart home. Those who have it forced on them don’t feel safe in their own residences.

Patric Sandri/Getty Images

Daniel Bishop remembers the day he stopped feeling safe in his own home.

In January, Bishop and his neighbors at an apartment complex in San Jose, California, got a message from their property manager.

Every apartment was going to become a smart home, with a connected lock, water sensors, a smart thermostat and a wireless control hub to manage it all. There was a meet-and-greet event five days later for tenants who had questions, and then about two weeks later, the homes were fully converted.

Bishop, like many of his neighbors, didn’t ask for this, and he didn’t have a say in the change. It was his landlord’s decision, and so on installation day, Feb. 1, he looked at his new smart lock and tried typing in the unlock code that was texted to him.

It didn’t work. For nearly an hour, the software entrepreneur worked with the property manager to open his smart lock. A maintenance worker finally fixed it by connecting the hub to Bishop’s personal home network without asking for his permission, which he took as a serious breach of privacy.

Bishop’s story underscores the growing — but awkward — embrace of smart-home technology. Filling your abode with a collection of internet-connected devices is a trend that’s sweeping across homes everywhere, even if it potentially creates security vulnerabilities. It’s also caught on with apartment landlords, who see smart-home technology as a way to attract more tenants and save money through monitoring of energy and water usage. But the aggressive embrace of innovation could leave tenants, who don’t have a say in the upgrades, steaming.

“My fiancee saw me and said, ‘you look absolutely furious,’ and it’s because I am,” Bishop said. “You don’t have control in this situation, and it’s being thrust upon you.”

Smart-home gadgets can collect data on residents and sell it to advertisers. Then there are the hacks. But with regulations lagging behind deployments, often the only recourse tenants have for opting out of their new smart home is to move out.

“They suddenly have to choose between no home and a place where they perceive themselves to be spied on,” said Kathleen McGee, the former chief of the New York State attorney general’s internet bureau.

Thank you for attending Level Up the Smart Home on October 27, 2020. Event videos are below.

Money Matters

Device makers need to align their infrastructure costs and business models if we want the smart home to go mainstream. We’ll talk about set-your-price subscription plans, how to figure out what kind of business model your product can support, and the dangers of not producing a connected product.

Dave Crosby, creative director and co-founder of Wyze

Jonathan Williams, product management, IoT & Wireless at Twilio Inc.

Scott Harkins, VP/GM Connected Home at Resideo

Getting to Green

As my pile of defunct smart home devices grows, so do my concerns about the impact of this technology on the environment. We’ll talk about how to make our love of technology work for the environment, not against it.

Björn Block Business Area Manager IKEA Home Smart

Shawn Stover VP of Smart Home at GE Appliances

Context Clues (10:45 am PT/ 1:45 pm ET)

How to help the home understand who we are and what we want.

Taj Manku CEO of Cognitive Systems

Jake Sprouse Head of Technology at Synapse

The Dark Side of the IoT (11:30 am PT / 2:30 pm ET)

When we bring smart devices into our homes, we’re allowing companies and our housemates to surveil us. The benefits of that surveillance are convenience and personalized services. But we also need to address the potential cons.

Mark Rolston, founder and chief creative officer at Argo Design

Erica Olsen, Director of the Saftey Net Project at The National Network to End Domestic Violence

Sponsors

This event is brought to you for free thanks to the support of our sponsors. Please support them by visiting their web sites to learn more.

How to bring your smarthome outside

Silicon Labs, the leader in IoT silicon, software, and solutions, makes it easier for developers to build devices that work with multiple smart home ecosystems, multiple wireless protocols and ensure you are ready for the future of smart home. Learn more.

How to bring your smarthome outside

Ready to win validation, recognition, & visibility for your smart home product? Apply now for the 2021 Best of the Smart Home Awards to get your product in the hands of judges like Stacey Higginbotham and Rob Tiffany, VP of IoT Strategy at Ericsson. Awards sponsored by Very. Learn more and apply at bestofthesmarthome. com .

IoT Podcast

Listen to the latest episode of the Internet of Things Podcast. Just press play!

@canterrain
February 17, 2019, 6:40am EDT

How to bring your smarthome outside

Smarthomes still aren’t very smart, and voice assistants don’t truly understand you. Beyond using groups, you should name your devices carefully to avoid overlap, hard to remember names, and confusion—both for you and your voice assistant.

Similar Device Names Introduces Command Confusion

Have you ever asked Alexa or Google to turn off the living room light, only to get asked repeatedly which living room device you want off? You can try to enunciate better or be more specific, just to be left frustrated because Google and Alexa don’t understand what you want.

Usually, the problem is you. If you named a smart outlet “study,” a smart light bulb “study,” and a smart switch “study,” your voice assistant won’t understand which device it should turn off. You can solve some of this by setting up groups. But it also helps if you follow some basic rules when naming your smart devices.

Plus, naming your smart devices well from the beginning helps you avoid having to relearn those names when you’re forced to change things down the line.

Name Groups After Rooms or Purposes

How to bring your smarthome outside

The most important names for your smarthome are the names of your groups. If you aren’t grouping the devices in your house, you should be. You’ll accomplish more with fewer words, and you’ll have less to remember. Both Google and Amazon have made it easy to create groups, and the sooner you do this, the better off you will be.

One good strategy is to name your groups after the room in which they’re located. A group for devices in your living room should be named Living Room, a group for your study should be called Study, and so on. The exception is for groups of things not tied to a specific room. In that case, you should use their purpose for the name.

For example, if all your Christmas lights are on smart outdoor outlets, then put them in a group named Christmas. You’ll tell your voice assistant “turn off Christmas” when you want to control the group.

This also applies even if devices are in the same room as other devices, but you want to control them separately. For example, maybe you’ve got a lamp or a bias light behind your TV that you don’t want to turn off along with the other devices in the room. In that case, leave those devices out of the main group and put them into their own group if you need to.

Always Use Unique Names For Your Devices

Once you have groups out of the way, it’s time to worry about naming devices. The worst thing you can do is use the same name for different devices. If you name a smart light and a smart switch “study,” your voice assistant will get confused when you say “turn off the study.” It won’t know which device you mean.

Voice assistants need some way to differentiate between devices. You can accomplish either by naming devices after their locations in the room or with the name of the room followed by a number.

Name Similar Devices For Their Location in a Room

How to bring your smarthome outside

You should name most devices after their physical location in the room. This especially applies to smart lights, as you probably have more than one in a room. If you have a smart light named “fireplace” and another light named “window,” you will have a better chance of remembering their unique names. This matters most when you want to control individual devices, such as the light above or across the room from your TV.

Remember, when controlling individual devices it’s not only important your voice assistant understand what smart thing you’re referring to. It’s also important you can easily recall what name to use.

If you can look at a device’s location and easily remember its name, that will make everything easier. If the name of the location itself won’t work, then try something associated with that location. For example, we named a light near our home entertainment center “PlayStation” because the TV itself is voice controlled, but the PlayStation isn’t. The more obvious name is taken, but we still found a unique name for our devices.

Add Numbers When Individual Control is Unnecessary

How to bring your smarthome outside

Sometimes you don’t need to control all the different smart things in a room or group. If you have three overhead lights in the kitchen that are controlled by a single switch, it’s unlikely you’ll ever turn on just one or two by voice. Likewise, if you have all your outdoor Christmas lights on a smart outlet, you probably won’t turn them on one by one. The best thing to do is name them sequentially after their associated group. For kitchen lights, that could be Kitchen 1, Kitchen 2, Kitchen 3. For the Christmas lights, you could name them Christmas 1, Christmas 2, Christmas 3, and so on.

On the rare occasion that you do want to control just a single smart device, Google and Alexa can still handle this. The main purpose here is identifying the devices easier when you’re grouping them—after that, you’ll control them by their group name. And you won’t have to spend much time thinking of a unique name. The number in the name is still necessary. It avoids the confusion of your voice assistant asking “which kitchen do you mean?”

These simple guidelines are a powerful way to make your smarthome work better. Voice assistants still have problems understanding us and can stumble. We humans are pretty forgetful, too. These tips will make your voice assistant understand you better, and aid you in remembering the correct things to say.

Smart home hubs are designed to be the connector of your smart home devices. With a home automation hub, you’ll have the power to manage your appliances with your smartphone for centralized control.

Best Voice Assisted Smart Home Hub

How to bring your smarthome outside

Amazon Echo Plus

Why we picked it

  • Control multiple smart home devices hands-free using Amazon Alexa voice commands
  • Built-in temperature sensor to detect and share the temperature of rooms that your connected smart home devices are in
  • 360-degree audio with seven built-in microphones for crystal clear sound

Best Connecting Smart Home Hub

How to bring your smarthome outside

Google Home Hub

Why we picked it

  • Syncs seamlessly with Nest security smart home products to see who’s at your door from the display
  • Uses the Google Home mobile app to control smart home devices remotely
  • Connects with over 5,000 smart home products at once

Best Value Smart Home Hub

How to bring your smarthome outside

Samsung SmartThings Hub

Why we picked it

  • Schedule when devices automatically turn on and off using SmartThings Routines
  • Connect the smart home hub to voice assistants for hands-free control
  • Control all smart devices using the SmartThings app via smartphone
  • Amazon Echo Plus– Best Voice Assisted Smart Home Hub
  • Google Home Hub– Best Connecting Smart Home Hub
  • Samsung SmartThings Hub– Best Value Smart Home Hub
  • Securifi Smart Home Hub– Best for Safety Smart Home Hub
  • Apple TV 4K– Best for Entertainment Hub

Smart home hubs are a great way to bring all of your smart home devices together. With a central home hub, your smart home devices are much easier to manage, often with a smartphone. Having centralized control of all your devices can save a great deal of time in your day-to-day life.

The best home hub for you will depend on a number of things including what devices you already have, what your budget is and what features each home hub can offer. We will be taking a look at some of the best home automation systems including the Samsung smart hub, Google smart home devices and more.

What Is a Smart Home Hub?

A smart hub for your home is either a device or a mobile app that connects all your smart home devices together. This allows you to control all smart devices from one centralized place. With a smart home hub, you will be able to control everything from your smart speaker to your window blinds, thermostat, home security system and other smart home devices.

You can use your smart hub to control lots of different smart settings, like when your heating comes on, when your blinds open or what time your lights come on. This can make your home look occupied to deter thieves — a great addition to any home security system.

The ability to control all smart home devices from a mobile app can save time compared to controlling every device manually. Just a tap of an app is all you need to take full control of your smart home system.

Your Windows computer has a certain set of integral files built-in to it, such as the Computer, User Files, Network, Recycle Bin, and Control Panel folders.

Now, you can get to any of these folders at any time by looking them up in the Windows Start Menu, or by typing their name into the search bar. However, if you find yourself using one or more of them frequently, you may find it easier to simply add it to your desktop instead.

Adding these shortcuts to your desktop will allow you to click on them to open them in one step, as well as click and drag other files to them to easily keep your desktop organized.

Here’s how to add icons to your desktop on your Windows 10 computer.

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Windows 10 (From $139.99 at Best Buy)

Lenovo IdeaPad 130 (From $299.99 at Best Buy)

How to add icons to your desktop on your Windows 10 computer

1. Open the Start menu by clicking the Windows icon at the bottom-left of your screen.

2. Select the Settings button, the gear icon above the power button.

3. In the Settings menu, click “Personalization,” the icon at the top-left depicting an image of a desktop computer and a paintbrush.

4. From the menu on the left hand side, select “Themes.”

5. Under “Related Settings” on the right hand side, click “Desktop icon settings.”

6. In the pop-up menu, choose the icons that you want to appear on your desktop from the checklist, then click “Apply.”

7. After the process is complete, click “OK.”

How to bring your smarthome outside

You may think that cats have to go outside to be happy. But cats would disagree with you (and so would local birds!)

Actually, close to two-thirds of owned cats live indoors either exclusively or for a majority of the time. Cats can live a happy and healthy life indoors with their families.

Allowing your cats to roam outdoors can significantly shorten their lives. Potentially deadly dangers—parasites, catching diseases from other cats, being hit by cars, stolen by strangers, attacked by predators, or just plain getting lost—are constant threats to an outdoor cat. And cats themselves can be deadly to local wildlife.

So how do you keep kitty both safe and happy inside? Follow our suggestions:

Believe you (and your cat) can do it

Millions of cats spend their entire lives indoors without complaint. They’ve never been outside and have no desire to venture out. In fact, many become frightened if they accidentally wander out the door.

“But my cat has always gone outside,” you protest. “I can’t keep them in now.”

That’s not necessarily true. Plenty of stray cats have been adopted and turned into happy indoor kitties who don’t want to go out. The trick is to make the great indoors as fun and intriguing as the outdoors.

Move your cat indoors slowly

Make the change from outdoors to indoors gradually, until the new way of life becomes old hat. Many cats will adjust with little effort, while others will be miserable—and let you know it. They might scratch at doors, claw at windows, yowl, and try to dash through open doors. So be prepared:

  • If your cat has never used a scratching post or a litter box, introduce both items well before transitioning your cat to life inside.
  • Feed your cat indoors. Instead of letting your cat back outside as soon as they’re finished eating, keep them inside for increasing periods of time.
  • If you’re starting your cat’s retraining during the winter, a warm, dry bed to snuggle in may be just the ticket to convince them to stay inside.
  • If they try to make a break for the door, rattle a jar of pennies or give them a squirt with a water gun.
  • Never hit, kick or yell at them; they’ll become afraid of you.
  • You can train them to run away from an open door by throwing a treat to the other side of the room.

Don’t let allergies or pregnancy make you consider putting your cat outside or even giving them up. Work with your doctor to manage these conditions instead.

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How to bring your smarthome outside

Make life inside fun for your cat

Though people domesticated cats several thousand years ago, they still retain many behaviors of their wild ancestors. Give your kitty plenty of indoors options to express their natural behaviors.

  • A cat’s play is all based on the hunting instinct, so give them plenty of toys to stalk, chase, pounce on, and kill. They don’t have to be fancy; a ball of aluminum foil and a paper bag delight many a cat.
  • Cats like to observe their world from above (which is why they climb trees and roofs), so give or make yours a cat tree or kitty jungle gym to climb.
  • Give them a sunny window so they can watch the birds or bask in a sunbeam. Make sure the screen is very secure before opening the window.
  • Grow cat grass (available at pet supply stores) for them to chew on.
  • Give them lots of your time and attention.

You can also try a couple of safe ways for your cat to enjoy the outdoors:

  • If your cat is agreeable, train them to walk on a cat harness and leash and take them for a stroll. Don’t let them get too far from you where they could encounter something dangerous.
  • Think about building a screened-in enclosure attached (otherwise known as a “catio”) to the house where your cat can pretend they’re an outdoor kitty.

Recognize when it’s time for your cat to go cold turkey

If you’re having trouble slowly transitioning your cat to a happy life indoors, it may be better to go “cold turkey.” Letting your cat outdoors occasionally may only reinforce their pestering behaviors, so keep them indoors all the time.

Do your best not to give in to their requests to go out, and distract their attention with play. Your veterinarian may also prescribe a short course of anti-anxiety medication or homeopathic therapy to help your cat through the transition period.

When you’re ready to give up, get strategic

If you’re thinking of putting your indoor cat out because they’re scratching your couch or not using the litter box, please trouble shoot and look into behavior resources.

Finally, training your cat to walk on a harness and leash can be fun for both of you, and it provides your cat with fresh air and exercise in a safe way.

Be proud that you’re protecting wildlife

If you’re still on the fence about keeping your cat inside, consider the welfare of your neighborhood wildlife.

A cat’s hunting instinct is just that—an instinct. Even well-fed pet cats who are allowed to roam outdoors may attempt to prey on smaller animals, with varying levels of success.

Outdoor cats can have an impact on wildlife populations, especially when threatened and endangered species are concerned. Ground-nesting birds like quail or baby birds (particularly fledglings who have not yet learned to fly) are particularly vulnerable. Even if your cat doesn’t stay indoors year-round, keeping them inside during dawn and dusk hours—and during the spring months, when wildlife and their babies are most active—can be helpful.