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Everything You Need to Know About Smart Locks

A Schlage smart lock on a white doorwadstock/Shutterstock.com

Smarthomes are increasingly popular, and one of the areas you can smarten up is your door locks. But what are the advantages? Is it safe? And if your phone runs out of battery, will you end up sleeping in the garden shed?

The global smart lock market was worth $1.4 billion in 2020, and that number will grow by 20% a year between now and 2028—so it’s safe to say many people feel secure about smart locks. However, they aren’t something brand new—they’re replacing something every home in the developed world has. And spending a few hundred dollars on making a door more intelligent might not be a priority.

But if a smart lock makes your life better, it may be worth the upgrade. Let’s take a deeper look at smart locks and what they can do for you.

What is a Smart Lock?

A Wyze smart lock and keypadWyze

A smart lock is quite a broad term that encompasses a lot of devices. At its most basic level, a smart lock is just an electrically powered lock that can operate wirelessly. If you’ve checked into a hotel during the last few years, you’ve probably used a smart lock.

You can operate a smart lock in several ways: including with a keycarda code, your fingerprint, an app, a home assistant, or any combination of these things. Some even accept a standard key.

They don’t have to go on the front door either—smart locks replace almost any regular lock and come in many forms. For example, standard deadbolts, padlocks, and drawer locks are all available. The devices intended for doors tend to have more features and are generally more secure.

How Do They Work?

Most smart locks are battery-powered. Those batteries will last between 10 months and a year depending on the battery you’re using, the smart lock it’s plugged in to, and how often the door is locked or unlocked. The electronics house a motor that performs the act of turning the internal lock for you, just as if you used a key or used the thumb turn.

If the lock has a keypad, you can set a code. Most modern smart locks will connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network for smart home integration. Bluetooth connectivity is also a feature on many smart locks so that you can connect directly to your cell phone.

Most smart locks also include backup systems such as a manual keyway or the ability to attach a nine-volt battery should the lock’s internal battery fail.

What Are The Benefits?

Schlage Encode Plus smart lock being unlocked by an iPhone's Apple Wallet app.Schlage

The ability to lock or unlock your front door from anywhere is a massive plus. Need to let a plumber into your house, but you’re stuck at work? No problem, there’s an app for that. Expecting a package delivery? Same deal. You can even pair your smart lock with a doorbell camera so you can be sure of who you’re letting in and what time they’ll leave.

Coming home with heavy shopping and don’t want to mess around with a key? Unlock your door from the car. Equally, if you second-guess their ability to lock up before they leave for the day—you can double-check your door’s status on your phone and lock it remotely if necessary. Many locks will allow you to schedule a relock too, either after a certain number of minutes since you unlocked the door or at set times. With scheduling, you won’t have to worry about forgetting to lock the door.

Are They Less Secure Than Regular Locks?

A Schlage Encode lock on a green doorJosh Hendrickson

While it’s easy to believe the opposite, smart locks are potentially more secure than standard locks. There are probably more criminals capable of picking a traditional Yale lock than there are capable of hacking into your Wi-Fi network. Lockpicking is a skill anyone can pick up with Youtube and a bit of practice.

Beyond that, you could have a near-impenetrable bank vault-style door on the front of your house. That door will only be as effective as the nearest glass window. The bottom line is, if someone isn’t too concerned about things like laws and wants to get inside your house—they probably will. But most thieves don’t want any hassle; they’re opportunists looking for an easy score. So if your smart lock locks your door, it’s just as effective as a standard lock would be.

A smart lock’s ability to interact with your home security system and its remote capabilities are a game-changer. If you’ve got a home security system and a doorbell camera connected to your smart home network—your smart lock may be able to set both of those off if someone attempts to force their way in. You’ll get an alert, a look at the burglar, and your alarm system will inform the authorities.

Equally, leaving a key under a garden gnome is risky. So is leaving a package on your porch. Unlocking your door remotely for someone who needs to be in the house briefly is a lot safer.

Are There Any Downsides?

A large ugly smart lock on a brown doorJosh Hendrickson

There are a couple of faults unique to smart locks. You will have to change the lock’s batteries at some point. If you’re not the kind of person who stays on top of home maintenance tasks like that, you’re probably not going to have a backup nine-volt battery stashed away for emergencies. Next thing you know, it’s 2 a.m. and you’re at a Walmart buying a battery so you can get back into your house. That said, most smart locks will send out warnings when the batteries are getting low. You’ll also likely notice the motor turning slower as the power winds down.

Smart locks can also be expensive and aren’t one of those things you would want to skimp on. You can buy good, inexpensive, smart products. But the consequences of a smart bulb malfunctioning and your front door deciding to do something strange at the wrong time are drastically different.

And if you live in a Home Ownership Association (HOA), you may find the local rules a barrier to installing a smart lock in the first place. Most smart locks are visible even on the outside, and some would describe them as ugly. Some HOAs bar any visible changes like that to the outside door. In that scenario though, you could go for a Level lock, which hides inside the door. You won’t get a keypad, but it should fit within the rules. And it should go without saying that if you don’t own your home, you probably can’t install a smart lock.

Most other negatives are offset by the fact a good smart lock is a series of backup systems stuck together. If your Wi-Fi fails you have Bluetooth or a keypad. So when shopping for a smart lock remember the more functions it has the better.

The 5 Best Smart Locks for 2021





Best Overall
Schlage Encode Smart Wi-Fi Deadbolt with Camelot Trim in Satin Nickel
Amazon

$459.99
 





Best Budget Option
Wyze Lock





Get the Keypad!
Wyze Lock Keypad





Best for Apartments
August Wi-Fi, (4th Generation) Smart Lock – Fits Your Existing Deadbolt in Minutes, Silver
Amazon

$220.66
 





Get the Keypad!
August Home AK-R1 August Smart Keypad, Dark Gray
Amazon

$59.99
 





Best for HomeKit
Yale Assure Lock SL, Wi-Fi Smart Lock – Works with the Yale Access App, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, Phillips Hue and Samsung SmartThings, Satin Nickel
Amazon

$278.10
$299.00 Save 7%





Best for Z-Wave or Ring
SCHLAGE BE469ZP CAM 619 Connect Smart Deadbolt with alarm with Camelot Trim in Satin Nickel, Z-Wave Plus enabled
Amazon

$199.00
 

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/107596/everything-you-need-to-know-about-smart-locks/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Dave McQuilling

A Basic Smart Home Doesn’t Need To Be Complex or Expensive

Close Up Shot of a Smartphone with Active Smart Home Application. Person is Giving a Voice Command To Turn Lights On/Off in the Room. It's Cozy Evening in the Apartment.Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.com

Smart homes are probably the closest we can get to the futuristic dwellings seen in science fiction. The technology powering all of this can be quite complex, but putting it all together doesn’t necessarily need to be. You can also put a half-decent smart home together without bankrupting yourself.

Sure, if you’re going all out, you’re probably going to spend a fortune. And if you opt to put together your own components, technical know-how will be required. But there is another way. You can buy a bunch of reasonably priced, highly effective devices and get a lot out of the smart-home concept without breaking the bank.

Smart Homes Aren’t Complicated

Person controlling home with a digital touch screen panel installed on the wall in the living roomRossHelen/Shutterstock.com

As with anything, you can make a smart home incredibly complex if you want to. But it doesn’t have to be, and doing so sort of defeats the point of the whole thing. Smart homes as a concept exist to make your life easier, not add more headaches.

And it’s all going to get even easier as Project Matter begins to standardize smart home components. But even outside of Project Matter, the vast majority of smart home products will work with Google Assistant, or Alexa, or both.

So, as a rule, double-check whatever you’re buying works with your preferred voice assistant, and try to stick with a brand you’ve found that plays nicely with the rest of your smart home. If you do that, you shouldn’t run into any major headaches.

Smart Speakers

Amazon's Echo smart speaker.Amazon 

These are the backbone of any smart home. Although they aren’t technically necessary—you can control your smart devices through an app—the voice functionality they provide makes everything so much easier. Why unlock a phone or look for a remote when you can just bark a command at the box in the corner?

If you do find yourself using your phone—say you’re out of the house and want to make sure the kitchen light is off—the Google and Alexa apps can control all of your devices from one place. This is far better than having several apps specific to different devices and than having to remember which one controls that particular light. You can even group devices by type or room if you want to control all of them at once.

The various options available, but Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home assistants are the two main players. Smart hubs can also be used to help keep everything organized, but we’re trying to save money and, since those aren’t even necessary, your current Wi-Fi network should do the trick.

Something like the Echo Dot seems to be on sale more often than it isn’t and can be picked up for around $25 per unit. You can put one in every room, but even that isn’t always necessary. There’s every chance you can clearly communicate with your kitchen’s echo from your living room, for example. So feel free to experiment with placement.

It’s always possible to add devices, too, so you could go with one in the bedroom, one in the kitchen for now, and grab one for the living room or an office a bit later. Different types of devices are also available, so maybe you want something with a visible clock face for your bedside or something with a better speaker for a room where you like listening to music.

Let There Be Light

The Philips Hue app on an Apple iPhone is used to control a Philips Hue smart home light on a dark wooden table or shelf. Using the Apple HomeKit technologyFrank Gaertner/Shutterstock.com

You can get functional smart lightbulbs for very little money. They are often on sale, and lower-end units are available for between $10 and $15 each. This is more expensive than a regular lightbulb, but you might claw a bit of that back in energy savings and from the bulb’s lifespan. LED lights don’t require much power and last a long time.

As far as installation goes, most bulbs just screw in then connect to your Wi-Fi network via a smartphone app. Once connected, they usually work with Alexa and Google without any significant issues. Although turning them off manually via a switch can cause some bulbs to disconnect and require a manual reset before they’ll hop back on the home network.

The 6 Best Smart Lights of 2021





Best No-Hub Bulb
Wyze Bulb Color
Amazon

$14.98
$15.98 Save 6%





Best Bulb with a Hub Option
Philips Hue
Amazon

$49.97
 





Best Starter Kit
LIFX Starter Kit
Amazon

$87.28
 





Best Light for Outdoors
LIFX BR30 E26
Amazon

$48.49
 





Most Creative Option
Nanoleaf Shapes
Amazon

$179.99
$199.99 Save 10%





Best Ambient Lighting
Govee Immersion
Amazon

$86.99
 

Depending on the bulb, you may have a range of color and brightness options available, which is nice. The main benefit, though, is the ability to set routines and control the lighting in any room you have a bulb installed from almost anywhere. No more flailing around in the dark trying to find the landing light or getting out of bed just before you doze off to switch off your bedroom light. Just get your smart assistant to do it for you.

A more expensive and complex option is available in the form of a smart light switch. These can’t be accidentally disconnected from your network, which is a plus. But you should really pay to have them professionally installed if you don’t know what you’re doing as mains electricity isn’t something you want to play around with.

Plugs Make Almost Anything Smart

Kasa Smart Plug Power StripKasa

Smart plugs and power strips allow you to turn anything in your home into a very basic smart device. Okay, so functionality is limited to on or off, but if you have something like an old air conditioner, that’s all you really need. You can turn it on before you head home and come back to a nicely chilled room for as little as $20, which is a lot cheaper than a brand-new “smart” air con.

Smart power strips are great for things like Christmas lights but can be used for anything you would use a regular power strip for. Each socket can usually be controlled individually or as a group.

Take a look around your home, think about things you might want to turn on or off remotely. If it has a mechanical switch, it’s an effortless upgrade.

Smart TVs

TCL 32-inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TVRoku TV

Many new TVs come with some kind of smart functionality as standard. Non-smart TVs can still be purchased but are usually not that much cheaper. Roku, WebOS, Tizen, et al. will all integrate with your smart home.

Personally, I have Alexa and a Roku TV. I would describe the functionality as limited. I can turn the TV on or off, pick a particular app, and adjust the volume. Above all else, Alexa seems to be very particular about phrasing. Still, Alexa is a good backup when the remote is missing, which is roughly around 90% of the time.

Things like Chromecast, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV, can also turn a regular television into a smart home-ready smart TV for anywhere between $20 and $80.

Alexa Will Keep You Warm

Google

A smart thermostat isn’t what I would describe as outlandishly expensive. You can buy one for between $100 and $200. Theoretically, it could also pay for itself by reducing the amount of energy you use.

Something like Google Nest’s smart thermostat will learn what temperature you like your house to be at and when—both automating the heating process and saving you the bother of adjusting the thermostat. This can, of course, be overridden via the app or a voice command if you’re feeling a bit chilly or leaving town for a few days.

So, How Does All Of This Add Up To A Cheap, Easy, Smart Home?

Mobile phone with app smarthome intelligent house automation remote control technology conceptTracy ben/Shutterstock.com

Nothing on this list is essential, nor is any of it that expensive. The key part is tailoring your own home to your own needs. If you can get away with one smart speaker and a couple of lightbulbs, great. Your life is a little bit easier, and you probably spent less than $50. If you go for absolutely everything I’ve mentioned, you can probably keep the budget under $1,000 and have some kind of smart home functionality in every room. The key is to dump the idea of a set smart home and tailor everything to your individual needs and budget.

The modular nature of a modern smart home means you can add to it as you go. This has two benefits: it stops you from overspending on unnecessary objects and allows you to get comfortable with the technology. If you can set up an Alexa, you can set up a smart bulb. If you can set up a smart bulb, smart plugs are basically the same process. Things like light switches and thermostats may be more complex or intimidating but can be professionally installed for a small fee. And once they’re installed, they all work the same way; just say what you want and as if by magic, it will happen.

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/105885/a-basic-smart-home-doesnt-need-to-be-complex-or-expensive/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Dave McQuilling

How to Use Your Smart Speakers As a Home Theater Sound System

47f5d8437b7c347aa9cf06edc1abd604.jpg

TVs aren’t known for having the best built-in sound, but buying a set of speakers to amplify your audio can be a pain (not to mention expensive). But you can use the smart speakers you already own to upgrade your home audio, adding an extra level of immersion to your movies, shows, and music.

Read more…

Source: https://gizmodo.com/how-to-use-your-smart-speakers-as-a-home-theater-sound-1848271953
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: David Nield

The Best Smart Thermostats of 2021

smart-thermostat.jpg?width=600&height=25
Upgrading to a smart thermostat is a great way to save money on your annual energy bill and automate your home. Choosing the right one for your home, however, isn’t an easy process. Here are our favorite smart thermostats currently on the market.

Read This Article on How-To Geek ›

Source: https://www.howtogeek.com/765688/best-smart-thermostat/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Jon Bitner

Google Assistant Should Be Ashamed of Its Smart Home Routines

For years I’ve said that automation is the key to great smart homes. Voice controls are nice, but a system that anticipates your needs is better. Despite preferring Google smart home devices, I can’t switch to them entirely. Why? Because Google Assistant routines are trash. Google should be ashamed.

Automation comes in several forms in the smart home world. Traditionally to get great automation, you’d want a smart home hub like Hubitat or Home Assistant. And while it’s true, Hubitat’s automation capabilities outstrip Google or Alexa by far; the truth is most average people don’t need a traditional smart home hub anymore.

Both Alexa and Google can serve as the “modern hub” and tie together smart home devices. In the past few years, I’ve noticed a trend towards Wi-Fi-powered smart home devices and away from ZigBee and Z-Wave (Philips Hue being the major holdout). That turn makes the idea of relying on traditional smart home hubs more difficult in the first place.

Both Alexa and Google offer smart home automation through routines—commands that run on their own based on a trigger your choose. It doesn’t have to be a voice; it could be controlled by schedules like at sunset or sunrise—or more.

What Routines Can Do

Smart blinds lower in a living room.Shade Shop

So why is automation essential, and what can routines do anyway? If you have a smart home now, think about how you primarily interact with it. Chances are, it’s probably by voice or through an app. If you need to turn a light on, you ask a smart speaker or pull out your phone. Some would argue that’s not much more convenient than flipping the light switch.

The same goes for smart plugs, blinds, locks, and more. Realistically speaking, with just voice or app control, the convenience level isn’t much better than the old-fashioned way of doing things. Automations, on the other hand, change the game. Instead of your home reacting to your commands, it can anticipate your needs.

In my home, I have scheduled automations that fire every day. In the morning, my coffee maker outlet turns on, the blinds in our two home offices rise to let in light. As evening approaches, the blinds lower automatically, and doors lock themselves. And the coffee outlet that turned on in the morning? That powered down before lunch.

The Alexa app showing many routines.I have at least two dozen routines with various triggers.

Speaking of the doors, we sometimes forget to lock them when we leave home. So four minutes after we unlock a door, it locks itself—no more forgetting. But we don’t just have automations on a schedule. When the sun sets, the lights in the dining room, kitchen, and elsewhere automatically turn themselves on when we enter a room. When we leave, they turn back off. My family doesn’t have to ask; it just happens based on our presence.

That’s thanks to motion sensors in each room and a routine that fires on some basic logic. If the sensor detects motion, it triggers a routine that turns on the lights in that room. When the sensor stops seeing motion, it triggers a second routine to turn the lights back off. Other routines occur when I leave home, or when I come back thanks to a location trigger.

When someone opens our mailbox, a sensor just inside triggers yet another routine to announce in the home that “the mail is here.” In my home, routines trigger due to schedules, voice commands, smart device functions, camera notifications, and more. We still use voice commands, but often we don’t have to because my smart home already did what I needed before I asked.

But that’s no thanks to Google.

Except Google Can’t Do Most Of That

Two lists, the one of the left much longer.Alexa’s Triggers on the left, Google’s Starters on the right.

When I’d advise most people exploring smart homes for the first time, I tell them to pick an ecosystem and stick with it. Choose Alexa or Google Assistant; most people don’t need both. I prefer Google Assistant for voice commands and Nest Hub displays for their fantastic photo capabilities. Despite that, I’m breaking my own advice and have Alexa and Echo smart speakers in my home.

Part of that is because of my job—I write about smart homes, so having a little of everything on hand is helpful. But the other part is because while I prefer Google’s smart home devices, its routines are astoundingly awful. I keep Alexa around for the routines.

The problem is, Google doesn’t approach routines the same way Amazon does with Alexa. Over on Alexa, routines are treated as a total smart home solution. But on Google Assistant, routines look more like a “voice command replacement.” You can create routines that fire off several functions from a single voice command, for instance. That can be handy if you want to turn off multiple lights throughout the home with a simple “good night” command.

But beyond that, your “starter” (Google’s equivalent to Alexa’s “trigger”) choices are limited. You can choose voice command, time, sunrise/sunset, and “dismiss an alarm.” That’s it. Compare that to Alexa, where you can select voice command, schedule, smart home devices, location, alarms, echo button, sound detection, and guard. All those extra choices add up quickly.

On Alexa, I can create routines that trigger from the smart sensors in my home. Confusingly those same sensors show in the Google Home app, but I can’t make routines for them or in the Google Assistant app. If converted over to a Google-powered smart home entirely, my smart lights would no longer turn on and off as I move through my home. My mailbox would stop telling me when the mail arrives. My smart locks wouldn’t even lock themselves anymore—unless I turned to another app.

Why Doesn’t Google Fix The Problem?

An illustration of the Google Home app and Nest devices.Google

If Google really wanted to, it could easily make its routines more powerful. This is a company that leads in voice assistant capabilities. The same company that turned photo storage on the side of its head and created a new A.I. that makes its smart displays the best smart displays. Google designed camera software that kicked off a new revolution in night photos. And at the same time, Google created a system that gave Pixel’s phone capabilities superpowers. It’s no stranger to advanced concepts in A.I., smart home, or advanced coding concepts.

Yet while Amazon continually adds to its routine options, like a recent new feature that triggers routines from the sound of a dog barking or a baby crying, while Google occasionally adds new features. Google only recently added basic scheduling and delay options, things Amazon added to Alexa years ago. Alexa will even act on “hunches” and turn off lights or other devices when the system notices you accidentally left things on overnight or when you aren’t home. Google doesn’t have anything like that.

In comparison, Google’s routines and automations are a joke. And it’s frustrating because it leaves me maintaining two smart home systems in my home: one for voice commands and the other for automation. In smart homes, that’s the opposite of what you want. And Google, through its drive with the Matter smart home initiative, talks a big game about a universal system where it won’t “matter” what devices you won.


Until Google’s smart home routines catch up to at least Amazon’s progress, it’s hard to see the truth in that at all. Right now, if you want the best smart home voice commands and the best accessible automations, then you need a home full of Google smart speakers and displays and one Amazon Echo. The Echo will get you the routines, and Google’s hardware can do the rest.

But that’s not the dream of the smart home. No one wants to maintain two systems and hop back and forth between apps. And frankly, that’s Google’s fault. It’s an unforced error that’s preventing Google from truly dominating in the smart home realm. And we’re worse off for it. Google should be ashamed. And the first step is admitting the problem. Google routines are inferior compared to the competition. The second step? Fix it. Sooner than later.

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/101223/google-assistant-should-be-ashamed-of-its-smart-home-routines/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Josh Hendrickson

Google Takes a Big Step Toward the Unified Smart Home Future

The Google Smart Home Developers Summit 2021 banner.Google

Just months after announcing its commitment to Matter, the unified smart home standard, Google is launching a set of tools to help developers integrate Matter with their products. It’s a big step toward a future where smart devices work with any app or assistant, even if they come from rival companies.

Matter aims to take the confusion out of buying smart home products, which aren’t always compatible with one another. It’s basically a universal language (or maybe a universal translator) for connected devices—if two products support Matter, they’ll work together.

Google Nest Smart ThermostatGoogle’s Nest Thermostat is just one product that will gain Matter support in 2022. Google

But for developers who are rushing to finish products, Matter could feel like a challenging and time-consuming task. That’s why Google is building a Google Home Device SDK for Matter, which should help developers quickly integrate their products with the new protocol.

Additionally, Google announced new mobile development tools to help integrate Matter with smartphones and apps. This should dramatically simplify the setup process for smart home devices—instead of jumping between an app and your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth settings, you’ll just let the app do the work.

Clearly, Google understands that Matter won’t be successful without the support of major smart home brands. Its simple development tools should help companies build Matter integration into their products before the protocol launches in 2022.

Source: Google via The Verge

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/101234/google-takes-a-big-step-toward-the-unified-smart-home-future/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

iRobot built over 100 models of dog poop to train Roomba’s visual AI

Screenshot from irobot video about their poop-detection AI

Apparently Roomba owners who also own dogs have long encountered a problem: If the dog poops on the floor, their helpful robot vacuum rides right over it and smears it across the living room.

So iRobot decided to build a visual-detection model to help Roombas recognize, and avoid, dog poop. — Read the rest

Source: https://boingboing.net/2021/09/10/irobot-built-over-100-models-of-dog-poop-to-train-roombas-visual-ai.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=irobot-built-over-100-models-of-dog-poop-to-train-roombas-visual-ai
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Clive Thompson

Segway Fixed The Biggest Issue with Robot Lawn Mowers

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Segway, the personal transport company, is moving into lawn care. The Navimow is the brand’s first smart lawn mower, and it looks to fix one of the biggest issues in robot lawn care. The Segway Navimow will use GPS to navigate your lawn rather than boundary cables and other wires.

Read This Article on Review Geek ›

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/96810/segway-fixed-the-biggest-issue-with-robot-lawn-mowers/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Cory Gunther

The 6 Best Smart Blinds and Shades

Person using smart home app on phone to control window blinds indoors, closeupNew Africa/Shutterstock.com

Smart blinds or shades are a great investment that’ll polish off your smart home and really pull everything together. When you deck out your home with smart shades, you can make your life easier and set schedules and modes that your shades will remember.

Although smart shades do look neat, and it’s awesome to open and close them from your smartphone or with a remote, there are practical reasons to invest as well. Smart blinds can help your home stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, translating to a lower electric bill year-round. Smart blinds can even increase your home’s security. If you’re out of town, you can open and close your blinds remotely to make it look like someone’s home.

What to Look for In Smart Blinds and Shades

So, you’ve decided to upgrade your smart home with some smart blinds or shades. But with so many options, how do you pick the right ones for your home? Let’s take a look at everything you’ll need to consider when making your decision.

  • Automating Existing Blinds vs. Buying New Ones: If you already have blinds or shades installed in your home, you might find it easier to automate what you already have. You will still have to take down your existing blinds to install the new smart hardware, but you don’t have to take down or reinstall the headrail. With new smart blinds or shades, you have to install a whole new unit, which means measuring, making sure everything’s level, and drilling. But the upside is that you’d have sets of smart shades and blinds that are shiny and new. You can choose to have a professional install your new smart shades as well; it’ll just cost you more.
  • Shade Type: Although retailers might also offer one or two specialized styles, your main options are roller shades and wood blinds. The biggest difference between the two options is durability. Wood blinds are typically made of a harder material and will stand up better over time than roller shades do with daily wear and tear. There’s also a difference in how easy it is to clean them. Blinds will be easier to clean if someone spills a drink on them or a little one draws on them with a permanent marker. There’s also a difference in light control, which we’ll tackle in more depth in the next bullet point.
  • Light Control: Wood blinds give you more control over letting a little bit of light in, as you can tilt them open however much you want. However, with roller shades, it’s a little harder to get the perfect amount of light into your home. That said, roller shades can give you something wooden blinds can’t: blackout power. Because roller shades are a single piece of fabric, they’re naturally going to block more light from getting into your home when they’re closed. Depending on the material you choose for your smart shades, you could block out almost all outside light even when the sun is shining in the afternoon.
  • How It’s Powered: Believe it or not, there are actually quite a few options when it comes to how your smart blinds or shades are powered. There are battery-operated, hardwired, or cordless options. Some even come with a built-in solar charging panel, so you never have to worry about plugging them in or hiding unsightly wires.
  • How It’s Controlled: Consider how the blinds are controlled. Do they require a remote to work, or can you control them with an app on your smartphone? You’ll also want to make sure the blinds you choose can work with your smart platform of choice, like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit.
  • Cost: You might think that automating your existing blinds or shades would be a lot cheaper than buying new ones, but that’s not necessarily true. Depending on the automation kit you go with, you’re looking at about $150-200 per set of blinds or shades. The IKEA roller blinds on this list are in that price range, and you’d be getting brand new shades. The other options for new smart shades on this list are typically in the $400-500 range, which is quite a bit more than it would cost to automate your current setup. But spending that extra money on new shades allows you to customize the fabric, style, and blackout level. I’d say that unless you’re absolutely in love with your current setup (or you just spent money on new blinds or shades), buying new smart shades is the way to go. And if you need to save money or don’t care about what they look like, stick with the IKEA FYRTUR blinds.

Best Overall: IKEA FYRTUR Roller Blinds

FYRTUR electric blinds from IKEAIKEA

For most people, these FYRTUR smart shades from IKEA are going to work perfectly. They’re affordable, easy to set up, and look clean and modern in your home.

The FYRTURs are blackout blinds, allowing you to completely block out light even when the sun is at its peak. They’re cordless and powered by a battery pack, and each shade comes with one charger battery pack and one rechargeable battery pack.

These shades come with a remote control that’s already pre-paired, but if you want full smart home functionality, you’ll need a TRADFRI hub. With this hub, you can control all of your IKEA blinds using your virtual assistant of choice, like Alexa or Google Assistant.

Best Overall

IKEA FYRTUR Roller Blinds


 IKEA’s FYRTUR smart shades are affordable, easy to install and use, and look great.

Best Premium: Serena Smart Roller Shades by Lutron

Smart Roller Shades by Serena by LutronLutron

If you have the money to splurge, these smart shades from Lutron are a terrific pick. With them, you control the style, material, and color, making it easy to find the perfect shades for your home. Plus, they’re super quiet when moving and durable enough to last for years.

There are two different styles of fascia, which is the piece at the top of your blinds that hides unsightly hardware; you can choose a fabric-wrapped fascia or an architectural, more sleek fascia. There are also sheer, translucent, and blackout fabrics to choose from, depending on how much light you want to block out; in total, there are over 200 fabrics available.

You can control the smart shades in three ways: via the Lutron app (Android/iOS), a smart remote, or your favorite voice assistant, including Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. Then, you can also customize how the shades are powered. You can choose between battery-operated, hardwired, or cordless manual styles.

If you don’t like the look of shades, Lutron also has wood blind options and honeycomb options for you to choose from.

Best Premium

Serena Smart Roller Shades by Lutron


These smart shades from Lutron are expensive, but so worth it for the quality and all the different ways you can customize them.

Another Great Premium Option: Tilt Roller Shades

tilt by smarter home MySmartRollerShadesTilt

If you don’t find the right smart shades for you from Lutron, check out what Tilt has to offer; Tilt has customizable roller shades or smart blinds if you prefer the look of those over shades. There are eight different traditional fabrics and three different blackout fabrics you can choose from.

Either can be controlled via any Bluetooth-enabled device, like your smartphone. All you have to do is download the Tilt app (Android/iOS), and from there, you can set up schedules and automation that the onboard motor will remember and repeat no matter where you are. Tilt’s roller shades even come with a solar charging panel, so you won’t have to worry about plugging them in.

If you want full smart home functionality with voice commands from Alexa or Samsung SmartThings, you’ll need Tilt’s Bridge. With smart blinds, the Bridge device works with Alexa and Google Assistant.

Another Great Premium Option

Tilt Roller Shades


Tilt offers awesome, customizable smart shades that cost a pretty penny; they also have some great smart blind options too!

Best with a Range of Prices: Leviosa Shades

LEVIOSA MOTOR SHADES (1)Leviosa

Whether you’re looking for something more affordable or you want to splurge on a luxury look, Leviosa’s smart shades have you covered.

First, you can choose between four light filter styles, including clear view, diffused view, privacy glow, and privacy total block. Privacy total block will be the closest option to a blackout shade, whereas a clear view is the opposite end of the spectrum, allowing you to see faintly through them.

After you pick a style, you can select a color and fabric type (and there are many to choose from). Traditional colors are going to be the most affordable, followed by designer colors and then luxury colors.

The customization doesn’t stop there, though. You can pick one of five valance edge colors or choose to have no valance. You’ll also have three power options: a hidden battery pack, hardwired, or a wall adapter.

You can control these via remote control or through their smartphone app (Android/iOS) using Leviosa’s Home Automation system. With the Leviosa Zone bridge, you can use Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, or many other smart home systems to control your new shades.

Best With a Range of Prices

Leviosa Shades


Leviosa gives you a ton of different smart shade options; they have luxury, designer options or more affordable options that still look great. 

Best for Preexisting Horizontal Blinds: Tilt Blinds Automation Kit

tilt by smarter home Blinds Automation KitTilt

If you already have horizontal blinds and don’t want to replace them, you can automate them with this kit from Tilt. Like Tilt’s shades above, this kit is Bluetooth-enabled and can be controlled via the MySmartBlinds app (Android/iOS). You can even use the Energy Savings mode to regulate your home’s temperature, set repeating tilting schedules, and more.

And if you want to use your blinds with Alexa or Google Assistant, you’ll need to purchase a Bridge from Tilt; that’ll give you the ability to use voice commands to control them. They include a solar charging panel, so you don’t have to plug them in to charge and require no hardwiring.

Best for Pre-Existing Horizontal Blinds

Tilt Blinds Automation Kit


Automating your horizontal blinds with this kit from Tilt is super easy. 

Best for Preexisting Roller Shades: Soma Smart Shades 2

SOMA Smart Shades 2SOMA

If you have roller shades already installed in your home, you can automate them with the Soma Smart Shades 2 kit instead of replacing them. On their website, Soma helps walk you through how to choose the right fit for your beaded chain or plain cord so you can easily ensure the perfect fit.

You can set up certain triggers to automatically move your shades based on the time of sunrise or sunset, any other time of day, or the light levels outside. There’s a built-in solar panel, so you won’t need to deal with any charging wires.

They’re easy to set up with no wires and a quick install. You can operate your shades via their app (Android/iOS). Or, if you want to use your Soma Shades with Apple HomeKit, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, or other smart home kits, you’ll need to purchase SOMA Connect separately.

Best for Pre-Existing Roller Shades

Soma Smart Shades 2


The Soma Smart Shades 2 kit makes automating your roller shades a breeze. 

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/93096/the-6-best-smart-blinds-and-shades/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Sarah Chaney

Matter, the Smart Home Unification Standard, is Delayed Until 2022

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The Matter smart home protocol (formerly Project CHIP) laid down a gauntlet for itself when it stepped triumphantly into the world: solve all the worst issues about smart homes, bring all the big players together, and release devices by the end of 2021. Sadly, it’s going to miss on that last part.

Read This Article on Review Geek ›

Source: https://www.reviewgeek.com/94878/matter-the-smart-home-unification-standard-is-delayed-until-2022/
Proactive Computing found this story and shared it with you.
The Article Was Written/Published By: Josh Hendrickson

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