buildyoursmarthome.co https://buildyoursmarthome.co Home Automation & Home Security Wed, 28 Oct 2020 15:09:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Top Motion Sensor Light Switches https://buildyoursmarthome.co/home-automation/hardware/motion-sensor-light-switch/ https://buildyoursmarthome.co/home-automation/hardware/motion-sensor-light-switch/#comments Tue, 27 Oct 2020 13:00:10 +0000 http://buildyoursmarthome.co/?p=125 A Motion Sensor Light Switch is often also referred to as "Occupancy Light Switch" as well as "Vacancy Light Switch". But there is a difference between the two. An Occupancy Light Switch automatically turns on the lights as soon as motion is detected in the sensor range and automatically turns the lights off when the motion is no longer detected in the range.

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A Motion Sensor Light Switch is often also referred to as “Occupancy Light Switch” as well as “Vacancy Light Switch”. But there is a difference between the two.

An Occupancy Light Switch automatically turns on the lights as soon as motion is detected in the sensor range and automatically turns the lights off when the motion is no longer detected in the range.

With a Vacancy Light Switch, you still need to manually turn on the lights but the switch will take care of turning the lights off when the motion sensor no longer detects any activity.

Our friends from dealdragon.co are now providing us with a state-of-the-art dynamic list of the best Motion Sensor Light Switches. Below this iframe you will find our old blog post, but we now recommend this new list as it represents the current market more accurately.

Lutron and Leviton are renowned companies that are specialized in the area of occupancy and vacancy sensors in combination with light switches. The Lutron Maestro is basically the flagship of motion sensor light switches. But also Belkin’s WeMo portfolio now contains smart motion sensor switches to control lighting.

Around this technology there even is a new market evolving under the term “Smart Lighting” which refers to energy efficient and automated lighting systems. These systems should manage their own power cycles based on conditions like daylight times or occupancy. Not to mention the usual capabilities like programmable schedules, remote web interfaces or even smartphone apps.

Things you need to know

  • Almost all Motion Sensor Light Switches require to be grounded (this is the third wire beside the Black and White one). The reason for this is that most dimmers, timers and motion sensor switches require power to operate. Very often a neutral wire is not present in a switch which is why the clever engineers found a way to power the device via the ground conductor.
  • You can precisely adjust the timing and sensitivity of these switches. So don’t worry about sitting in the bathroom while the lights go out. Although you can find similar stories on the Internet it is often just a matter of the right installation. A good home automation system takes time and patience.

The Best Motion Sensor Light Switch

You know that situation when you enter the home or a room with hands full of the things, and you have to turn the switch on? Or your child wakes you up when goes to the bathroom at night through the dark hall? Well, in most cases this scenario can be skipped with a motion sensor light switch. You just walk in, and the light turns on.

Today, models are very advanced. You don’t have to worry that, while talking with a friend or having a meeting, lights will turn off and you will all wave around to turn them on again.

There are plenty of motion sensor light switches available on the market, and we already mentioned some of them (Lutron Maestro and Belkin’s WeMo). Now, let’s see what the best among them are and what their features are.

No. 5 – Belkin’s WeMo Switch + Motion

On our top five list, the number five is Switch + Motion by Belkin. The company did their best to assure that you never walk into a dark hallway when returning home from work or a crazy night out. The Switch + Motion is not what you would really expect a switch to look like. It is not screwed into a wall instead of a traditional switch. But what it is and what it does?

The Switch + Motion actually contains two components: the switch and the motion detector. The purpose of the switch is to plug in the electrical device. The motion detector controls the switch when it senses you have walked into the room. The devices are set up separately via mobile app and work well with both iOS and Android.

Installation is easy and straightforward: After installing WeMo app and sending the credentials of your wireless network to the plug and the detector, you need to plug in the switch and follow easy instructions on the app. Once you make your login and password, you can control the switch from your mobile. Installation of movement detector is identical, but this time you will have to log into the detector’s wireless network.

Now, after the excitement, after finished installation is over, you can start using the device. You can use the switch for plugging in any smart device such as coffee maker, lamp, fan or any other. Additionally, the sensor itself has a pale blue light which illuminates every time it senses motion, so if you place it in the hallway or bathroom, it is beneficial at night.

You can create rules when to switch the device on or off control them from your mobile. For example, the switch can turn on your coffee maker before the alarm goes off, or turn on the light when the detector senses movement and then turn off after 10 minutes. If you still want to command the switch manually, it will skip the setup rules and instantly work as it’s told.

The Switch + Motion gives you the opportunity to work with IFTTT so you can use different supported applications. There is, however, one thing that you might find questionable about this smart device: the motion detector has to be placed near the switch. But the cable is long enough so you can find a proper place for the sensor that will not be on your way. As this doesn’t affect its function, we won’t take this as a significant disadvantage.

Considering all its features, we can say that the Switch + Motion is a right combination of smart features in two devices. It is an excellent device for the beginners in the world of smart home applications and will give you control of the desired device and light, it is easy to install, has a reasonable price and works well. So once you are hooked up to the benefits of smart devices with this one, go ahead and enrich your home with other more advanced devices.

No. 4 – ecobee Switch+

You’re going to love Switch+. You might wonder why would it have so many features integrated, but once you try all of them you are going to like it. Why? The Switch+ has so many things incorporated: it is a switch, has a motion detector, works wireless with ecobee thermostat (expecting this one soon) and, well, it doesn’t work with Alexa. It has it integrated!!! But let’s start from the beginning. The installation.

First, you’ll have to replace your traditional switch. The instruction is, and the replacement should be easy, even though you’ll have to handle with wires and screwdriver. But once you’re done, set up of the application and starting the switch will be done in a couple of minutes. You need to download the app and follow instructions for getting the app to recognise your Switch+. When you’re done, set up Alexa account for preferences and start enjoying your new device.

What can we say about Switch+ function? This is a switch at first place, so let’s first check this feature.

Like a light switch, The Ecobee Switch+ works well. It has several ways to control the lighting: pushing the light button manually, by motion sensor control or using voice control. The motion sensor is highly responsive and works without delay. If you are not around, it will turn lights off. This feature is advantageous if you have kids, running around and leaving lights on wherever they go. “Do not disturb” feature doesn’t let lights automatically turn on, for example, at night in your bedroom, while you are turning around in your sleep. With this feature, the motion sensor is turned off.

Alexa feature is an excellent addition, and if you don’t already own one, this could be a great introduction of a smart speaker for you. At first, it might seem strange to talk to the wall switch, but it isn’t any funnier than talking to any other home device. Just like to any Echo device, you’ll have to say “Alexa” to wake it up and then tell any question or command. The switch has all Alexa skills integrated, and you can hear the news, jokes, or control any other connected smart device.

You can also listen to your favourite tunes from Amazon Music through the speaker. This feature is good enough if you expect the sound to fill the small or medium-sized room. But you will need more for the larger spaces. The speaker is small and since the primary function of the switch is not to play music to you shouldn’t put this as a minus to the Switch+

Communication with ecobee thermostats will be available soon. It is a useful feature, because you will no more rely only on the temperature around the thermostat, but will also have it measured on distant places in the house.

The Switch+ is not only Alexa integrated. It is also compatible with Apple Homekit, SmartThings, Google Assistant, and IFTTT.

Ecobee’s Switch+ is a great device to have, not only as a switch with a motion sensor but as an Alexa device which will make you see all of its advantages and get one step closer to a completely smartening up your home.

No. 3 – Leviton IPS02

On our third place, one of Amazon best sellers, Leviton IPS02, will make you satisfied, even though he does not have implemented Alexa. Still, it will be your friend in need when you enter the laundry room with hands full of clothes or the garage in the night.

The Leviton’s IPS02 is fitting standard wall box so you can just replace the standard switch with it. The neutral wire is not required, but you will have to connect it with ground wire. As the sensor uses passive infrared technology, there are several things you should know before installation.

The first is that it requires a clear view of the space it will cover, any obstruction will disable detection of the movements. So, the best thing is to locate it in the place with a clear line of view of the space it has to cover.

The second thing to keep in mind is that IPS02 works the best in small areas with high levels of motion. The more activity there is in the area, the more sensors will contribute to convenience and energy savings.

Additionally, avoid installation in places with strong airflow, as it might be falsely detected as motion.

The field of view of IPC02 is 180 degrees, so it completely covers the surrounding area. The coverage of 900 square feet makes it perfect even for a large living room, which is approximately 9mx9m. However, if you need it only for practical purposes, it will work well in basements, pantries, laundry room, storage areas and garages. It is compatible with LED, CFL, and incandescent light.

You can set automatic turning off the light after 30 seconds, 5 minutes, 15 minutes or 30 minutes, depending on which room the switch is and how long averagely you are working or staying in. For example, basement lighting would ideally be set to turn off in 5 minutes while a bathroom switch may be configured to turn off 15 minutes after you leave it. You can also program it to work as a vacancy switch: turn it on when you enter the room, and automatically turn off after you leave it.

Even though it is not connected smart switch, it is quite useful in earlier listed areas, and with the reasonable price, you might wish to check how a good switch with motion detector works, and later get yourself a more complex one.

No. 2 – TOPGREENER TSOS5

The third best seller on Amazon, and the second on our list, Top Greener’s TSOS5 might be just what you needed from a motion detector light switch. And when you don’t need this kind of switch, you still have an option to turn the sensor off and have a traditional switch.

The installation is easy, and with screwdriver and pliers, it will take you about ten minutes. However, TSOS5 is a bit bigger switch than traditional ones, as the passive IR sensor protrudes from the wall. But with this appearance, it has excellent 180-degree visibility and a maximum coverage area up to 980 square feet.

The switch works well in all areas and is compatible with CFL, LED and incandescent light. It has three modes: auto, on and off. With the auto mode, it works as an occupancy sensor with auto ON and auto OFF features. By using ON and OFF modes, you will be able to override the sensor and use the sensor switch as a regular light switch.

The sensitivity of the motion sensor is adjustable in four positions, and you can set it from 30% to 100%. The time after which the lights will turn off if the sensor is turned on is between 15 seconds, 10 minutes, 20 minutes and 30 minutes. Settings for the time delay, range, and light level are easily accessible and adjustable and are placed behind the cover plate.

Even though PIR works on a temperature difference between the moving human body and surrounding, reviews of the users show that even in the laundry room when the machine emits the heat it doesn’t turn on. But as an advantage, motion sensors have a unique Fresnel lens which divides the coverage area into zones and enhances the detection of small movements.

The overall impression is that Top Greener’s TSOS5 is a good motion sensor light switch which will save you money on monthly energy bills and enable you to manually work with it when you don’t need its motion sensor features.

No. 1 – Lutron Maestro Sensor Switch (MS-OPS2)

Lutron’s Maestro MS-OPS2 is an advanced option of motion sensor light switches compared to Top Greener’s TSOS5 and Leviton’s IPS02. That is why it is forefront those two, and best seller on Amazon. But, let’s see what puts it in the first place of the bestsellers.

Installation of MS-OPS2 is quite easy. It is performed by simple replacement of traditional switches, and it will take you about 15 minutes. Although it requires a ground wire, which standard switches may not have, it doesn’t need a neutral wire, unlike many sensor switches.

Setup is also straightforward. The period for switching off after there is no movement in the room is done by holding in the button until it blinks the appropriate number of times prescribed in the instructions. The switch allows you to have the light stay on for 1, 5, 15, or 30 minutes after it doesn’t sense the movement in the area.

Even though MS-OPS2 is occupancy switch, you can also set it to be a vacancy one so you will be able to turn on the lights manually, and they will turn off automatically. For example, if you go to the basement, you can switch it on manually, but when exiting with full hands, turning the lights off will be done automatically. However, the load has to be performed manually. But if you eventually wish to change your occupancy to vacancy switch, you can do it for free and without a hassle of new installation.

Another advantage of MS-OPS2 is that it has an optional mode for daylight sensing, so the lights only come on when there is not enough natural light. Another good thing is that it can learn what it means enough daylight. What does it mean? Well, you have an option to switch the lights off within five seconds after entering the room if there is enough daylight. Over time, it will learn that there is enough daylight and in future will not turn on the same amount of ambient light.

The MS-OPS2 works with passive infrared sensors and has additional Lutron® XCT Technology for fine motion detection such as typing at a desk or reading, ensuring lights do not turn off unexcitingly. Fine motions are detected in the area of 20 feet x 20 feet (6 m x 6 m). The major motion coverage is much more extensive, up to 30 feet x 30 feet (9 m x 9 m). Field of view is 180 degrees. The design is smart and elegant, and the sensor does not protrude as much as in some other models.

You don’t have to worry about which type of light you have because MS-OPS2 works with all kinds: halogen, incandescent, ELV, CFL, MLV, LED, electronic fluorescent and magnetic fluorescent. This compatibility simplifies the selection process when buying new bulbs and allows you to use whichever is available if you don’t have the favourite type.

With all its features it is clear why the MS-OPS2 is the no. 1 on our list. If you don’t really want to get any of connected smart switches with movement detection, this one will fit all your needs for sure.

Wrap up

The light switch with a motion detector can really ease your life, not to talk about energy savings in the areas where it is easy to forget to turn off the light. With so many options available, and our list of top five, we are sure that you will make an excellent choice that will suit your needs.

Updated October 2018: We’ve added the top 5 list of the best motion sensor light switches. Updates are underlined for easier traceability.

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Top 4 Z-Wave Controllers (No.1 will surprise you) https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-z-wave-controller/ https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-z-wave-controller/#comments Thu, 22 Oct 2020 18:00:00 +0000 http://buildyoursmarthome.co/?p=59 The market for Z-Wave controllers can be a bit overwhelming at first glance but we compiled a comprehensive list of the most suitable controllers for being the central component of a majority of home automation systems. We created a short review of every product to summarize the most important key points. We will also guide […]

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The market for Z-Wave controllers can be a bit overwhelming at first glance but we compiled a comprehensive list of the most suitable controllers for being the central component of a majority of home automation systems. We created a short review of every product to summarize the most important key points. We will also guide you through the process of pairing different protocols in another tutorial soon. Most of these controllers already support multiple automation protocols which are the foundation for pairing a vast number of various devices and brands.

Our friends from dealdragon.co are now providing us with a state-of-the-art dynamic list of the best products. Below this iframe you will find our old blog post, but we now recommend this new list as it represents the current market more accurately.

Tips

Choosing the right Z-Wave Controller is not an easy decision. There are three main questions you should ask yourself:

1. How many devices do or will I need to control?
2. How many different Home Automation Protocols do or will I need to combine?
3. How much freedom do I want to have in terms of customization and orchestration

If you only have Zwave devices in your possession and don’t need complex scenarios you will be happy to hear that any controller in this list will suffice. You should have a look at the design and the user interface of the corresponding apps to narrow down your decision.

If you have a lot of different devices that are using various protocols you will need to resort to a controller that supports multiple protocols and therefore will be the glue to hold your complete infrastructure together.

Anyway, feel free to have a detailed look at the reviews of our candidates below.

Our Winner: Samsung SmartThings Hub 3rd Generation – Now Compatible with Amazon Echo and Google Home

This thing is indeed smart and supports ZigBee, Z-Wave and WiFi devices. The combination of these 3 protocols is absolutely future proof since we consider them as the three technologies that will play the most important role for the Home Automation market in the upcoming years.

3rd generation is updated in terms of connectivity as it is now a wireless version. This means you will no longer have to plug the Hub into your router via an Ethernet cable to be able to control it with other devices connected to the same network. You can just connect via WiFi.

The Samsung SmartThings Hub improved its sensitivity as it implemented upgrades into the motion sensor, multipurpose sensor, smart outlet and even added a water leak sensor.

On the top of its improvement, it is now compatible with Amazon Echo and Google Home. 

The Samsung SmartThings Hub will present you with a very well designed web interface that is very easy to use. The nice clean and minimalistic device should seamlessly fit into any home.
The fact that it is currently the Nr.1 Best Seller for Home Automation Controllers at Amazon speaks for itself.

Pros

  • Very simple to install
  • Nice design
  • Nice and modern interface
  • Beautiful smartphone apps
  • Supports ZigBee, Z-Wave and WiFi
  • Compatible with Amazon Echo and Google Home
  • Doesn’t need Ethernet cable for connection
  • Very low price tag
buy_from_amazon

The New Top Contender: Wink Hub 2

wink_hub_2
Wink Hub 2

Tested in 2018: The Wink Hub 2 in 2018 works even better than in 2018. After a range of new software updates and tweaks, the Wink Hub 2 is an extremely easy to use customer product that also allows for a touch more professional control and functionality compared to its top contender the Samsung SmartThings. 

The Wink Hub 2 is the second iteration of the smart hub of the same name. Released in the fourth quarter of 2016, the device offers impressive specs and is a huge improvement over its predecessor. The Wink Hub 2 comes at an affordable price and is packed with both wired Ethernet and dual-band Wi-Fi support. The sleek and stylish new design is enough to catch the eye, what makes the hub worthwhile in the eyes of a common user. Yet, the biggest strength of the device lies in its user-friendly app and the ease of installation. Another huge selling point of the hub is its support of all major protocols, including Z-Wave and Zigbee. The Wink Hub 2 also supports a few more obscure protocols, such as Kiddie, Lutron and Clear Connect. Another great feature of the device is its Amazon Alexa and IFTTT support.

Pros

  • Supports All Major Protocols (and a few obscure ones)
  • Clean and Sleek Design
  • User-Friendly App
  • Easy to Install
  • Very Affordable Price Tag

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with Battery Backup
buy_from_amazon

(Still) The Cool Kid: VeraPlus Z-Wave Controller

VeraPlus Controller

Throughout the previous two years, Vera Control made further efforts to become a market leader in smart home tech. One of our previous top contenders on the top Z-Wave controller list, the first generation of VeraEdge quickly became obsolete with the release of the more secure Z-Wave Plus protocol, prompting the innovative brand to release a new product. Yet, also answering to the different needs on the market, Vera Control released not one, but three successive product in the face of the Vera Edge, the Vera Plus and the Vera Secure. The three options come at different price points, depending on the specific needs of the potential market. The Edge is a second iteration of the product with the same name with the most notable change being the design. For the most part, it works for most smart home enthusiasts, who are dedicated to the Z-Wave protocol. Allowing for ZigBee and Bluetooth connectivity, making the total number of communication protocols up to 4, the VeraPlus is the most obvious choice for buyers as it combines a decent price with functionality. The VeraSecure is the premium option, allowing for up to 5 communication protocols and more than 200 connected devices, while also increasing the security via VeraLink, Alarm System and adding a Siren, Microphone and speaker for 2-way communication.

Unfortunately, all three devices require quite the deeper understanding of hardware, for those who want to use their functionality at full capacity. While with the latest software updates and throughout their respective ecosystems both the Wink Hub 2 and the Samsung SmartThings are extremely intuitive and rather stable devices to use, this can’t really be seen withe the VeraEdge line of products. Yet, there is a lot of potential there and we would love to see some tweaks and fixes implemented in a future generation of the product.

Pros

  • Z-Wave Plus
  • Rather Simple to Install
  • Modern design
  • A Great line of Buyer’s Choice

Cons

  • Stability Issues
  • Not as easy to use
buy_from_amazon

Pro Tip: HomeSeer HomeTroller S6

homeseer_hometroller_s6_zwave_plus

Tested in 2018: The HomeSeer is much like the Ferrari of Z-Wave controllers. Not to irritate “Ferarri” brand owners, but things come down to the fact that the HomeSeer is an extremely functional device that still kicks capacitors around, but unfortunately at this point it is in a major need of an update. 

<iframe src="https://dealdragon.co/comparison/z-wave-controller"></iframe>

Last but not least, the Ferrari of Z-Wave controllers. The HomeSeer HomeTroller S6 does come with a high price tag but for a reason. Apart from Z-Wave this controller can be upgraded with interfaces for ALL major protocols like Insteon, UPB, X10 and more. Attention: By default the controller is not shipped with a Z-Wave hardware interface. You will need to purchase it separately. But the good news is , its not very expensive:

The S6 is the ideal device if you have a bunch of different devices and want to streamline that fragmentation with one single access point. It also supports all kinds of Android and iOS devices which means you can control everything with your phone. And by everything we mean Lighting, Thermostats, Door Locks, Audio/Video, Security, Irrigation and more. Home owners can access the HomeTroller S6 at home or via the cloud with just about any smartphone, tablet or table-top touchscreen. The free standard cloud-based “myHomeSeer Remote” service provides easy remote access without storing your sensitive data in the cloud.
Needless to say that the HomeTroller also supports complete voice control, turning your home into the command & control center of Tony Stark. And to be honest , this is why we are looking into home automation anyway, right? Jarvis , one coffee please.

Pros

  • Supports all major protocols
  • Z-Wave Plus
  • Voice Control
  • Very good support
  • No monthly fees
  • HomeSeer is the market leader in Home Automation

Cons

  • High price tag
  • Hardware interfaces for the protocols are sold separately
homeseer_hometroller_s6_zwave_plus
buy_from_amazon

The Verdict

In most cases the SmartThings Hub is the right choice. It struggles a bit when it comes to customization and the ability to create complex scenarios. However, the Plug & Play nature of the beautifully designed device will appeal to a majority of users.

For those of you who need a bit more freedom and like to tinker a bit with technology will be very happy with the VeraLite. It allows for scripting and the creation of complex event triggered scenarios.

Who is still not happy with the features of the VeraLite might need the Hometroller S6, which is a device for people who only want the best of the best. It is based on years of experience of the leader in Home Automation – HomeSeer. It will give you even more possibilities in terms of orchestration and the combination of different home automation protocols and devices.

Previous candidates for top Z-Wave controller (older generation products) 

We have significantly updated our list and tried to represent the general consent of the majority of home automation users and what they think of the different controllers. However, there are still other devices that are worth to be mentioned here , although they might didn’t get much attention yet from the consumer base. Be aware that this is just a personal opinion and perhaps the Zipabox for example is exactly what you want. That’s why we kept the links to amazon.com in place in case you want to have a look at the product in detail.

VeraEdge Z-Wave Controller

veraedge_home_automation_controller_normal
VeraEdge Home Controller

We already wrote about the newest product release from Vera Control in one of our news articles. The new VeraEdge is available for purchase and succeeds the “old” VeraLite.  It uses the newest Z-Wave technology called “Z-Wave Plus” which offers a lot of advancements including longer battery life, faster operation, better RF coverage and easier installation. Moreover it supports up to 220 devices on one network which is 4 times the number of devices the VeraLite supports. A Smartphone app lets you monitor every connected device on the go. Vera Control has also tweaked the hardware specs of the controller but still kept the price relatively low. Incase you have any problems the support community at the micasaverde forums always offers valuable help and can answer frequently asked questions. October, 2017 Update: This hub handles extremely well a few years after its release. In fact, it has become one of the top contenders in the industry.

Pros

  • Z-Wave Plus
  • Very simple to install
  • Simple design
  • Nice and modern interface

Cons

  • Supports only Z-Wave
buy_from_amazon

Nexia Z-Wave Bridge

Nexia Z-Wave Smart Home Bridge
Nexia Z-Wave Smart Home Bridge

Nexia is another great hardware option, that would be wonderful, if it wasn’t for the cost. Released under the Nexia brand, the Z-Wave Smart Home Bridge is extremely easy to install and serves as the central hub for your system. All you have to do is plug it in, connected with the app and you’d be good to go. With energy management and security being the two top priorities of the brand, it is one of the best choices for remote home control, perfect for vacation homes. In addition, it’s mesh network support allows you to connect up to 200 devices in the same network. The only true downside is that while the hardware is relatively affordable, the costs can quickly accumulate up, as using the device requires a monthly subscription.

Pros

  • Supports Connection of up to 200 Z-Wave Devices
  • Easy mesh network setup
  • User-Friendly App
  • Easy to Install
  • Very Affordable Price Tag (of the hardware)

Cons

  • Requires a Monthly Subscription
buy_from_amazon

Zipato Zipabox

zipabox_zwave_controller
Zipabox Z-Wave Home Automation Controller

This Z Wave Controller has a very unique design but also very sophisticated technology. It has been created by the Romanian Company Zipato which is not yet very well known amongst home automation users yet but this could probabaly change with this product.  Like the VeraLite controller the Zipabox also uses a Cloud Interface to store configuration data,schedules and timers. In order to function properly the controller therefore needs constant internet access and connectivity to the Zipato servers. Btw, after several complaints about the network connectivity of their own managed servers Zipato has switched to Amazon based Cloud Servers which has hugely improved the stability of the service resulting in an overall quality jump of the ZipaBox. The cloud based web interface makes it also possible to connect with every device that has internet access and a modern browser. Nowadays this should include all smartphones and tables making it possible to manage your home automation on the go. If the web interface doesn’t feel really appealing you can also switch to the iOS or Android Apps that have been developed for the Zipabox. It also supports other protocols than Z-Wave with the help of extension modules.

Pros

  • Very simple to install
  • Nice and modern interface
  • Can be extended to support multiple protocs

Cons

  • Higher price tag
  • Design looks a bit cheap
buy_from_amazon

Mi Casa Verde VeraLite

VeraLite Z Wave Controller
MiCasa Verde Veralite

October 2017 Update: This device is no longer officially supported. Although available for purchase through Vera’s official website, the company has shifted its focus towards its newest products. Nevertheless, we still decided to retain it as a honorable mention, due to its usability in 2017. 

Note 01-12-2014: Due to the release of the new VeraEdge the price of its predecessor VeraLite has dropped.  It is still a very viable option for people who don’t need the new features of its successor including Z Wave Plus and the support for more nodes. But we guess the 50 devices that the VeraLite supports are more than enough for most home automation use cases.

The Vera Product Range is well known amongst Z-Wave users. This very sophisticated controller also adds the possibility to control all connected devices with your smartphone provided they are connected to the same network. The energy monitor supports you in optimizing your monthly costs and cutting your energy bill. Moreover the Mi Casa Verde community has become quite big which makes it easier to find questions for your problems in their support forums.

Pros

  • Very simple to install
  • Nice design
  • Nice and modern interface
  • Very low price tag

Cons

  • Supports only Z-Wave
buy_from_amazon

Revolv Smart Home Automation Solution

revolv_smart_home_automation_solution
Revolv Smart Home Automation Solution

Update January 2015: This device was once the most promising Home Automation controller in our list with both offering state-of-the-art smartphone and desktop apps as well as providing the support for 7 (3) major protocols. But as we already mentioned in our introduction, things went a different way. Nest bought this company and the Smart Home Hub is basically abandoned right now. There is no support from the manufacturer anymore and the activation of the 4 additional radios will most likely never happen. We are very sure that Nest will release a beast of a controller in the near future with the acquired technology, but for now they have left an angry customer base behind, which is reflected by the most recent reviews for the Smart Home Hub on amazon. Perhaps they will even continue support for it in a couple of months. No one knows for sure right now, and if you are willing to take the risk and are happy with the features the Hub offers right now, you can still purchase used ones on amazon for a reasonable price.

This nice little gadget was designed to bring order to the home automation jungle. The Revolv Hub is currently able to talk not only to Z-Wave devices but also to Insteon and Wi-Fi devices. An upcoming firmware update will add ZigBee to the club while Revolv promises that this won’t be the last protocol supported by the Smart Home Automation Solution since the controller already has 7 different radios built inside which just need to be activated by the aforementioned software updates. Ever dreamt of pairing your Philips Hue Wireless Lighting with your Nest Smart Thermostat by only using one controller? Revolv’s solution will make your dream come true. It is also one of the very few devices that support Z-Wave and Insteon.

Pros

  • Very simple to install
  • Nice and modern interface
  • Supports Z-Wave, Insteon and WiFi

Cons

  • Higher Price Tag
buy_from_amazon

Update October 2018: Samsung SmartThings Hub 2nd Generation is replaced by Samsung SmartThings Hub 3rd Generation in the table and in the article. Note: Updates are underlined for easier traceability.

Update June 2018: Added two categories (New Generation Products, Old Generation Products) to better reflect the Z-Wave controller market conditions of 2018. The list was also updated with to feature the newest generations of some products on the list. 

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The Best Zigbee Controllers https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-zigbee-controllers/ https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-zigbee-controllers/#respond Wed, 21 Oct 2020 09:20:00 +0000 https://buildyoursmarthome.co/?p=3876 If you are into a smart home and automatisation, you wish to make all the devices work together. And that is where the ZigBee controllers enter the scene. Like a puzzle, you can put all your smart gadgets to work connected via the controller. For your convenience, we have chosen five best Zigbee controllers, and […]

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If you are into a smart home and automatisation, you wish to make all the devices work together. And that is where the ZigBee controllers enter the scene. Like a puzzle, you can put all your smart gadgets to work connected via the controller. For your convenience, we have chosen five best Zigbee controllers, and you can choose which one is the most suitable for your needs.

Our friends from dealdragon.co are now providing us with a state-of-the-art dynamic list of the best products. Below this iframe you will find our old blog post, but we now recommend this new list as it represents the current market more accurately.

No. 5 – Philips Hue Smart Hub

A smart way to start small with a proven controller is a Philips Hue Smart Hub (bridge).

Image from Lotdope

With this ZigBee-controlled hub, you can control up to 50 Philips Hue lights of your choice. This hub also enables you to control all of your Philips Hue products via the Philips Hue app, even when you’re away from home.

Philips Hue system is compatible with multiple home automation systems like Nest, Samsung SmartThings, Yale, Razer, IFTTT and Logitech. You can control the lights with your voice only via Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant.

Setup

Setup of the bridge is pretty simple and straightforward. All you need to do is to download the Philips Hue app on your mobile device. The app works with iOS 8.0, but requires iOS 9.0 for HomeKit voice control through Siri to work. It also works with devices running Android 2.3 or later. Once you have downloaded the Philips Hue app and created an account, you need to connect the bridge to your Wi-Fi router with an Ethernet cable included in the package. The application will search for a hub connected to your Wi-Fi network. You will be prompted to press the button on the bridge once and enter the HomeKit number on the back. The whole process takes about five minutes.

Image from BT Shop

When you are done with setting up the app and the bridge, all you have to do is screw or plug bulbs in, turn them on, and search for additional lights through the app. You can connect up to 50 bulbs and 12 accessories to the bridge.

Compatibility

The Philips Hue Hub and lights are perfectly paired with the Amazon Echo as they both work via ZigBee platform. With this setup, you can control all of your lights and also activate any Philips Hue Lighting Scenes with your voice. You can control the state (on/off), the colour and the brightness (dim level) of your Philips Hue lights with Alexa.

The names you assign to the lights in the Philips Hue app will also be used for voice control if you have an Amazon Echo. It is the best if you use a name that sounds natural such as “Bedroom Lamp”. This will allow you to easily identify and control it by voice. If you have groups of lights, it is possible to name them by number. For example, “Bedroom Lights 1″ and ” Bedroom Lights 2″. You can create a light group in your Amazon Echo application to control both lights at the same time with just one name (Bedroom Lights).

Image from Digital Trends

Controlling your lights with your voice is one of the magical experiences of owning a smart home. The Amazon Echo devices are very affordable and they are a great compliment to your Philips Hue Hub.

You can also connect the hub to SmartHome and enjoy other benefits such as lights turning on when motion is detected or when a door is opened, or having your lights change colours based on events that happen in your home.

Wrap up

The Philips Hue Hub and lights are one of the core products we recommend to start your smart home, and integrated with Amazon Echo or SmartThings devices they create a very stable foundation for your smart home.

No. 4 – Wibutler Pro

The smart home centre WiButler Pro combines the best of professional and DIY world. The installation is performed by a professional, but the connection of devices is completely on you. One thing that WiButler Pro offer is the capability of offline work, by creating an access point. Your WiButler Pro establishes an individual network and without internet communicates with your app and smart devices. However, the remote access is no longer possible in the offline mode.

Image from Tap-radio

The great strength of the WiButler Pro lies in the immense number of compatible components. It is excellent for heating systems, lighting solutions, window shutters and blinds and other systems. Working via Zigbee, Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, Z-Wave and EnOcean, it allows you to combine different devices that work on different radio signals.

Wibutler Pro offers three reasonably priced starter kits for a quick start, as the server alone cannot do much. Each starter kit contains a set of radio-controlled sockets, radio buttons or other elements.

Setup

The installation is carried out by the specialist. You can add products yourself later. The professional will connect various components with the controller and later you can use IFTTT rules to connect the devices among each other. For example, the heating automatically shuts down when the window is opened.

The specialist can also create a floor plan of the apartment in the application and place the individual network components in the appropriate places in the room. With this overview, you can later quickly find and control the device of your choice.

Image from Home Pioneers

Installation by the professional is a good move concerning warranty and creating rules and it also protects you from misaligning something in the system.

After the specialist has left, it is up to you to self-train the products via the application. The operation of the WiButlers is overall very simple and intuitive. The menus of the app are meaningful and chic. During the learning process of the components, the apps will lead you through the individual steps. Even creating rules raises no questions.

Only the products that do not have a “Professional” label on the WiButler website can be self-trained. These products include the door-window contacts, socket adapters, wall switches, radiator controls, remote controls and networked lamps from Osram and Philips. For the self-taught components, you can set rules and determine the behaviour of the profiles such as “home-day”, “on the way” and others. The different scenes can be activated via remote control, switch or smartphone.

The individual devices of your smart home are presented in the app in the “building regulation” sorted by the floor and space. In the “floor plan view,” you can find the products in the appropriate place in the room. In the device manager, the app shows the individual products with their variables. Equipment marked with a lock is available only by the installer.

Image from smarthometest.info

Compatibility

The application is straightforward and it leads you through every step of adding the new devices to the network. The WiButler Pro is compatible with Zigbee, Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, Z-Wave and EnOcean. It is compatible with Amazon Echo and works well with Alexa.

Currently, WiButler Pro can be connected to 173 devices, and here is the list of the brands of those devices: Philips, Osram, Aeon Labs, Eltako, Permundo, Fibaro, Oventrop, Bega, Peha, Thermokon, Winkhaus, Hoppe, Nodon, Maico, Young, Wolf, Wilo, Detention Ring Group, Afriso, Remeha, Euro Tronic, Hora, Paw, Clage, Emitter, SYR, Pentair Jung Pumps and TBS. You can check more about them on the WiButler website

Wrap up

If you want to connect all areas of your home, then WiButler Pro is the best choice for you. It is far cheaper than most professional installations. However, the possibilities are somewhat limited, as currently no surveillance cameras, music systems, televisions or household appliances can be directly integrated. For this, the WiButler Pro encompasses all areas of a typical home automation system with light, shading, security, climate and energy. And even if you are not a DIY person, professional can set it all up for you!

No. 3 – Insteon Central Controller Hub

If you are about to start building a smart home, Insteon Central Controller Hub will help you get off to a very good start. It’s easy to set up, very affordable, and its dual-band technology helps different smart gadgets talk to each other without interruption. This means that wireless technology uses both wireless radio as well as existing power lines to deliver reliable and fast communication.

Image from Donnelly HomeandGarden16

Setup

Installing the Insteon Hub is very easy. All you need to do is to connect the device to your Wi-Fi router, download the Insteon app and follow its setup instructions. Insteon can be remotely controlled via tablets, smartphones, laptops, and computers and you can access the Insteon app from the iTunes App Store, Google Play and Amazon Echo.

Once you have your Insteon Hub connected, you can add devices. As the hub is dual band it can connect the devices that use different protocols. As it is compatible with Amazon Echo, you can control the devices using Alexa voice commands and its skills.

Compatibility

Insteon acts like a mesh network and offers an unlimited network size for smart homeowners. It uses Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and can be connected to thousands of devices to one hub. The hub is compatible with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Echo, Logitech Harmony Remotes, Stringify and Sonos. Additional nice feature Insteon offers is compatibility with iOS, Android and Windows devices.

Image from Insteon

In addition, Insteon Hub is compatible with more than 200 products under the Insteon brand. This includes switches, keypads, plug-in switches and bulbs, outlets, sensors, remotes, thermostats, low voltage I/O control, Wi-Fi cameras, different embedded devices, extenders and bridges, computer interfaces and accessories. It also works with Nest products. And the best thing is now you can connect your home with Tesla (if you own one) and make sure you take your home wherever you go!

Wrap up

If you are in for smart home and are a fan of Insteon products, Insteon Central Controller Hub is a perfect solution for you. And, while its eco-system is robust, it is really nice how their products are compatible with other market leaders like Amazon Echo, Apple HomeKit and Nest thermostats. This offers you various choices for building the best custom solution for your smart home.

No. 2 – Wink Hub 2

The Wink Hub 2 is the second iteration of the smart hub of the same name. Released in the fourth quarter of 2016, the device offers impressive features and is a huge improvement over its predecessor. The Wink Hub 2 comes at an affordable price and is packed with both wired Ethernet and dual-band Wi-Fi support.

Image from Wink

The elegant, sleek and stylish new design is enough to catch the eye. A thin LED strip on the top front edge informs you what’s going on: it blinks blue while pairing, white while rebooting, and solid blue when everything is connected and working as prescribed. Yet, the biggest strength of the device is in its user-friendly app and the ease of installation.

Another huge selling point of the hub is its support of all major protocols, including Zigbee and Z-Wave. The Wink Hub 2 also supports a few more obscure protocols, such as Kiddie, Lutron and Clear Connect. Another great feature of the device is its Amazon Alexa and IFTTT support. However, the possible lack of Wink Hub 2 is missing the battery backup.

Setup

Setting the Wink Hub 2 up and running it is pretty straightforward. Even though Wink suggests using a wired connection for simplicity, you can install the hub wirelessly. Next step is to download the app to your iPhone or Android device, and then follow the setup instructions in the application. Once you finish the configuration of the hub, you can relocate the hub anywhere in your house and connect it to your router’s 2.4GHz or 5GHz band.

Image from How-To Geek

The Wink App doesn’t have a home screen like you might be used to see. Instead, the main screen displays whatever category of device you selected from the side menu. The thing you, unfortunately, cannot do is to group devices from different categories together by room.

You can then set schedules or Robots which are actions that occur based on predetermined conditions. For example, you can set up Robot which will turn on lights and send a notification when the security camera detects movement. However, if you’ve created a schedule on a particular device’s app, those settings won’t transfer over to the Wink app. You’ll have to set them up all over again.

Compatibility

The Wink Hub 2 supports ZigBee, Z-Wave, Lutron Clear Connect, Kidde, Wi-Fi and Google’s Thread. Additionally, it works with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT, and you can control it using Android, Android Wear and iOS devices.

You can control whole smart home, from thermostats to garage door openers and water-leak sensors with this hub. The list contains 66 products by different manufacturers: Philips, Arlo, Bali, Sylvania, GE, Cree, Commercial Electric, Carrier, Ecobee, Google, Kidde, Honeywell, Ring, Yale, Halo, Schlage, Sonos, and numerous others. You can check the complete list on Wink’s website.

Image from Wink

Even though the hub is not compatible with Google home, it works well with other Google’s products.

Wrap up

With straightforward installation and all devices gathered in one application, Wink Hub 2 can be one of the best solutions for newbies in home automation as well as for experts. With its sleek design, it can fit all surroundings, while the hub is very responsive and the app is thoughtfully designed and easy to use. With Robots and scheduling, you can make the perfect atmosphere for every moment in your smart home!

No. 1 – Samsung SmartThings Hub 3rd Generation

Image from SmartThings Support

When it comes to connected home, the best thing is when you centralize it. And one of the easiest ways to do it is to use the hub. Samsung SmartThings Hub 3rd Generation makes it all a piece of cake and enables your home to work as a smart being.

It took several years of hard work for Samsung to make the third edition of SmartThings Hub which is advanced in many ways, compared to the previous two versions.

First, there is the appearance, which makes this hub more discreet and more adaptable to any home interior. It is smaller than its predecessor or competitors and with a rounded shape.

The Hub has three ports on the back: one for a USB port, one for the power adapter, and one for a wired Ethernet connection, if you choose to place it next to a router. As routers are often on the periphery of a home, it’s a good thing the Hub also has built-in 802.11AC wireless networking, because it allows you to place any wireless device, and especially a Smart Home hub, in the centre of a home.

It includes both Zigbee and Z-Wave radios and Wi-Fi connection, which allows connections to most of the Smart Home products on the market.

Image from DIY Smart Home Guide

Setup

While setting up the SmartThings Hub 3rd Generation, there are a few ways to judge it. First, we can analyse the ease of setup and device installation. Second, we can look at its support of third-party devices. And third, we can look at the performance of the SmartThings app, which is what you use on a daily basis.

To set up the different SmartThings accessories, you will have to scan a QR code on the device (or included in the box) using the SmartThings application, and the product is automatically added to your Smart Home system.

For third-party device installation, you won’t have a QR code, still, the process is still relatively simple, as you can find the product in the list in the application, or add it manually.

Image from blog.smartthings.com

The responsiveness of the app is excellent, it is quick and the on/off buttons in the app work instantaneously. SmartThings Hub 3rd Generation and Amazon Echo work together brilliantly as voice commands issued to Alexa are done on in a split-second.

Compatibility

You can control a really wide range of devices via SmartThings Hub 3rd Generation, such as Ring video doorbells, Philips Hue and Sengled smart lights, Ecobee thermostats, Lutron Caseta switches and plugs, Yale, Kwikset and Schlage smart locks; and Netgear Arlo cameras. Amazon Echo with Alexa AI and Google Assistant can be used for voice control of devices connected to SmartThings.

You might find it as a disadvantage, but there’s no integration with Nest, August or TP-Link’s Kasa which are among the bigger names in smart home products.

Wrap up

SmartThings Hub 3rd Generation enables you to can link devices together in a single app, like, for example, to warn you if a window is open and a rainstorm is approaching or to turn off your thermostat if a window is opened. With SmartThings’ sophisticated automation possibilities, connecting your smart home devices are almost endless!

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Best Alexa Compatible Doorbell https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-alexa-doorbell/ https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-alexa-doorbell/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2020 09:00:00 +0000 https://buildyoursmarthome.co/?p=3234 Living in a world of smart homes as a smart device means that you are up to date and technically advanced. But if you really want to be on the top of the hill, you need to be connected with other devices and, of course, Alexa. Even if you are a doorbell! Our friends from […]

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Living in a world of smart homes as a smart device means that you are up to date and technically advanced. But if you really want to be on the top of the hill, you need to be connected with other devices and, of course, Alexa. Even if you are a doorbell!

Our friends from dealdragon.co are now providing us with a state-of-the-art dynamic list of the best products. Below this iframe you will find our old blog post, but we now recommend this new list as it represents the current market more accurately.

For your convenience, we have checked out the market of Alexa compatible video doorbells and their features. We have talked about smart wireless doorbells earlier and features that you need to look for when buying one. Let’s do a quick review.

There are multiple features you should look for when you are on the hunt for the best Alexa doorbell.

1. Functionality – The Alexa connected doorbells are so much more than a doorbell. Once you have checked all the available models, you will choose the one with the functions you need the most.
2. Alexa compatibility – Since the title of this article is “Best Alexa Doorbells” we will go through the features that work by voice command to Alexa, such as Start / Stop recording of video, Take a still image, Enable / Disable quiet mode and of course, view the camera on an Echo Show or Spot.

3. Installation – you will find wireless and wired Alexa compatible doorbell, and if you already have the wired doorbell, you will probably not take the wireless one into consideration. But, it is an exciting option, right?
4. Video quality – Today, you will hardly find a doorbell with resolution below 720p. But bear in mind that, even though all cameras with resolution over 720p are claimed to be HD, quality of an image depends on video processing, storing and other factors, as well.
5. Video Storage – You can save the video recording and pictures on the cloud or in the local storage. When purchasing the Alexa compatible video doorbell, be sure to check do you have available the free storage, and what is the monthly fee if you wish to keep the data on the cloud.
6. Battery life – if you choose the wireless doorbell the lifetime of the battery will certainly be one of the main questions that you will be concerned about, so choose the one which suits your needs the best!7. Night Vision – Infrared is the most common form of night vision for video doorbells and security cameras. But it makes black and white images, and if you wish to have colour videos, you will need a doorbell with illumination.
8. Motion detection – You will need a doorbell with a motion detector if you are purchasing it for security purposes. This kind of doorbells start recording the moment that motion is detected and sends you an alert, there is no need to wait for someone to ring a bell, you already know somebody is at the porch.

You might find some other features more essential for you, and will focus on them during purchase. Now, let’s check out what are the best Alexa compatible doorbells.

1. Ring Video Doorbell 2

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 is good looking video doorbell designed for convenience and security. It has 2-way talk feature so you can talk to the person at the door, being home or not. Its camera can automatically record visitors to your house, and if a motion sensor is on, you will get notified even before you hear the chime. The field of view of the Ring video doorbell 2 is 160 degrees. It is water resistant and works on temperature -5°F to 120°F / -20.5°C to 48.5°C.

The size is a bit bulky, but if you install it on the wall next to the doorframe, it will not appear too robust. You will receive all the tools necessary for the installation in the package together with the doorbell. If you have a hardwired traditional doorbell, you can just replace it. Still, you can use the wireless option of the Ring video doorbell 2 without worrying that it will get stolen. The manufacturer will refund it when Police report provided.

Alexa Compatibility

If you are an Alexa owner, you can handle the Ring doorbell with the following actions:
– see, hear and speak to people in front of your camera from Echo Show and Echo Spot devices
– see and stop your Ring feed
– view your most recent video clip on Ring

The skill doesn’t let you answer the door, so you’ll have to use for your phone for the door opening.
The Ring video doorbell 2 is also compatible with IFTTT.

Other Features

Video is recorded at 15fps and a resolution of 1920p x 1080p. The audio part works excellent, but a video can be a bit blurred if there is too much motion. Still, as this is not a security camera but a video doorbell, so it really makes its purpose well.

Too bad that there’s no free subscription available and you’ll have to pay $3 per month or $30 per year for one device, or $10 per month/$100 per year for multiple devices in case that you have ring security camera as well.

The Ring claims the battery will last between six months and a year, which is long enough not to be a hassle. The battery is removable, and you will use it only if your Ring Video Doorbell 2 works wirelessly. It is charged via present micro-USB port.

It uses four infrared LEDs and captures the area up to 30 feet of night vision. Night-time video is better, as the camera can capture higher-quality images from greater distances compared to the previous version.

The motion detection is a flexible system, which means that you can control motion detection zones and the detection distance. With these controls, it’s easy to configure motion detection so that the camera doesn’t pick up a neighbour or someone walking past your door.

Since Ring uses integrated PIR sensors, instead of monitoring the video stream, there will be no false alerts. Plus, you can disable motion alerts at certain times by setting up a motion detection schedule.

Wrap up

With proper security features, Alexa compatibility, a higher-resolution sensor, removable battery, wireless option and adjustable motion detector, in spite of some minor drawbacks, it may be the best choice for you.

2. Ring Doorbell Pro

A slimmer model than the Ring Video Doorbell 2, it comes much more elegant and better looking. With a 1080p camera resolution, this model has an excellent image quality. Ring Doorbell Pro offers a 160- x 100-degree field of view, which covers all the entryways well. 2-way audio is possible via smartphone app on both iOS and Android. If you choose, you can connect it to your existing chime or use a wireless ring or mobile app, too. This model is excellent if you are looking for one that will replace your traditional hardwired doorbell and you will get all the tools for it in the package.Installation is easy and straightforward, as it is only a replacing the previous doorbell. The conditions ranging from -5 F to 120 F / 20.5°C to 48.5°C. After you install it, download the mobile app and enjoy the full experience of the Ring Doorbell Pro.

Alexa Compatibility

Even though you cannot start or stop recording video, have your doorbell ring on an Echo or use a quiet mode Ring Doorbell Pro has the most important features when connected to Alexa. You can do the following actions:
– Get a live video feed by saying “Alexa, show my front door.”
– Stop the live feed by saying “Alexa, hide my front door.”

Phrase “front door” can be changed to whichever name you give to your doorbell.You can also display the camera image on a compatible Fire TV device via Alexa. The Ring Doorbell Pro works with IFTTT, Google Assistant, SmartThings and Wink as well.

Other Features

This is a 3rd generation camera with a resolution of 1080p, which makes great videos, not only during the day but also at night. Video processing is also excellent. The high-quality video is supported with the same quality audio.

The storage fees are the same for all Ring products: you’ll have to pay $3 per month or $30 per year for one device, or $10 per month/$100 per year for multiple devices. Still, you will get the first month of storage free of charge.

The ring Doorbell Pro is a hardwired model, so there is no battery needed for it. For some users, this can be considered as a drawback, but in case you wish to have one, check out other wireless doorbell options available on the market.The same as Ring Video Doorbell 2, the Pro uses infrared LEDs and captures the area up to 30 feet of night vision with higher-quality images compared to the previous version.

The motion detection options are a bit different than with other doorbells. Ring Doorbell Pro lets you select the area using the actual camera view. Recordings are captured from 10 seconds before a ring or motion is detected and last for 60 seconds.

If you have a smart home hub like Wink and connect Ring Doorbell Pro, you can set the doorbell or motion sensor to trigger other smart devices like lights.

Wrap up

The Ring Doorbell Pro is an excellent solution if you are looking for a hardwired model and don’t need a silent mode. You will get a good looking device which provides excellent videos during the day and night time, reliable motion sensor and Alexa compatible device for the upgrade of your home, at a reasonable price.

Ring – The story behind

In 2018 the start-up company Ring was acquired by Amazon, but it all started in a garage of Siminoff, former owner of the company, after several other businesses that worked or failed. And the idea of his wife who complained that he never hears the doorbell. So, Siminoff created a doorbell which had its downs at the beginning, but after investment made by billionaire Richard Branson in 2015 and improvements of the doorbell in 2016, it became one of the top players on the market of home security devices. For example, in L.A. where devices cover only 10% of the area’s homes, burglaries fell by 55% within six months in 2016.Today, there are two Ring video doorbells compatible with Alexa – Ring video doorbell 2 and Ring Doorbell Pro. And they are placed at the top of the world of smart video doorbells. And the Ring Alexa skill connects your Ring Video Doorbell 2, Video Doorbell Pro, Video Doorbell Elite and Floodlight Cam to your Echo Show, Echo Spot, Fire Tablets and Fire TV. It’s compatible with all generations of Fire TV, the second-generation Fire TV Stick, all Fire TV Edition Smart TVs and Fire Tablets Gen 7 and above.

3. Nest Hello

If you already have smart gadgets around your home, or even better Nest hub, you will be delighted with Nest Hello doorbell! It is a bit expensive but with features like facial recognition, a full video streaming feed and pre-recorded audio responses it will make every cent worth investment.

The compact Hello doorbell looks good and is built to last. However, the doorbell is rated for operation above 14 F / -10°C so people living in areas with lower temperatures should consider this when purchasing. The doorbell is hardwired, and installation can be a bit tricky, but once it is done, set up goes smoothly.The Nest Hello features night vision functionality and a 160° diagonal field of view, the 4:3 aspect ratio, two-way audio communication and 8x digital zoom. The video is in portrait mode, so you can hold your phone normally and have a chat. Considering audio interface, you are enabled to prerecord three messages which will be played if you are not able to answer yourself while away or busy.

Alexa Compatibility

When you enable the Nest Camera skill on Amazon Alexa, it will allow you to see a live feed of your nest hello doorbell, but you must have an Amazon Alexa spot or an Amazon Alexa show to see the video. It’s a great option to pull up your doorbell feed in a second. However, you cannot talk to the person at the door via Alexa.
IFTTT channel has only triggers, and you can control other devices when a sound or motion are detected by your Nest Hello.

Other Features

The resolution of the video from the Nest Hello is 1600 x 1200 at up to 30 fps. With the HDR system, the footage is high quality and shadow areas are without blown-out details. The faster-moving video might lose a bit of detail, but the image is brilliant when someone is standing still in front of your door waiting for you to answer.

Facial recognition system will notify you who is at the door if it is a familiar place that you entered into the base. But as the time goes by, some faces that appear more frequently will also be memorised by the camera, and you just need to name it to get the notification for that particular person.If you are not willing to pay for the Nest Aware subscription, you can view live stream 24/7, with recorded playback limited to snapshots of the last three hours. With the subscription of $5 per month, you can see the full archive.

The Nest Hello is a hardwired model, so there is no battery charger included.

A night vision mode makes grayscale videos by its IR LEDs, and the footage is perfectly viewable. LEDs are very powerful so you can rely on them that will light up the whole porch and surrounding garden.

A nice advantage of the Nest Hello is that you can separately set motion sensor, facial recognition and sound detection. You can even check activity for each of the triggers via the app.

Wrap up

As long as you don’t mind hiring an expert for installation, paying a subscription for full history review and lack of wireless feature, Nest Hello is an excellent choice for a video doorbell, with facial recognition, 8x zoom and other advanced features.

4. Skybell HD Video Doorbell

The pretty one, Skybell Doorbell Camera will be a nice addition to your front door. Its round shape is lovely. And it will enable you to speak, listen and see a visitor at your doorstep form your mobile. An additional plus of this video doorbell is that there is no additional fee for the storage of videos. But more about it later.

The SkyBell HD video doorbell works in all weather conditions, between -40F and 140F / -40° to 60°C, and is water resistant. The field of view is 180 degree, which is a bit wider than the previously described doorbells. 2-way audio is also available.

Silent mode is available, which is a step forefront for most of the other doorbells compatible with Alexa. And it also works with IFTTT, Nest, and a lot of different ecosystems. All members of your family can be connected via the same account, and you can even give access to your friends so they can log in to the account.

Alexa Compatibility

The SkyBell HD gives you more opportunities regarding communication via Alexa. You can give it different sorts of commands such as:
– Alexa, tell SkyBell to turn on/off quiet mode
– Alexa, tell SkyBell to take a snapshot
– Alexa, tell SkyBell to record video

And Alexa will respond, for example: “Your SkyBell device has taken a snapshot”. Features work really well, and you can rely on Alexa and SkyBell to execute all commands.

Other Features

You can select the quality of the image to be 480p, 720p or 1080p. With a resolution of 1080p the picture is clear and sharp, but the download takes a bit longer than 720p, which makes pretty good photos and videos as well. Additionally, you can choose the speaker volume level on High, Medium or Low.

When you compare the SkyBell with other competitors, it has one big advantage in free storage. It stores triggered video in the cloud for seven days. You can check them out via your mobile application, but you’ll have to download important videos before they’re automatically deleted.

Doesn’t have a backup battery as it is a hardwired doorbell.

The SkyBell HD uses multi-colour LEDs which provide full-colour night vision video, compared to black-and-white footage that you get with PIR technique. The night video is bright and well-defined up to 20 feet distance from the camera. You can also connect the SkyBell with other smart devices in your home, and set up rules for triggers, such as to automatically turn on the front door lights when motion is detected at night.

With the SkyBell, you can enable or disable motion detection and set one of three sensitivity levels: High, Medium and Low. However, there is no option to define areas, as it is with Ring doorbells.

Wrap up

The Skybell is easy to install if you are replacing previous hardwired doorbell. It is also easy and use takes great pictures and doesn’t charge a fee for capturing and storing videos. So it can be a good choice for you if these are features that you are looking for in a video doorbell.

5. Vuebell Doorbell Camera

When talking about Vuebell Doorbell Camera, we can say that it is a reasonably priced option for having a smart video doorbell. It has all the features you need from the video recording, 2-way audio communication, motion detector and so on.

This is a hardwired doorbell, and you can install it with existing wires of the previous doorbell. You can have a full scene of the front yard because the horizontal field of view of the camera is 185° and vertical 120°.

Setup on both IOS and Android system is performed via exclusive QR code auto-configuration in second. For the installation itself, you will receive all the equipment needed in the package. You can install the doorbell within 100 meters from your Wi-Fi because reception is really well made and durable.

Alexa Compatibility

Compatible with Alexa, it also works with Echo show on which you can watch the live stream from Vuebell Doorbell Camera. So, you can Ask Alexa to show you front door and see who is there, and if you have a smart lock connected, combine the door opening without a need to get up from the sofa while watching TV, or leaving the kitchen while cooking.

Other Features

With 720p resolution the face of the person stands within 2 feet in front of the camera is very recognisable. Since it has a wide angle lens, a fish-eye effect is expected, but the image quality is excellent.

The cloud storage is free up to 7 days of storage so you can check who passed and went through your yard one week in reverse. It also records a few seconds video of the brief alert.

Doesn’t have a backup battery as it is a hardwired doorbell.

Night vision is performed with 8 IR LED and 18 ft infrared distance. However, users have complained to the camera reflection and a bit blurred face of the person in the dark.

The camera is equipped with a motion sensor so you will receive an alert when the moving is captured. You can customise the detection area and time, and focus on the most critical period of the day. The motion can be detected up to 3 meters away from the camera.

Wrap up

This is a good buy with the lower price compared to its famous cousins, but it also lacks some of their features. But if you don’t need more than a motion sensor, night vision, Alexa compatibility and free storage, this might be one of the best choices for you to buy.

6. August doorbell cam

August doorbell works well with other August smart devices, but not only that. There are options of three types of rings: chime, mobile application and old mechanical chime and you can choose which one will ring, or you can set all of them to work.

The installation for this hardwired doorbell is not tricky, and instruction is straightforward. With the 120-degrees field of view of camera covers your doorstep, but will not cover not the entire front of your house.
August doorbell cam has an excellent HD video quality, motion detector and clear two-way audio.

Alexa Compatibility

Since May 2018 August doorbell cam is compatible with Alexa. With other smart devices by August, you can really improve your smart home with commanding Alexa things you wish to be done. You can also connect the doorbell with Nest cameras and thermostats and combine them all through IFTTT. Via Echo Show, you can see who is at the door from your sofa.

Other Features

The resolution is 960p by 1280 p. The image from the camera is in portrait mode. It is beautiful and sharp on a smartphone screen, but it doesn’t rotate if you flip your phone around. This means you get a pretty good look at what’s going on in front of your door but little visibility on either side.

August includes a 30-day free trial of its Video Recording subscription. After that, you will have to pay $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year, for storing videos for 30 days. That’s a really high price and a substantial drawback of this doorbell.

August doorbell cam is hardwired doorbell and has no backup battery.

The doorbell isn’t equipped with the infrared LEDs needed for night vision, so you need to have light in front of your home. That can be good because you get to see real colours at night. The light on the doorbell just isn’t sufficient to illuminate the area.

Detection is based on an infrared sensor, and there is no video detection, which is sort of good, as you don’t get false notification caused by passing cars. There’s a sensitivity setting for the exposure and there are no detection zones, but there is a pre-record function called “Hindsight”. It continuously buffers several seconds of video, so when triggered, it can provide video of not just what happens after trigger but also what happened before.

Wrap up

The August doorbell camera is a good performer, with all the features that a smart doorbell must have. Still, great deficiency is the high price of storage so this might be a reason for you to search for another doorbell.

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What is the Best Z-Wave USB Stick? https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-z-wave-usb-stick/ https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-z-wave-usb-stick/#comments Mon, 19 Oct 2020 09:00:00 +0000 http://buildyoursmarthome.co/?p=214 If you don't know what home automation protocol to choose yet and want to dive deeper into the intricacies of orchestrating your home - buying a cheap Z-Wave USB adapter might be the perfect option for you. These sticks turn your ordinary pc into a fully customizable Z-Wave controller.

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We all know that setting up a complete Home Automation system can be quite expensive. Most people want to test out things first before they spend a big amount of money only to realize later that the gadgets don’t properly work in their environment. You might have noticed the price tags of some devices in our review of the best z wave controllers. Of course, these home automation controllers are a must have if you want to do some serious automation with a wide range of different devices and protocols. Moreover, they provide a huge amount of different functionalities and features that justify the costs. But if you don’t know what home automation protocol to choose yet and want to dive deeper into the intricacies of orchestrating your home – buying a cheap Z-Wave USB adapter might be the perfect option for you. These sticks turn your ordinary pc into a fully customizable Z-Wave controller. You have full control over what it does and when to execute which function. Provided you are at least a bit tech savvy and know some basic coding – but if you are surfing this site chances are high that you are probably a tech enthusiast living the Tony Stark Life.

Our friends from dealdragon.co are now providing us with a state-of-the-art dynamic list of the best products. Below this iframe you will find our old blog post, but we now recommend this new list as it represents the current market more accurately.

Tips: How to get started with a Z-Wave USB Stick/Adapter

Of course, having the hardware is only one side of the story because you will need some corresponding software, too. One option is to resort to a feature-rich commercial product like the HomeSeer HS3 which starts at a price of $250 for the regular version and $600 for the professional version. But the chances are that you first want to try something inexpensive before spending too much on high-end software and hardware. Luckily there are two open source projects that we recommend to try out with your Z-Wave USB Stick (provided you are going to buy it).

1. OpenRemote

A complete home automation software that works with all major protocols and is very similar to the software developed by Homeseer. You can cover a lot of different use cases and create your own scenarios. Moreover, user control interfaces are available for iOS and Android devices as well as a web interface that works with any devices using modern web browsers.

Website: http://www.openremote.com/community/

2. Open ZWave

A more technical project aimed at people who like to program. It provides C++ wrappers for the Z-Wave protocol and allows for low-level interaction with it. A deeper technical understanding is required compared to OpenRemote.

Website: http://www.openzwave.com/

Below you will find a list of short reviews of the best Z-Wave USB sticks based on experiences from other users and forum reviews.

Our Winner: Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5

Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5

As always we begin with the product that it is in our eyes the most complete one and therefore a good candidate for being the best z wave USB stick. Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5 is a huge improvement over previous models while retaining the best qualities that Z-Stick has been known for over the years. Compatible with all the major Z-Wave software systems, including HomeSeer, OpenHab and OpenHab 2 and more, the stick works perfectly right out of the box. Easy and simple to use, Z-Stick Gen5 also supports both Z-Wave and Z-Wave plus. The only minor disadvantage could be backup of the device, as Aeon needs its own tool for backing up. Overall, there is not much you can do wrong in buying the Aeotec Z-Stick to get your feet wet in home automation.

Pros

  • Compatible with Open Z-Wave, OpenHab and OpenHab 2, Home Assistant, HomeSeer and Others
  • Certified for OpenRemote
  • Very reliable
  • Works with Z-Wave Plus devices
  • Minimalistic Design

buy_from_amazon

HomeSeer SmartStick+ Z-Wave Plus

HomeSeer SmartStick+ Z-Wave Plus

The HomeSeer SmartStick is a perfect purchase for those who want to implement a complete HomeSeer home automation ecosystem in their homes. However, for use outside of the HomeSeer family, it might not be the best choice. Even though it supports most Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus products, it isn’t compatible with some newer models and Z-wave devices. Plus, it is not as user-friendly and doesn’t provide you with any manual configuration options.

Please note that there are only 10 items left in stock (via our link) at the time of writing. We contacted HomeSeer, but we haven’t received a response of whether or not the item is discontinued.

Pros

  • Supports Most Z-Wave Products/Software Systems
  • Compatible with Z-Wave Plus
  • Nice minimalistic design

Cons

  • Lacks Support of some newer Z-Wave Devices
  • Doesn’t Provide with Manual Configuration Options

buy_from_amazon

Linear HUSBZB-1

Linear HUSBZB-1

Not every Z-Wave USB stick is created equally. Take the Linear HUSBZB-1 for example. While working with third-party software, rather than focusing solely on Z-Wave, HUSBZB-1 is a USB that helps connect your PC with either Z-Wave or ZigBee. One of the best features of the Linear USB is the fact that it provides out-of-the-box support for Home Assistant, Philips Hue and other third-party home automation software. Of course, it’s compatibility list is not as long as Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5, but it is still worth mentioning. For the most part, this stick will serve you justice for your home automation projects. Especially when combined with a RaspberryPi 3 board, the stick allows you to create some amazing DIY projects.

Pros

  • Works with Open Z-Wave
  • Nice minimalistic design
  • Works Great for DIY Projects

Cons

  • Advertised as “Z-Wave Plus” Compatible
  • Is Not “Z-Wave Plus” Compatible

buy_from_amazon

Z-Wave ZMEEUZBWD USB Smarthome Stick for WD My Cloud

Z-Wave ZMEEUZBWD USB Smarthome Stick for WD My Cloud

The Z-Wave ZMEEUZBWD USB Smarthome Stick for WD My Cloud is one of those obscure Z-wave enabled devices that you’ll have to play around with to make it work. Advertised as a way to turn your WD My Cloud into a smart home gateway, the Z-Wave USB stick can be used for other home automation purposes and DIY projects as well. It is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux systems and with the following My Cloud™ models: My Cloud™ Expert Series: EX2, EX4, EX2100, EX4100, My Cloud™ Business Series: DL2100, DL4100, and MyCloud™ Mirror, and it doesn’t require an additional purchase of Zway Software License.

Pros

  • Supports all Z-Wave products/Software systems
  • Compatible with HomeAssistant and Open Z-Wave
  • Smaller and more compact than other USB sticks
  • Supports S2 (firmware update)
  • Can be backed-up/restored from the HA-software
  • It works “out of the box” with many software, like HomeSeer.
  • Very reasonable price

Cons

  • The general purpose is to be used with WD My Cloud

buy_from_amazon

December 2018 Edits and Updates: Edit was performed following the current state of the product and comments and suggestions provided by the reader. edits and updates are underlined for easier traceability.

October 2018 Update: We’ve changed the article after a review of the latest Z-Wave USB stick models and after taking a look at a few newcomers. 

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The Best Z-Wave Thermostat https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-z-wave-thermostat/ https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-z-wave-thermostat/#respond Sat, 10 Oct 2020 07:00:00 +0000 http://buildyoursmarthome.co/?p=254 If your home automation system is centered around Z-Wave or consists at least of one Z-Wave enabled controller we have selected the best products that will fit your needs. On this page, you will find short reviews of what we would consider the best z-wave thermostats.

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Thermostats play an important role in every home automation system because most people would like to optimize their monthly energy bills with the help of cutting-edge technology. One benefit of a perfectly automated smart home is the ability to cut your costs, in the long run, letting the system basically pay for itself with the cost savings in the upcoming years. In fact, the return on investment of proper home automation should be very high – if it is done right.

Our friends from dealdragon.co are now providing us with a state-of-the-art dynamic list of the best products. Below this iframe you will find our old blog post, but we now recommend this new list as it represents the current market more accurately.

You might have already read our article about smart thermostats which clearly lines out the benefits of these devices. You probably have even already decided that you definitely need to have one of those gadgets and that there is no way around it if you want to have an actual smart home. The problem is that there so many products out there in the wild that most home automation lovers feel a bit overwhelmed by the variety of devices. Moreover, there is a wide range of different automation protocols which makes the decision even harder. But don’t worry, if your home automation system is centred around Z-Wave or consists at least of one Z-Wave enabled controller we have selected the best products that will fit your needs. On this page, you will find short reviews of what we would consider the best z-wave thermostats. To be honest, there are not a lot of programmable thermostats out there that speak Z-Wave which made the selection a bit easier.

Our Winner: GoControl Z-Wave Thermostat

GoControl Z-Wave Thermostat is still the leader on our list! There aren’t a lot of sophisticated Z-Wave thermostats on the market and GoControl certainly doesn’t lead the pack in innovation. Nevertheless, the company has managed to provide a decent product with a great array of features that work seamlessly together. Above all else, a thermostat should be compatible with as wide of a variety of home heating and cooling systems as possible. And in fact, the main reason we choose this device as our winner is just that. The GoControl Z-Wave Thermostat has a great compatibility with most home heating systems. Plus, it’s Z-Wave capabilities are enhanced by a long range and great hub support. The device also works with Amazon Alexa, but of course, for the purpose of using it, you will need a smart home hub.

Pros

  • Works with Amazon Alexa
  • Compatible with most Z-Wave hub systems
  • Great Support of H/C Systems

Cons

  • Doesn’t Support Z-Wave Plus
  • Extremely Limited Display

Buy from amazon here!

No. 8: IRIS CT101 Z-Wave Thermostat

If you are searching for something affordable that works with the most popular Z-Wave smart home hubs on the market, you should look no further than the Iris CT101 z-wave smart thermostat. Developed by Radio Thermostat for IRIS, the CT101 doesn’t differ much from its Radio Thermostat CT100 counterpart with much hardware-wise. However, the price tag of the model for IRIS is much cheaper than its other siblings from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • Extremely Affordable Price Tag
  • Complete DIY Programming Customization
  • Works with Most Smart Home Hubs
  • Support for Z-Wave Products

Cons

  • Build Feels Cheap
  • Display Shows Little to no Information

No. 7: Radio Thermostat CT100 Plus Z-Wave Plus Thermostat

Challenging the CT100 by 2Gig, the Radio Thermostat CT100 is the Z-Wave smart thermostat by the company with the same name. Delivering their new “plus” version, Radio Thermostat have made sure that their device now supports the latest iteration of the Z-Wave home automation protocol. With an updated design that looks rather stylish, especially compared to other products on the market, the CT100 is definitely a worthy purchase choice for any home automation enthusiasts that loves Z-Wave.

Pros

  • Z-Wave Plus Compatible
  • Complete DIY Programming Customization
  • Affordable Price Tag
  • Decent Z-Wave communication range

Cons

  • Build is Cheap and Plastic-y
  • Display Doesn’t Show Much Information

No. 6: RCS Z-Wave Communicating Thermostat

The California based company RCS (Residential Control Systems Inc.) isn’t well known yet for a majority of Home Automation lovers. But it has already established quite some reputation in the manufacturing of programmable thermostats. After gathering a lot of experience in this market the engineers have realized the growing importance of Smart Home technology and decided to build a thermostat with integrated ZWave functionality. RCS is known for putting a lot of effort in the technology of its products. That’s why the Z-Wave Communicating Thermostat might not be a real beauty from the outside but its insides are working perfectly together.

Pros

  • Bright, illuminated blue display
  • Strong Z-Wave radios with an extended range

Cons

  • Display font doesn’t look very modern
  • Overall design not very beautiful
  • Most expensive thermostat in our list

No. 5: Remotec Z-Wave Thermostat ZTS-500

Headquartered in Hong Kong, Remotec is the global leader in providing high-quality infrared and/or Z-wave solutions, Bluetooth, OEM/ODM services and home automation products. The company created its Z-wave thermostat with the end user in mind. The intuitive and simple user interface is combined with compatibility with any Z-Wave controller or gateway. The thermostat supports 2 stage heat, 2 stage cool, and 2 stage fan. It has to be C-wired, but can also use batteries for power supply and work when there is electrical power down. 

Pros

  • Compatible with WINK HUB 2, Vera Secure, Vera Edge, Vera Plus, Samsung SmartThings
  • Easy setup and use
  • Advanced features
  • Outside temperature feature
  • Battery and wall power

Cons

  • Not programmable without Z-Wave bridge

No. 4: Honeywell YTH8320ZW1007/U Z-Wave Thermostat

Honeywell has been in the thermostat industry for a couple of decades and recently also started to manufacture devices that are tailored to the requirements of typical smart homes. This of course also includes having at least one thermostat in their product line that speaks ZWave.  The Honeywell YTH8320 makes no secret of having that exact functionality by showing the official Z-Wave logo at the top of the minimalistically designed case. Its display is showing a clear differentiation between background and text making it easy to read the temperature even in dark environments. A nice feature is the so-called Wire saver which allows the use without a common wire. But this information comes from the manufacturer and we cannot confirm if it really works without a C-Wire. Please refer to our section above on how to overcome this problem.

Pros

  • Clean design
  • Nice display
  • Well established and renown manufacturer
  • Fully programmable
  • No need for a C-Wire (according to Honeywell)

Cons

  • A bit more expensive but well worth it
  • Extremely Outdated Design

No. 3: 2gig CT100 Z-Wave Thermostat

For the past couple of years, 2gig has made a name for itself in the Z-Wave Home Automation branch. Its low-priced products offer solid quality without inflating the complexity by offering too many features. The devices do what they are supposed to in a very reliable fashion. The 2gig CT100 is no exception and moreover, it is the least expensive thermostat in our list. Admittedly, the display is not the best of its class in terms of design but it still offers touch functionality and back illumination.

Pros

  • Low price tag
  • Minimalistic design
  • Fully programmable
  • Good Z-Wave communication range

Cons

  • Display doesn’t show a lot of info
  • Design is Relatively Outdated

No. 2: Trane Z-Wave Thermostat

While boasting a slightly higher price tag than the other thermostats on this list, the Trane Z-Wave Thermostat also has one of the sturdiest builds. Working with Alexa, with a hub required, the device is extremely easy to set up. With its sleek design, the product offers you full remote control of your smart home heating/cooling system via the Z-Wave protocol.

Pros

  • Amazon Alexa Integration
  • Extremely easy to Install
  • Supports most Z-Wave hubs
  • Compatible with most H/C Systems

Cons

  • Doesn’t Support Z-Wave Plus
  • High Price Tag

Tip: How to install a thermostat without a C-Wire

Almost all smart and programmable thermostats need HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) system with 5 wires to operate. The mysterious 5th wire that most people don’t know or haven’t seen yet is the Common Wire or often referred to as C-Wire which is normally coloured in black. A lot of sources state that this wire is responsible for powering the device but that information is not completely correct. The Red Wire (R-Wire) is actually the power source and therefore called the “hot” wire. The C wire is simply the “common” side of the transformer 24V output and closes the circuit while allowing a continuous flow of 24V energy to power the thermostat. Unfortunately not all HVAC systems already have a C-Wire. In fact, less than 40% of the United States households even have programmable thermostats which lead to a majority of homes without the need of having the necessary wiring required by the modern devices in the first place. Some thermostats work without it by using some kind of workaround – one of them being the Nest Learning Thermostat, which is not a Z-Wave thermostat, but a Wi-Fi thermostat (most of our recommended Z-Wave controllers support both protocols). But be warned that a few customers still report about having problems without a proper C-Wire installation. The Nest homepage states the same: “The Nest Learning Thermostat is designed to work even if your home doesn’t have a common “C” wire, but installing a new C wire may be required in rare cases.”

But what if I told you there is a simple device that avoids the hassle of calling an HVAC electrician and pay for a complete rewiring of half your home. I am talking about the Venstar Add-A-Wire 5 Wire to 4 Wire Adapter which is overwhelmed with good reviews on Amazon by satisfied customers that finally got their thermostat working with just paying an additional $30. Venstar provides easy to follow installation videos.

However, in some households, there are rare wiring setups like 2-wire or even 1-wire combinations. In these cases, a complete rewiring performed by a professional is recommended to be absolutely future proof as our homes become smarter and smarter.

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Top Alexa Compatible Coffee Makers https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-alexa-coffee-makers/ https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-alexa-coffee-makers/#respond Thu, 08 Oct 2020 09:23:04 +0000 https://buildyoursmarthome.co/?p=4006 Why wouldn’t you enjoy your perfect cup of coffee every morning, or have fun with friends instead of preparing coffee in the kitchen? Check out best Alexa compatible coffee makers! You certainly can live without them, but once you learn that smell of your favourite coffee can wake you up, you will simply love this […]

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Why wouldn’t you enjoy your perfect cup of coffee every morning, or have fun with friends instead of preparing coffee in the kitchen? Check out best Alexa compatible coffee makers! You certainly can live without them, but once you learn that smell of your favourite coffee can wake you up, you will simply love this gadget!

Our friends from dealdragon.co are now providing us with a state-of-the-art dynamic list of the best Alexa Coffee Makers. Below this iframe you will find our old blog post, but we now recommend this new list as it represents the current market more accurately.

Smarter Coffee (2nd Gen)

The Smarter Coffee Machine doesn’t disappoint in build quality and design. Even though you might think that due to the lower mid-price range it is not a high-quality one, you will be surprised by features of Smarter Coffee. The difference from other more expensive smart coffee makers is really subtle.

The Smarter Coffee Machine comes with three replaceable front plates: red, black and white, so you can change the colour of it. Smartphone application works well both on iOS and Android. There are reports on disconnection from time to time, but when it is connected, it works perfectly.

You can schedule the brewing of your coffee and you will get an alert when the coffee is ready. It is also fun to wake up and get a notification, asking if you would like to have some coffee ready. Also, you can set up for your favourite coffee to be prepared on a routine basis. However, there is not much more than ordering the coffee, and for some users, this might not be sufficient.

Behmor Connected Coffee Maker

Another Alexa connected coffee brewer is the Behmor Connected. Regarding its appearance, it is more of a classical looking coffee brewer than a futuristically designed device. The build quality more than makes up for the design. It is built from stainless steel with plastic beam support.

It is very easy to use and although it has some troubles while connecting to the Wi-Fi for the first time, users agree that the brewer does its job perfectly. After you connected the Behmor Connected to the app, you can immediately start brewing your coffee via the use of your smartphone. There are different special configurations you can set which will release your thoughts of what are additional functions of the brewer. Every step of brewing can be customized and the brewer gives you a wide spectrum of options every coffee enthusiasts would love to have.

The app can be messy sometimes, but once you get used to it, you will have the access to the functionality you might need. And, if the price doesn’t matter to you as much, the Behmor Connected Coffee Maker is the right choice, when it comes to smart coffee brewers.

Check out other smart kitchen appliances that will make your cooking a lovely experience in our article The Best Smart Kitchen Products of 2018.

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Top 3 Alexa Compatible Garage Door Openers https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-alexa-garage-door-opener/ https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-alexa-garage-door-opener/#respond Thu, 08 Oct 2020 09:21:48 +0000 https://buildyoursmarthome.co/?p=4012 Alexa compatible garage door openers enable you to feel secure because you can check if the door is properly closed by asking your Amazon Echo or by checking the status on your mobile from wherever you are. This improvement will certainly take you one step closer to the perfect security of your home. Most of […]

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Alexa compatible garage door openers enable you to feel secure because you can check if the door is properly closed by asking your Amazon Echo or by checking the status on your mobile from wherever you are. This improvement will certainly take you one step closer to the perfect security of your home.

Most of garage door openers have a remote so you can open and close the door from your car. However, you can take a step further by adding smarts to your garage door opener. Doing so, not only you will be able to monitor and control the door from your mobile, but also link it to other smart home devices, so that your house lights and heating will turn on when you arrive home.

Our friends from dealdragon.co are now providing us with a state-of-the-art dynamic list of the best products. Below this iframe you will find our old blog post, but we now recommend this new list as it represents the current market more accurately.

If you don’t have an automatic garage door controller, we will give you a couple of tips for an easier understanding of items that are on the market.

Image from Medium.com

Before you decide to buy a smart garage door opener, you should first check out if it will work with your existing garage door. Usually, you can find out if an opener is compatible with your door on the manufacturer’s site.

Next, If you already have a motorised garage door, you might make it smart with some available add-ons. But if you are smartening up the door from the start, then be sure to choose the opener that will suit your need the best.

If you wish to completely make your garage secure, then you might wish to connect it to a smart camera which will enable you to see who is around your garage door when you are away. Or, in the case of a robbery, you will be able to rewind the capturing from the camera. If you wish to check if your garage door is properly closed from the comfort of your sofa, the best thing you can do is to purchase Amazon Echo compatible garage door opener.

This way, you can voice control the door, ask Alexa if it is closed, program it to turn on the camera when you leave, and \, of course, do all other actions that are usual for a traditional garage door opener.

For your convenience and improvement of your smart home, we have made a choice of top 3 Alexa compatible garage door openers, and we hope that this will give you an idea of what is the best one for you.

NEXX Garage Door Openers

The NEXX Garage Door Openers lets you sleep safely because of its numerous advanced features. You can control it either via the mobile app or Amazon Alexa, and Google assistant. With Alexa, you’ll need to set a PIN in order to use voice commands to open or close the door. This is because Alexa identifies the device as a security item. With Google, you can create a PIN if you wish to have extra security, but it’s optional.

You can do it all by fingertip or voice control: open, close, or monitor your garage door and check if you have left it open from anywhere in the world. If you leave your garage door open, you will receive the push notification, so you can remotely close it. And you also have the option to keep control of who and when opened the door. The NEXX doesn’t have a camera and if you wish to have one, you have to by one made by the third party and connect it via the hub.

The opener uses Wi-Fi for connection, and it is very responsive. It opens and closes the door without a delay.

The installation is easy, but you will have to make a long wire for the opener that might spread all through the garage. Even though easy, you might need some help to make it quick as well. Once your device is connected, you can customize preferences for the app alerts. One of the more interesting options is a voice alert feature. With a voice alert feature, a voice will alert you when the garage door opens or closes. There are also regular notifications to let you know the door has been closed, opened or left open for too long which you will receive on your mobile.

Connection with your mobile works as a geofencing system, so when you are close to your home, the door can be opened automatically.

Pros

  • Instantly opening or closing the door
  • The door cannot be overridden by Nexx when the door is manually locked which is great.
  • Geofencing
  • Sends you a reminder 20 minutes or so later to remind you your garage door is still open.

Cons

  • Install and setup can be a little challenging

Overall, the Nexx Garage provides support for voice commands, scheduling, auto opening, multiple users and alerts for garage door action. It is a recommendation to anyone looking for a simple and reasonably priced way to smarten their garage.

Gogogate 2

Regarding mentioned safety, in addition to all notifications and alerts, you will receive from Gogogate 2, there is a smart camera integrated. So you can follow in real time who is around your garage door. However, if you decide not to turn it on then you will have a steady record of your door. The benefit of this opener is that you can control up to three garage doors from the app.

For remote control, you can use the mobile Gogogate app to view a calendar with activity history, set up alerts, open or close the door remotely and add up to ten users. For more than that, you will have to purchase additional access. When you register administrators, they can restrict users to specific days and times, and control which users have access to connected cameras. Regarding smart assistants, Gogogate relies mostly on IFTTT.  With the Gogogate2, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and geofencing features are all made possible with IFTTT applets.

The IP camera by iSmartGate, connects to the Gogogate app for live images of space around the garage door. The cam has a resolution of 720p, night vision and a 116-degree field of view. Features like two-way audio and sound detection are also included, but you’ll need to use the camera’s separate application for those. Storage of records is free during the first month, but later you will have to make a 3-year purchase to have 24 hours of video clip storage.

Installation can be a bit tricky, but you won’t have additional costs of changing the door, so you can hire a professional. It becomes more difficult when additionally installing the camera especially if it is from a third party.

Pros

  • Much less expensive than buying an entirely new smart garage door opener.
  • Relatively simple to install the hardware.
  • Remote access works really well
  • IFTTT compatibility gives you great smart capabilities.
  • Alexa and Google compatible

Cons

  • No HomeKit integration.
  • IFTTT can cause conflicts when activated by multiple users
  • Complex Wi-Fi networks can cause a problem in connectivity
  • You’ll need IFTTT applets to use voice assistants or to set up geofencing.

Overall, the reasonably priced Gogogate2 supports almost every function you’d want in a smart garage, and it is among our favourite products in this class.

Garadget

Garadget is an elegant and simple way to update your existing garage doors opener. The features are basically similar to ones that NEXX Garage Door Openers and Gogogate 2 have: you can control and monitor your garage doors from anywhere anytime via the mobile application. When you are inside you can use voice control because Garadget is compatible with Amazon Alexa. You will receive alerts if you forget to close the door.

The point that makes difference compared to other garage door openers is a laser sensor which makes the installation easier than it is for NEXX Garage Door Openers and Gogogate 2 and it requires no maintenance. Additionally, there is no need for replacing completely functional old opener because it adheres to your existing garage door opener with an adhesive strip which you will get with your purchase.

For the control of the Garadget you can use your mobile phone, IFTTT and Amazon Alexa. Within the mobile app settings, you can customize alerts to tell you if the door has been open for a certain amount of time and how long, ranging from 30 seconds to 12 hours. You can also enable alerts to alert you if the garage is left open between a specific time frame, say from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. There’s even a geofence-like feature that will notify you if the door is open when you’ve left the area.

Pros

  • Application is responsive
  • Easy to install
  • Compatible with  IFTTT and Amazon Alexa
  • Reasonable price

Cons

  • The application drains the mobile battery very quickly

Even though the Garadget isn’t overpriced, there are other, more advanced systems for not much more money.  If you’re looking for smarter features like scheduling or a system with its own camera for surveillance, the Garadget isn’t your best bet.

After reading the article, you can list your priorities concerning the opener, and we are sure that one of Alexa compatible garage door openers will suit all your needs.

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Top Alexa Compatible Robot Vacuums https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-alexa-robot-vacuums/ https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-alexa-robot-vacuums/#respond Thu, 01 Oct 2020 09:22:26 +0000 https://buildyoursmarthome.co/?p=4002 You certainly can live without them, but once you learn that vacuuming can be done even if you are not home, you will simply love smart vacuums! Why wouldn’t you enjoy your free time while the robot vacuum is doing his job on the route you have set up? Check out best Alexa compatible robot […]

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You certainly can live without them, but once you learn that vacuuming can be done even if you are not home, you will simply love smart vacuums! Why wouldn’t you enjoy your free time while the robot vacuum is doing his job on the route you have set up? Check out best Alexa compatible robot vacuums!

Our friends from dealdragon.co are now providing us with a state-of-the-art dynamic list of the best Alexa Robot Vacuums. Below this iframe you will find our old blog post, but we now recommend this new list as it represents the current market more accurately.

iRobot Roomba 980

Roomba 980 is an advanced, feature-rich, user-friendly smart vacuum cleaner and it has a smooth, elegant and modern look. Small, lightweight, compact, and low-maintenance at the same time, Roomba 980 features an improved navigation system, so it easily avoids furniture and other obstacles, while cleaning every corner of every type of floor. Suction power is strong, which makes it excellent for pet owners because it will clean every single pet hair from your carpet.

It is easy to set-up and schedule the Roomba 980 to clean your home via mobile app whenever you want it to. An additional advance feature of this robot is that it returns to the charger when the battery is low, so you don’t have to think about recharging it manually.

You will get an extra HEPA filter in the package. And the robot is equipped with removable caster wheels for added functionality, removable dustbin with a fast-access release button and the spinning side brush that aims to remove even the most dust particles and stubborn stains along the cleaning space.

Although its price is a bit higher than other robot vacuums, to conclude the review, we can say that it is an excellent long-term investment.

Samsung POWERbot R9350

The shape of Samsung POWERbot R7070 has its D-shape as an advantage for better performance around the corners and edges than other, round shaped. But, it is a bit bulky, and with a height of 3.8 inches, it is possible it will get stuck under certain furniture.

POWERbot R7070 has a strong suction power and also can adjust it when it switches from one surface to another. It cleans all surfaces thoroughly, but it can suck the rug and draw it around the room due to its strong suction power.

You can steer the vacuum manually, and you can do it via voice control because it is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google home. Also, you can watch the track it has cleaned on your mobile app. You will get a magnetic tape to isolate the sensitive parts in your home and protect them while cleaning.

Samsung POWERbot R7070 doesn’t distinguish in any particular way, but it is perfect for big areas with little clutter, and with self-adjustment when changing surfaces, it performs excellent cleaning.

Neato Botvac D5 Connected

D5 Connected is one of the best of robot vacuums created for your home. Lasers navigate it, and the robot can even see in the dark. The pattern of cleaning is in straight lines, which helps it to clean the house better than a random path. It remembers which parts of the room it has cleaned, so you won’t see it overlap its own path.

D-shape helps it to better clean corners and spaces along walls, and reach the places where round shaped robots cannot go. The battery is a real plus for this robot vacuum, as it lasts 75 minutes, which is perfect for homes and apartments.

D5 Connected is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTT, or, you can message the Neato chatbot on Facebook. Setup is easy, and the application is straightforward. The app will send you reminders to empty the dirt bin, clean the brushes and change the filter.

If you don’t mind if footprints leave some lines and gaps and adjusting the robot a bit longer during the first setup, but you do mind the budget, Neato Botvac D5 Connected is a very decent solution for you.

Hoover ROGUE 970

With Hoover app updated recently to the publishing of the article, its features are improved, and the connection is better. With laser navigation, it remembers the floorplan and optimizes its cleaning path for each following cleaning. It also has a triple cleaning system for improvement function: it utilises a trifecta effect of agitation, brushing and suction.

Like other smart vacuums, you can create virtual boundaries to protect the walls and furniture, in the mobile app. There is no need for magnetic tapes like you do need with some other models. The mobile app allows you to command the Hoover ROGUE 970 from wherever you are.

With compatibility with Amazon Alexa and Google home, it got another advantage, voice commands. However, models for each speaker are sold separately.

The battery lasts for about 120 minutes, and it recharges for 45 minutes. Its function is fine, and it works better on carpets than on hard floors. With medium price among vacuum cleaners and flexible scheduling options, this robot is more of routine maintenance rather than heavy-duty cleaner.

ECOVACS Deebot M80 Pro

ECOVACS Deebot M80 Pro has 5 stage cleaning system, Smart Motion Cleaning, and Anti-Collision/Drop Sensors. It is compatible with Alexa, and you can start and stop cleaning by voice control. The mobile application allows you to select cleaning modes, monitor accessory status, schedule cleaning sessions and receive alerts. It also has a remote control.

A dustbin has a large capacity which has an advanced system for prolonged cleaning and prevents debris spilling around when cleaning the dustbin. The ECOVACS Deebot M80 Pro has its specific modes like spot cleaning (where it will circle an area you have pinpointed) and “intensive” mode where it will make several rounds through the area. When the battery is low, a robot will return to docking station itself, and the same happens when you press button Home.

The robot is good at cleaning every king of dirt and also pet hair. And considering the price which is among the lower ones for robot vacuum cleaners, ECOVACS Deebot M80 Pro is an excellent choice which will make you satisfied for each cent.

Read more about other models of robot vacuum cleaners in our previous review What is the Best Robot Vacuum?

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What is the Best Robot Vacuum? https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-robot-vacuum/ https://buildyoursmarthome.co/reviews/best-robot-vacuum/#respond Fri, 18 Sep 2020 17:49:51 +0000 http://buildyoursmarthome.co/?p=467 Most people don't know that the first automatic vacuum cleaner called Trilobite was already presented in 1997 by the swedish company Electrolux. And even Dyson, the market leader for vacuums, released their own robot in 2001. But in either cases the price or the time wasn't right yet. It wasn't until 2002 when iRobot shook up the technology world with the Roomba, a robotic vacuum that finally raised public awareness for this particular niche. The latter model also made it in our list of the best of the best...

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20 years ago we would consider Robot Vacuum Cleaners a “thing of the future” – something that only exists in movies. But thanks to the rapid evolution of technology in the last two decades the future is already here. Having your living room cleaned up while you are sitting in a cinema to enjoy a film is not pure fiction anymore.

Our friends from dealdragon.co are now providing us with a state-of-the-art dynamic list of the best products. Below this iframe you will find our old blog post, but we now recommend this new list as it represents the current market more accurately.

But don’t worry, these handy devices were not created by Skynet itself but rather by a couple of different robotics companies – an area that is growing significantly due to the advancements in the development of capable hardware as well as the general readiness of the Internet generation for “smart” tech gadgets. Most people don’t know that the first automatic vacuum cleaner called Trilobite was already presented in 1997 by the Swedish company Electrolux. And even Dyson, the market leader for vacuums, released their own robot in 2001. But in either case the price or the time wasn’t right yet.
It wasn’t until 2002 when iRobot shook up the technology world with the Roomba, a robotic vacuum that finally raised public awareness for this particular niche.
The latter model also made it in our list of the best of the best…

The Best Robot Vacuum Cleaner

We have decided to recommend different types of vacuums since there also different types of people with different requirements for a product. Our winner product is the device that we consider as the best overall package which certainly has its strengths and weaknesses but if the price is taken into account it is unbeatable in our opinion. Our entry product is aimed at people who don’t want to spend too much money on this still evolving technology yet and want to test the water if this kind of gadget is really suited for their home. The Pro Tip is the model with the most sophisticated technical specs and the biggest amount of features. Of course, these devices come with a higher price and are aimed at people who only want cutting edge products. We also decided to include the Newcomer, which is the model that is most innovative and different than others and that also separates from the rest.

Winner: Neato Botvac D80 Pet & Allergy Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Neato Botvac D80 Robot Vacuum Cleaner
Neato Botvac D80 Pet and Allergy Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Robot technology has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, with smart vacuum cleaners bumping into furniture and stairs now a thing of the past. This revolutionary gadget comes mapping with laser vision to accurately detect its surroundings and decide where it needs to clean. What’s more, this process is automatically updated, so if a new object is added to a room during cleaning, it will still be mapped and marked by the robot.

The Neato Botvac D80 has an advanced SpinFlow power clean system that manages to pick up all of the pet hair, dirt, crumbs and more. But what makes it better than other vacuum cleaners on the market is its relatively powerful suction and the ease of cleaning that it provides you with.

The Neato Botvac D80 is easy to use and is ideal for homes with pets. The blade brush can be used on a combination of floor types, such as carpet, vinyl, tile, and wood, and is quiet when vacuuming cleaning hard floor surfaces.

Pros

  • Intelligent path finding
  • Good suction and cleaning
  • Reasonable price

Cons

  • Small dust bin
  • A bit noisy

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Best Affordable Option: ECOVACS DEEBOT N79 WiFi Enabled Vacuum Cleaning Robot

Ecovacs Deebot N79 WiFi Robot Vacuum Cleaner

A relatively new company, compared to others on this list, Ecovacs manages to raise the bar of what affordable robot vacuum cleaners should be. With a powerful suction motor and the ability to traverse around your home, even on carpets, the Ecovacs Deebot N79 is one of the best entry level options for everyone who’d like to get their hands on a smart vacuum cleaner.

What’s more, its software manages to rival the one of the Roomba. While you’d have to manually select one of its tree cleaning modes, the vacuum is powerful enough not to run in circles or get stuck on small obstacles, such as cables or other small items on your floor. Plus, the Ecovacs Deebot N79 sensors allow it to easily detect any edges, thus reducing the risk of your robot vacuum cleaner falling down the stairs. Pet-friendly, this item is the perfect purchase for those who are interested in having a robot vacuum, but are not necessarily the biggest smart home enthusiasts around.

Pros

  • Smart edge-detecting technology
  • Three cleaning modes
  • Relatively Affordable

Cons

  • Customer Service is a Hassle
  • Might Bug-out after a few weeks, requiring a replacement unit

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Pro Tip: iRobot Roomba 980 Vacuum Cleaning Robot

roomba_980

The iRobot Roomba 980 is an advanced, feature-rich and user-friendly vacuum cleaning robot that is specifically designed for pet owners who constantly develop allergies. The robot stands out through its features and functions: the AeroForce Performance Cleaning System being the most notable one, as its high efficiency vacuum and airflow accelerations guarantees a thorough and speedy cleaning of your carpets and floors. Small, lightweight, compact and low-maintenance at the same time, the iRobot Roomba 980 features an advanced navigation system that allows it to avoid furniture and other objects, while still cleaning every inch of your floor.

The robot weighs little over eight pounds, it stands at 3.6 inches in height and it has an elegant, smooth and modern finish. Its futuristic and minimalist design coupled with the wealth of features make the iRobot one of the most sought-after vacuum cleaners of its kind, not to mention that you can easily schedule and pre-set the robot to clean your home whenever you want it to! Besides, the robot is specially designed to return to the Home Base upon finishing the cleaning session in order to recharge itself, which definitely saves you some time and hassles as you do not need to manually recharge its battery (which is a Xlife extended life battery).

Other notable features that users seem particularly thrilled about when it comes to this robot vacuum cleaner include the removable dust bin that features a fast-access release button, the removable caster wheels for added functionality, the spinning side brush that aims to remove even the most stubborn stains and dust particles along with the debris extractors and the extra HEPA filter that comes with the package.

The iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with Visual Localization enables Roomba to navigate and clean an entire level of your home. With the iRobot HOME App, you can clean, schedule & set custom cleaning preferences from your smartphone!

The only downside that many users have complained about is the size of the bin, which although may be slightly larger than that of the previous Roomba iRobots, still is not quite large enough for extracting and storing all the pet hair, dust mites, and other debris, especially if you live in a large mansion.

Overall, the iRobot Roomba 980 is an all-round, easy-to-use robot vacuum cleaner and although the price tag is quite a hefty one, it undoubtedly is a significant long-term investment.

Pros

  • Product from the very experienced market leader
  • Strong suction
  • HEPA air filter

Cons

  • Random path finding until everything is cleaned
  • Higher price

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Newcomer: The Dyson’s 360 Eye Robotic Vacuum Cleaner 

Dyson 360 Eye Best Robot Vacuum Cleaner New Article Update
Dyson’s 360 Eye Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

The new kid on the block, the Dyson 360 Eye is one of the most powerful robotic vacuum cleaners on the market. In development for over 18 years, the 360 Eye has a number of innovative features that truly separate the smart home robot from the rest. Equipped with a 360-degree vision camera, Dyson’s robot vacuum uses a unique path-finding system and software that allows the device to maneuver through its surroundings wihout repeating the same place twice. Furthermore, the robot is able to suck as much as seven to eight liters of air per second, making it a true robotic smart home cleaner.

However all of these features come at a cost. Compared to the Dyson’s 360 Eye other robotic vacuums appear to be just sweepers. However, the 360 Eye is a long way from conquering the robotic vacuum market. To start off, while it does look cool, the 360 Eye is too big to maneuver under furniture. Furthermore, the software seems to need improvement, as it is unreliable and the robot may go in circles. Nonetheless, that might be Dyson’s smallest worries. The biggest problem of the 360 Eye is its extremely small battery life and movement and vacumming speed. The robot needs recharging almost constantly and cleans a room far more slowely, compared to other robots.

Nevertheless, the Dyson’s 360 Eye is worthy of its own category. While it is slow and has a poor battery life, on top of other software issues, it is currently the only robot vacuum cleaner that can truly be called a vacuum, because of its amazing power and suction.

Pros

  • Innovative 360-degree vision technology and software
  • Amazing Suction Power at seven and eight liters of air per second
  • Smart Dock and Paused Cleaning Technology and Software

Cons

  • High Price
  • Small Battery Life
  • Slow Movement and Vacuuming Speed
  • Small Dirt Bin
  • Unreliable Smartphone App

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iLife A4s Robot Vacuum Cleaner 

If cost is one of your top concerns as you shop for a robotic vacuum that can offer good value for your money, iLife A4s robot vacuum is a good place to start. Despite its low-budget nature, this vacuum can work well on tile, linoleum, hardwood surfaces, and even on low-profile carpets. Those who have already tried out this vacuum have praised its abilities to pick even small pieces of dirt as it glides quietly on the floor, for instance, pet hair and dust.

As a low-priced gadget, buying this robotic vacuum will also mean you will have to compromise on some of the features you can get by getting a premium robot vacuum cleaner. For example, unlike some pricier robotic vacuum cleaners, iLife A4s will not do its magic on high-profile carpets or very dark colored floors. It also doesn’t come with a dedicated smartphone app.

Nevertheless, there are a lot of features that make the iLife A4s Robot Vacuum cleaner a valuable purchase. It comes with its own dokcking station, for example. Plus, its automation features, while rather basic, do allow it to proprerly traverse around your home without much repetiton of a single place, going around in circles or other similar issues that other affordable robot vacuums have. Just make sure that there aren’t a lot of cables lying around your floor, as the iLife A4s does get stuck sometimes.

Pros

  • Reasonable suction and cleaning
  • Very inexpensive
  • Comes with its Own Docking Station
  • Automated Cleaning

Cons

  • Doesn’t Have a Dedicated App
  • Moderate build quality

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Secret Tip: Eufy RoboVac 11 Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Eufy RoboVac 11 Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Searching for the best bang for the buck? The Eufy RoboVac 11 Robot Vacuum Cleaner should be your first choice! Extremely affordable, the robot vacuum cleaner might not come with some of the more premium features of its competitors, but above all it manages to get the job done. Coming with its own charging dock and all the automatic cleaning features you’d need in an entry level robot vacuum, the Eufy RoboVac 11 is small enough to traverse all throughout your home. Plus, with its 3 dedicated cleaning modes, you’d be able to adjust for the perfect clean. To top it all off, especially when comapred with other entry level vacuum cleaning robots, the RoboVac 11 looks amazing. With a robust build quality and a premium-feel design, this vacuum is definitely one you should consider, if you are on a budget.

Pros

  • Extremely Affordable
  • Premium Design
  • Comes with its Own Docking Station
  • 3 Automated Cleaning Options

Cons

  • Doesn’t Have a Dedicated App
  • Can’t Clean High Carpets

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Other options

Even though we have made our list of best choices for robot vacuums among the most famous smart vacuum cleaners, there are other options on the market. Although robot vacuums with really good performances are mostly made by well-known manufacturers, there are some less famous companies in the field, which make equally good smart vacuum cleaners. It is possible that you will prefer some of their features or the price, so let’s see some of the other options available!

Samsung POWERbot R7070

The shape of Samsung POWERbot R7070 has its pros and cons. Due to its D-shape, this robot vacuum shows better performance around the corners and edges than other robots that are round shaped. Still, it is a bit bulky as it is 3.8 inches tall so it is possible it will get stuck under certain furniture.

With its strong suction power, it is very good in cleaning all surfaces – carpets, and hard floors and it easily removes even the smallest debris. You can control suction power via buttons, but POWERbot R7070 can automatically adjust suction power based on flooring. However, it may pick up a throw rug and drag it around the room, due to its strong suction power.

Samsung Powerbot R7070 enables you to schedule and integrate the robot with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. You can also see a map that shows how the Powerbot moved through your household and summary of each cleaning session. You will also get a roll of magnetic tape inside the box that you can use to block off sensitive areas of your house.

The Powerbot R7070 has a downward-facing camera to clean, and it moves via trail in a diagonal snake-like pattern to ensure every square foot is cleaned. This model doesn’t distinguish itself from the rest of the group but it is great for an open house with almost no clutter and lots of hard flooring.

Pros:

  • Strong suction power
  • Manual steering option
  • Smart navigation over different floor types
  • Self-cleaning brush

Cons:

  • Buggy app
  • Middling battery life

LG HOM-BOT Robotic Vacuum

This robot vacuum is square shaped with rounded corners. As corners are contoured, it is equipped with longer 1.5 cm side brushes, which efficiently clean dust in corners and wall edges. The height of 3.5 inches allows it to move well under most of the furniture.

Suction power is not the strongest in the market. But, with Turbo mode it is stronger. However, this mode utilizes the battery, which on regular mode has 100 minutes run time, faster. This model has seven cleaning modes and automatically adjusts to all floor types including carpets, hardwoods, stone and other floors.

HOM-BOT Turbo+ is Wi-Fi enabled, and you can conveniently command your vacuum with your smartphone, iOS and Android. You can schedule cleaning for when it’s most convenient for you.

Cameras are mounted on the top and bottom, and vacuum maps the area around your home as it cleans, which ensures it doesn’t miss a spot. You can check the cleaning diary to see which areas of the home have been vacuumed. A nice addition is the Dual Eye 2.0 mapping system that learns your home’s layout for a precise clean. Zigzag is the default trail for this model, and other options are cell-by-cell which is more methodical, and spiral which is for spot cleaning.

Pros:

  • Quiet
  • Good battery life in normal mode
  • App has some really useful functions

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Must be set to Turbo mode to be effective.

Infinuvo Hovo 780

Design of Hovo is more of a classical one, it is black and round in shape, with side brushes for corners and edges. Addition of ultraviolet light enables it to kill dust mites and other allergens on the floor, which is a nice advanced touch to robot vacuum cleaner.

Even though Hovo 780 got hung up on a few of the easier obstacles during testing, when it was in motion it had some great suction to offer, especially on carpeting. It cleans well all surfaces: hardwood, carpet, linoleum and tile using both a roller brush and suction, and it can mop the hardwood floor using ordinary tap water.

Infinuovo Hovo 780 includes a remote control and a two-way virtual blocker that sets up an invisible barrier. Also, it has LED display for easy programming and voice prompts enables you to set up the vacuum to clean whenever you want.

With a reasonable price and a couple of additions to a vacuum cleaner, Hovo 780 can be a good choice for every home, especially if you have a lot of carpentry.

Pros

  • Sweeping, Vacuuming, Wet Mopping and UV Sterilization
  • Excellent on carpets
  • HEPA filter

Cons

  • Sometimes gets stuck when there is no visible obstacle.

Infinuovo Hovo Mini

This is the smallest robot vacuum which is, due to its size and shape, suitable for cleaning of places difficult to reach such as kitchens, corners and under furniture, below sofa or bed and so on. Hovo Mini has square shape design with two side brushes to clean corners better.

This is the newest product in the Infinuvo robot family and one of the cheapest in the market. Reusable filter additionally lowers the price.

Even though it is small, it has a great suction power, and its noise is lower than most of its bigger cousins, only 30 dB. It does an excellent job on the hard floors but did not work as well on carpets. This is understandable due to its size.

The optimal cleaning path is determined by intelligent sensors that are integrated into Infinuvo Hovo Mini. They detect obstacles on the way so you don’t have to worry about furniture, stairs or objects on the floor. You can set up scheduled cleaning via remote control, however, Hovo mini is not as smart as some bigger robots.

The battery of Hovo Mini lasts for 60 minutes. Recharging has to be done when the battery empties, as robot stops when the battery is low. You will have to place the robot onto the charger, as it cannot find its way to it, as some other models.

If you have a house with lots of hard floors or you need robot vacuum for quick sweeping of bathroom or kitchen floor, Infinuovo Hovo Mini is the best choice for you. However, if you have carpets around the house, you will need a stronger robot more suitable for carpentry.

Pros

  • Smallest robot vacuum
  • Filter is reusable
  • Cheap
  • Good for a bathroom and hard floors

Cons

  • Not good for carpet
  • Not good for big house

bObsweep bObi Pet Classic

Bobi Pet is circular in shape, and looks like Roomba, with silicone touchscreen. It is not too high, 3.5 inches, and if you have furniture that sits close to the floor this is a big advantage for you as a robot could reach underneath those items. This model has no handle so when you lift it or move it around, you will have to do it from the bottom.

You can control Bobi Pet remotely, or use three buttons on it. Remote control enables you to program schedules, control the vacuum manually, activate or deactivate the vacuum’s UV light, and adjust robot’s speed. However, this model has no mobile application.

Bobi Pet is good when we consider its sweeping feature, although it shows difficulties with hairs on the carpet, so it might not be the best solution if you have pets. Also, you need to be nearby in case that you have a lot of furniture because Bobi Pet doesn’t get along crowded room well. As it is really quiet, its noise is not annoying even if you are present in the same room.

The best thing about this robot vacuum is the warranty which is twice as long as compared to competitors. But the lack of smartphone app could seem like a failure if you want to buy a truly smart vacuum robot.

Pros

  • Attractive design
  • Quiet
  • Comes with remote

Cons

  • No mobile app
  • Struggles to avoid obstacles during at-home tests
  • Time-consuming setup, all components require batteries and installation.

Vorwerk Kobold VR200

Vorwerk Kobold VR200 is another D-shape robot vacuum which is shaped to have better performance around the corners and edges than other robots that are round shaped. With 3.5 inches height, it easily gets under the furniture that is low. Wall sensor allows for close proximity cleaning to walls and edges. Additionally, a combination of nylon brushes and silicone scrapers gives this robot vacuum higher efficacy.

Vorwerk Kobold VR200 has a remote control, which can be used to set your desired cleaning programme. The robot can also be connected via your Android or iOS smartphone. This gives you full control over the robot. Unfortunately, there is no connection via Alexa or Google Home.

This robot vacuum has the ability to memorise routes around your home and maximise its cleaning power. The robot has installed a 360-degree laser which scans the room 1,800 times per second and creates a map. Suction power is strong, so it removes the dirt not only from hard floors but from carpets as well. It is also good for removing pet hairs and is pet-friendly because it is not noisy.

The default route of Vorwerk Kobold VR200 is zigzag. When the battery is low, it reaches charger itself, there is no hassle of carrying it to the charger. After the battery is charged, the robot continues vacuuming from the point where it stopped. When working, battery lasts for 90 minutes.

Considering it all, Vorwerk Kobold VR200 is an excellent choice even if you are a pet owner.

Pros

  • Android/iOS companion app and manual remote control
  • Excellent navigation and cleaning performance
  • Low noise
  • 90 minutes of battery life

Cons

  • Expensive compared to better-known robot vacuums

Jisiwei S+ Smart Vacuum Cleaning Robot

Jisiwei S+ robot is the first of its kind that operates not only as a robot vacuum cleaner but also as a security device, with its onboard camera. But let’s first see its cleaning features.

Roundly shaped, Jisiwei S+ is equipped with both a traditional fabric brush and two rotating cleaning brushes at the front that help it clean the corners. It has a small height of only 3.35 inches, which means it can easily move under most furniture,

Jisiwei S+ supports vacuuming, as well as sweeping and mopping. With a decent suction power, similar to the iLife V5, it manages to remove most things off the floor.

The robot is controlled in one of three ways: via the free Jisiwei Robot mobile app; via the remote control; and via buttons on the device’s front. The mobile app is required to configure the Jisiwei on the first use.

Battery life is 120 minutes on the standard mode. If you switch it to fast mode, a battery will last much shorter, and this quiet robot will be much noisier. When a battery is low, you can return it to the charger via remote.

Jisiwei S+ easily cleans marble, ceramic, laminate and wooden floors, as well as many carpets. However, carpets with a pile higher than 15mm make difficulty for this robot. It is good in removing pet hairs. The robot has several navigation modes and cleaning modes, such as Automatic cleaning, Spot cleaning and Mop mode.

Considering all features, Jisiwei S+ is a good robot vacuum cleaner. So does it really need a security camera? Now, let’s see what the security options of this robot vacuum cleaner are.

For usage of the camera, you have to enter your email account details on the app and you can configure audio- and motion-detection. This will enable a robot to send you an email whenever something suspicious occurs. However, the camera is not professional, and an image you will get will be blurred. Still, the addition of the camera is a nice touch for a robot vacuum with good features and performance. And it can be an interesting new gadget to show off when guests come over.

Pros

  • Good suction power
  • Surprisingly quiet
  • Works well on carpets

Cons

  • The camera is a nice, but unnecessary addition, because it is blurry and distorted
  • The app needs to be improved
  • Remote is required for basic use

Important Companies & Brands

iRobot

The Bedford (Massachusetts) based company iRobot was founded in 1990 by a group of three robotics experts (Rodney Brooks, Colin Angle and Helen Greiner) from the Artificial Intelligence Lab of the MIT –  the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their initial goal was it to bring robots into the everyday life and make them more accessible to the masses. But iRobot is not only specialized in Domestic Robots but also Military Robots with the PackBot being a very sophisticated model used in dangerous war conditions like to detect bombs and snipers. Prior to the development of the Packbot , which by the way was also an essential tool to gather data at the Fukushima nuclear disaster site,  the company received a DARPA research contract in 1998.
In 2002 iRobot released the first model of its most popular home robot product line called Roomba, a fully autonomous vacuum cleaner. A nice add-on for tech-savvy users is the fact that the API of the Roomba vacuums is completely open which allows anyone with a bit of programming knowledge to interact with the robot and write own routines for even the trickiest of cleaning scenarios.
Apart from robotic vacuums the company has also developed a couple of one-of-a-kind devices like a floor-washing robot (Scooba), a swimming-pool cleaning robot (Verro) and a gutter cleaning robot (Looj) to name just a few. In the last two decades, the company has grown significantly and is nowadays employing approximately 530 people and generating about 500 million dollars per year.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the founders Helen Greiner and Colin Angle were inspired by the movie Star Wars, especially from Episode IV: New Hope. What started in their childhood has led to building one of the biggest robotic companies and changing the world. Never stop dreaming 🙂 

Website: https://www.irobot.com

Neato Robotics

The Newark, California-based Robotics company is focusing solely on the development of robotic vacuum cleaners. Since the release of the Neato XV in 2010 it is aiming at dethroning iRobot and make that no secret in their promotional videos where they are referring to the competing Roomba series as “those round vacs” while not explicitly stating the name, of course. In 2014 they released a new product line called BotVac which incorporates a special side brush that was previously only available in certain vacuums manufactured by the German company “Vorwerk”. With only 65 employees Neato is still much smaller compared to iRobot but it does a phenomenal job at the development of their robotic vacuums. We are looking forward to the future of this company.

Website: https://www.neatorobotics.com

LG Corporation

Formerly known as Lucky Goldstar, the LG Corporation has become a technology giant that manufactures all kinds of devices.  It is, therefore, no wonder that LG has also invested into the robot vacuum niche. The first line of vacuums was called HomBot and was recently succeeded by a new model called Roboking.

Website: https://www.lg.com/au/roboking/introducing-roboking

Dyson

Dyson is a British technology company that mainly designs and manufactures vacuum cleaners among other products. According to sources, the idea behind the innovative technology implemented in Dyson’s vacuums comes from the inspiration of a sawmill using a cyclone to spin dust out of the air by centrifugal force. Dyson’s vacuums also use cyclonic action to spin dust, separating it out of the airstream, eliminating the need for both a bag and a filter. Currently Dyson made their first appearance on the robotic vacuum cleaners market with the robot vacuum that has been 18 years in development, the Dyson’s 360 Eye.

Website: https://www.dyson.co.uk/

Infinuvo

Infinuvo is a robotic vacuum manufacturer currently based in Saragota, California. The company is famed for making some of the best products under this category, their machines deliver excellent cleaning power and are also affordable compared to those of competitors. They are also versatile and can be used to vacuum all types of surfaces without encountering any problems, these appliances can clean normal household floors as well as beneath the furniture sets.
Their most popular model is known as Hovo 510. It’s a powerful multi-purpose gear that comes equipped with a user-friendly interface which can perform various functions at the touch of a button. Just press onto the surface button for AUTO cleaning, mopping or SPOT cleaning. The machine also comes equipped with a remote control console with LCD display for easy operation, users can set up pre-programmed schedules with remote controls to perform basic cleaning at any time of their choice.

When battery power begins to tick low, Hovo 510 will automatically return back to the charging station and refill itself once more. Moreover, dual movement speeds and conspicuous error code identifiers found on the remote can be used to show when conditions are abnormal so that quick action can be taken. It’s also good to note that this brand has been fitted with non-collision detection systems, which help in preventing direct collisions with furniture and other items found within the house.

Another popular brand from Infinuvo is the CleanMate series. One model from this product line made it into our top list, and you will find a more detailed review at the bottom of this article.

Website: https://www.infinuvo.com

How does a Robot Vacuum Cleaner work?

The most important feature of these robots and the characteristic that differentiates it from a normal vacuum is the so called path-finding or also known as self navigation system, which refers to the exact directions the bot will take to completely traverse the room it is supposed to clean. A robot needs to be careful in order not to destroy anything like cutting the cables of the television or drive over the precious cat. All kidding aside, you are not going to get yourself a self-driving chaff cutter. In fact, all companies are fully aware of all different kinds of possible scenarios and circumstances in a typical home and turned their autonomous vacuums into very sensitive and careful devices that would rather get stuck like a ladybug upside down than destroying anything. Especially in the last two years the algorithms for determining the optimal route have improved tremendously. There are different approaches depending on the manufacturer. At the time of this writing (as you know technical facts can change pretty quickly) the iRobot Roomba uses multiple infrared sensors to measure the dimensions of the room and calculate the distances. The Neato XV model on the other hand uses a laser range finder that is constantly scanning the environment in 360 degrees. The XV travels in straight lines unlike its competitor which sometimes follows unpredictable ways until it covered every possible area of the room.

 What is HEPA?

Indoor pollutants are a major concern. Research shows that some indoor air quality is 2 to 5 times more polluted than the outdoor air. The air we breathe is polluted with minute particles such as dust, pet dander, cigarette smoke, pollen and other allergens. These air contaminants have a greater effect on people with allergies and asthmatic conditions.

Vacuum cleaners, however, are machines made to dust and bust germs particles from your home and leave a clean environment to breathe on and live in. There are several vacuum cleaners on the market today, but the Roomba series from iRobot stands out in terms of hygienic cleaning. This range of robot vacuums is especially designed with a unique mesh known as the HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorption) filter to house impurities and keep them inside the machine until disposal time.

HEPA Filters in vacuums

The reason of using these filters in vacuums is to enhance the functionality of the vacuum cleaner. Some important characteristics of the filter include:

              • Trap Microscopic Particles: The HEPA filter is typically designed from fiberglasses of about 0.5-0.2 micrometers. The structure is useful in helping the vacuum seize all small pollutants and prevent them from entering the room.
              • Enhance vacuum cleaner performance: the more the dirt that’s captured, the better performance of a vacuum cleaner. On this ground, Roomba vacuums deliver unflinchingly as they extract allergens and reduce respiratory problems such as Asthma.
Pros of HEPA
              • The ultra-high, glass fiber medium captures tiny particles that can pass through other filters by a combination of interception, diffusion, and inertial impaction.
              • The HEPA filter is a cloth based filter that captures and holds particles permanently, efficiently cleaning the circulating air.
              • HEPA filters are able to remove up 99.97% of all molecules bigger than 0.3 microns.
              • It will keep away debris and dust from reaching your lungs
Cons of HEPA
              • They cannot trap other pollutants such as fumes, gasses and chemicals.
              • They are very costly units, especially when replacing filters. Replacing the filters can be expensive depending on the number of times you change them.
              • The compactness and shape of the purifier depend on the type you have. There filters that are washable while some are not.
              • The washable filters are not very effective.

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