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Smart Home Tech that Adds Value to Your Home

Let’s be honest: nobody wants to have to go through the process of selling their home. It takes time, energy, and a lot of planning, which, in today’s day and age, are all very valuable things. Luckily, there are things that can make the process a bit easier.

Home improvements are often thought of as ways to make your home more desirable and updated, but they can also be quite expensive. Additions and upgrades can cost thousands of dollars, and you aren’t guaranteed to see a high return on investment. The better solution? Technology. Smart home technology can be affordable, and it can also make your home much more valuable in a matter of minutes. Here are some ideas:

Use technology to make your home more efficient

Almost every homebuyer looks out for energy efficient homes. Yes, these homes are absolutely more sustainable, but they’re also way better at keeping energy usage at a low and, in turn, keeping the energy bill low as well. A quick and inexpensive way to make your home more efficient is to change out the lightbulbs. LED light bulbs last much longer and use between 20% and 80% less energy than other bulbs on the market because of the way they’re engineered.

An automated thermostat that is connected to your heating and cooling units will also save you money on energy. A high percentage of units are designed to run continuously, whereas units hooked up to an automated thermostat turn off once the room hits a specific temperature. Especially in areas with hot summers and frigid winters, automated thermostats can save homeowners money and help you sell your house today.  

Use your smartphone

Smartphones and mobile apps have come a long way, and many electronics, appliances, and in-home utilities can now be controlled by them. One way to make your home stand out to potential buyers, including both those enthralled by technology and those who have mobility issues, is to hook specific pieces of your home up to your smartphone. These pieces can include the heating and cooling systems, lights, television, sound system, and security system.

Update security

Everyone wants to feel safe in their home, and a proper security system can give you that piece of mind. Regardless of the neighborhood your home is in, potential buyers will be on the lookout for homes that are guarded by security systems. New advances in technology have allowed us to keep an eye on our homes even when we’re far away from them. Smart security systems link cameras and sensors up to the cloud so that we can see what’s happening even if we’re thousands of miles away.

If you’re looking for tips on how to sell your house, look towards technology. Not only will your home look super cool, but it will also be more accessible, safer, and energy efficient. For assistance on how to take advantage of incoming technology, how to use it, and how to find gadgets and appliances that are suited for you, contact the Gadget Guy MN!

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This article is written by Julia Aldrich. Julia is currently living and thriving in Colorado, though her roots are in Pennsylvania. Some of her hobbies and passions include writing (obviously), running, traveling, and eating good pizza. She’s also a lover of quirky books, and suggestions are always welcome.

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Smart as a doorbell

Doorbell

This post was originally published in the May 19, 2017 edition of the Southwest Journal, a Southwest Minneapolis community newspaper.

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I recently had the opportunity to test out two products available from Verizon Wireless, among other locations: the Canary security system, a video camera with motion alerts, and the Ring Video Doorbell, which is a one-way video, two-way audio doorbell system.

Canary has been on my wish list for quite some time, so when Verizon Wireless offered for me to try it out, I was looking forward to it. I already have a couple of IP cameras (wirelessly connected cameras) in my house, but the Canary is a security device, not simply a camera.

The Canary requires Internet connection. It has the usual HD camera with night vision and a 147-degree viewing angle with three times digital zoom.

Where the Canary begins to differentiate itself from other cameras is the built-in, 90-decibel siren and that it also tracks temperature, humidity and air quality. I could not pull that information to my Amazon Echo, so it appears to simply be useful information to know.

The Canary of course has native apps for both iOS (Apple) and Android smartphones.

What does it do? When I talk about it, I talk about it as a security system, not a camera system.

When opening the app, it does not automatically open to a live view of what the camera sees but rather a home page listing the environmental settings (temperature, humidity, air quality) with options to view live or view your timeline.

The timeline is pretty cool. Canary is set up to chirp at you (via your smartphone) when there is activity or motion in front of it. Other IP cameras can do motion detection, but they generally require some setup to enable that functionality. It also records a snippet of video around that notification so you can view, via your timeline, the video associated with the activity the camera saw.

Canary is a learning system and is supposed to have the ability to learn your schedule and automatically adjust the mode to home or away, but I have to admit it never thought I was home, so every movement in front of the camera triggered a notification. I have read that pets can trigger motion detection as well.

I had set my settings for when I was home to be private and not record video or give me notifications, but again, this didn’t work as set up.

According to Canary: “When set to private, Canary’s camera, microphone, and motion detection capabilities are fully disabled. Only temperature, humidity, and air quality information are uploaded to the Canary Cloud.”

Without membership, you get 24 hours of recorded video. With membership, starting at $9.99 per month, you get 30 days of stored video and reimbursement of your homeowners or renters insurance deductible up to $1,000 in case of a burglary, plus an extended two-year warranty for your Canary.

Unlike the Canary, the Ring Video Doorbells is meant to be installed at your front door. Ring Video Doorbell had never really interested me in the past, but I wanted to at least test it out.

I was very impressed. It is the product that I didn’t know I wanted or needed.

What does a video doorbell do, you may ask?

When someone rings your doorbell, you are notified on your smartphone (Android and iOS) and have the option to view the ringer through the installed HD camera in the doorbell. It also provides two-way audio so you can ask them what they want if you don’t recognize them.

Mind you, you do not even need to be home to answer the ring. I could be out and my kids alone at home and the doorbell rings; I can answer it, send the ringer away and notify my kids via phone that they should not answer the door.

You can turn on motion detection and get a notification each time there is movement in front of your doorbell, and you can always look in live.

With a paid account of $3 per month, it provides the ability to have all of your alerted events recorded and viewable in a cloud account for up to 6 months, plus a one-year warranty. You can even download or share the events — useful if it recorded an activity outside your door that you’d like to share with police. The free account simply doesn’t record anything.

You need to spend an additional $30 for the Chime accessory if you want it to ring a sound in your home. It’s free if you just want the ring on your smartphone. However, it is fully compatible with the doorbell you may already have wired, and it can use that doorbell for inside notification.

One drawback that I found with Ring was that it needs charging, even when hardwired.

If it is hardwired to your existing doorbell chime, that will hopefully keep it charged. But there is the following message on Ring’s website: “Note: Depending on usage and temperature, the power from the doorbell wires may not be enough to keep your Ring charged, and the battery percentage may drop slightly over time.”

From the forum posts I read, it sounds like you will have to take it inside to charge every once in awhile. Ring provides a proprietary screw and driver so that it cannot simply be removed by anyone who wants to steal it.

Unless you don’t mind a lot of false-alarm beeps, I would hold off on the Canary for now. But give the Ring Video Doorbell a try. It provides a fun, new experience and added security to your front door entry.

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Paul Burnstein is a Tech Handyman. As the founder of Gadget Guy MN, Paul helps personal and business clients optimize their use of technology. He can be found through gadgetguymn.com or via email at paul@gadgetguymn.com.

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