Home Automation – Overview

Over the last couple of months home automation has begun to get a lot of publicity with the launch of the Google Home. However, Amazon has been doing it for two years. We’re going to help you figure out if the Amazon Echo or the Google Home is best for you. We’ll also go over how we did home automation through our place without spending a fortune in a future blog.Google Home vs Amazon Echo has been compared by every tech blog so we aren’t going to go in depth through the devices. However, we will help you figure out which device is best for you.

So you’re looking to do home automation and the first step is figuring out which assistant is the best fit for your home. The quick and simple answer is to go with whatever company you’re more invested in. For example, if you have Amazon Prime and you use their music, movies, etc. then the Amazon Echo may be good for you. If you have everything tied into Google and use their music, movies, etc. then the Google Home may be better for you. Additionally, it should be noted that while the Amazon Echo currently works with several more applications it has been out for 2 years. While the Google Home has only been out for a few months and the developer code has only been out for a month. However, 3 days after the developer code was released 30+ companies have connected their software to work with the Google Home. Also, we found the Google Home to be more powerful than the Amazon Echo with the Google Assistant powering the device. Since we are invested in Google, we decided to go with the Google Home. We also LOVE having YouTube Red which costs $10 a month. We were looking for a music service already and since YouTube has every song imaginable we decided that it was the best answer for us. Plus, it comes with the paid version of Google Music.

While the assistant you choose will have an effect on your options to automate your home there’s a lot more to consider. One big thing with home automation is controlling your lights through your house. Two of the leading companies in this area is Samsung with their SmartThings solution and Philips with their Hue solution. While there are several other options we like Philips and Samsung solutions the best. Additionally, we have several Samsung devices already and there’s always a benefit to keeping everything with the same brand. With Philips Hue we found that you have to use only Philips Hue bulbs  while the Samung SmartThings solution you can use several different brands. Also, like we said, we have several Samsung TV’s and smartphones so we felt that the Samsung SmartThings gave us more freedom.

While having your lights dynamically change based on your activities is exciting, having your heat do the same is even better. Now you could go with the Nest Thermostat which works directly with the Google Home. Luckily, Google Home also works naturally with IFTTT, which connects to many different thermostat manufacturers. Also, we are lucky to have the ability to use National Grid’s offer for $100 to upgrade our thermostat to a wifi enabled device. So we went with a Honeywell Thermostat for $99 and with National Grid’s offer, we got it for free after MIR.

Finally, you’ll want to have the ability to play music, movies, and pictures around your house. Depending on the assistant you decide will also depend on your options for this too. However, since we went with Google Home we found the Chromecasts to be the cheapest and best solutions. We also purchased a Chromecast Audio for the bathroom that we attached to a $20 speaker we already had in there. So for $25 we are able to add the ability to cast music or movies to any room we want, which we can’t do with the Amazon Echo.

Conclusion

In the end we decided that the $99 Google Home was the best solution for our place. We also got some deals on Black Friday with our Chromecast and SmartThings hub. We bought just the SmartThings hub ($99), 2 hue bulbs ($15 each), Honeywell Wifi Thermostat (Free with MIR), Google Home ($99), and 2 Chromecasts ($25 each). So, for $280 we have full control of our house from lights, to temperature, and streaming media. Also, we have a dog at home and having the ability to stream music through the house while we’re gone, adjust the temperture in the house from anywhere, and have our Google Home turn on the lights before sunset automatically for me is a huge help. We could control our TV’s and such with the use of a Harmony hub which comes in around $100, but our livingroom is currently being controlled by my Xbox One, so it’s not a top priority at this time.

So what assistant did you decide to go with and why? Let us know in the comments some of the configurations you went with and why. Everyone’s home and needs are different so there’s no configuration that is the best for everyone.

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System Analyst with a background in networking, several coding languages, and basic desktop support. I'm hoping to help people become more comfortable with technology and shed light on things that there may not be a lot of information on out there.

Posted in Apps, Consumer, Primary, Reviews

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