Verizon Home Monitoring and Control - News and Review
Are you a Verizon customer?
If you're a Verizon customer perhaps you've noticed a new product category offered to customers -- Verizon Home Monitoring and Control.
Verizon's new service is part of a broader trend of communications and utility companies getting into the home automation market -- although Verizon doesn't call it "home automation" or "smart home."
What's going on? Utilities, broadband and telecommunication companies recognize that the home of the future will offer the safety, convenience and fun of automated functions -- such as lighting control from your web-enabled devices such as your smartphone. They sense that there is not only a market for these products but a recurring income stream from monthly service charges.
The Smart Grid and the Smart Home
And another thing.
Something called the Smart Grid is eventually coming to your utility. The smart grid will enable utilities across the nation to better manage their antiquated transmission and distribution systems to avoid service interruptions and achieve efficiencies. Smart grid is designed to bring the power industry into the 21st century.
For the consumer it means a time when you will have a smart meter, smart appliances and other gadgets that will allow you (and your utility) to monitor your energy consumption in detail so that you can reduce your energy use -- and save money.
Your house will be a "smart home" and you can control almost every kind of electrical device over your home automation network. If you've not heard about the "smart home" you're missing out on the added safety, convenience and fun that a home automation network offers.
But the smart grid is not without controversy, however. I'll write about that in a later hub.
Verizon Home Monitoring and Control devices
- indoor and outdoor cameras
- door locks
- indoor plug-in lighting modules
- door and window sensors
- smart thermostats
- remote control
- whole house power monitor (Verizon's Energy Reader)
Verizon Home Monitoring and Control - What is it?
Go to Verizon Home Monitoring and Control and you can review Verizon's new service yourself. Here's a quick summary:
First of all, you must be a subscriber of Verizon's broadband Internet service (FiOS or high-speed Internet). If you are not a Verizon customer you'll have to look elsewhere for your home automation technology.
If you are a Verizon customer the service is available for $9.99 a month + plus the one-time cost of the required Verizon devices for the functions you wish to control. See box above::
You'll also need a "gateway" device that connects to your Verizon broadband service and transmits and receives signals from your Verizon devices.
The Energy Reader is included as a free device with Verizon's Home Monitoring and Control Kit. The Reader includes a power sensor which attaches to wiring in your distribution box. (Verizon recommends you hire a qualified electrician to install it,)
With Energy Reader you will be able to check exactly how much electricity you are using at any point in time and how much it is costing you. You can change how and when you use appliances so you save money on your electricity bill.
Z-Wave home automation technology used by Verizon
Z-Wave® is based on a wireless technology designed by Zensys which was later acquired by Sigma Designs.
Verizon Home Monitoring and Control is powered by Z-Wave wireless technology adapted for Verizon products by Sigma Designs.
Z-Wave claims to be the first technology to bring affordable, reliable and easy-to-use wireless control to the home automation market.
The company claims that Z-Wave"is a broadly accepted technical standard that ensures interoperability between all Z-Wave devices, no matter what the brand."
Z-Wave certified products are currently available from leading consumer brands in more than 500 products worldwide.
Review of Verizon Home Monitoring and Control
Initial reviews seem to be mostly positive. Verizon is making these products consumer-friendly. Most initial reviewers seem satisfied. Verizon is working to improve their products and services -- as a large company with tremendous depth they will probably succeed. If Verizon truly makes its system interoperative with other Z-Wave brands, it will be even better.
You must be a Verizon broadband customer. If you're not a customer, look elsewhere. If you choose to change Internet service providers, you lose this home automation network.
Once you sign up, you pay a recurring monthly service charge as long as you have the service. This adds up over time.
Z-Wave does not make use of the existing electrical wiring in your house. This limits is flexibility. It is also a radio-frequency-based home automation network, subject to RF interference.
There are other web-enabled home automation networks geared for the consumer that do not require a monthly service fee. I have written extensively about the Insteon system which makes use of both RF and existing powerlines in your house. See box to the right:
Insteon-compatible devices are now available to control most any household electrical device. Insteon has become the home automation network of choice for many DIYers.
Insteon works with any broadband service but it requires no monthly fee.
The bottom line
If you are an existing Verizon broadband customer, you should by all means look into Verizon Home Monitoring and Control. It is backed by a global broadband and telecommunications company who will stand behind their products and services.
Once you've experienced automated controls you'll wonder how you got along without them. Just realize its limitations.
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