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Smart Home or a Smart Headache?

Updated on March 29, 2015

The Marketing Picture

I'll be the first to admit that the slick marketing videos of people controlling their homes with a few spoken words are pretty cool. But, I'm smart enough to know that not everything that an advertisement or web page tells you about some fancy new home automation equipment is going to be true.

And, the last thing I need is another thing to be a thorn in my side after I get home from work. After all, not being able to turn the lights on and off because of some software glitch would be down right infuriating! So, I make sure that I read opinions from people I trust that are average Joes to get a sense of how mature the technology is.

I think it'll be a while before I get my coffee from this guy
I think it'll be a while before I get my coffee from this guy

Home Automation & Home Security!

One thing the I figured out once I started doing research is that many home security systems also offer support for home automation protocols like Z-Wave and Zigbee. The reverse is also true, to a degree. After all, if you have a door entry sensor to turn the lights on in your house, then you should be able to pretty easily send a notification to your phone when that door opens.

Not that different than a security system, right!?!

Just take a look at this site that I found that helps you compare home security systems. About half of the systems on the list support Z-Wave and Zigbee home automation protocols.

Here are a couple of systems that look good after reviewing the features:

I like the idea that I make the initial purchase, and there are no monthly fees required to keep using the system.

Smartphone Integration

I also like that the new systems integrate really easily with your smartphone unlike a lot of the old school ADT systems. That way, no matter where you go, you can quickly check on the status of your house and be assured that everything is fine.

  • Need to let a repair man into your house? No problem.
  • Want to know when your kids get home from school? Check.
  • Pretend your home by turning the lights on and off on vacation? Easy!

There are a lot of things I could think of that would be really helpful. Unfortunately, that's more useful for my wife than it is for me since I can't always have my phone on my at work.

And I guess if you are normally in places with bad reception, the smart phone integration doesn't matter that much. As long as I can do things like turn the lights on and warm the house up before I get home, I'll be happy.

Here's a screenshot for the Scout alarm
Here's a screenshot for the Scout alarm

What home automation hub are you thinking about getting?

See results

How long do you think this took to set up?


I'm not convinced that I'm going to pull the trigger right now. I'm just still worried about what happens when it doesn't work. If I do get a system, I'll probably start small with automated lights and go from there.


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