We’ve all had that sinking feeling when we’ve left our home: Did we lock the door and set the alarm? Did I turn off the toaster oven? What if that cracked window in the basement lets water in?
Thanks to smartphones, apps and gadgets that turn your regular home into a smarter one, most of these classic concerns are a thing of the past.
Here’s a look at a few peace-of-mind aftermarket recommendations:
April showers bring May…basement flooding?
You’re not alone if you’re concerned about water damage and the havoc it can wreak. Whether or not you’ve had a prior issue, the D-Link Wi-Fi Water Sensor (model # DCH-S161; $59) has a long sensor cable you can place wherever you like – around your water heater, washing machine, sink, dishwasher, sump pump, or any spot there could be a potential water leak – and you’ll be immediately notified if and when leaks are detected thanks to a loud 90-decibel alarm. You can also ask your Google Assistant something like “Is my washing machine leaking water?”
Not at home? No worries. If it detects moisture, you’ll get a text notification or an alert on the free mydlink Home smartphone app and can have a family member or friend check it out while you’re away to minimize damage.
Unlike the original model, this next-gen D-Link Wi-Fi Water Sensor doesn’t need to be plugged in for power: it lasts up to 1.5 years on 2 AA batteries (included).
Understandably, this affordable gadget (with no monthly fees) is also ideal for snowbirds and rental properties.
How much do you pay for your monthly home monitoring? What if you could cancel your service, yet still have comparable protection? This is the idea behind Safe by HUB6 ($299), a small box you connect to your existing home alarm system, install the app, and then select whom you’d like contacted in case a door or window sensor is triggered.
Since your alarm company did the same thing – go through your list of family or friends before contacting the police or a security guard (since most are false calls) — the idea is you can now cancel your subscription and use this automated solution instead. If someone on your list, such as a neighbour, sees the wind blew open the door, then all is good, but they could also decide if emergency services should be requested.
Wi-Fi down? No worries as this product has a built-in SIM card that uses a cellular network.
Seeing Is Believing
Easy to set up and use, the Nest Cam Wi-Fi HD Camera ($249) is a smart video surveillance camera that let you see what’s happening at home – and keep an eye on it via a free app for your smartphone. Along with high-definition (1080p) clarity, 8x optical zoom and night vision support, you can schedule recordings, allow for triggered recording (if it detects movement) and you can be notified via text, email or app alert.
Similarly, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 ($219) lets you see who’s at your front door – whether you’re home or not. Working in conjunction with a companion app on smartphone or tablet, this Wi-Fi doorbell shows who’s on your doorstep (in clear 1080p HD), and you can have a two-way audio conversation with your visitor (so they don’t even know you’re not inside).
Motion sensors detect movement up to 30 feet and sends you automatic alerts, and so you can be notified even before they press the button. All recorded footage is stored to the cloud, in case you ever need it.
Using an app or your voice, the ecobee4 Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat ($329) can help you save up to 23 per cent on your annual heating and cooling bills, plus it can automatically optimize settings per room.
That is, by sensing occupancy with a small companion sensor (one included in the box), this smart Wi-Fi thermostat can manage hot or cold spots in your home, detecting if someone is there, and delivering the optimal temperature to individual rooms. Ecobee4 supports up to 32 sensors.
There’s also built-in Amazon Alexa support, so you can ask to read you the news, helping plan a drive somewhere (even by avoid traffic), and of course, adjust the temperature.
Ecobee4 also sends you free monthly reports to see how much energy you’ve saved, along with tips on saving even more.
This One Sucks...
Why vacuum your floors when you can have a robot do the dirty work for you?
While the models vary – ranging from the entry-level iRobot Roomba 675 (from $329) to the top-of-the-line Roomba i7+ ($1,199) — all these Wi-Fi-enabled robotic vacuum cleaners make it a breeze to schedule and clean your home, from anywhere, via the iRobot Home app.
Or, while at home, simply press the large clean button in the centre of this disc-based robot or use your voice through Google Home or an Amazon Alexa device to start and stop a job.
The patented 3-stage cleaning system has been specially engineered to loosen, lift, and suction everything from small particles and pet hair to larger debris, whether it’s on the carpet, tile, or hardwood.
Regardless of the model, it will navigate back to its base to charge itself up when it detects the battery is running low. Along with smarter mapping technology and room by room cleaning (“iRobot, vacuum only my family room”), the Roomba i7+ even empties its dirt container for you, as a second vacuum in the charging base will clean out the circular vacuum whenever it docks (so you don’t have to).