New smart home solutions supporting independence – and some of their hidden costs.

At first glance, Smart home products appear to be quite a low cost.  However, it is worthwhile to consider all the costs involved before getting into a specific system.  Some of these costs are not always obvious at the beginning.   Some examples are given below relating to smart home technologies.

Smart hub

A smart home hub is a hardware device that connects all of your smart home devices together. With a hub, you’ll be able to control your smart lights, thermostat and other smart home devices using one app. Most smart home hubs allow you to schedule when equipment automatically turns on or off using a mobile device.

There are a growing number of hubs to choose from, ranging from free open source solutions based on a Raspberry Pi  to commercial products such as Samsung Smartthings hub.   Each has its advantages and disadvantages.  The final cost may not always be apparent until you have set up all your smart home devices.

HomeSeer is a relatively low-cost smart hub starting at €120.  It has many advantages as it features locally managed automation for reliability, security & privacy and its compatible with many smart home products & cloud services.

However, if you want to connect a smart home product to the hub there is an extra third party charge for its plugin.  For example, if you want to connect WeMo sockets you will require a WeMo plugin costing €29, or Philips hue plugin at €32.  Expanding your smart home could work out to be more expensive than planned.

 

Subscriptions on Doorbells and cameras

Other common smart home products are video doorbells as they can bring both convenience and security to your home by streaming a live view of the doorstep to your smartphone, whether you are on the other side of the door or the other side of the world.

If you are not going to be at home all the time you may need to invest in cloud storage if you need to look back on who was at the door when you were not at home.  For example, Ring doorbell provides the option of recording your doorbells camera for up to 30 days of video history.  Rings cloud storage cost $10/month or $100/year.  Other security cameras suppliers also have similar cloud storage options.

Batteries

Other costs include batteries which are in many smart home products such as door locks, and sensors (proximity, temperature, contact).  These replaceable batteries will build up over the year.

Setup and maintenance time

One of the biggest cost and probably the most underestimated cost is the time you put into setting up and maintaining your smart home equipment. Depending on the setup cost will be from a few hundred euro to ten thousand.

Control your home security via an app

Action24 intruder alarm app
The Internet of Things (IoT) has brought about a fundamental change in the way we use technology. There are many potential benefits of the IoT for people with disabilities.
For example, someone who is blind or has a mobility-related disability can monitor and control their home heating thermostat through an accessible smartphone interface, or they can have their door automatically unlock when they approach it.
Managing intruder alarms has typically been quite inaccessible as they tend to be installed in inaccessible areas and have inaccessible touch panels. A Dublin-based company, Action24 has bucked this trend by designing an intruder alarm which can be accessed via an app installed on their Tablet or Smartphone.

Action24 HomeTouch panel intruder alarm
The main part of the intruder alarm is the HomeTouch™ panel which controls all devices. Once the panel has been installed, further devices can be included such as IP CCTV cameras, smoke detectors and wireless carbon monoxide detectors for enhanced protection of your home. Any activations will be reacted upon in Action24’s monitoring centre and the devices are viewable also on the Action24 app.

Man approaching house
It is also possible to integrate the control of your lights or other electrical devices from your Action24 App. You can pair a Z-wave plug with the panel and you will be able to control the lamp or other electronic device connected to the Z-wave plug. The connected devices will then appear on your App and are controllable at all times, whether you are at home or away. A very useful option when you’re on holidays!

table lamp switched on

How much does it cost?

€500 for the panel, €200 for the smoke detector and wireless carbon monoxide detector, €100 for IP camera, €35/month for monitoring.

 How do you control alarm and home devices?

Active24 have partnered with alarm.com to bring together home security and automation app for your home.   Their App is available for iPhoneiPad, Apple Watch and any Android device.

What is monitoring?

Monitoring is done by trained operators in a 24/7 Alarm Receiving Centre.  Nominated keyholders/emergency services will receive a call from operators when activations occur. The monitoring fee is a requirement for this company.

 

The good: It’s an intruder alarm that’s accessible.

The not so good: A bit expensive if you are looking for the full array of additional features and extras.

The verdict: A good option for anyone who wants security and smart home control from the one app.

Alternatives: Considering the relatively high cost of this system and the monthly cost of monitoring it may be beyond the budget for some users.  Monitoring will definitely enhance the security of your home or premises, however, there are other alternatives that avoid the monitoring fees.

An alternative without a monitoring fee is to use a Z-Wave controller such as the VeraPlus advanced home controller for €190.  You can have similar Z-Wave window €50 and motion €60 sensors and cameras, carbon monoxide (CO) €85 and smoke detectors €70 which can be configured when activated to sound a siren or send a customized Text message to three mobile numbers using a SMS Controlled Switch €145.  You also have the options to control heating systems and lighting.  The full control of the alarm and smart home devices in a similar way as the Activate24 is available via an app.

Smarthome Technologies and Telecare exhibition: Maximizing independent living

Are you interested in learning about the latest Smart Home Technologies and Telecare options for people with disabilities?

5th November 2014, 9:30am – 4:30pm Smart home controls

Dublin City Council, Wod Quay, Dublin 8.

This event is hosted by Enable Ireland’s National Assistive Technology Training Service.  For further information contact sdeakin@enableireland.ie or Tel: (01) 2184100.

There is no charge to attend.   Pendent to call for assistance

Booking: Complete the online booking form at http://www.atandme.com/?page_id=514