Smart Homes – Garage and Outdoors

A Smart Home is a home that is equipped with modern technology to make it more functional, efficient, and convenient than ever before.

Smart Home products are accessible, provide you with knowledge of your home, and make your life easier by saving you time. One of the best things about a Smart Home is that you can retroactively upgrade your home without spending thousands of dollars, and installation is quick and easy!

We were so curious about how to make a Smart Home that we did some research and found tons of cool products on the world wide web! Throughout the next few months, we’ll be posting different products that we think could help make your home a Smart Home! For now, we give you our first Smart Homes blog post: Appliances that will help make your garage and outdoor space more functional and convenient than ever before!

Garageio:

Garageio is the next step in bringing your garage to the modern day, without needing to buy a new garage door opener.

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The Garageio Blackbox is a WiFi-enabled device that installs directly into your home garage. It allows you to open and close your garage door with your smartphone from anywhere in the world via the Garageio app, which is available on both Apple and Android devices.  If you have a babysitter, contractors, or in-laws that frequently visit your home, Garageio gives you the control to give (or take away) visitor’s access as needed, giving you peace of mind.

Our favorite feature of the Garageio is its ability to integrate with other apps on your smartphone using IFTTT (If This Then That). You can connect Garageio to your weather channel app so that your garage door automatically closes when it starts to rain, or you can integrate it with your smartphone’s location services to automatically open and close the garage door when you arrive home. As a safety feature, you can also set it to notify you if your garage door has accidentally been left open!  There are also plans for future integrations with other services such as SmartThings, so this Smart Home product will continue to offer you more convenience!

There’s no need to worry about someone hacking in to your Garageio account!  Garageio uses bank-level security that includes industry-standard encryption and short-lived authentication tokens.  And any action your Garageio makes has to go through the app, so local communication across your home WiFi network won’t budge your garage door.

With such a useful array of features, you may think that Garageio would break the bank, but it is surprisingly affordable! The price is based off of the number of doors it would control. The prices are as follows:

1-door garage: $199

 

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What comes with the 1-door garage package.

2-door garage: $209

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2-door garage package.

3-door garage: $219

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3-door garage package.

Installation:

Installation should take about 15 minutes per door and can be done with just a screwdriver, a stepladder, masking tape, and the Garageio app. Just activate your Blackbox over WiFi using the 16-character code on the website, install the Blackbox on your garage door opener, place the activator on your garage door, and you’re good to finish setting up your door with the Garageio app!

Click here to see the more detailed installation instructions on their website!

 

Schlage Smart Lock:

SchlageSmartLock

The Schlage Smart Lock is a new touchscreen deadbolt lock with an alarm. By inputting your password on the touchpad, you unlock the deadbolt. The touchpad has a matte finish so that it’s resistant to fingerprints and smudges, and the lock is capable of holding up to 30 user codes! You can also set it to give off an audible alert whenever the door is moved. You can choose the type of alert you receive: activity, tamper, or forced.

Another great feature of this lock is its wireless capabilities. Depending on your service provider, you can connect it with your home security system via computer, tablet, or smartphone.

This Smart Home appliance offers you plenty of security and knowledge of who goes in and out of your home, and costs $265.

Installation:

Installation is nearly the same as any other door handle, but while you’re installing the deadbolt, you run a cable inside the door from the deadbolt to the alarm assembly. That’s it! No confusing wiring, just a screwdriver.

Click here to see more information on their website for installation.

 

iRobot LOOJ:

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The iRobot LOOJ  is a remote controlled robot will save you from the dangerous and time consuming task of cleaning your gutters. It operates by breaking clogs, lifting and throwing those clogs away, and then sweeping and scraping the remaining debris. It also comes with an extra set of smaller ejectors that work on different types of debris.

The remote control puts more power in your hands than you would initially think! When you have other work to do, you can set the robot to the automatic clean mode! Or if you want, you can use the remote control to make the robot move forwards and backwards, and you can chose the spin direction to ensure that debris is thrown away from your roof!

Home automation products such as this are worth the price they carry, and the LOOJ will cost you around $300.

Installation:

The iRobot LOOJ is a perfect example of a smart home device with no installation.  Since this is a portable robot that you can carry around, you don’t need to worry about installation at all! It stands just under 2 inches high and is 3 inches wide, making it able to fit in most gutters. However, you can download the measurement document from their website to make sure it will fit.

Click here to see their measurements document to make sure that the robot will fit in your gutters.

 

High Tech Pet Power Electronic Pet Door:

HighTechPetPowerDoor

The Power Pet Door is a vertically-sliding pet door that’s activated by an ultrasonic collar. Since it operates via ultrasonic waves, the door is able to sense the direction of the collar. This means that the door won’t open when your pet wanders by or sleeps next to the door. The door also has 4 different controls: in only, out only, full access, and closed & locked.

You don’t have to worry about feeling a draft through this pet door! It’s wind and weatherproof with an airtight seal, giving it much better insulation than a regular pet door.

The door uses an AC adaptor, but there is an optional battery that you can buy if you want to have battery power as a back up or operate the door solely off of batteries.

The door comes in two different sizes as well! The medium size allows for animals of up to 30 lbs., and the large size is for pets up to 100 lbs.

Pricing for this modern home product depends on the size of the door that you purchase.  The prices are as follows:

Medium: $299.99

Large: $349.99

Installation:

It’s as simple as installing a regular dog door. Cut the hole for the section where your pet can walk through, screw the pet door into place, and you’re done.

Click here to see their page for more specific information on how to install your pet door.

 

Skydrop Sprinkler:

SkydropSprinkler

The Skydrop sprinkler controller is a WiFi-enabled controller for your sprinkler system that helps you reduce your water usage by watering your lawn more efficiently. The Skydrop doesn’t just water less when it rains or when the temperature drops; it uses your internet connection to track the weather in your hour every hour so that it knows when the soil is dry or already saturated. This means that the Skydrop tells your sprinkler system to run less often, but at the right times and in just the right way. This means that you’ll have greener, healthier grass while using less water!

Sometimes you’re away from home and may want to check in on or manually control your sprinkler system. Not only does Skydrop allow you to control your sprinklers with the Skydrop controller itself, but also with a web browser, smartphone, or table! This means you can manage your lawn from anywhere that you can access the internet!

This revolutionary smart home product may seem like it could cost you thousands of dollars, but the Skydrop controller is only about $280!

Installation:

It should be noted here that the Skydrop Sprinkler controller requires more wiring than the other products on this list, so make sure to take a reference photo of your current sprinkler controller before you take it down! It’s also important to note that since the Skydrop uses your wifi connection, you should install it in a location with a strong connection.

Screw the new Skydrop unit to the wall, test and connect each of the wires, and then attach the main controller to the unit! While this installation process may seem daunting, in the end its entirely worth it!

Click here to see their page for more specific information about installation.

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Want to see more ways that you can upgrade your home with Smart Home products? Read our newest article on security systems and cameras!

Smart Door Lock: A State-of-the-Art Security Feature for Your New Home

M/I Homes is proud to offer different Smart Door lock capabilities. One of our options is the Schlage Keypad Lock enabled by Nexia Home Intelligence. These locks allow you to control the locks directly from your phone. You can see what time the door is locked and unlocked using specific use codes. Need a neighbor to go let the dogs out? You can even give them their own specific code! This gives you the peace of mind to know exactly when family members are entering and exiting your home!

Aren’t familiar with Smart Locks? Check out the information written by Lillian Connors below to learn more about what to keep in mind when looking for Smart Door Locks.

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Smart Door Lock: A State-of-the-Art Security Feature for Your New Home

It has been years since we have been given a card instead of a traditional key in a city hotel. I still remember the moment of awkwardness when we could not make the elevator go to our floor even though we pushed each and every button, until someone noticed a card slot next to the floor digits. We quickly took on and easily opened the room door, but it took some time to figure out how to turn the lights on. Our laughter is something we remember even more, and the how we felt as a part of a Sci-Fi movie.

Nowadays, this is nothing unusual, innovations occur on a daily basis, we have a wide choice of electronic and smart door locks available and the market is ever growing. If this topic is still somewhat unfamiliar to you, you are at the right place. We prepared the essential information about smart door locks, to help you start your research and choose the right security feature for your new home.

Digital Technology

This is something you have to be familiar with if you wish to keep in touch with the latest developments happening around you. Naturally, the same applies to smart door locks. Knowing how to operate them and how to keep your privacy is a necessary precondition for fully functional use and safety. There are also locks that can be remotely controlled, as well as those that support WIFI network. Before getting a smart door lock, make sure you look into the digital technology that you need to support this system.

Operating Systems

Being digital, smart door locks work under operating systems, which, unfortunately do not have to be compatible and usually are quite the opposite. Therefore, if you wish to use your mobile or smart phone as a controller for the lock, make sure they use the same operating system, Android, Windows or Symbian, for example. The last thing you want is an installed lock you cannot use.

Installation

Basically, there are two types of installation. Usually, smart door locks are installed separately from the traditional locks; still, there are some that can be mounted on the existing door locks. Both are perfectly functional and the choice lays only in your preferences. Additionally, some of them even have digital display, allowing you to customize the welcoming note or even take pictures of your visitors.

Power

Smart door locks are battery powered, which can sometimes be a downside, so you’ll want to make sure to pick a system that is easily charged or has additional external batteries.  You’d hate to have a situation where you had been away on business for a week; you have just arrived back home and find yourself outside your front door, unable to enter since the batteries on your Smart Lock had died out.  Not all of the systems are easy to deal with in such situations, and are not rare at all, claim the people who run a trusted 24hr locksmith service, so ensuring that you have a back up plan for the batteries dying will have you prepared for this type of situation.

 

**Lillian Connors is a blogger and home improvement enthusiast ever so keen on doing various DIY projects around her house and passionately writing about them. She is also an online marketing consultant, closely collaborating with a number of companies from all over the globe. You can check her out on G+Facebook and Twitter.

 

The Best Home Office Accessories for the Workaholic in Your Life

If you’re like us, you’re probably still looking for that perfect present for someone (or, okay, a lot of someones) on your holiday list. There’s always that person who seems to have everything, and it can be a real challenge to find him (or her) a suitable present.

While we can’t help with everyone you need to buy for, we did put together a list of some gift-giving ideas for the at-home workaholics on your list. We scoured the Internet to find the most unique – and essential – home office accessories, sure to make your hardest-working friends and family members smile. Check it out below:

1. Pivot Power Flexible Surge Protector
Although you may have been putting it off, the Pivot Power Flexible Surge Protector ($29.99) has been attending its yoga classes. One of the best-selling products on Quirky, it’s by far the most bendable power strip we’ve come across. While it can’t quite pull off a King Pigeon or Peacock pose, it’s flexible enough to wrap around a desk leg – each outlet can be bent to fit exactly where your recipient needs it, whether it’s to plug in an iPhone charger or a space heater.

Is a bendy power strip not quite enough for your recipient? Add the Cordies Desktop Cable Manager ($4.99) as a complementary stocking stuffer.

2. Nova Blue Polo Desk Chair
Forget sitting in comfort. Sit in style with the Nova Blue Polo Desk Chair ($199). Designed at a peak of American culture in the 1970s, this chair is retro, chic and everything cool. Break out the disco ball and LPs, and your recipient will be all set to dance the day away while they work in this chair. Oh, as for comfort? Reviewers claim that the chair is comfortable and ergonomically sound – even though it was designed well before ergonomics was a trend.

3. Essey Bin Bin Waste Basket
What better place to throw crumpled scrap paper away than into a trash can that looks like crumpled paper itself? That’s why we love the Essey Bin Bin Waste Basket ($55), designed by John Brauer. The modern-looking waste basket is attractive and tongue-in-cheek. It also comes in red and black, but stick with white to make the joke really stick.

If your recipient prefers to use legal pads instead of normal white paper, pair this waste basket with a Witty Crumpled Legal Paperweight ($28.34). Just be sure you don’t mix the paperweight actual crumpled yellow paper before you wrap it up.

4. USB Gloves
Help keep your hardworking giftee’s fingers nimble with a pair of USB Gloves ($11.98). These gloves plug into a laptop’s USB port, and keep users’ hands warm with infrared light. They don’t have fingertips, so you can still type. Whether your recipient keeps his home office at a cool 60 degrees or she just likes to work outside, these hand-warming gloves will be a welcome and unexpected gift. We think these officially qualify as a warm-and-fuzzy high-tech gadget.

5. Mini File Cabinet
What do you do with a filing cabinet that measures only 6.5” tall? No, this isn’t some sort of eco-fiendly movement in the filing industry. The Mini File Cabinet ($12.99) is specifically designed for business cards. Featuring two tiny drawers, this cabinet should provide plenty of space for all of your recipient’s business cards.

And although these files are almost twice the size of the mini cabinet, we couldn’t resist including these Knock Knock File Folders ($11.35 and $15.63) as a gag gift. There are always some documents that are just asking to go under “To File: By Somebody Else.”

With more than 30 million people working from home in the United States, there’s bound to be someone on your list with a home office. We hope a few of these ideas will help you find something the workaholic on your list just has to have.

**Abby Perkins writes about jobs, workplace culture and HR technology at Talent Tribune, a Software Providers blog.

Electrolux Chooses M/I Homes of Charlotte for Settings of New Videos

When you need several attractive homes in a variety of styles, where can you turn?

For Electrolux Small Appliances North America, the answer was M/I Homes of Charlotte. Electrolux chose M/I model homes in Huntington Forest, Creekshire Estates, Cureton, and Hawk’s Creek neighborhoods as the settings for a series of new product demonstration and assembly videos.

Electrolux shot more than a dozen videos that will be featured on www.electroluxusa.com/floorcare and www.eureka.com.  Some of these videos play in Walmart and Target stores and on Amazon to highlight product features and assembly.  Product packages also incorporate QR codes which shoppers can scan to watch videos on how to assemble their purchase.

“We wanted to feature a stylish and comfortable home environment in the instructional videos we create for customers, so we can replicate their cleaning experiences in their own homes,” said Steva Sazama, senior brand manager for Electrolux Small Appliances, North America. “Partnering with M/I Homes allowed us to choose exactly the right settings for our product videos.”

M/I Homes is able to offer us a variety of looks for our settings,” says producer Frank Schwartz with LEC Media. “The houses look different from neighborhood to neighborhood, which is a real advantage.  M/I has been so customer-service oriented and made it so easy, we couldn’t think of doing it anywhere else.”

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Some of the videos can also be seen on YouTube!  Watch and see the different homes that Electrolux choose to feature.

Guest Blogger: Lifestyle Locks – Keyless Door Locks to Suit Your Lifestyle

Is it possible that safety and security may no longer be the most important factors when choosing door locks? Sure, those aspects are the main reason we have locks in the first place, but with modern technology, electronic locking mechanisms can provide so much more while still offering a secure barrier between the indoors and the outside world.

The latest advancements in home automation make it possible to not even be at your door to unlock it! Moreover, long gone are the days of countless copies of your door keys circulating with house-sitters or hired workers.

My husband and I experienced just such a situation last year when we purchased our first home. Because the house had previously been used as a rental, as soon as we closed, we changed the locks to avoid any potential issues with people who had access to the property before we took possession. That was Lock Change #1.

Due to massive renovations, we had to place a spare key in the backyard so sub-contractors and their workers could access the house on an as-needed basis. This situation was fine for the few weeks, but as soon as we were able to move in, we had to pay to change the locks in each of our doors again. That was Lock Change #2.

Which brings us to the discussion of today: We could have avoided all of those lock changes if we had installed automated door locks the first time. We are not the only types of people who stand to benefit from such a switch. Indeed, if you are a member of the modern world, automated door locks are for you.

If you have kids, being able to give them their own code not only allows them to get into the house when you’re not there, without having to keep track of a key, but it also allows you to monitor their comings and goings. If you have hired help like a cleaning crew or maintenance worker, you can set up a one-time use code that will allow them access to your property only on certain days or during certain times.

And don’t forget those in the real estate business: Having an automated security door lock system makes showing a property or allowing construction workers access to perform updates a cinch. By pre-programming your property permissions, you no longer have to schedule your entire day around getting people in an out of your home. Nor do you have to hide keys around your yard for virtually anyone to stumble upon!

To help you see these possibilities in action, here are two examples of just how much freedom and flexibility you have at your fingertips with automated door locks.

Schlage Camelot Satin Nickel Touchscreen Deadbolt with Alarm

Schlage Camelot Satin Nickel Touchscreen Deadbolt with Alarm

With this keyless door lock from Schlage, you receive ANSI Grade 1 certification, which is the highest level of residential security possible. You also receive the utmost in flexibility. For example, through the Nexia Home Intelligence system, you can lock or unlock your door from anywhere via your smartphone and you can also schedule lock codes to be active only on certain days or specific times.

When you are at home, the built-in alarm senses movement of the door and will notify you with an audible alert. And when you are away, the fingerprint-resistant touchscreen ensures intruders cannot determine which numbers you routinely push.

Although the keyless lock system is available for less than $200, you will need to purchase a separate Wink Hub in order to access the wireless features and control your smart lock via the Wink mobile app.

Kwikset Kevo Single Cylinder Satin Nickel Bluetooth Enabled Deadbolt

Kwikset Kevo Single Cylinder Satin Nickel Bluetooth Enabled Deadbolt

As long as you have your smartphone with you, you can get into your home while it’s protected by this Bluetooth Enabled deadbolt from Kwikset. You simply need to touch the lock to open it and your phone can remain in your pocket or purse – no fumbling for keys required.

You can even send an electronic key to family members, friends, and visitors who have a compatible smartphone with the Kevo Mobile App: The system currently works with iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, or 5S; Android capability is forthcoming.

But for those who prefer an actual key, this deadbolt also works in the traditional sense and features SmartKey re-key technology so that you don’t need to replace the entire system if you simply need a new key.

At just over $200 for this system, we could have re-keyed as many times as we needed during our renovation without starting from scratch each time. In the grand scheme of things, $200 is a reasonable price to pay for a heightened sense of security!

What specific security needs could you address with an automated door lock system?

** M/I Homes of Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton now include a Schlage Keypad Lock enabled by Nexia Home Intelligence in all of their new homes.

***Writing about smart home technology for The Home Depot, Rheney Williams offers her insight on how home automation can help make your life easier and more secure. To find more info on the smart security products that Rheney mentions in this article, visit homedepot.com.

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