How often do you go about your business in the morning and leave home happy in the knowledge you have everything you could possibly need that day on your person, before you pull this face:
That’s the face of someone who remembers they’ve left the iron plugged in, switched on, and primed for creating an inferno in which all of their most cherished possessions could be lost. It’s also the face of Raven Simone having a vision. Guess what? She’s seeing all of your stuff burning. After realising that you may or may not have left the iron switched on, you’re left with the dilemma of going all the way home (God knows how far away that is) just to switch it off, or taking a chance that everything will be fine until you return at your usual time.
Fortunately there are now ways to connect your home that mean you never have to experience this unpleasant dilemma again. Here are three companies making smart plugs and other connected gadgets to help you keep an eye on the house when you’re out and about.
WeMo by Belkin is a line of sold-separately products which connect to your home WiFi and can be controlled from your iOS or Android device no matter where you are, providing you have access to the internet. Their products include LED smartbulbs (£59.99 for a starter set of 2) which you can turn on, off, or set a schedule for, a home surveillance camera (£69.99) which is able to notify you if it detects motion when your house should be empty, and the Insight plug (£49.99) which connects any electronic device (straighteners, curling tongs, Batsignals…) plugged into it to your home WiFi, enabling you to control the power supply and monitor energy usage.
However, they also have more devices which require the purchase of a D-Link home hub (£71.99) to work together and improve the overall security of your home. These devices include a water sensor (£53.98) to detect leaks, sensors which can be attached to windows and doors (£32.29), and a siren (£46.20) which, when activated by any of the sensors, alerts you through push notifications.
The D-Link home hub acts as the link between your home WiFi network and all of your D-Link devices, allowing you to connect up to 10 at one time and control them all via the D-Link app for Android and iOS. Where the surveillance camera and the smart plug don’t require the home hub to work, the sensors and sirens do because they require a connection to each other as well as a WiFi network to function efficiently. Whilst you can install everything yourself at a one-time cost and not have to worry about monthly charges, you do have to purchase the home hub and various sensors separately and they aren’t exactly a cheap route to peace of mind.
Moving in on the connected home market is a new line of products from Hive. Hive first came onto the scene in 2013 with Hive Active Heating, a smart thermostat which allowed users to control their heating and hot water via an iOS and Android compatible app. The system can be purchased for £249, which includes installation from a British Gas engineer, though you don’t have to be British Gas customer to use the device.
They’ve now expanded their line with smart plugs (£39) and motion sensors (£29) which plug into walls or attach to window and door frames. Hive’s devices work much in the same way as WeMo and D-Link’s, connecting to your home WiFi to be controlled by an app, through which the user can be alerted to activity in their home, turn electricals on and off, and set schedules. To work, Hive’s devices must be connected to the Hive Home Hub, which can be purchased for £80 for those new to the Hive service. For those already on the Hive Home Heating service, your existing hub is compatible with the new products.
All of Hive’s products are available from their website.
So much to choose from…
It’s difficult to say which products stand out as the best option. For anyone who has a tendency to leave electricals switched on and simply wants a smart plug for peace of mind, without turning their home into a spider web of app-connected security, WeMo’s independently functioning products are probably best.
However, when it comes to increased home security, D-Link’s home hub is an efficient way to keep an eye on everything, from which devices are switched on to which windows and doors have been left open.
Hive’s new products are fairly similar to D-Link’s in that they connect to a home hub, but they do offer less variety. But where Hive do stand apart is in their smart heating system which the others don’t offer. If Hive’s Active Heating appeals to you, it’s perhaps best investing in that and adding their other connected products to the home hub you would already have purchased anyway. If the smart thermostat doesn’t appeal, you’d find more variety or less commitment with D-Link and WeMo respectively.
Main Image: Getty