Smart homes make life easier

(Published in Local Life Magazine)

Today’s smart homes are smarter than ever, and you don’t have to build a new home to make it a genius.

“A smart home is where you can pretty much control everything, from your lighting, your media system and your climate all from the convenience of your smart devices, like phones and computers,” said Christina Gomez, aka “The Gadget Gal” at Play & Gourmet in Bluffton. “Your home network, the internet and Wi-Fi are the backbone of the system. Everything runs off of the network.”

The entire system is app-based, and manufacturers are designing and delivering ready-to-use smart-living products.

One of the hottest advances in smart-home technology are kitchen appliances.

“You can pre-heat your oven from the grocery store or start a load of dishes from your phone,” said Gomez, who has a Facebook review blog. “It’s one of the biggest trends out there right now.”

Two of the country’s biggest manufacturers – Whirlpool and GE – have been gaining traction with their affordable Wi-Fi-connect products.

Another popular development is advanced voice control, such as Amazon’s Alexa, who controls lights, thermostats and just about anything else just by talking to her.

Today’s smart living marketplace also is booming in the do-it-yourself industry. Keep in mind the convenience of having retailers like Play & Gourmet and Billy Wood Appliance do the set-up work for you.

“Where we and other integrators come into the picture is we can consolidate all the apps into one platform,” Gomez said.

Some of the newest products on the market recommended by these two retailers are:

LG washer. This 5-cubic-foot, top-load washer with a stainless steel drum and SmartThinQ technology will notify you on your smart phone when the cleaning cycle ends. It also responds to voice commands with Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. Each wash cycle combines up to six different wash motions and uses about 30 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than regular washers.

Lutron smart lighting. This state-of-the art system replaces those unsightly switches on wall plates with a personally customized lighting design. Screwless wall plates, stylish keypads and integrated switches also provide more accurate fan control and motorized shades and blinds. When sitting down to watch a movie, lights automatically resort to preferred settings where some lights might dim, others don’t. Other programmed settings can provide lighting at a certain time of day or connected to your alarm clock.

Ring. This hi-tech, home security system can monitor every inch of your property with its video doorbell and stick-up video cams placed strategically throughout the house. The flush-mounted hardwire video doorbell features high-definition (HD) video, two-way talk and customizable motion zones. Homeowners can see, hear and speak to anyone at the front door from their phone, tablet or PC. The HD security cameras provide two-way audio, LED spotlights and a siren alarm.

ELAN home system. All smart-home devices are conveniently controlled and automated by one platform, which also boasts voice control. This system allows homeowners to see, hear and respond to visitors at the front door from the backyard, accept a delivery while still at the office, in the car or out of the country. ELAN also has reinvented home entertainment with complete control and unparalleled convenience. One interface connects across multiple devices by remote, touch panel, personal tablet or smart phone.

Miele range. Cooking in the oven has never been easier, thanks to the many features of this 48-inch range with six powerful burners and a griddle. The revolutionary Moisture Plus feature automatically applies additional moisture to ensure optimal results in baking and roasting. Other product features include self-cleaning, rapid pre-heating, wireless roast probing for cooking-time accuracy, individualized automatic programming, residual heat utilization, a stainless steel body to ensure cool surfaces, a rotisserie and convection baking.

GE Café refrigerator. This 22.2- to 27.8-cubic-foot French door product features a built-in Keurig K-cup brewing system with a hot-water dispenser. A kitchen app activated by your smart phone or computer provides hot water remotely any time of day. LED lighting shines bright throughout the interior and under fresh-food doors, and temperature-controlled, full-width drawers deliver optimal temperatures to your favorite foods. Additionally, filtered water and cube/crushed ice are activated at the touch of a button.

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