Connected HHI Featured on WHHI Talk of the Town

Joe Chappell of Connected HHI was featured on WHHI’s Talk of the Town program that aired 10/10/17 through 10/17/17.  Joe provided an update on Smart Home Management and reasons that more and more homeowners are adding Smart Home Management capabilities to their homes and rental properties.  You can find a link to the program by clicking HERE.


Ecobee4 – The Latest Smart Thermostat – Now With Alexa!

Ecobee4 – The Latest Smart Thermostat – Now With Alexa!

Ecobee recently released their latest generation of their award-winning smart thermostat.  The Ecobee4 includes all of the features that made the Ecobee3 one of the best selling smart thermostats and has integrated Amazon’s Alexa!  Check out CNET’s review of the new Ecobee4 here: CLICK Continue reading


Netgear Orbi – Whole Home WiFi That Works

I have installed over 100 WiFi routers in homes and signal coverage is the biggest issue I encounter.  This is especially true in our area due to the sprawling layout of  our homes.  And now that we want fast WiFi connections for our streaming devices wherever we happen to be in or around the house, coverage has become even more important.  Multiple access points and WiFi extenders can work, but aren’t ideal when you and your devices move throughout the home and need to switch WiFi connections.

Netgear and other networking companies have introduced new products that provide 2 or more WiFi devices that operate as a single, coordinated system.  The base unit is connected by wire to your cable modem or router.  The second unit is placed in another area of the home and communicates with the base using a wireless connection.  Both units work together to provide a blanket of WiFi coverage throughout your home.  Homes larger than 5000 sqft  or with special signal challenges may require an additional satellite unit.

Orbi from Netgear has received some of the best reviews and I brought in a set to test. I replaced 2 separate WiFi access points with an Orbi base station and satellite and I am more than pleased with the results.  My WiFi coverage as measured by signal strength and throughput has improved markedly and I no longer need to manually switch WiFi networks when I move around the house.

Installation can be done using the Orbi app on iOS or Android if you have a very basic setup.  I prefer the control that I get from the web-based interface.  Setup took less than 10 minutes and performance has been fantastic.  The only drawback of Orbi over standard WiFi devices is the cost.  The 2 station AC3000 set retails for $379 on Amazon.

If you find yourself with WiFi coverage or throughput challenges, I recommend that you check out Orbi.  As always, please contact me with any questions or to schedule an installation.


RING Brings Floodlight Camera to Market

RING, the company known for their doorbell cameras just released a floodlight camera consisting of 2 LED lights and an HD camera on a fixture that is intended as an easy replacement for dual floodlight outdoor fixtures.  Priced at $249, this is in the same price range as many of the outdoor WiFi-enabled cameras and it has two advantages – it controls the included LED light fixture and it is wired into house power so there are no batteries to charge or replace.

The packaging is first rate and includes a screwdriver and socket that you will need for installation.  New installations will require a round electrical box with power.  Installation instructions are clear and there is video available through the Ring phone app to help at each step.  You will need a clear WiFi signal at the installation point to support the HD images that stream from the camera.

Once mounted, all interaction with the light and camera is done through the Ring App.  The app allows you to easily control settings for the light, motion sensitivity and range, and what kind of alerts you will receive.  You can be notified anytime there is motion in the area that you have set to monitor.  You can swipe on the alert to bring up the app and see exactly what is happening.  You can also go to the app and use the Live View function to get a live video stream from the camera at any time.

The camera includes a speaker and microphone that allows you to hear what is happening as well as speak to someone near the camera.  The small speaker will not allow you to broadcast your voice throughout the yard, but is may be useful for instructions or warnings.

Each unit comes with 30 days of free recording before you will have to pay for a video storage plan.  Annual plans are $30 per camera or $100 for unlimited cameras.  Video is retained for 6 months.

I have installed 2 units in the past 2 weeks and I am impressed with the picture detail, build quality, and installation ease.

They are available in white and black and can be ordered through Ring.com or purchased at some Home Depots.  I expect broader availability as production ramps.

Contact me if you have any questions or would like to schedule an installation.


Approaching Technology for Home – Incrementalism vs One Big Project

Home improvement projects can usually be divided into those that need to be tackled as one big project and those that can be tackled in pieces.  Remodeling a kitchen is best done as one big project while upgrading the landscaping can be done in smaller chunks over time.  In both cases a master plan is a really good idea – it saves time, minimizes rework, and makes sure that you address the structural issues up front.  Changes to plumbing, electrical, and irrigation are expensive and disruptive when done late in the project.

In most cases, home technology can be added and upgraded incrementally without a cost penalty — as long as you have a plan or road map.  Your technology plan should include the overall scope for your projects – security, control, remote management, lighting, entertainment, and more.  Your scope then helps determine infrastructure requirements and core technology ecosystem.  Infrastructure in most cases consists of a combination of wired and wireless networks that are needed to carry music, video, and instructions throughout your home.  The primary network requirements are capacity and coverage — enough speed everywhere you need it.

Unlike most other home infrastructure, technology has multiple standards and ecosystems.  If you purchase a new lamp, you know that you can take it home and plug it into any standard wall outlet and it will work.  With technology, you need to make choices.  Think PC vs Mac or iPhone vs Android.  Tech ecosystems is a topic for another day, but suffice it to say that you are better off making a choice up front to save time, money, and headaches later.

With your plan in hand and infrastructure choices made, you are in the best position to move forward with confidence and tackle projects as your priorities dictate and your budget allows.

We are here to help at every step of the way, from planning through delivery.


Comfortable In Her Own Home

As a recent widow, I worried about living alone.  Joe Chappell at Connected HHI made me comfortable staying in my home.  I chose SimpliSafe’s security system for ease of use and it performs well and is easy to use.  I travel a fair amount and chose Nest thermostats for convenience and energy savings.  I love that I can see and control everything from my iPhone. I have added lighting control, garage door control, and a keyless lock and everything works from my Apple iPhone.  My next project is cameras for my entry and driveway.

Working with Joe has been a pleasure.  He considers my needs and my budget when recommending options for me to consider.  I was comfortable with the process and I feel comfortable staying in the home I love.

M.A.M.


Smart Irrigation Control From Rachio

How many times have you gone by a home or business in the rain and the sprinkler is running? Do you ever wonder if you should turn off the sprinkler because it has rained or it is forecast to rain? Do you need your landscaper in order to change your irrigation settings?

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Observations on Amazon’s Echo

Amazon released their voice-directed assistant Amazon Echo in November, 2014 and it has been an amazing sales success.  There have been over 5 million units sold since the introduction and there are now 3 different versions to choose from.  We have been an Echo home since 2016 and I have received a lot of questions about my experience with the Echo products.   New capabilities are added regularly, so things will change. Here is a summary of my observations and experiences at the time of this post.

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Residential

At Connected HHI, we believe that the right technology can help homeowners to better manage and enjoy their homes. While there are plenty of geeky things that you can do, there can be real benefit in adding solutions that give you visibility into your home, control of your key systems, and comfort in knowing that you will be alerted if problems arise while you are gone. Our website features a number of solutions for the home and will continue to add more over time. We only recommend products that are proven, can be installed and supported by us, and can be operated easily by homeowners.