Practical Home Technology
By: Danny Lipford
Find out how to turn your house into a high-tech home without spending a fortune. From wireless cameras and speakers to home security and lighting, we’ve got some practical electronic ideas for your home that won’t break the bank!
Home Entertainment and Audio
From streaming video over the Internet to MP3 players that allow you to hold thousands of songs in the palm of your hand, the changes to home entertainment in recent years has been astounding. Here are a few devices that can take your home to the next level.
- iRoom iDock from Bracketron is a great way to secure, charge, and use your Apple iPad. The motorized unit is installed flush with the wall and can be attached to the audio or video system in your home.
- SonicAir from SpeakerCraft is a wireless transmitter and receiver that can transmit audio signals from a TV or sound system to speakers in other areas of a room or house up to 100’ away, without running wires.
- OutCast Jr. ($600) from Soundcast Systems is a weatherproof, wireless speaker that allows you to take your music without you outdoors. You can hook an MP3 player directly to the speaker, or couple it with an iCast ($230) wireless transmitter to link electronic devices from inside as far as 350’ away.
Energy efficient light bulbs, such as CFLs and LEDs, aren’t the only recent advances in home lighting. These switches offer new ways to control the lights in your home.
- Pass & Seymour 7-Button Timer Switch ($30) allows you to turn lights off after 1, 5, 10, 20, 30, or 60 minutes at the touch of a button.
- Leviton Occupancy Sensor Switch ($20) automatically turns lights on when you enter a dark room and off when you leave.
- Westek Wireless Wall Switch ($15) uses a receiver plugged into an outlet to control lights or other electric devices without the need for running wires.
- Westek Outdoor Dusk to Dawn Floodlight Control ($10) screws into an existing outdoor light fixture to turn it on and off automatically.
Home Monitoring and Security
Keeping your home safe and security is another great use for high-tech electronic devices.
- Schlage LiNK allows you to control locks, heating and cooling, lights, blinds, and even video cameras remotely from a computer or smartphone.
- Swann OutbackCam ($110) allows easy color video and still image monitoring of wildlife in the woods or outside your home. The self-contained, battery powered, weatherproof camera and recorder is motioned activated with up to 32’ night vision range.
- Swann Guardian ($231) indoor/outdoor digital camera and receiver is motion activated and has night vision capacity. It uses a wireless signal to activate a recorder located inside your home to capture color video and sound.
- iZON Remote Room Monitor ($130) from Stem Innovation is an indoor camera with moveable magnetic base that interfaces with Apple’s iOS mobile software to allow you to see and listen inside your house remotely through an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. It can also alert you to motion or noise, and record the signal to a private YouTube account.
Remote Controlled Skylight
Velux skylights are available with a remote control for opening and closing, as well as a rain sensor to close the skylight automatically in the event of rain.
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Other Tips from This Episode
Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Protecting Electronic Devices
To protect electronic devices – such as smartphones and tablet computers – from glue and dust in the workshop, seal them in a plastic storage bag. For added convenience, attach binder clips to the bag and hang it near your workbench.
Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Fire Shield Surge Protector
The First Alert Fire Shield Surge Protector not only protects electronic devices from spikes and surges but also monitors the devices for frayed wires to prevent fires. The First Alert Fire Shield Surge Protector is available at The Home Depot.
Ask Danny Lipford:
Solar Powered Attic Vent Fans
Solar powered attic vent fans are easy to install, since they don’t require wiring, but need to be properly sized to make sure they expel enough air. To find the cubic feet of air needed for an attic vent fan, multiply 0.7 times the number of square feet in your attic.