Voice Control- My review on the Amazon Echo Dot

Voice Control- My review on the Amazon Echo Dot

Voice control used to be a novelty in the smart home arena, more of an aid or those with disabilities than the next hot thing. Well times are a changing. In 2016 Echo and Amazon Alexa speech engine have made voice control not only acceptable for the average home but an important part of everyday life. As owners of a smart home business; my husband and I try out new technology before a client wants to buy it and put it in their home. This allows us to live with it and understand the technology’s strengths and weaknesses to give our clients all the information to make an intelligent choice for their home. After using Siri for the last several years I was skeptic about using voice control.  Have you ever asked Siri somethign and she just didn’t understand and finally you realize you’ve wasted way too much time trying to get her to understand you and it’s faster to do it on your own?  Well I have and this is a few times a week situation for me.  I knew that voice control technology would either be a godsend or a nightmare.  So when my husband brought home the Echo dot (AKA Alexa) for us to try out I was not very excited. Now I’ve been living with voice control for the last several months and here are a few of my thoughts. Alexa seems to understand me quite well, in fact I believe that it should tutor Siri on voice recognition. I can connect Alexa to my amazon account and have it order things for me. I...

Voice Control Smart Home Systems

In the past, controlling your smart home boiled down to apps and automation.  You can program a lamp to turn on at sunset with a scene or using your phone, touch screen or remote to turn it off after you’ve climbed into bed. But the newest of technology you can tell your smart home to turn it off with a voice control smart home system. This always makes me think of “Star Trek” where they tell the computer what they want it to do.  But today speech recognition technology is a part of our every day lives, just ask Siri.  There are many new products now available that claim to make that “Star Trek” daydream a reality.  While some are still in the beta startup phase, some are from some pretty familiar companies we all know.  Here is a rundown on some of the newest products that CNET has reviewed.   Voice Control Product Reviews: The Amazon Echo “It started as a smart speaker capable of streaming whatever music you asked it to play, but it quickly became clear that Amazon Echo was capable of a whole lot more. Sync it up with your Belkin WeMo Switches , your Philips Hue Smart LEDs , or your Wink Hub-connected gadgets, and “Alexa,” the cloud-connected AI that powers Amazon Echo, will help you turn things on and off with simple voice commands. There’s also an Amazon Echo channel on IFTTT, the popular online automation service that’ll allow you to connect Alexa with Twitter, Facebook, or a whole host of compatible smart gadgets. Deeper smart home integrations are sure to follow, since...

5 Things to Know About Owning A Smart Home

1: A smart home is not “The Jetsons”, but it’s getting close! I know that when I was a kid I remember watching “The Jetsons” and dreaming of a time where they could have a “smart home.”  Now it’s 2016 and I live in a smart home, one that I can use my phone or remote to turn on and off lights, turn up the heat, heat my teapot, listen to music in any room of the house or throughout the entire house and more.  Now there are plug and play electronics that work with smart homes such as your refrigerator that will text you when you run out of milk.  Unfortunately, we have yet to figure out the robot maid.  But, many of the leading home automation platforms enable you to interact with your home via your smart phone, or your voice. 2: You can finally be two places at once. No longer do you have to worry about missed deliveries, worry if the kids are working on their homework, or spend the day asking yourself “did I remember to close the garage?”. With nothing more than your smart phone, you can take total control of your home and always be right there. Open and close garage doors, unlock front doors, monitor your home’s cameras, and even control some appliances from your phone. 3: Upgrading your home can actually save you money! With the security and monitoring features included in most automation platforms, home owners often can save on insurance. Also, home owners who have home automation save around 20% on their monthly utilities – conserving energy and...

Sonos Speakers PlayBox

I love Sonos!  The sound from Sonos speakers is hard to beat.  But as an Integrator, I have noticed a gap in the product line specifically with the Sonos Play: 1. . The Problem Clients were placing their Sonos speakers on a table, or anywhere only to have it get knocked around, unplugged, or have a messy chord. The Answer Sonos has answered this problem with the new PlayBox.  The PlayBox is a custom enclosure that allows a Sonos Play: 1 speaker to be recessed in to the wall in a discrete way.  This gets  rid of those annoying cables/cords and potential speaker damage. Voila!  Sonos PlayBox has three versions of the ranging from $139-$159 and they are available in both black and white.  Welcome to a more elegant solution to protecting your chord and getting a tidier look to your Sonos Play: 1… check out the...

How to Choose a Smart Thermostat?

How to Choose a Smart Thermostat? Choosing a smart thermostat is not as easy as going to the store and buying the cheapest, or cutest looking thermostat.  Not all smart thermostats are the same; in fact, there are actually two types of Smart Thermostats.  You will need to choose a smart thermostat that learns automatically from your behavior and adjust themselves (no programming), and/or choose a smart thermostat that connects to the internet for remote management and programming.  In my opinion, the best smart thermostats fall into both of these groups. Most Popular Brands: Nest Thermostat- One of the first smart thermostats.  Nest combines a chic look and a bright LCD that can give you a ton of useful data.  This thermostat includes a remote management app and tools that help you save money.  This thermostat also learns by sensing the weather of the home (i.e. humidity in the air or the oven on full blast when cooking) and adjust accordingly. Ecobee Smart Thermostat and Honeywell Prestige or Wi-fi–  These offer similar features to the Nest like an internet connection, mobile apps for remote management, and it has features that will learn your habits to help you save money. Smart Home Choices- Many smart home or home automation systems have their own smart thermostats that can integrate into the home system and can offer one or both types of services.  I personally have a Control4 smart thermostat because I live with a Control4 smart home.  My thermostat can do everything the Honeywell, Ecobee, or Nest can do.  When it came time for me to choose a smart thermostat I used one...

Does Smart Thermostats Save Me Money?

Smart Thermostats are programmable and that saves you money, but how?   “Isn’t a normal thermostat programmable,” my neighbor asked.  Yes they are.  So how can Smart Thermostats save me money? First of all what is a “Smart” thermostat?  It’s considered “smart” because it is learning your behavior.  It allows you to control the temperature remotely and shows you energy consumption in real-time.  They can even adjust themselves based on ambient conditions like humidity, the door being left open for a long time or your oven heating the house while cooking. Smart Thermostats really take the hassle out of adjusting the temperature and climate in your home in a way that walks the line between comfort and energy efficiency. You can set it and forget it.  It will stop heating or cooling an empty home so that you don’t have to manually change it every single time.  The thermostat adjusts to make sure your as comfortable as possible when your home. Remember, they don’t save you money on their own—they can save you money when you take the time to program them to your lifestyle and actively keep an eye on your energy output.  My husband and I took the time up front when we bought our smart thermostat and it has paid off…we dropped our energy bill by a third! If you have kids like I do who love to mess with the heat, and hate the idea of having to turn the thermostat on and off manually every time you leave the home… including estimating running errand times, it is definitely worth the money you’ll spend to...

What Exactly is a Smart Thermostat?

Regular thermostats–  You can adjust the temperature of your home (basically a control panel for your heating and air conditioning).  A programmable thermostat lets you set the temperature and have the thermostat change the temperature depending on the time of day. Smart thermostats- This thermostat is considered “smart” because it is learning your behavior.  It allows you to control the temperature remotely and shows you energy consumption in real-time.  They can even adjust themselves based on ambient conditions like humidity. An example of a smart thermostat: You can tell the thermostat turn off when you leave for work or to take the kids to school, and then turn back on ten minutes before you get home keeping the home at the perfect temperature you want to come home to.  *Most smart thermostats show you how long it takes to make the change you’ve requested, so you can see how effective your climate control system really is, and it discourages people from turning a thermostat all the way down to try “cooling off the house faster” (which never works). Plus, you can manage many smart thermostats from your phone or a webapp. From the remote interface, you can always see how much you’re spending on heating or cooling costs, tweak the programming to you save money, and see the results immediately. *Information provide by Lifehacker.com “What a smart thermostat does that mine can’t...

Why Motorized Blinds Are Hot

The Emerging Motorized Blinds Market Consumer interest in Energy management has brought attention in reducing utility costs and home automation systems that can manage them for the home. Motorized blinds and shading in the summer reduces heat in the room and saves furnishings from fading. In the winter, motorized blinds can help you harvest the sunlight to capture the natural solar heat while reducing the energy load on your HVAC. Homeowners’ can exploit the green advantages of the natural light and reduce the home’s utility bills. Other factors that contribute to Motorized Blinds buzz is the convenience, glare control, privacy/security, UV protection for furniture and carpeting, and the increasing number of hard-to-reach windows and skylights in modern homes are additional reasons for market growth.  We believe this is being fueled by the advancement in the technology, such as wireless controllable and battery-powered shading systems that make the installation easier and and less intrusive for the homeowner. According to the most recent CE Pro 100 research, lighting control and shade control was listed as the third fastest growth category for integrators in 2013, behind only home networking and wireless audio/video. Statistics and references to the article “8 Reasons why Motorized Blinds Are Hot” by CE...

Why the Best Price is the most Expensive Choice

I don’t know about you, but I like to try to get the best price for everything I buy. In fact, I get a bit of a thrill being on the hunt. I am just part of the American price-conscious society looking for a deal. In 2013 when JC Penny tried to discontinue coupons, their sales suffered. The idea was good; give you the product at the real price instead of using a gimmick to lure you in. Consumers obviously didn’t agree; in fact, they felt like they weren’t getting a deal and shied away from the products. We like to feel like we got the best price possible. The truth of the matter is, the price is the same…the difference is the experience. We love having the story to tell everyone how we got it 40% off, it’s a David and Goliath stories how we got the best of the store. Nexus Electric could take an extra hour scouring for the best price to save a few dollars, but instead we work to have excellent relationships with our distributors and pass savings onto our clients through VIR and Rebates, Payment Terms, and promotions through our dealers. The more we buy, the more you save. The easy answer seems to be always looking for the lowest price, but that’s not truly the best answer. Our Reasons: Product Quality Not all products are made the same, and not all products are new. Many sites that you see these items discounted at are refurbished and can be prone to more problems and not covered under the product warranty. We have had...
Nexus Electric in the Newspaper!

Nexus Electric in the Newspaper!

Nexus Electric was contact by the Meet your Merchant guru writer Jenny Goldsmith and asked to give an interview.  We met Ms. Goldsmith at an open house tour for Martis Camp where several of our clients homes that we had worked on were being featured.  When she asked what we did, she was fascinated and thought that it would make a good article. Being that the scope of our services is so diverse because we tailor our systems to our clients and their needs, my husband Jeremy and I were a little concerned how to articulate the full scope of what our business does in a quick interview.  I also had a little trepidation giving the interview with my 8 month old daughter Avery in attendance.  At 8 months, Avery requires a lot of attention.  Ms. Goldsmith made us feel at ease and asked us about all of our services which you can view on our services page.  She regaled at the stories our clients had told us about the unique Tahoe problems (including pipes bursting, etc) and our unique solutions using smart home technology.  I feel that Ms. Goldsmith did a wonderful job on the article and we are honored to be featured in our home town area (Lake Tahoe and Truckee). The article features Nexus’ business philosophy and how it customizes it’s systems to our clients daily lives and gives examples of some of our favorite problem solving scenarios.  You can find the article online, or in this weeks edition of the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and the Sierra Sun Newspapers. To read the full article click...