”Alexa – turn the thermostat down.”
“Siri – open the garage door.”
“I just got a notice on my phone. Our smoke alarm just went off.”
“Somebody just rang the bell. With my wireless doorbell camera, I can see who it is. If it’s a solicitor, I can ignore it.”
Technology – wireless technology in particular – has made our lives so much easier, and safer. And can save us money. But to use technology most effectively, your wireless – or Wi-Fi network – must be able to operate properly. Here are some thoughts.
Wi-Fi networks traditionally have been used to connect computer to the Internet. But now, there are so many other uses…streaming shows on your TV, controlling lights and shades, setting and changing your thermostat. These myriad uses have created the phrase “smart home,” whereby your network can control so many functions that your home becomes “smart.”
But making your home “smart” does not necessarily mean simple. It can be – but may not be – as easy as just connecting devices to the Internet. Here are four things to consider.
- Router location. The further away the device is from your router, or the more concrete a connection has to go through, the more difficult is may be to get a strong connection. Consider putting the router in as central a location as possible. That means in a multi-level home, do not install the router in the highest or lowest level.
- Don’t trust Wi-Fi extenders. They sound great in theory, but they are fraught with issues. For example, power-line adapters, which let electrical wiring function as network cables, are subject to power surges. Multimedia over Coax (coaxial cables) split the cable lines, but every place the line gets split, network speed and consistency suffer. Even using another router is not ideal. It can slow your Internet connection, which makes it hard to stream movies and do other things that require a stronger connection.
- Hard wire. While hard wiring may sound like a massive headache, if your home was wired for telephones, it really is not that hard. You can network your home with Ethernet cables, and then install multiple wireless routers or plant smart home hub devices in more accessible spots.
- Power. Some “smart” products can run on batteries, but others will need to be plugged in. But you don’t want those outlets to be visible. So consider installing them in kitchen cabinets, under windows behind curtains, or within a custom-built piece. Also get power outlets that include USB ports, which will reduce the need for wiring, extension cords and splitters.