How Power over Ethernet (PoE) Can Improve Your Smart Home

A Netgear network switch installed on a piece of wood in a loft, with three ethernet cables going in and one power cable (for the switch) in the back.

Whilst looking at smart doorbells for my house, I came across the Ring Doorbell Elite – which is powered by an Ethernet cable. This reduces the need for running electrical cable to power it, whilst also guaranteeing interruption-free video uploads. Power over Ethernet therefore seems like the perfect fit for smart homes… right? Ethernet cable … Read more

Smart Plugs: The Surge Protection & Power Strip Guide

Close-up shot of a surge protected UK 'extension cable' (power strip) using SurgeGuard technology, made by Masterplug.

Smart plugs are plugged into your wall sockets, and then you plug devices into them. The smart plug’s power can then be controlled with your smartphone app (or Amazon Echo/Google Home), meaning that you can turn the plugged-in device on/off with ease. But these smart plugs typically control just a single device, and often don’t … Read more

Smart Thermostats With Geothermal – What To Be Careful Of

Rolls of conduit/UPVC pipework on the edge of a building site.

The Nest Learning Thermostat proudly talks of supporting 95% of heating systems, whilst Ecobee also says that it supports “most” systems including geothermal. But do they work properly with geothermal, the green heat pump-based alternative? A properly sized geothermal heating system shouldn’t need frequent changes to its thermostat. Smart thermostats make constant changes to the … Read more

Getting started with Connected Home over IP

Zigbee Alliance Connected Home over IP webinar screenshot, showing how multiple leading smart home providers have "converged" to help make this standard.

An announcement in December 2019 was welcome news to many in smart home circles: that all the major smart home manufacturers and developers were getting together to produce a standard way for smart devices to speak to each other. This is called Connected Home over IP. Connected Home over IP will see Amazon, Apple, Google, … Read more

11 Reasons Why Smart Thermostats Are Pointless

Two Google Nest thermostats in store, the Learning Thermostat 3rd Gen and Thermostat E.

“My smart thermostat has really improved my home life” – said no one ever. When smart ‘learning’ thermostats burst onto the scene in 2011, they did so to great fanfare. After all, they are smart. They learn. They will massively improve your home life… or so the marketing promised. The reality is a lot more … Read more

The Definitive History Of Smart Home Devices

Part of the advert poster for the Thor-32, an "electric washing machine with Thor All Metal Swining Wringer". The washing machine is pictured, with some cables and a motor visible at the bottom.

History is littered with incorrect predictions of what smart homes of the future would look like. Whether it was the LA Times Magazine predicting in 1988 that we’d all have robot butlers (I wish this had come true!), or Intel scientist Dean Pomerleau predicting in 2009 that we’d soon be controlling computer systems with our … Read more