Debunking the “hassles” of our favorite home essentials

Tech Tips
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There’s a smart gadget for everything these days and they all claim that they will make our lives easier and better. While we’re still not 100% sold on the merits of a smart toaster, there are quite a few smart devices that we find ourselves constantly recommending to customers. When we make recommendations, we often get feedback that customers think that it is a hassle to install and use some fan-favorite smart devices, so they just avoid them altogether. We don’t believe that there should be a barrier of entry for building the smart home of your dreams and we also believe that with just a few tips, anyone can master the installation of these gadgets and reap their benefits. 

Smart Locks:

Smart Locks are the revolutionary way to lock and unlock the doors in your home. They connect to your smartphone and you can use an app to lock and unlock them without using a key. Some of them also have keypads so that you have the choice between typing in your code or using the app to unlock. This feature is perfect for letting people in your house without you being there – perfect for plant or pet sitting. The app software lets you track when the door was opened and which codes were used and when. Paired with a smart security system, a smart lock is the ultimate upgrade in securing your smart home. 

Installation and Setup

The Easy Parts: Smart locks are not much more complicated than installing a standard deadbolt on your front door. Other than a screwdriver, the box will come with all of the tools you’ll need for the installation including detailed instructions. The setup process for each lock is different, but each one uses an app to guide the user through installation and setup.

The Hard Parts: If you don’t have a hole for a deadbolt already cut in your door, you’ll need to cut one yourself. This will require the use of some power tools that you’ll need to acquire. Smart locks with keypads, like the Kwikset Lock and the Google Nest x Yale Lock, have a few more steps to follow and more hardware during installation. They’re also bulkier and a little heavier, but it can still be a one-person job. A lock without a keypad like the August Lock, is easier to install but does not have keypad capabilities. 

Resources: 

We recommend checking out some youtube videos if you’d like to see someone complete the installation and setup before giving it a try yourself. Here are the videos we recommend for each lock: 

Kwikset Lock

Google Nest

August Lock

Smart Doorbells: 

Smart doorbells like the Ring, SimpliSafe, or the Nest allow you to see, hear, and record what goes on outside your front door. The app will alert you when the camera detects movement and intercom features allow you to communicate with whoever may be at your door. 

Installation and Setup

The Easy Parts: Most smart doorbells have very intuitive software to use and the installation guides are detailed and easy to follow. A power drill is the most difficult tool you may be required to use but only if the wall outside your home is made of brick or stone. 

The Hard Parts: Installing a smart doorbell will require you to work with some wiring but don’t let that deter you! Most doorbells only have two wires and the installation guides that come with the device will walk you through the process. It is very important to turn off the power to your doorbell before installation. You can do this by shutting off the right line on your breaker. 

Resources: 

Here are some videos we recommend for each doorbell: 

Ring

SimpliSafe

Nest

Smart Plugs: 

Smart Plugs are the perfect tool for turning everyday appliances and objects in your house into smart devices. Plug one into an outlet, then plug a lamp, charger, or extension cord into the smart plug. You’ll then be able to use the associated app to track energy usage, control power to the device, control the device with a voice assistant, and integrate the device with your existing smart home system. According to cnet.com, the best smart plugs of 2020 are the: TP-Link Kasa Smart WiFi Plug Mini, the SmartThings Wi-Fi Smart Plug, and the WeMo Wi-Fi Smart Plug

Installation and Setup

The Easy Parts: If you can plug in an outlet, you can install a smart plug! 

The Hard Parts: Depending on the brand of the plug, you may have to install and use an unfamiliar app to use all of the plug’s features. Check the compatibility of the plug before you purchase to make sure it will work with the device you have. 

 Resources: 

Here’s a great video that explains how to use and install smart plugs

Password managers: 

While not technically a gadget, we believe that using a password manager on your work and home computers is a smart move for both security and peace of mind. The best passwords are supposed to be random and unique to each site, but that’s much easier said than done. 

Programs like LastPass, Keeper, and Dashlane are browser extensions designed to save all of your usernames and passwords like an address book. When you visit a site and log in, the program will ask you to save your username and password. The next time you visit that site, the program will automatically remember your password so that you don’t have to type it in. These programs will suggest strong passwords for sites and remember them for you. 

Installation and Setup

The Easy Parts: Once you have the password manager installed, you only have to remember to save your passwords to it when logging into your favorite sites. 

The Hard Parts: Learning how to use whichever program you choose will be a learning curve. Passwords are important and are often the only things that stand between you and cyber thieves, so while it may take some time, mastering the program will be worthwhile. 

Resources: 

Here are some great videos that explain how useful password managers are and how to use them: 

The Verge

Techquickie

Still struggling with DIY installation?

If DIY installation is just not working for you, there are plenty of options for getting professional assistance. Apps like Thumbtack and TaskRabbit can connect you with local professionals in your area who can help with any installation issues you’re facing. You can also contact us here at uBreakiFix. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about installing and using your smart devices.

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