Get Smart: More Home-Hacking for the Handily-Impaired

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I am not a “handyman.” I am not “good with tools.” In fact, I’m not even the “kind of guy” who can do “simple home improvements” without “causing moderate bodily harm to himself and others.”

Still, I’m learning, and adding connected devices to my home has really helped with that. From door and window sensors to locks and alarms, there is a wealth of tech out there that any homeowner can easily take advantage of. In fact, in recent weeks I’ve had the good fortune to check out two new accessories perfect for burgeoning smart home enthusiasts.

outdoor smart switch

Just in time for the prime outdoor decorating season, Piper has rolled out support for the GE Z-Wave Outdoor Smart Switch. This rugged lighting controller is weather and impact resistant, making it perfect for cold or damp climes, and effortlessly integrates into your Z-Wave home network via your Piper all-in-one security camera or similar hub.

The device itself is dead simple: there’s a six-inch cable that plugs directly into your outdoor outlet, a small mounting tab, a single program button, and the all-important Z-Wave controlled outlet. The program button also serves as a manual on/off switch, so whether you’re activating it to pair with your network or simply toggling the juice to check your connection, a single button-press does it all.

Once connected, it can programmed through the Piper app interface like any other smart outlet. Using timers or similar function rules, you can have the Smart Switch turn on and off your Halloween or Christmas lighting display–or, hell, maybe even one of those giant inflatable Thanksgiving turkeys; I’m not here to judge–with ease.

No matter your outdoor appliance, bulb preference, or local weather, the GE Outdoor Smart Switch is the perfect way to set up custom lighting scenes or manage your yard year-round.

Review materials provided by: Piper

leeo

For those looking for a great smart home project that doesn’t require the use of a hub (or likely anything else you don’t already own, for that matter), the Leeo Smart Alert is an ideal candidate. This tiny, round light plugs directly into an outlet, and boasts a number of helpful sensors that can smarten up your existing appliances.

The Smart Alert offers a lot in a diminutive package. First, it uses an ambient light sensor and adjustable color lighting array to be a wonderfully functional (and cool-looking) nightlight. It even has a twistable outer ring–like my beloved Honeywell Lyric thermostat–that can be used to manually adjust the brightness if you happen to be walking by without your phone in-hand.

In addition to this, onboard temperature and moisture sensors can send you alerts through the Leeo app if things get too hot, cold, or muggy in your absence. Lastly, and most importantly, a noise sensor can be trained to recognize your existing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and similarly alert you via the app–and, if you don’t respond, the system can be configured to contact a backup emergency contact or even your local emergency services.

Even a novice can, within minutes, unbox the Leeo Smart Alert, download the companion app and connect the device, test your alarms in listen mode to train it, and enter in your personal contact information. It’s really that simple.

All this for under $100, and the only other things you need are the smartphone and wireless router you already use every day.

As I said, I highly recommend the Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight to those looking to get their feet wet in the realm of smart home devices. I’d also encourage those who are looking for simple and non-evasive ways to help care for and monitor elderly relatives–a situation in which I currently find myself–give the Smart Alert a look as well. It’s an affordable, amazingly flexible connected device that literally fits in the palm of your hand.

Review materials provided by: Leeo

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