LIFX uses direct Wi-Fi connection so you can use them wherever you have Wi-Fi connectivity from the main router or access points. It too has an impressive range.

Unless you have a motion detector on main doors or in rooms and IFTTT enabled then you only have basic voice control.

With these, you can either use the wall switch to turn them on/off (leave it on if you intend to use voice control) or say, “OK Google turn on the bedroom lights, 30% and warm white (or any of the 16.7 million colours)”.

You can also mix the systems using Philips in one room and LIFX in another – Google does not care as it simply calls these lights by their name or room name.

smart home

Bottom line: Voice control is a lazy but very effective way to switch on/off/adjust the colour and brightness of the light or lights you need. These are the easiest to retrofit, but they cost a lot more than a dumb light bulb.

Try them initially in reading lamps and special use areas. Once you see the value, you will buy more!

Smart Plugs

A smart plug is one of the most efficient means to transform an appliance into a smart device. We have tested WeMo (they are taking a small break from Australia but will be back), D-Link and various others that come with controller kits from Telstra Home, Samsung SmartThingsOrigin Energy (now available Australia wide)  etc.

smart home

Here you have a choice of Wi-Fi connected devices (WeMO, D-Link and soon Lenovo) or Smart Hub devices that use Zig-Bee (Telstra/Origin/Samsung SmartThings) and work via that app.

Adding a smart plug only gives the ability to turn on or off the device. It is great for our Christmas tree where the power point is behind foliage and decorations. It is great for outdoor lights (use IFTTT to set sunrise or sunset times) or devices (be careful about water ingress). And, you can use them for kettles etc.

Some have energy monitoring as well like EmberPluse’s  Zig-bee Emberiq plug.

All integrate with voice control and allow you to set routines, IFTTT, and more.

Bottom line: I prefer the Wi-Fi versions for flexibility but make sure you use the same brand with the same app to control them; otherwise it is messy. The best Wi-Fi option is D-Link that also has Wi-Fi motion sensors, sirens and security cameras as well as some of the better Tri-band AC routers for smart home control.

Security Cameras

Security cameras allow you to keep a watch on your home and know who is coming and leaving – all from your smartphone, PC, tablet. Safewise.com says there are real benefits in installing security cameras in your home.

Again, you have so many types, resolution, night vision, hub or Wi-Fi connections, PIR detection types, recording (local or cloud) and all need power, so that means constant recharging, use of solar panels, or mains power.

Some rules:

  • At least full HD 1980 x [email protected] or higher and in certain locations 2K or 4K may be useful where you need added definition
  • Don’t believe battery life claims of several months between charges – BS. Count on regular weekly to monthly recharges especially if there are many motion events to record
  • Don’t believe distance claims – cut everything by two (or more) to get useful distances from routers or coverage areas
  • Local recording to a microSD card is low cost. The option of the cloud is useful but can be costly.
  • Wi-Fi or Hub connection. Wi-Fi is easiest, but a dedicated Hub (base unit) can remove much traffic from congested Wi-Fi networks
  • Select the same brand for all your camera’s otherwise; you will need multiple apps to view them.

We have reviewed Wi-Fi cameras (GadgetGuy links) from Reolink, D-Link Omna, Uniden, Swann, Nest and Ring (we are just starting to review this Alexa focused brand).

Wi-Fi cameras

I like Reolink for value and variety from waterproof, indoors, solar powered and up to 4K. It is a great all-rounder and has not disappointed.