Running Out Of Space At Home? Don’t Move, Improve!

We’d all love to live in a luxury home with all the mod cons and labour saving devices that come with a life of leisure, but few of us can afford it. If you don’t have the money to move house, but you still want the trappings of a luxury lifestyle there are always ways and means. Create a budget, shop around for bargains and muck in, doing as much of the work yourself as you can and you could improve your home so much you won’t even want to move home!

If you’ve ever been channel surfing at about 7pm on a weeknight you’ve probably seen an episode of Buying and Selling with Drew and Jonathan Scott, a show where two unrealistically handsome twins, one the rugged construction guy type, the other the smart lawyer looking one, renovate a family’s old home and bring the value up so much they can afford to leap several rungs up the property ladder. The thing that often grabs me is, after the work they put into making the old place look fantastic, why bother moving at all?

Transforming the home is something which is essentially within anybody’s reach, unless you live somewhere that is so tumbledown that it needs serious restoration, and if that’s the case, this isn’t the blog for you!

On the other hand, if your home is just looking tired, dated, shabby and doesn’t conform to your needs any more, why not look at other ways you can get the most out of it without selling up and moving on? (And if you still want to move on, do those improvements anyway, the work you carry out is proven to add to the overall value of the house, meaning you get what everybody wants when moving house: options.) Read more

Is Your Home Security Butch Enough To Baffle Burglars?

Keeping your home, family, property and person safe is a priority for anyone, but are you doing enough to ensure your security is a deterrent to prevent burglary?

While it’s impossible to guarantee the security of any property there are a number of reasonable and inexpensive steps you can take to ensure your home isn’t the next to be added to the local crime statistics. Some are obvious, such as keeping doors and windows locked, some are less immediately apparent, such as keeping your hedges and fences in good order, so let’s take a look at your house from the point of view of a burglar to see what they see, and what can be done about it.

Kerb Appeal

Despite common misconception, most break-ins take place in daylight and last for between 5 and 10 minutes. Burglars will be drawn to high value items which can be easily sold on, most especially things which can be easily carried, such as jewellery, cash, phones, laptops, and the like. If anyone passing can see into your home, that doors and windows aren’t secure or are old and worn, then they may be tempted to break in and take what they want. Read more

Take Complete Control Of Your Automated Home With Control4

Control4 is one of the world’s leading complete home automation systems, allowing you to take total control of a huge variety of electronic devices with a single touch, swipe or voice command.

Described as an ‘operating system for the home’ by some, it seamlessly connects TV, lighting, security, communications, and entertainment systems not only in the home, but for retail and business premises too. It’s the unified Smart Home system which enhances the experience of all its users by being easy to use, and energy efficient. Control4 integrates and operates with more than 13,000 different third party electronic devices made by a huge range of household name manufacturers of a multitude of diverse durables and services, including Sonos, Nest, Lutron, Hulu, Napster, Apple Macintosh, Pioneer, Bose, Mitsubishi, and Toshiba. All these companies make devices which can easily be added to the Control4 environment, all working together and making use ever easier. Read more

Using Smart Technology To Cut Costs Around The Home

Woman using a digital heating control panelAs well as saving you time, smart home devices can cut costs and save you money too, and while the initial outlay is still higher than other household goods which haven’t been smart-enabled, those prices are falling, meaning that barrier to entry is becoming an ever lower bar.

Smart thermostats by Nest and Hive and lighting controls such as Philips Hue can turn the boiler or lights on and off more efficiently than timers or traditional thermostats because of the intelligent software which they contain. Lights which shut themselves off after a brief interval of inactivity are incredibly annoying, leaving you waving your arms about in the dark waiting for the sensor to see you, so why not use highly efficient energy saving LED bulbs which you can either turn on and off from your phone or program to go off when you leave a room, either as part of an IFTTT sequence or using the location of your phone if you’re leaving the house. Read more

Smart Home Makes Life Easier For People With Disabilities And Those Who Want To ‘Age In Place’

Smart Home Automation Controlled by a wall panelSmart home technology seems to be about making routine tasks simple and effort free. It’s most appealing to people who are among the most tech savvy, young and engaged with what’s happening on the electronics front. They earn enough money to be able to afford home automation and the devices that are needed to seamlessly integrate Smart tech into their routines. That mundane, boring tasks are taken care of without a second thought. But what about the people whose need is greater? Those who wish to ‘Age in Place’? Or those with disabilities or other lifestyle limiting problems whose lack of engagement with the latest trends in home technology. Not being into tech means that they’re unlikely to hear about the advancements which are taking place, and least likely to appreciate how those innovations are going to help them with their daily lives?

Smart home technology is all about outsourcing routine tasks to a device or app which can do it for you, so it’s perfect for people with disabilities, loss of fine motor controls, dementia, injuries, and mobility problems. However, in the ads we see for Connected Devices we, so far, have only seen the fun side of home automation with happy smiling families enjoying an active lifestyle which Alexa or Google simply add to. How long until we see a wheelchair user or someone with life affecting injuries using their Smart devices to do things which are awkward, or impossible for them to do without help enjoying the benefits that these technologies bring? Read more

Which is Best For Home Cinema, Projector or Flat Screen?

installing motorised home cinema screenIf you’re looking for a large HD picture to watch movies, play games, create a home cinema or just watch regular TV you might think you need to buy a large format TV. However, it may surprise you to know that many projectors are not only HD but 4K compatible, giving a clear, crisp image up to two or three times the size of a comparatively priced HD TV set.

Ideally the room you would set your projector up in to create a home cinema would be dark enough to eliminate ambient and encroaching light. Just like at the cinema, the darker the room the better, but if you want to get a real home theatre experience, that would be equally true for an HD TV too. If you’re converting a basement or loft, rooms which don’t have windows or rooms which can easily be blacked out are the best because the darker the room the better the picture. Consequently a projector with delivers 1,500 lumens would be sufficient for a room which can be completely blacked out, while a room which can’t be blacked out entirely would require a projector of 2,500 lumens and high gain screen to deliver a high contrast, bright image. Read more

Making The Best CCTV Choices

The ever increasing range of security cameras makes it ever harder to make the right choice. The best are usually most expensive, offering a broad range of utilities, but are you paying a premium price for something you’ll never use?

Conversely, the basic CCTV camera systems are more affordable, but may not be able to cater to all your needs. As the saying goes “if you buy cheap you pay twice” as you discover features you needed weren’t included in the original package. That’s why it’s a good idea to talk to a professional installer before investing.

Because Smart CCTV camera systems are expandable, that is you can keep adding more cameras, alarms, sirens and other home security devices to the network it can become confusing as your array increases. Unfortunately the number of recording devices which you can install is limited by your home network or Digital Video Recorder (DVR), the number that your are limited to is dependent on the product you buy and the subscription you take up. Read more

When Is The Best Time To Buy A New TV

flat screen TV, flatscreen television, TV hanging, Back in the days of analogue television changes came slowly. The leap from black and white to colour only took 31 years, and it was only another 40 years before the start of the Digital Changeover in 2007. Cathode ray technology itself didn’t really change either. It was possible to watch colour broadcasts on an old black and white TV, and you probably still can if you can find a digital box with a coax output, but things are very different with digital technology.

Today things are rather different. The rush to develop the blackest, flattest, richest colour flattest screen is something that drives all television manufacturers to create new ranges of TV every year. So when is the best time to buy a new flat screen TV? Read more

What Do You Get When You Buy A Smart Home Alarm System?

CCTV and smart home alarmWhen you invest in a Smart Home alarm system you don’t just get alarms, you get cameras, door and window sensors, smoke, fire, water and CO detectors too. You can buy a full outfit for your home, or you can start off small and add more devices as you discover you need additional sensors and detectors. Your home security alarm package is adaptable and customizable, not only can you add new detectors and alarms, you can add skills and If This Then That (IFTTT) when particular events occur. DIY kits are a good entry level security solution which you can usually install in an afternoon while professionally installed systems take about as long for an engineer to install, after planning the coverage that your property will receive and installing all the appropriate devices, installing the software and hardware and syncing all the devices together.

As well as opting between DIY or professional installation, you can choose between DIY and professional monitoring as well. With DIY monitoring you’ll receive emails, SMS and Push notifications when sensors and motion detectors are triggered, whereas if you choose professional monitoring an agent will be notified and, depending on what they observe, will attempt to contact you in person. If they can’t contact you via the above methods they’ll try to phone you. If they still can’t contact you then they will call the emergency services. Read more

How To Use Your Smart CCTV Security Cameras To Monitor Your Car

Image courtesy of MaxPixel

Everyone hates car alarms going off in the middle of the night. Unfortunately we’re so used to car alarms going off for no good reason most neighbours will be far more likely to call to complain about the nuisance than they are to call the police to report a crime. So how can you use your smart home tech to alert you if your car parked outside your home, or business vehicle is broken into and stolen while parked overnight?

There are a number of different devices which can be installed in your car or van that will alert you to when it is moving, and its current location. They can immobilize your vehicle if you don’t have the right key and no transponder is present, or they can simply make a hell of a lot of noise. Read more