SIMPLY TECH: You Have The Power

Smart apps and products that make life more efficient

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Smart apps and products that make life more efficient

by Greg Gazin

Instead of using those old-time timers (which you always forgot to set), you can now relax while you’re away, and automatically control your lights and home appliances from wherever you are. With smart bulbs, plugs and switches – you have the power.

LIFX smart LED light bulb

Smart Bulbs come in many different shapes and sizes, but the LIFX LED bulb is compatible with any fixture that uses a standard bulb. Just screw it in, and download the free LIFX mobile app to control it from your iOS, Android smartphone or tablet.

With the app, you can manage your lights and adjust the brightness. You may prefer a softer, white light in the living room, and daylight-type lighting in the kitchen. In addition, you can select from 16 million colours. So, whether you’re in a somber mood or ready to party, there’s a colour for you. To augment a festive mood, you can make the light flicker like a candle, cycle through colours or strobe like a disco ball. Plus, you can set schedules for your lighting to go on and off – all of this without changing the bulb.

The LIFX Smart LED Light Bulb (BR30) is compatible with Microsoft Cortana, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Homekit (Siri), so you can control with your voice. It also integrates with Nest Smart Thermostat and Smart Cam, and doesn’t require a hub, so it can be controlled from anywhere when you’re connected to Wi-Fi. And, compared to a 60-watt bulb, LED light can reduce energy consumption by up to 80 per cent.

TP-Link smart wi-fi plug mini

This smart plug fits into any standard AC wall plug, and is small enough so that it doesn’t interfere with the second socket. It’s not just limited to controlling lights. You can plug in your coffee maker or a crock-pot, and set the timing. It can also control power-hungry devices, like a heavy-duty fan.

The free companion app, Kasa Smart, allows you to build a schedule for turning on and off, and you can set it to turn off after a particular length of time. The app’s ‘away mode’ can be set to cycle at random times – an ideal setting to deter would-be burglars. It, too, can be controlled remotely and has a voice control option.

Smart wi-fi light switch

To round off this smart home trio is the Wi-Fi light switch (HS200). While it doesn’t take up extra space (replaces your current switch), you may require a qualified technician to install it. The switch is handy for controlling a fixture with multiple bulbs. You can program it so that your kitchen light comes on at meal times while you’re away. The switch supports program scheduling, remote control, away mode and voice access. A dimmable alternative is also available.

With the TP-Link Kasa Smart-Home ecosystem, all devices can be controlled from the same app, and new functionalities are always being added. Available at Best Buy, Staples and The Source.

Greg Gazin is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), and contributes to, Troy Media and Active Life magazine.


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