Affordable Home Automation

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Whether you live in a townhouse in Houston or in a condo in Austin, you’ve probably thought a little about home automation. If you’re building a new home and have only started looking at floor plans you can do a lot of really cool things before the walls go up. But what if you aren’t building a new townhome? Then what can you do to make your home a smart home without breaking down walls or breaking the bank?

Actually there are a lot of really cool things you can do to automate your home, and most of them are pretty affordable. To get started with home automation you’ll want to check out the Amazon Echo, it will be the hub for all your smart home gadgets.

What is the Amazon Echo?

Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service, to play music, provide information, news, sports scores, weather, and more—instantly. All you have to do is ask.

Echo has seven microphones and beam forming technology so it can hear you from across the room—even while music is playing. Echo is also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with 360° immersive sound. When you want to use Echo, just say the wake word “Alexa” and Echo responds instantly.

The Amazon Echo pairs with other smart home products like the Nest thermostat or Belkin’s Wemo light switch. Simply install any of the compatible devices and pair with Alexa and now you can tell Alexa to turn the heat down or turn off the porch light.

Alexa Can Go Anywhere

Alexa can be positioned anywhere in the home, all she needs is a standard outlet and Wifi. It’s very easy to start calling your Amazon Echo a she since she sounds so lifelike.  At the moment you cannot change Alexa’s name (although you can call her Echo and get a response).

The family room, living room or great room are all great areas to put Alexa. Amazon Echo is a powerful speaker and can be paired with iHeartRadio, Spotify, Pandora and of course Amazon Prime Music. Simply ask it to play any station (including local stations) to catch the game, hear the news or listen to the music of your choice. You can create your own playlists on Amazon Prime Music and have her play those as well.

Alexa, Order a Pizza

Amazon and Dominoes have now partnered allowing you to now order a pizza with just a voice command. You’ll need to create a pizza profile on Domino’s website before your first order, but after that all you have to do is say “Alexa, open Domino’s and place my Easy Order”.

Everyone Loves Alexa

Alexa helps make cooking fun. Whether you’re dictating your grocery list (which is available on the app on your phone for easy access while shopping) or setting a timer (so far the hands on favorite feature) or listening to Audible books or the news while cooking, Alexa makes everything just a little easier and lot more fun.  Ask Alexa to convert cups to liters or when the game is on.

Alexa is great in the bedroom

Use Alexa in the bedroom as an alarm clock and radio. Pair it with a WeMo Insight Switch and you can have Alexa turn the lights off for you or open your shades (if they work electronically).

Echo Dot

The Amazon Echo has great range so if you have an open floor plan you probably only need one per floor.  If you have a larger home with multiple levels you’ll probably want to add to your system with the even more affordable Echo Dot. The Echo Dot is a much smaller version of Alexa that provides many of the same functions. The Echo Dot also needs an outlet and Wifi to connect to your home. Currently, you can only order an Echo Dot by asking Alexa to place to the order (though there are work arounds to buy it outright). It will not be shipping until late April.

Brands compatible with Amazon Echo include:

Wink

Samsun Smart Things

Insteon

Phillips Hue

Belkin Wemo

 

Click here for a complete list of compatible products.

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