Want to monitor your log cabin from a distance? Need to check on your animals, or check for a delivery on the front porch of your home while you are at work? Want to detect if your water systems are having issues? Interested in a sensor for water leaks, or even remotely turn off the water supply to your home? It’s all possible, and it is probably cheaper than you expect.
Z-Wave technology has been around for quite some time, but the cost of most of these products, and especially the cost of their monthly monitoring price, has been a deterring factor for many people. One of our current customers has piqued the tech nerd in us here at Custom Timber by reintroducing us to this technology. He has even found a system with no recurring costs of operation.
First, what is Z-Wave and how does it work? Z-Wave is a wireless communication technology designed for home automation. More can be found on Z-Wave via wikipeida. This system allows remote control for your home or small business. It uses a low power wireless system to communicate to a wide variety of household appliances, energy units, or security systems. With modules available like the water sensor and shut off valve, remote cameras with web viewing, lighting control, thermostat and energy meters, you can use your smart phone or computer to remotely control each module, or simply monitor the status of certain systems or appliances. You can’t remember if you turned the thermostat down before heading out for the weekend? Simply open your app, and with a few clicks, you can see if you have, or even adjust it if you have forgotten.
Now, if you are like us, the next question is, “How much does all of this cost, and is a super-crazy-expensive subscription necessary?”, right? Well, since this technology is open source (meaning the code and programming specifics are open format for developers to create new software and technology), if you shop around, you can find a wide variety of plans, systems, and services And, believe it or not, we even found a z-wave system with no subscription costs or recurring expensive plans to sign up for. The cost of the system is the only expense needed to work virtually any system in your home from the convenience of anywhere… Free is good!
Here is an example of a system for one of our homeowners:
We will call our client Craig, because… well, that’s his name. Ha! Craig wants to be able to control his new home in Tennessee from out-of-state, and to be able to see if everything is okay in the home. So he has decided to include a basic unit and a few accessories to get started. He may even add a few things as time progresses and his family’s needs change. He is planning on adding an entry lock on at least one door, this to allow friends and family to come and go as needed. The lock has a numeric keypad, which can be changed remotely, or programmed for different users. It can even have multiple codes for different people, which can show who has been coming in. This thing can even set up an alert when each code is used, or let a person in for a repair or check for a one-time entry! This is great, especially when paired with a security camera to verify the identity of a repairman, before giving them a one-time use code to allow for entry. So, check out the full list of coolness below. This is item 1 (the control unit) and the second is the door lock.
- Main control unit
- Door lock with keypad, smart key technology and Z-Wave built-in.
- Thermostat – Programmable with Z-Wave
- Lighting – Both dimmers and on-off functionality for a few lights in the home.
The thermostat can be added to most electric or gas units, and allows for access via the web to monitor or even change settings on-the-fly. The lighting can be turned on or off at any time, from virtually any location in the world. If you have access to the internet, and a smartphone, iPad, Android, or computer, you have complete control from afar. The days of living in a log cabin shack with a dirt floor seem thousands of years removed, and with technology like this, the home of the future seems to have arrived. And, with a zero recurring cost on some systems, it is even attainable without draining the bank account.
Now, the only down side to this that we have found is the cost of the individual units and controls. With thermostats ranging in the $80-$200 range, they aren’t super expensive, but they aren’t super cheap, either. The controllers have a wide range of cost, with the cheaper end being somewhere around $150-$200. Some units even have wireless, so the expense can be paired with your normal systems or as a replacement, should your wireless router go bad. The great thing about all of this is the system is expandable. If you only want a camera and water sensor now, no need to pay for anything else, and you can add to the system at a later date.
Monitoring your vacation or rental home from a distance has never been easier. With Z Wave technology and integration, the opportunities are nearly endless, and the cost is well within reach for most.
Have you installed a system similar to this and have pros and cons for us to list? Please feel free to comment with pertinent info below. Follow along as we install one of these systems. We will be commenting here with new info, problems, and solutions as they come.