Automate Your Home Lights with SmartThings

Take control of your home with a SmartThings hub, I recently bought one and now I’m addicted to adding more and more to my home automation setup. If you search “z-wave” on Amazon you’ll find plenty of gadgets to connect your home. Most recently, I added the GE Z-Wave Outlet which lets me turn the outlet off and on remotely. I use it to control the living room lights which we always turn on at night but now the new GE Outlet can automate this during sunrise and sunset.

Just a side note, you could also replace the bulb with a Philips Hue bulb which is controlled by wifi and can be triggered with multiple events through IFTTT. This is much easier than replacing an outlet but I have LIFX bulbs which isn’t integrated into any web services yet. Regardless z-wave outlets have many practical purposes and can be used to turn on heaters, fans, or anything plugged in.

I’ve never upgraded an outlet but it was much easier than expected. It boiled down to turning the power off, unscrewing the existing outlet, forming the wires to the new outlet’s ports, then screwing it all back into the wall. The GE Outlet doesn’t come with a wallplate so you’ll need to order one that covers it. After turning the power back on it worked instantly with a blue led indicating it was on.

Adding new appliances to SmartThings is easy though their iOS app. I simply clicked add thing and it picked it up the new outlet almost instantly. After which I assigned it a lamp icon and connected it to the “Sunrise/Sunset” app in SmartThings “SmarthApps”.

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Now I’m simply able to turn my living room lamp on/off with a click of my finger whether I’m home or not. Note that this only works with appliances that have “always on” states like a lamp or fan for example. So my lamp is actually always set to on and the outlet turns it on/off which can be annoying to non-smartphone users in your house since they’ll have to tap the button on the outlet itself to turn the outlet back on. But if everyone has a smartphone you can easily share the app with them since SmartThings lets you invite people to control your home.

The SmartThings app can also track your presence so when you arrive home you could have your lights turn on or even unlock your door if you have a z-wave lock installed. There is a lot you can set up such as flood detection, motion based lights, temperature based events, and much more.

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