I thought what you are all are probably thinking.
“Its so expensive, how can they afford that?”
We did not do it all at once. It was done a little at time.
How We Started Turning Our Home Into a Smart Home
I actually did not have a desire to do this until I had a premium Spotify account. I use a premium music streaming service so I have music when I am driving around for work. I am usually on the road for 5 or so hours each day, if some of my clients don’t go on vacation.
After having this premium subscription, I got an email from Spotify. It allows me to have a free Google Home Mini. I didn’t believe it but I ordered the free device to see what it was about. About a week later, it was on my front porch.
I did get additional ones for the kids rooms and they have it refurbished on eBay for about $15 dollars. (sorry no Amazon link, they don’t sell it on Amazon.)
We do have a mount where it can be mounted where no one trips on it, cats cant knock it over and no one can throw it when mad. It does make it easier.
We used it to play music in our bedroom. We had it play pirate music and we had a lot of fun. The adults that lived with us had an issue but we didn’t care.
Soon after we received it, COVID happened and then we received stimulus money. I was still working so I thought to outfit the house with fun sensory things. One thing I did after doing a lot of research was getting Philips Hue.
We previously had a white light bulb for the little boys room because someone pulled out the pull string so it was just easier to use a wifi bulb to control the light. We had used the blue tooth function until we decided to get more bulbs. We built on this.
We had gotten the color bulbs for each bedroom and the living room. We then bought the hub to let us control the bulbs when we are not home so we can turn the lights off when we are not home, to conserve electricity. We did move the white bulb into the hallway.
We got this kit at first and then got individual bulbs. The individual bulbs are about $50 each and that is why we did it when we got the stimulus payment. It an expense.
We put the app on each child’s phone. They are able to control the color of the bulbs and sometimes would pick on the other group of children and play with the other one’s lights. It was all in good fun.
The two youngest did not have devices yet but still wanted to have control of their lights. We had just got a Google Nest kitchen display so they could go to it and control their lights. It was on sale at Lowe’s so we took advantage of it. It was REALLY easy to set up which was nice. J uses it now to look up recipes to cook. She is in the culinary program in high school and uses it instead of her phone to get recipes and set timers when cooking something. I use it to play music when cleaning the kitchen. It definitely gets a lot of use.
We really were starting to love the smart lights in the house. Once I had extra money, I looked on Amazon for smart light switches for the rest of the house. I saw that the switch that would work with Google Home was only 15 dollars each and the handyman charged me $150 for the installation of two light switches because I did not trust myself to mess with electricity.
We put these switches in the kitchen and it makes it so we don’t have to physically turn off the light if we are in bad pain that way.
At the end of the day we say “Hey Google, Turn off All the lights.” My favorite command.
Automating The House
Like most neurodivergent families, we have an issue with executive dysfunction. The smart lights helped with a small part of it. We do have fish tank lights we ALWAYS forget to turn on. I am really bad about it. People hear about my betta Magic Missile. Its a good thing he forgives me but I feel bad.
I did a search on Amazon for a smart plug. I did not think I could afford it. I did a search just in case. I found a pack of these off brand smart plugs that works with google home. I thought perfect. It was four plugs for $20. I ordered them.
When the plugs came in, I set them up for each tank and in the app I could set what time they turn on and what time they turn off. This helps a ton with executive dysfunction when it comes to the fish tank lights. Problem solved.
Another problem we had was no one locking the front door. I was thinking on it until I had a new client who had a smart lock that auto locks after a set amount of seconds. I waited until we got our tax refund to get it. It was about $67 and it was worth it. It does seem Amazon did raise the price a bit.
I did install it myself BUT the directions were not straight forward. You do need a drill and a screw driver. If you use a corded drill, you can drill the hole in the door quite easily. Since our drill needs a key to change the bit, my partner did change the bit for me. My coordination did not allow me to do it myself. Not all drills are like this.
The customer service wasn’t good but after I figured it out, it works great. I really like it. You either use a code, one of the two cards it comes with or the app. It was a learning curve but it was amazing. Our front door is being locked. The kids love it. D doesn’t have a phone yet because he is only 8 so he has a key card I programed for him. In the app you can program it to auto lock after the amount of seconds you want it to when the door closes.
I did find out after you need the wireless gateway to control the lock remotely. It was an added expense but because I am working all the time, it was something I needed BUT it is not necessary to have it in order to use it.
Having a smart home definitely makes home living easier for us now. It was hard to do all these things ourselves or remember to do all these things. When you have executive dysfunction and/or a physical disability, having technology to help defiantly makes life easier.