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Friday, February 11, 2011

Schlage Home Automation: How Cool/Hot is That?!

I just finished a piece on IP-based consumer home security products for Tom's Guide. In that article, I reviewed four basic products: a pair of D-Link IP cameras, a pair of (presumably higher-grade) Axis IP cameras, Logitech's new Alert powerline camera rig, and Schlage's LiNK home security kit. I went in thinking it all might add up to roughly 4,000 words. Turns out I was wrong...by about 4,000 words.

And would you believe that even at that egregious, distended length, I still cut material out of the story? One omitted element was the installation of the Trane thermostat that Schlage sent. Home HVAC control is a great component of the LiNK platform, but it didn't really pertain to security. (Unless you're trying to overheat your thieves to make them sluggish and so buy more time for police to arrive. No, that wasn't in the product literature.) Still, half of the articles purpose was to convey that home security setup isn't rocket science. Anyone can do it, and the same is true of home automation. Many people, including me until recently, have been leery of replacing their home's thermostats with something smarter and more integrated into their home networks. Since I expect we'll be seeing a lot more products like this in the future, I thought I could post the thermostat installation process here and show you a bit of what it can do. Check it out.

Here's the home's original thermostat. It's just your typical, low-end digital unit, with temperature scheduling that's about as easy to program as a 1987 VCR.

You can see how the old thermometer is held on with two clips along the top. With a push, a press, and a pull, the old unit neatly comes away.
If you love your wires, set them free. Then free the back wall panel with a little wrench.
Here we are, stripped down with four wires ready for action.
Yes, I had to make a couple more holes in the sheetrock, but that was far more preferable than seeing the white undercoat poking out from the new thermostat's left edge.

Note Trane's excellent labeling and the supplied sticker tabs to help correctly color code the wires.
The old thermostat only needed four wires. The Trane needs all five, so I had to uncoil the blue wire and strip off some of the end insulation.
Screw each wire into its marked place. The G (green) wire gets screwed down under the G screw, and so on.
This is what the Trane back panel looks like with all wires secured in place.
Snap on the Trane thermostat and -- that's it!

The user manual guides you through setup and whatnot. I particularly like the thermostat's graphing mode that shows daily heating hours over the past week.

After installation, you pair the Trane thermostat with the Schlage LiNK system's wireless Bridge controller. Both devices use Z-Wave wireless technology, and you simply pair them, much like a cell phone with a Bluetooth headset. With that done, the thermostat now appear in Schlage's LiNK interface, accessible through any Web browser. What you see looks a lot like this:

Slick, right? This means that you can control your home environment from any Web browser, including the one in your Android device or iPhone. If you don't feel like programming your thermostat the old fashioned way, try this:

With special adapter switches, you can have similar scheduling control over lights and appliances. Soon, I'll post some interesting material from Intel's Lorie Wigle and her thoughts about energy consumption and how technology will soon reshape how we manage our home electronics. For now, just know that "the future" of home automation is finally arriving, and it's both easier and more affordable than many might think.

Note: Special thanks to Joe Jones for his help with the Schlage installation and photography for this posting.


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  2. Anyone can do it, and the same is real of house automated. Many individuals, such as me until lately, have been hesitant of changing their house's a thermostat with something wiser and more incorporated into their house systems.

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