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Home Automation — Made Easy
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Home Automation — Made Easy

 

Home automation has become the holy grail for the DIY crowd. But, all too often we can end up bogged down in a minefield of different protocols used to control home devices…for example ZigBee won’t talk to Z-Wave and so on. This kind of conflict usually puts a quick end to DIY Home Automation projects.

Sure there have been devices to deal with these diverse protocols but they have been very expensive or complicated to program or both. All that changes with the Wink Hub. It covers over the minefield of diverse protocols and allows you to control an almost unlimited number of devices with a simple smartphone app. How Wink came to be is an interesting story in itself. you can read it here.

The Wink Hub is a white box about the size of a home router. There are no switches or buttons, just plug it is and use the free iPhone or Android app to connect it to your home network. It took me less than a minute to set mine up and it supports a wide variety of home automation protocols: Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Lutron ClearConnect, and Kidde. Wink supports dozens of devices and more are being added on a regular basis.

Once my Wink was up and running I followed the instructions in the iPhone app to link it to my Chamberlain Garage Door Opener (See Review) It took seconds and my opener was now available on my Wink app.


Next I set up a Lutron Caseta Wireless Plug-in lamp dimmer. Again it was a simple matter to follow the video instruction in the Wink app to set it up and again it took less than a  minute to pair the dimmer with my wink hub and set it up in the Wink app.

Now I have two home automation devices using different protocols controlled from the same app..a huge improvement by it self but the magic has only just begun. Wink allows you to set up Robots which can react to different situations and control devices based on the actions of other devices.

The Wink app also allows you to set up notifications..for example you can ask it to send you a text or email when the garage door is opened. You can also group devices..for example you can have a button to turn all the controlled lights in the house on or off or dim all the downstairs lights. Plus you can also use IFTT scripts to control some of the Quirky devices.

I have only scratched the surface with only two devices so far…I plan to add more and will write about my experiences when I do. But, based on several weeks of experience I have found the Wink Hub to be effective and reliable and even recovered nicely from a recent power outage.

Wink has made it easy to start automating your home with a unique partnership with Home Depot. You can buy the Wink Hub for a very reasonable $50 at any Home Depot store and also choose from a huge selection of compatible devices from light bulbs to thermostats to door locks all in the same place.

 

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

2 Comments
  • JPTN

    Glad to see more of these DIY devices available and at $50 for a multi-radio compatible hub, the barrier to entry is amazingly low!

    If it had been available 18 months ago, it would have been a contender in my own DIY Home Automation setup (www.TheSmartHome.ca). Back when Wink launched, there were still issues with Z-Wave (Wink didn’t support all Z-Wave functionality such as dimming) but it looks like they’re working hard to update both the app and hardware support. IFTTT integration is also an excellent bonus. All that’s left is advanced scripting/macro support and it should give Vera a run for its money.

    Other devices to consider are the Securifi Almond+, a combination 802.11ac WiFi router + Zigbee/Z-Wave Home Automation hub. Should be coming out in Q1 and will be aggressively priced around $120.

    November 20, 2014 at 3:51 pm Reply
    • Bob Benedetti

      Thank you for your comments Jeremy. Your site is a must read for anyone looking at DIY Home Automation in Canada..or anywhere for that matter.

      November 20, 2014 at 4:04 pm Reply

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