A Smarter Home
As its title suggests, the Devolo Home Control Starter Pack offers to be your opening gambit when building a Smart Home environment. This Starter Pack consists of three main elements. These are the Central Unit, Smart Metering Plug and a two-piece Door / Window Contact unit. Also included in the box are an Ethernet cable, four screws for attaching the Door / Window Contact, two double-sided tape strips and various documents covering warranty and a First Steps guide that contains serial number and security ID information. Most of this information is also present on the Central Unit and Smart Metering plug.
As the central element of this Home Smart system, the Central Unit’s task is to co-ordinate all the integrated devices, whether part of the Starter pack or those purchased separately and integrated later. The Central Unit works in conjunction with the downloadable free “my devolo app” installed on a smartphone.
The Central Unit is a mini-brick shaped device decked out in lacquered white. It has dimensions of 135 x 75 x 50 mm (H x W x D). Located at the base of the unit is a three-pin plug for attaching the device to the mains. Sockets for Ethernet and USB connectivity are positioned for convenience and easy accessibility on top of the unit. This is especially relevant if the Central Unit is plugged into a skirting board socket. Two status LEDs are positioned on the front of the unit.
Slightly smaller, with dimensions of 100 x 58 x 37 mm (H x W x D), the Smart Metering Plug is also coloured white but it does not possess the lacquered finished of the Central Unit and this does give it a rather cheaper look that might not appeal to some. With its through-put capability, the Smart Metering Plug can be attached to a socket and then provide power and enhanced features to any attached device such as a light. The third element, the Door / Window Contact device, has the white lacquered look of the Central Unit for both the sensor and magnet elements which can send information when it detects that the two elements have been separated for whatever reason.
Instructions for setting up this kit are provided in the First Steps booklet. As part of the initial set-up process you will need to create an account at www.mydevolo.com. This follows the fairly standard pattern of dispatching an email to the user so that the process can be confirmed and completed.. Additional components can then be added to the Smart Home system,
Having filled out numerous account creation forms in the past, I have to state that the process used by Develo would not qualify for entry in my top 20 favourites. I took particular exception to the method used to enter my date of birth. This requires extremely slow scrolling adjustment between month, day and year starting with the current date until it reached my birthday date in the last century. There was no option to just type in the relevant numbers which would have been far easier. By the time I had finished with the scrolling my cup of coffee was stone cold. This niggle apart, the Devolo set up process for the Home Control Starter Pack was relatively straightforward.
The First Steps booklet does recommend that some forward planning should be involved when setting up this kit. Individual devices should be added to the system in an order that relates to their distance from the Home Central Control Unit with the nearest going first and the furthest last. This advice is easy to follow when dealing with the components in the Start Pack and any other components purchased at the same time but what about any components bought long after the original system had been set up.
Rather than using WiFi as its communication method, this Home system has opted for the popular Z wave+ technology. This technology has a greater range as it passes signals between devices until the final destination is reached. You can also create rules that will be implemented to suit specific situations.
As it title indicates, this product is a Starter offering and Devolo expects and hopes the initial purchase of this product will be followed by additional products being bought. Among the various Devolo add-on offerings are a Motion Sensor and a Siren. Priced at £49.99, the Motion Sensor will identify movement, whether by people, animals or objects, within its designated area and then instigate appropriate action. More expensively priced at £79.99, the Siren add-on can deliver an 110dB audible warning in the event of an unauthorised intrusion (I would warn the neighbours if you intend testing this feature). Four different alarm tones can be selected depending upon the type of intrusion scenario. This device can also be set to act , at a lower volume level, as a doorbell and provide feedback when being switched on or off.
The Devolo Home Control Starter Pack is priced at £179.99. But this figure could easily increase as you add more components to increase your home “smarts” as you enhance the different areas of your dwelling.
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