SHCC WYSIWYG Article from February 2018

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This article was written by Don VanSyckel, the club president, as a part of "The President's Pen".  This article appeared in the February 2018 WYSIWYG newsletter.

Home Security

by Don VanSyckel

In line with last month's presentation I ordered and installed a SimpliSafe home security system. I won't go into all the details, not knowing who might read this article, but the system consists of entry sensors and motion sensors. I installed entry sensors on all the doors and installed motion sensors ar statigic location in my home. This system uses cellular technology to communicate with the central station. The system can use a standard phone line but I do not have any to connect. A standard phone line or even an internet connection can be cut in prepartion to break into a house. The system is totally self contained and can be used without any additional connections or expenses.

If you choose to have the system monitored there are two levels to choose from. The first level, $15 / month, is simple monitoring; if the alarm is triggered the personnel at the central station first contact you and you have the option of giving them a safe word to cancel the alarm. If they can't contact you or you do not supply the safe word they call the police. The second level, $25 / month, of monitoring includes the function of the first level plus you are able to control, configure, and monitor the system yourself from either a smart phone or a PC. This is the option I selected and I'm glad I did. There is no contract for monitoring and in a few months I might switch to the less expense first level. There are also two levels of monitoring by the system. One is 'away' and all the sensors are active and the other is 'home' and all ensors except motion sensors are used.

The alarm was unexpectedly triggered soon after the installation by one of the motion sensors. Then is happened again and I figured the cat must be running wild and triggering the motion sensor in the one room. I logged in and connected to the system. The individual sensors can be configured to one of four choices:

  • Alarm - away and home
  • Alarm - away
  • No alarm - send a text message
  • Disable

I selected "No alarm - send a text message" for the motion sensor that had triggered the alarm. Then my wife an I were out of the house one morning and I received nine text messages triggered by the motion sensor. Apparently the cat was having a wild time again that morning. So I logged in and set that motion sensor to "Disable". This ended the alarm alerts. All seems to be going well at this point with the entry sensors and other motion sensors.

Next I installed a smart thermostat, Emerson Sensi 1F87U-42WF. The documentation was very clear that it could be controlled from a smart phone or a PC. After installing it and going further in the documentation I discovered that to connect the thermostat to your wi-fi you had to use a smart phone. Since I don't have one I had a friend assist with his phone. The thermostat starts as a wi-fi access point which you connect to. Then you configure the thermostat to use your home wi-fi (SSID and password) and you're all set. At this point the thermostat can be seen and controlled from a smart phone or PC. If you're away from home and the heating system breaks you can see the temperature from where you are and call someone near your home to check the heat.

There isn't a lot you can do with a thermostat, mostly set the temperature and set up a schedule. The nice thing about the web site is you can set up various schedules and then pick one. The schedule you choose is downloaded to the thermostat. Two features I like about this model thermostat is it reports humidity and can display it on the panel. The second feature is the panel controls can be locked out.

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