Consumer Reports: Smart Homes

cell phoneYONKERS, NJ. — Consumer Reports has been testing Wi-Fi-connected devices, including lighting systems, electronic door locks, smart thermostats, generators, and smart ranges and wall ovens.

Consumer Reports tester Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman says “What really gets your attention with these products is their cool features. So we’re testing those features, but we also want to make sure it works at its basic functions.” That was a problem with the electronic door locks. Yes, you can use your smart phone or tablet to lock and unlock doors remotely. But none stood up to all of Consumer Reports’ break-in tests.

Far stronger, this “old school” Medeco Maxum deadbolt lock.

As for Nest’s Learning Thermostat, it has plenty of innovative features, but it costs 250 dollars and it’s harder to set up than others. With this 170-dollar Venstar Color Touch Series, set up is a breeze.

As for lighting systems, the 200-dollar Hue system from Philips lets you dim and even change the color of its bulbs. For far less, the 50-dollar Connected by TCP is easier to set up. It doesn’t change colors, but you can dim the bulbs from your cell phone.

Consumer Reports says sometimes the extra money is worth it. For example, with the Venstar Colortouch Thermostat you can easily add a Wi-Fi-connection key for about 65 dollars With some Generac generators you can add Mobile Link that notifies you if your generator stops working and automatically calls for repairs.

This report is based on an article in the current June 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, pages 28-31. The issue will be on newsstands from May 1st to June 2nd.

Find out moreĀ about connected homes here.