So, you’ve got a home full of smart gear aimed at making your life safer and more convenient. Most, if not all, of your devices require 2 things to work properly – power and an internet connection. Unfortunately, we’ve all experienced moments where one or both services go out. This really sucks, but there are things you can do about it.
The most important aspect of your smart home is likely security. Sure, your other devices offer convenience, access, and monitoring, but security is all about protecting your home and family. When picking out a security system that fits nicely into your smart home environment, you’ll want to find one that has a cell and batter backup. You will also want your connected sensors to be batter powered. A good example is the Scout Alarm system. It a traditional alarm with door/window/motion sensors that connects well to your smart home (IFTTT, Echo, Nest, etc.). I own a Scout system and love the features, but it’s been a buggy mess. I’ve returned numerous hubs and door panels and it rarely does everything it should. It’s supposed to use cell backup when power is lost, but it’s never worked for me… support is sending a new hub (again). As you can see from the latest reviews on Amazon, Scout has issues right now. I’ve been with them from the beginning and really hope they fix their glaring problems (battery life, hub problems, etc). Another choice similar to Scout is a up and coming company called Abode. I might give them a try in a head-to-head with Scout.
If you don’t have an alarm system with a battery/cell backup, then it’s time to buy a UPS Battery Backup. There is nothing fancy about these devices and there are hundreds to choose from. All they do is provide uninterrupted power to almost anything plugged into it – lights, computers, etc. For your smart home, I highly recommend getting a UPS to keep everything up and running for at least a few hours. This is likely all you need until service is restored. I currently own one relatively inexpensive model from APC that handles the important stuff.
What’s connected to my UPS
Internet: My internet connection has two pieces – a power pack provided by the service provider and then the router with built in modem. Both of these must have power to provide the home with an internet connection, so both of these are on the UPS. Of course, I’m assuming the internet connection is still up. If you’re interested, there are routers with cell backup that allow it to connect even if your wired connection is down. You’ll likely have to pay for data, etc., but it’s the best way to get temporary internet to your smart home’s system.
Alarm System: My Scout Alarm is currently connected to the UPS for reasons stated above. Even though it has a batter backup, I don’t trust it as much as I do the UPS. The connected devices (alarm, sensors) are all batter powered, so we’re good to go.
Cameras: I currently own a 3 different camera systems. I know that sounds crazy, but I started with one or two of each to put them head to head against each other. It’s all about finding the best long-term solution. Also, I think it’s important to have some redundancy. The three I currently own are Blink, Arlo, and Nest. Even if, let’s say, Arlo’s cloud service is down, I’m still likely to have Nest or Blink up and running.
Google Home and Alexa: Because, why not? I can talk to these hubs and get reports, order food, etc.
Lights: Since my lights (Hue and LIFX) are dependent on electricity provided by the light socket, they are not supported during a power outage. I do, however, have one BeOn light that comes on when the power goes out. It’s enough light for a few hours at night during a storm that’s taken out the power :)
Don’t forget your smart home isn’t smart unless it knows how to handle curve-balls like a power outage!