Peace of mind away from home

Automating devices at home to help make vacations worry-free

The season of giving is here! While all of us make habit of giving thanks and giving gifts at this time of year, the last thing we want to do is give would-be burglars the opportunity to help themselves to our possessions while we travel for the holidays.

That's why I absolutely love the smart, techy products from WEMO(R)—products that allow me to turn on and off lights and other electrical devices in my home from anywhere in the world. These products include Wi-Fi-enabled light switches, light bulbs, and electrical outlets, as well as a handy Android or iPhone app.

Taken as a whole, these home automation devices from WEMO allow you to go away for the holidays without worrying about what might be happening at your home. This means you can relax over Thanksgiving while visiting family halfway across the country, enjoy a day on the slopes during Christmas break, or ring in the New Year in Las Vegas. While you're out and about, whether you're on a long weekend getaway or an extended trip, your home will appear as if it's occupied. Which will keep would-be thieves away.

Also, it's neat to use the WEMO devices in combination with the NetCam HD+, which streams video from your home directly to your smartphone or tablet. This solution enables you to see what's going on in your home, in real-time. Here's a rundown on the WeMo products I like.

WEMO Switch(R). With the basic WEMO Switch, you can plug in a floor lamp, radio, television, or any other electrical device and program it—via the smartphone app—to turn off and on as needed. Set a schedule and forget about the app while you're on vacation, or turn each device on and off remotely with the click of a link.

WEMO Light Switch(R). This device turns a regular light switch into a smart one. The app allows you to program when you want lights to turn on and off in your home–sort of like a modern take on the vacation timer. The WEMO Light Switch also offers users the ability to set different times on different days for a more “random” appearance of somebody  spending time in the home (when, in reality, you're sipping frothy cocktails on the beach). A nifty “sunrise/sunset” setting is ideal for extended time away from the home; simply enter your city name in the WEMO App and then program certain lights (your porch lights, for example) to turn on at sunset and off at sunrise.

WEMO Smart LED Bulbs. These light bulbs are similar to traditional 60-watt incandescent bulbs, but they only consume 10 watts of energy and produce very little heat. Plus, they have an incredible life expectancy of up to 23 years, based on three hours of daily usage (you can't say that about regular life bulbs). The WEMO Smart LED Bulbs work in conjunction with the WEMO app like the other products I've mentioned, giving you the power to program them to turn on and off (individually or in a group, by room), or even dim them, as needed. These bulbs are easy to use: Just plug in the WEMO Link into any outlet, replace your old bulbs with the new WEMO Smart LED Bulbs, download the WEMO app, and start programming.

All of the WEMO products—even the ones I haven't spotlighted here—are designed to work together. On the WEMO app, there is a “simulated occupancy” setting, which controls all of your WEMO connected electronics through a random algorithm to turn things on and off automatically. For example, you can use your WEMO products in conjunction with IFTTT to create recipes that connect WEMO devices to perform custom tasks. In particular, you can create an IFTTT recipe to alert you if someone turns on the Light Switch or walks past the NetCam HD+ when you're away from home. From the outside looking in, it'll appear as if the entire family is enjoying a quiet night at home (again, while you're really at Walt Disney World Resort, watching fireworks in front of Cinderella Castle).

It's worth noting that WEMO products are eco-friendly, too. Instead of going out of town for a week and leaving on your porch lights, a kitchen light, and a random bedroom lamp 24/7, you can use the WEMO tools to turn lights on and off just as you would as if you were at home. Ultimately this saves both energy and money. Peace of mind on your vacation. You can WEMO that.

How do you keep your home protected while you're traveling?

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Kara Williams

Longtime freelance travel writer Kara Williams concluded her tenure as an Expedia Viewfinder blogger at the end of 2015. Kara covers destinations for family vacations, wellness trips, romantic escapes, and girlfriend getaways not only for her own blog The Vacation Gals (which she co-owns with travel writers Beth Blair and Jennifer Miner), but also such publications as Luxury Las Vegas, Ski Canada, Ocean Home, Interval World, American Eagle Latitudes and Fodors.com. Outdoor adventures, national parks, luxury hotels, and spas are her other favorite beats. A member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), she makes her home in the Colorado Rockies with her husband and two children. Learn more about Kara and her work at www.karaswilliams.com.

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