Wireless technology making 'smart homes' more affordable

Smart homes

With advances in technology, it's becoming more possible for families to have 'smart homes.' (WRDW-TV / Jan. 16, 2012)

News 12 at 6 o' clock / Monday, Jan. 16, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Smart home technology has been available for years now. But until now, you had to wire your home to get it, which could get pretty expensive.

Now that it's gone wireless, though, you might be surprised to find out how affordable it can be.

One Augusta family recently purchased a smart home system from Vivint technology, and they love it.

Neil Chandre, the new owner, says, "It has made me sleep a lot more comfortably."

But Chandre is also more comfortable when he's not home. He says making his home a smart home is one of the smartest things he's ever done when it comes to protecting his family.

"Even though it's a very sophisticated technology, I think I can bring my mom down here and she's 74 years old, and I can probably teach her in five minutes," he said.

Jerome Culbreth works for Vivint, one company that installs this new technology. He says it's based off a "Z-wave technology."

This means the systems are now almost 100 percent wireless. And now, you're even able to control the system from your smartphone.

"You're coming home late, you have a whole bunch of stuff in your hands, you can actually unlock the door, light up the house and come in the house without dropping everything," Culbreth said.

You can set alarms, change the temperature, turn off outlets in case you think you left a curling iron on, lock and unlock doors, even watch live video of your home, all from your smartphone or computer.

Labrina Chandre loves the new technology and says it helps her keep up with her two small children.

"When the kids are home, I can check a video to see how they're doing in the room," she said. "And if anybody comes into the house, or comes into the driveway, I can just look on my app and see who is coming in and out."

And soon, the Chandre family might be the norm and not the exception.

"There's been a very big spike of customers wanting the home automation," Culbreth said. "Especially the locks and the cameras."

Experts estimate smart home technology will be a $12 billion a year industry by 2015. The costs are coming down, and more people will be able to afford what once was a huge luxury.

For a complete package like the one the Chandre have, the cost is about $180 for installation, and $80 a month after that. But you can get a basic package for as low as $50 a month.

And no worries if you lose your phone. The system is password protected, just like online banking.

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