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The Mites of Electric Lightbulbs

Davy. Swan. Woodward. Evans. Edison. You’ve probably heard one or more of these names used in reference to the inventing of the lightbulb and the various debates about who the real inventor was and who stole ideas to get the credit. Even before electric lights became the standard means of lighting, Mark Twain settled the debate when he said, “It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a photograph, or a telephone or any other important thing—and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite—that is all he did.”

Though this was not specifically about the lightbulb, the same applies.

Early Days

In ancient times, people contributed the first mites when they discovered fire as a means of light. As centuries passed and technology evolved, people turned to torches, various oil lamps, candles, and other means. Perhaps it was the growing interest scientists had in electricity in the late 1700s and 1800s and the gas lighting of the day that inspired so many to look for a way of creating electric lights.

Gas lighting was a means of lighting homes with gas. It started with a pipe system that connected to the lamps in a home. The pipes connected to various light fixtures as a means of delivering the gas. To turn on the light, one needed to open the valve on the fixture to release a small stream of gas, which one would then light with a flame. The flame in the fixture, fed by the gas, would remain active until one shut the valve on the fixture. This became a common means of lighting homes, and many cities were quick to get onboard and install gas-lit streetlamps, but many remained wary of gas lighting due to safety concerns. If used improperly, gas could be toxic and explosive.

Early Experiments

Whatever the motive behind the scientists’ electrical pursuits, many scientists became involved in the early experiments. One such experiment was Humphrey Davy’s arc lamp. He connected two wires to a battery and placed charcoal strips between the wires. Upon introducing electricity to the contraption, the electric current from the wires created an arch of light across the strips. This lamp improved on similar lamps made by other inventors, but the battery was too large and depleted too quickly for Davy’s arc lamp to be practical.

Another notable mite was Joseph Swan’s incandescent lightbulb. Between the choice of filament and the poor vacuum quality, the bulb only glowed for thirteen and a half hours, but Thomas Edison would later improve upon the design to create a 1200-hour bulb—and get sued by Swan for patent infringement (Edison had to make Swan a partner of his electrical company as restitution).

Now

The incandescent lightbulb saw many more improvements over the years, and florescent lightbulb eventually joined them as an electrical option. Though both are still available for purchase, LED lights have become what many recognize as the superior light source. Still, engineers continue adding their mites to technological development, and smart lightbulbs are making a name for themselves in the electrical industry.

Not only do many smart lightbulbs use less power to create a brighter light, reducing the cost of energy bills, they also offer additional features to give users more control over their homes. With the ability to control your lights from your phone, you can make sure the lights got turned off when you left the house and do so if you find you forgot. You can also use the app at home to turn off the lights upstairs without needing to step away from your family movie night. If you’re having a candle-lit dinner at home for date night, many smart lightbulbs offer an option of changing the brightness of the bulb, so you can dim the lights to create the perfect mood lighting. While you’re on vacation, you can set your lights on a schedule so people will think there is activity in the home.

Many currently regard smart lightbulbs as the future of lighting, and these lights would certainly blow away the historic inventors whose accomplishments led to making them possible. Perhaps as others add their mites, we will see smart lightbulbs become even smarter, but don’t let waiting for the next best thing hold you back from switching out your lights for the improved ones available now.

If you would like more information on how smart light bulbs can benefit you and how to upgrade, contact us at 844-904-9473 or request info online.

Expecting Holiday Packages? You Need a Video Doorbell!

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Even with the holiday rush, delivery companies have processes in place to keep packages safe from the moment the shipping label is created to when they drop the packages on a porch, but after that, things are out of their hands. If you are expecting any holiday packages, you will want to make sure the package stays safe between when the driver leaves it on your porch and when you bring it inside. Using a video doorbell is a simple but effective way of doing this. If you don’t already have a video doorbell, here are five reasons why you need to add one to your shopping cart today.

1. Porch Pirate Prevention

Package theft is on the rise. In one survey, 43 % of respondents reported a stolen package in 2020, a 7% increase from 2019. Most porch pirates look for quick, easy targets. If they see you have a video doorbell—a way of getting filmed and caught—they are more likely to walk past and look for an easier target.

If seeing that your home has a video doorbell doesn’t deter them, you can take matters into your own hands. Upon receiving a notification that your video doorbell has detected someone at the door and you see someone stealing your package, you can try scaring them with the video doorbell’s two-way audio feature like the Ring Doorbell users featured here. If that fails, having video footage will increase the chances of identifying the culprit and getting your package back.

2. Be in the Know

Better yet, a video doorbell can help you prevent porch pirates from having a chance to consider your holiday packages as targets.

Not all delivery companies require their drivers to knock or ring the doorbell. Some even discourage it based on a history of customers complaining or even yelling at drivers for disturbing dogs or waking babies. (Calm down, Karen. Yelling at the driver isn’t helping your baby get back to sleep.) Without a knock or ring, you won’t know if the package has been delivered until you check outside or refresh the tracking web page after delivery. Some delivery services offer text updates, but these sometimes come well after the delivery already happened, making them not the most reliable source. They also can’t help you if the package is a surprise gift you don’t have any tracking information for.

A video doorbell, on the other hand, doesn’t require any page refreshing, and notifications are always real-time. You’ll receive a notification to your phone when the delivery driver comes to your door, and if you have a video doorbell that can detect packages, you can specifically get a notification that a package was delivered. This enables you to bring the package inside faster. Plus, if it’s an early delivery from the North Pole, you can get it inside and tucked away without the kids finding it first on their way home from a friend’s house or school.

3. Be in the Game

If you’re not home when you receive a notification that there’s someone at the door and you find it’s the delivery driver, you won’t be able to quickly bring the package inside, but there are still things you can do to protect it. Using the two-way audio feature, you could ask the driver to hide the package behind one of your yard decorations to help keep it safe until you get back. If you have smart locks with remote locking capabilities, you could even unlock your door from your phone, ask the driver to put it directly inside your house, and lock the door again when they’re done.

4. Food Deliveries

Video doorbells aren’t just useful for package deliveries. If you use food delivery services, you can have all the same benefits as with package deliveries with the added peace of mind that no one will be able to sneak a few fries without you knowing.

5. Help Your Neighbors

If your neighbor across the street is out of town, you can watch for when their holiday packages are delivered. Their porch won’t be in range for you to get notifications, but you might be able to see packages lying on the steps with your video doorbell’s live stream. Then, if you’ve made arrangements with your neighbor, you can bring the packages into the safety of your home and give them to your neighbor upon their return.

Bonus: Make Someone’s Day

Even with the recent push for contactless delivery and the rise of drivers not knocking upon delivery, it’s not a line of work with no customer contact. Sometimes, the driver will need to wait for a signature, or they could cross paths with someone leaving home, coming home, or working in the yard. Where there is customer service, there will inevitably be rude customers, but you can use your video doorbell to give your delivery driver a good customer interaction. When they are delivering the package, you could chime in over the two-way audio and give them a simple thank you. It doesn’t seem like much, but a few kind words can go a long way, especially this holiday season when they are under more pressure than any other time of year.

How to Safely Clean Your Outdoor Security Cameras

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If you have outdoor cameras, they can expose crimes, but in the process, they are exposed to nature. Installing your cameras under the eaves of your home can help protect them from birds, but they will still be subject to spiders, rain, snow, mud, that polluted precipitation that is a cocktail of rain or snow and smog, and more. Because of this, you’re going to encounter times when the cameras are dirty enough that it affects the image quality of the footage. When this happens, you’ll need to clean your cameras. Some recommend a consistent cleaning schedule as a better way of ensuring a long lifespan for your cameras rather than just occasional spot cleaning. Recommendations typically range from once a month to twice a year with spot cleaning as needed. Whatever you decide is the best schedule for you, you will want to clean your cameras in a safe manner that won’t damage them.

1. Don’t Add to the Statistics

Each year, there are more than 160,000 injuries from ladder falls in the US. Of the 300 ladder-related deaths, the majority are from falls of ten feet or fewer. Since most security cameras are positioned high enough that you’ll likely need to pull out a ladder to clean them, use proper ladder safely when cleaning your cameras so you don’t add to the statistics.

2. Check the Manual or Manufacturer’s Website for Special Instructions

For most cameras, you will be safe to proceed with the rest of the instructions in this guide, but some cameras require special care to prevent damage during cleaning. Tracking down a manual or sifting through a website may add a few extra minutes to the process, but it will be minutes well-spent, especially if you find your cameras have special care instructions.

3. Evict Spiders

If you have dome cameras, spiders are less likely to be an issue. These don’t have good supports for web building. If you have bullet cameras, spiders will love your cameras. They give spiders a sturdy base to build a home and a good tool for their hunt. Most outdoor cameras emit infrared light, which bugs are drawn to. As a result, many spiders have learned to build their webs in front of security cameras. Drawn to the infrared light, the bugs will fly right into the spider’s trap.

It’s a great survival strategy for the spiders, but it’s less convenient for you. Webs can block the view of the cameras and can trigger false alerts with motion-activated cameras. By regularly cleaning your cameras, you teach spiders that it’s not a safe place to build their webs, and chances are, you’ll see fewer webs going forward.
When you need to clean off webs, you probably don’t want to come in contact with them. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t care about getting dirty, you can take care of all the webs from up close, but if you’d rather not, you can start by using a broom to sweep the webs off the base of the camera. Do not sweep over the lenses. If there are any webs on the lenses, you’ll have to get up close and wipe these off with a microfiber cloth.

4. Disassemble as Needed

If you have dome cameras, you will need to remove the dome before you will be able to clean the camera. Each brand will be different, so you’ll again want to turn to the manual or manufacturer’s website to find how to do this. If you have bullet cameras, these do not require any disassembly.

5. Blow off Loose Dust and Dirt

To most effectively blow off loose dust and dirt, use compressed air or a rubber air blower pump. Don’t blow on it yourself since there’s a high probability you’ll make it even dirtier in the process.

6. Exterior

To clean the exterior of your cameras, wipe them down with water. Then, dry them thoroughly. Do not use an excessive amount of water. Your cameras may be water-resistant, but too much water will damage them.

7. Remove Spots

If there is hard water or other buildup, you will want to clean this using a microfiber cloth and a lens cleaning solution. Do not use paper towels or any other material that could scratch the lenses. If you don’t have a microfiber cloth, get one. They’re usually inexpensive. If you don’t have a lens cleaning solution, you can substitute water for this. Spray the solution onto the lenses and wipe with the microfiber cloth. Make sure to completely dry the lenses so they don’t smudge while air drying.

8. Finishing Up

If needed, reassemble your camera. After that, you’re done, and you can now enjoy the optimal image quality that your cameras can provide again.

Why You Should Make Your Rental Property a Smart Home

If you own a rental property and you want to maximize the return on your investment, you will need to be competitive, especially as we head into the winter months. As the market slows down, renters are more particular about the home they are going to live in. To attract good tenants and get a higher rental income, you will want to make sure your property is up-to-date and in good condition, and if you want your property to stand out even more, you can add smart home features. One study showed that 57% of the tenants they surveyed would be willing to pay more for rent if the property has smart home features. Here are some of the reasons why renters want smart home features and how installing them will also benefit you.

Savings

A smart thermostat is one of the most popular smart home features you will want to consider installing. The majority of the average household’s energy bill goes toward heating and cooling, but using a smart thermostat can reduce the bills by 10% to 15%. If you have a smart thermostat, this makes your rental more desirable since the tenants know they’ll be spending less on utilities. It will benefit you by reducing the amount you pay for the billing periods when the property is vacant, and since you’re working to create a more desirable property, you can anticipate a shorter vacancy period.

You can give yourself another benefit for the transitions between tenants by installing smart locks. The cost of rekeying varies by vendor, but it tends to get expensive. Some owners don’t rekey when tenants move out because of the cost, but this is a liability issue that you should avoided at all costs. Do yourself a favor and pay the cost of rekeying or, better yet, install smart locks. This way, there are no keys involved and you can simply change the code between tenants. After enough property turns, the smart look will pay for itself.

Convenience

Smart locks aren’t just good to have between tenants. They can also be advantageous during the lease term. You would be surprised how easily people can lock themselves out of their homes and how often it happens. With smart locks, you never have to worry about getting the call that your tenants locked themselves out of the house and they need your help getting back in. There won’t be any keys involved since they’ll be able to get in simply by inputting a code.

Keys can especially be a pain where maintenance is concerned. There will be times when urgent maintenance needs to be completed on the home and you’ve given appropriate legal notice of entry for the vendor to come by the property and complete the work, but the tenant has let you know they won’t be home at that time to let the vendor in. With traditional locks, this becomes a case of key juggling where either the vendor has to make a trip to pick up the key from you or you have to make time to drop the key off to the vendor. With smart locks, you can simply give the code or a temporary code to the vendor so they can access the property.

Safety

Given the choice between two comparable properties, many tenants would choose the one they feel most safe in, so if you have home security features, this could increase the desirability of your property. Cameras are one of the most common features used in home security, but if your property has a video doorbell or cameras, you will need to manage these in a way that stays clear of privacy concerns. An easy way to do this is to fully disconnect any accounts you have set up and to have the tenant create their own accounts.

Alternately, you could forego installing cameras and use motion detecting lights as a subtler way of steering shady folk away from the property, and you could give your tenant the option of installing their own cameras if they would like, under the condition they restore the home to the condition they got it in when they vacate so they don’t leave behind holes in the walls from the cameras, for though you want happy tenants, you also want to protect your investment so you can keep your property’s market value up and continue to maximize your rental income.

Turkey in Trouble? Tech to the Rescue!

Hosting a party is always stressful, yet in many families, someone always ends up doing it so the whole family can get together at Thanksgiving. For some, it’s an enjoyable celebration of giving thanks. Others wish that one relative would stop asking personal questions that are none of their business or for that other relative to stop being so loud about their controversial opinions, which always start a fight. Then, there are the younger kids who get restless long before the pie comes out. Whoever is hosting generally gets caught in the middle of it all. If you’re hosting and you have home security and automation features, you can use these to make at least some elements of the gathering run more smoothly.

Say the guests will be arriving any minute, and you’re running late. Several dishes have taken longer to cook than the estimated cook times. The gravy still won’t thicken, and your kids still haven’t set the table despite their promising to help earlier in the day and your numerous reminders. Sound familiar? If you’ve ever been in a similar position, then you know what happens next according to Murphy’s law.

The doorbell rings.

Given how today has been going, if you step away from your gravy now, it will probably burn or otherwise get ruined. But, for once, something is in your favor. Still stirring the gravy with one hand, you pull out your phone and open the app for your Ring video doorbell with the other. Utilizing the two-way audio, you invite the first guests to come inside. You also unlock your smart lock from your phone so they can get inside. With your gravy safe and your guests out of the cold, you make conversation as you finish up and invite other guests in as they arrive until it’s time to gather around the table for the Thanksgiving feast.

When groups of people gather in one room, it tends to make a room warm. This dinner is no exception. The conversation is currently enjoyable, so you’re glad you don’t have to leave the table to change the thermostat. Instead, you can adjust your Nest learning thermostat from the app.

As the evening goes on, the conversation grows less interesting, and those at the kid table—even some of the adult children who haven’t graduated to the big table yet—look painfully bored. Knowing kids, it’s only a matter of time before one of them invents a rowdy way of getting attention. At this point, you invite them into a different area of the house for some Thanksgiving games. They’ll be entertained, and you check on them occasionally with your indoor security cameras to make sure they don’t get into too much trouble. When it’s time for pie, you again open your Ring app and use the indoor camera’s two-way talk to invite them to join, which they eagerly do.

There’s no such thing as a perfect Thanksgiving, but by the time everyone goes home, you declare this one a success, and you’re glad you had your technology to make things easier.

Keeping It New While Keeping the Charm

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New. New technology. New styles. Mainstream society is all about new. In many cases, this is beneficial. With advances in technology, things are becoming faster, easier, and more efficient, but sometimes aesthetic is lost in the process. If you’re the person in your neighborhood who is known for having the gorgeous vintage or otherwise old-fashioned home and you want to add some modern updates, here are some tips on how to accomplish this without losing the historic charm.

Preserve

Go through your home and decide what you want to keep and what you want to update. You might decide it would be a crime to touch the cabinets and hand-carved molding even though everyone is telling you dark wood is out of date and you should paint it a different color. This isn’t about what friends and designers say. This is about you and the unique piece of history you call home. But you do think it’s time to install a new bathroom sink that will give you some counter space.

In addition to design updates, you may want to add some of this new technology you’ve heard about, but don’t sacrifice the features of your home you love in the name of technology. If while performing your home assessment you determined you cannot part with your beautiful antique doorbell, then installing a video doorbell probably isn’t the right thing for you. Instead, you could achieve a similar result by installing an exterior camera that monitors your porch. Some outdoor cameras will even allow for the two-way communication many video doorbells are capable of. If you are interested in getting smart locks but can’t give up your ornate doorknob, you may want to look into a deadbolt smart lock. Unlike lever smart locks, you don’t have to remove the original doorknob to install one.

Keep It Inconspicuous

It you want up-to-date technology but you don’t want it to show and ruin your look, there are things you can do to make it less noticeable. If you’re looking to get door and window sensors, you could look at the option of installing recessed sensors, more inconspicuous than the standard version and just as effective.

Changing out a light fixture would cause a drastic change in the design of your home, but changing the lightbulbs would be a far smaller and less noticeable change. Whether you’re looking to install more energy efficient bulbs or even smart lights, the most important thing to be aware of is the wattage of your light fixture. The wattage of the bulb has to be equal to or less than the maximum wattage of your fixture. Otherwise, you could possibly cause permanent damage to your light fixture, which would ruin your efforts of preserving your home’s historic charm. More urgently, having non-compatible lightbulbs is a fire hazard and should be avoided. If you are unsure how many watts your light fixture is, you will most likely be able to find it printed inside or on the socket of the fixture. If your fixture doesn’t have this or it’s so old that the text has faded and become illegible over time, you may need to manually determine the wattage with a multimeter or find someone who has one and would be willing to do it for you.

Add Style

As you are installing updates, you can incorporate more of your home’s charm by adding your style to the updates. While you’re choosing your dead bolt  smart lock, you can look for one that is close to the color of your doorknob. It you want to go a step further, you could look for ways to make your new tech part of the interior design. If your smart speaker is on a shelf, you could pair it with a candle and your favorite vintage vase to add aesthetic, and you could get a decorative wall plate for your Nest thermostat that matches the style of your home. Those are just a few ideas, but there are as many options available to you as there are possible Google searches.

Once everything is to your liking—you’ve added your updates while keeping your home’s charm—not only will you be known for having the gorgeous house, you’ll be known for having the tech house, too, but at the end of it all, the opinions of others don’t matter. This is your home. What are you going to do with it?

Do the Smart Thing and Add Smart Home Features

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With the technology we have today, we are practically living in the sci-fis of the mid to late 1900s. True, we don’t have the hoverboards Back to the Future II predicted for 2015, but our pocket-sized computers and many other advancements would still be mind-blowing to Marty McFly.

Technology is getting better, faster, and smarter. Chances are you have a smartphone, but do you have a smart home? Smart home technology has been gaining popularity in recent years, but if you’re still uncertain if it’s the right thing for you, here’s why you should do the smart thing and add smart home features today.

Smart for Your Wallet

There are many money-saving smart home features, with smart thermostats and smart lights being among the biggest money savers.

Consistently among the top-recommended smart thermostats, the Nest Learning Thermostat is designed to help you use less energy. When you first install your Nest Learning Thermostat, you will need to adjust it like a regular thermostat. Through this, it will learn your schedule to know when you have it on and how you like the temperature throughout the day. This way, you can more easily only use heating and cooling when you need it. It even offers eco settings for additional savings. If your schedule or temperature preferences change, you can easily adjust your thermostat from your phone wherever you may be at the time. 

Nest did a study to show how effective their thermostat is by looking at real energy bills from customers. On average, people saved 10% to 12% on heating and 15% on cooling. That means if your power bill is $81.65 and your gas bill is $47.99, the Utah averages for 2020, you’ll save around $17 per month, which may not sound like much, but it adds up. Just in one year, you could save $204, and in five years, you could save $1,020.00.

To maximize savings even further, you can install smart lights. At WISE Home Solutions, we offer a smart light bulb that only uses 9 watts to achieve a 60-watt brightness, and they last for up to 25,000 hours, which means that if you have your lights on for three hours a day, you’ll only need to buy new light bulbs approximately once every twenty-two years, putting all the money you would have spent on light bulbs back in your wallet.

Smart for Your Safety

Video doorbells are a great way of adding protection to your home. If a potential package thief saw a video doorbell on your home, they would be less inclined to act on their intentions than if they knew they could get away with it without being seen and recorded. More important than protecting your packages, a video doorbell can protect you and your family. You can know who’s at the door before answering, and if your kids are old enough to stay home alone and they open the door for a stranger while you’re gone even though you tell them not to, you can use the two-way talk feature from your phone to make the visitor think you’re home.

Speaking of being away from home, have you ever made it down the street or partway to your destination when you realize you can’t remember if you closed the garage? With a smart garage door controller, you can check an app to see if the garage is closed after reaching your destination or after pulling over—smart for your safety, remember? If you find the garage is still up, you can remotely close it from your phone. 

These are just a few of the many ways a smart home can benefit you. If you are interested in learning more, contact us at 844-904-9473 or request info online.

Life Is Easier with Ring

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The earliest doorbells utilized a bell installed into the house with a string or chain attached to it. A visitor would pull this to ring the bell—rudimentary, but it served its purpose. In the two-hundred or so years since then, technology evolved to give us electric doorbells, and in recent years, we have seen the video doorbell gain popularity, with Ring as one of the leading brands.

Life is busy, yet we find ways to make it busier. A Ring video doorbell adds elements of convenience and security to make things easier. Say you’re planning a party with friends, and you find yourself at the store buying what you need for the evening the day a package your expecting should be delivered. Your ring doorbell acts as a package thief deterrent since would-be thieves generally avoid stealing if they know they’ll be videoed and therefore more easily caught. It’s not a package panacea, though, so you’ve provided delivery instructions for the mail carrier. You’ve noticed that the drivers don’t always adhere to these, though. That’s where your Ring video doorbell comes in handy.

While you’re walking down the produce aisle, you get a notification that there’s someone at your door. Going into the app, you’re able to access the camera’s live-stream to see who it is. It’s the person delivering your package, and they either didn’t read or don’t care to follow the delivery instructions, but you’re able to utilize your Ring video doorbell’s two-way audio from your phone and politely tell the mail carrier where you would like them to hide your package.

When you get home with your groceries, you take the package—safe and sound—inside before continuing your preparations for the party. Part way through, someone rings the doorbell. You’re in the middle of a step, and you don’t want to stop unless it’s important. Thanks to your Ring video doorbell, you are able to check the app and see someone who looks like a solicitor at the door. Glad you saved yourself the time of sending away the solicitor, you resume your task.

The next time your doorbell rings, it’s dark outside, but the night vision camera allows you to see that, this time, the people outside are your friends here for the party. You let them in and spend an enjoyable evening.

The above scenario doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone, but the benefits can. Video porch monitoring, real- time conversations when you’re unavailable to answer the door, and in-app notifications in addition to a regular doorbell are only a few of the benefits. If you are interested in learning more about what a Ring doorbell can do for you, contact us at 844-904-9473 or request info online.