Get Smart, Get Connected

The latest technology to make your home ‘Smart’


Mornings tend to be hectic enough without second-guessing whether or not you shut the garage door or locked the front door before leaving home. You question yourself. “Did I turn the heat down?” or “Did I set the security alarm?”

In today’s high tech world, you can end these nagging questions with a quick glance at your smartphone. With the right high tech home additions plus a cell phone app, you can check on nearly anything in and around your home. Easy to install smart door locks, video doorbells, smoke detectors and thermostats can all be controlled away from home. The good news? It’s never been easier and more affordable to make your home interactive and give it a major IQ boost.

Brad McCall of McCall Homes recently remodeled the home he and his wife moved into eight years ago. “We moved in two days before our eldest was born,” recalls Brad, now a father of three boys. It was the perfect time to retrofit their existing home with smart home capabilities.

The nearly decade-old home gave Brad a chance to test some of today’s new products. McCall Homes builds new homes, however, Brad notes, “I’m using my own home as a test bed to see what the most compelling products are to offer our clients.” He adds, “In the past, those building million dollar homes were the ones with the technology. Now, it’s a different landscape with smartphones.”

Kenco Security & Technology replaced the old security panel in Brad’s home with a wireless touchscreen, a smart panel about the size of an iPad. “The panel is the brain of the home,” explains Brad. “Instead of all different apps (i.e., one for lights, one for locks, the doorbell, etc.) on your phone, this panel links all of the devices together in one app.”


This wireless connection takes away any worry should the power (electricity) go out, phone lines and the internet shut down, or “if the panel gets smashed.” Your home stays protected and you stay connected to what’s happening at home via your smartphone app. “The touch screen has cellular and Wi-Fi in it, plus, Bluetooth is built into the unit,” says Jeff Guenthner, general manager of Billings’ Kenco Security & Technology. “We use as our wireless communication service provider.”

This new panel upgraded Brad’s home to a higher level of security and convenience. Brad clicks an icon on his smartphone to control a specific device. “The perk with a security company,” advises Brad, “is they come in and get it all done, from the security to the thermostat and lighting. To the average homeowner, this is so much simpler.”


“It’s getting a lot cheaper to adapt your house to the new system,” adds Jeff. “It takes less time to put in the (wireless) devices, so less time is spent on-site and the cost is less.”

It’s a high tech, ingenious way to make life even easier. “It’s the ability to know what’s going on at your house,” notes Jeff, “even keeping track of the kids and the pets.” All with the click or swipe of a button from virtually anywhere in the world.

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The devices you can add and what they can do for you


Smart locks, ‘keypads,’ enable you to lock or unlock your doors with your smartphone

Smart video allows you to see who’s at your front door, with video clips sent directly to you via text or email when the front door opens or when the alarm is triggered

Motion sensors advise when there's motion in and around your house

Smart doorbells notify you when someone’s at the door and allow you to speak with them without being home

Receive alerts for power outages plus smoke, fire, flood or carbon monoxide threats

Turn lights and appliances on or off from wherever you are

Control the thermostat when you’re away

Garage doors open automatically as your smartphone approaches

See when the system was armed or disarmed and by whom


Items you can easily add on your own

The Iris Smart Kit from Lowe’s provides a basic security system, thermostat, motion sensor and sensors for doors and windows, all remote-controlled for under $300.00.

The Ring Video Doorbell, which retails for about $200 online, alerts you when it senses outside activity at home. You’re able to see, hear and speak to the visitor(s) whether you’re home or not. FYI: Brad tested this doorbell at his own home, saying it worked better than other doorbell devices he had tried installing. You can download Ring’s free mobile app using an iOS or Android phone.

The Nest Learning Thermostat adapts to your habits and programs itself accordingly. “This one is cool,” notes Brad, “and simple to use.” Control this device from anywhere using your smartphone. It runs about $249.00 at Best Buy or online. Nest app is available and other Nest products can be added.


DID YOU KNOW? Every day over five million smart devices are connected in homes around the world. Gartner, Inc. research

DID YOU KNOW? A typical family home could contain more than 500 smart devices by the year 2022, according to Gartner research.



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