since Sandy, or maybe it was Hurricane Irene, I’ve
been thinking about buying a portable generator
sufficient to run our sump pump, our freezer and
refrigerator, and a few appliances in case of a lengthy
brother-in-law, an engineer for an electric utility,
loses power more often (eight days for Irene, six for
Sandy) and has a bigger house, so he is advising me on
what I need to buy and the work my electrician must do
to make the transition from one to the other seamless.
column will not be a treatise on generators — that
information is available online. I only mention them
because Cassie Eberle at Consumer Reports sent me
something about connected homes and the new smart
technology that began with a treatise on generators.
this is the "Year of the Connected Home."
to a survey of nearly 2,500 Consumer Reports
subscribers, almost 20 percent of respondents with
smartphones or tablets already use them to remotely
control some aspect of their homes, and nearly 70
percent of those who don’t voiced interest in doing so
in the future.
my family remotely prints documents from smartphones to
two wireless printers at home, and we monitor the dog
cam at Camp Bow Wow when we are on vacation, to check on
isn’t new, of course. I’ve been writing about home
automation for at least 20 years, chapters in each of my
books are devoted to it, and I’ve given some examples
of it in that time.
involved a Center City Philadelphia resident who could
set the thermostat of his central air-conditioning
system in a heat wave while he and his family vacationed
there was a fellow in Burlington Township, Pa., a couple
of years ago who could see, via his smartphone, who was
at his entryway, disarm the alarm, and unlock the door.
couple of years ago, ABI Research, a provider of
technology-market intelligence, reported that in the
five years ending in 2017, the home-automation market
will increase at a compounded annual growth rate of 60
its recent study, available in this month’s issue,
Consumer Reports found thermostats, security systems,
blinds, lighting, and door locks are the home items
readers most want to manage remotely.
are potential pitfalls, however, including WiFi
vulnerabilities that could compromise security and
privacy issues related to the sharing of information by
these gadgets, the magazine said.
thought I’d share this interesting information:
generators — in this case, not portable, but made by
the same manufacturer I am favoring after much study —
one Internet-enabled product is the Generac Mobile Link
for $280, whose remote monitoring system will e-mail or
text the user or servicing dealer if a problem arises
during the unit’s periodic self-check. Service after
the first year is $12.50 per month, $100 for the year.
Among stationary generators, the device works with two
Consumer Reports recommendations: the 7kW Generac 6237
($2,250) and 13kW Generac 6241 ($3,500).
Duet matching washer and dryer (each $1,500) have an app
that allow users to track their laundry’s progress —
even turn the machine on and off — while they’re
doing other things. The dryer also has a duct-blockage
indicator, which Whirlpool says improves performance and
can get great performance for hundreds less by forgoing
the smart features and regularly checking the vent,
Consumer Reports said.