Hands-on review: automating your home with mydlink
I remember, years ago, at the Ideal Home Exhibition in London, seeing a futuristic home where everything is automated. Whilst the technology has been available for a while, it’s ever been quite so easy, and cheap, to automate your home as it is now.
All you need is home Wi-Fi network and an Apple or Android phone and some power sockets.
Today I’m checking out a D-Link DSP-W215 Wi-FI SmartPlug, a DCH-S150 Wi-Fi Motion Sensor and a DCH-S220 Wi-Fi Siren. All these devices are easily connected and controlled via D-Link’s mydlink app.
Let’s take a look. Whilst the focus of the mydlink app seems to be on home security, that’s not all it can be used for.
D-Link’s mylink products use your home network to talk to one another. The set-up for each is identical via the mydink app which can be downloaded to your Apple or Android device from their respective stores free-of-charge. The whole set-up process is made a lot easier if your modem has a WPS button- which can be used to quickly sync the devices.
I’ve an independent air conditioning unit in the hallway, not the most efficient device, but it certainly helps. It’s not got any timer or clever stuff, just and on/off button and a temperature dial. It plugs straight into a wall socket- perfect for testing the Wi-Fi Smartplug.
First I plugged the Smartplug into the wall and then the air conditioner into the Smartplug. On the mydlink app installed on my tablet I clicked “Add a new device” scanned the QT card that came with the device, pressed my router’s WPS button and up came the Smartplug on the app.
As well as being able to switch equipment on and off remotely, the Smartplug also reports on power consumption, with the app able to use this information to work out the energy cost of the connected equipment. You can set the app up to warn you when the equipment uses a certain percentage of its energy budget.
The Smartplug has an in-built temperature gauge which can be set to shut off the connected equipment when it reaches a pre-set safety limit. And, of course, you can also schedule the equipment to come on at certain times, great for having the house nice and cool for when you come home, or switching the lights on if you are not home to deter intruders.
I connected the Motion Sensor and the Siren to my Wi-Fi in the same way as the Smartplug. Both these devices simply plug straight into a wall socket. This limits their usefulness quite a bit, particularly the motion sensor, as it needs to point towards the area that it is monitoring. Similarly, the Siren can be disengaged by an intruder simply plugging it from the wall. The location of these two devices need to be carefully though about.
The Motion Sensor and Siren’s deficiencies are overcome by the ease in which they can be set up and used. All it takes is some some rudimentary command programming and the Motion Sensor can be used to trigger other mydlink devices connected to your network. It can switch on a D-Link Network Camera, a Smartplug, or set off a mydlink Siren.
The Motion Sensor keeps a log of its activation so you can creepily keep tabs on the comings and goings of your family when you are out. You can also adjust the sensitivity and schedule when the device is active.
The final bit of kit on test, the Siren, is the least flexible in application, but does its job very well. The device is best plugged into an out of the way socket, as it is very vulnerable and can be easily switched off if accessible by an intruder. I’ve a bank of sockets in the roof space, so I plugged it in up there, out of the way.
The Siren has six different sounds from door chime to a full-on emergency klaxon. You can set the volume and the duration of the alarm when triggered. The Siren is bloody loud (up to 100dB) and perfect as an intruder alarm.
The heart of your mydlink system is the app. Once all the devices are on your network and added to your mydlink account, you have full remote control via the mydlink app. They can be moved to another location, re-syncing with your Wi-Fi network as soon as they are plugged in. Before I could do my tests, a couple of the devices needed firmware upgrades which were instigated directly via the app.
Not only does the app enable you to check the status and change the setting of each device, it also allows you to set up how the mydlink devices interact with one another. Touching the triangular-looking icon in the top right of the main screen on the app opens the My Action screen. Here you can view your previously set-up actions or create a new one. And it’s so simple to use.
First you name your action, for instance “Burglar Alarm”. You then select your trigger device; say, the motion sensor, and then the responder. This can be set up to send you an email, a notification via the device, or activate another mydlink devices on the network. For my burglar alarm action, I set it Siren and selected default alarm and a 30 second delay. You can set any number of responders, having the system email you, switch on your AC and activate the alarm when the sensor is triggered.
D-Link’s mydlink devices are a cheap and easy way to automate your house. The D-Link DSP-W215 Wi-FI SmartPlug is perfect for controlling your equipment away from the home (or from the comfort of your chair). The DCH-S150 Wi-Fi Motion Sensor and a DCH-S220 Wi-Fi Siren both work together perfectly as an intruder alarm.
They are not without their limitations, namely their reliance on available power sockets and your home Wi-Fi network. Their great advantage, though, is their ease-of-use. You can switch equipment on and off and monitor your house, all remotely, using a very customisable system controlled by a very user-friendly app. And, of course, there’s no wiring involved.