One of my favourite movies is Back To The Future – I remember watching it as a child, convinced that by 2015, we’d be driving flying cars, using hoverboards and wearing self-lacing trainers. And while that’s not the case, our lives have become fairly futuristic (let’s face it though, anything is futuristic compared to the 80s when our first VCR had a remote control… that connected to the machine via a long lead. I mean, that’s just hilarious, right?)
Our lives – and homes – have become smarter. We’ve got smart phones, smart TVs, smart heating, smart lighting (anyone else think the word ‘smart’ sounds weird when you say it this many times?) and they all do incredible things that make our lives easier, solving problems that we didn’t even know we had.
O2 Home is a new way to control your home from your phone – available in the South East of England for now, but soon nationwide – and they’ve asked me try out some of the devices to see if they can make any difference to our lives. Watch this video for a quick introduction to O2 Home…
I’m really quite excited to see how O2 Home might change the way we live, and we’re big fans of gadgets and gizmos that make life a bit easier! O2 Home comes in three different packs – each one offers you something a bit different, depending on what your needs are. O2 Home View is £30 per month and includes cameras, door sensors and presence sensors to give you peace of mind that everything is as it should be, when you’re not at home. O2 Home Comfort is £30 per month and includes a Tado thermostat, smart plugs and a presence sensor, so you can control lighting and heating from your phone. Finally, O2 Home Connect is £20 per month and has open and close sensors, smart plugs and presence sensors. You can also buy extra devices separately, if you want to create your own pack.
So which pack did we go for? We went for the O2 Home Comfort pack, because we really like the idea of being able to control the heating and lighting from our phones.
I was impressed! Two installation engineers arrived and were super professional from the start, even asking if they needed to remove their shoes as they entered our house. They explained what they would be doing, that there would be different elements to put together and that when they had set up the system then they would take us through the system and how to work it. I was surprised that the installation took around four hours, but we were able to go about our business while they worked, and every now and then, they would ask us various questions about our heating or ask us to test things like the boiler and central heating system.
When it got to a certain point in the installation, one of the engineers sat down with us, with our iPhones and set up the apps for us, taking us through how to set up the O2 Home accounts, giving us online log-ins, making sure it all worked, then taking us through all the different parts of the online experience.
What we learned…
Smart plugs – these are fully programmable devices which you can plug into any wall socket and then connect anything with an electrical plug. You can then remotely switch on electrical items with your phone/iPad via the app, and you can set programmes. I can see us setting up a programme that asks these plugs to switch on lamps, if we’re ever away on holiday, as a security device.
The presence sensor – this can be programmed to provide a message alert, when the sensor detects motion. This will be really useful from a security point of view, as we can set it to send us a message if an intruder is in our house. The alerts can be sent by text or email or both.
Tado thermostat controller and Tado app – this wirelessly controls our boiler. The Tado app allows us to fully programme our heating to regulate to a given temperature – for example if you want your home to be 19C, you set the temperature to 19C and the heating will come on if the temperature dips to 18C or lower. But even better, you can set the temperature to be different at different times of the day, and on different days of the week. So if you always get up early, for a morning run on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you could set your heating to come on earlier, then the other days of the week. You can also set a lower temperature for during the night, when you’re in bed. Brilliantly you can set as many day/time variations with different temperatures as you like.
This is probably standard with lots of systems but where Tado seem different is that our phones connect to the system and so the system knows the location of our phone, and knows when we are away from our home and will automatically regulate to a lower temperature which means we’re not heating our home while we’re out or away. The system then knows when we’re travelling closer to home, and as we get nearer home, it raises the temperature and by the time we get home, it will be at the temperature that we’ve specified. So clever. Imagine coming home from holiday to a warm house!
Window/door sensors – we’ve got these as an extra to the O2 Home Comfort pack and they act in a similar way to home alarms so you can set them to be a security feature on your front door, back door and windows and when you’re away. The system will send you an alert if the contact sensors are activated (i.e. someone has opened your doors or windows). But because the O2 Home system is so well connected, you could programme the sensors to activate other devices connected to your system, like smart plugs. We’re thinking we might put a door sensor on our bedroom door, and create a programme that means if we open our bedroom door between the hours of 7pm and 11pm, the bedroom lamps will come on.
The O2 Home Smart Hub and phone app – everything connects to the Smart Hub and the phone app gives you an overview of how your system is running at that particular time, the current status of all devices, any error messages – if devices have gone offline – and a log of all activity from the devices. This view is completely customisable and the engineer took us through how to customise it, to our preference.
The app (or the online version of the app, on the O2 Home website) is where you can set up your programmes. The engineer asked us what kind of programmes we might want, and gave us lots of examples of how we might use the devices with different programmes. It was a great way for us to learn how to create the programmes and use the app, rather than the engineers just showing us how it worked, and us forgetting as soon as they’d left.
The installation guys seemed really passionate about the product – in fact the O2 Home app had just been released on the App Store that day, and they were genuinely excited about it. This made a real impact, and made us feel excited about it too. They were also very honest and said that they system might be slow for 24 hours, while it all bedded in – which was really helpful and set our expectations from the start. All customers receive support from O2 Gurus, so we know that if we have questions or any issues, we can call up to get things sorted, and engineers will visit customers’ homes for free to fix anything which can’t be resolved remotely. The monthly fee that customers pay also includes an annual health check of all devices, and ten free account profiles so all of the family can set up the app on their phone or iPad.
All in all, the installation felt like a really easy experience! We’re excited to see how O2 Home works for us, and I’ll be reporting back soon to let you know which programmes we set up with the devices and how we find it all.
This post has been commissioned by O2 Home and as always, all views are my own. To find out more about O2 Home and whether it’s available yet in your area, check out their website. For details of how I work with brands, see my Work With Me Page.