I’m getting ready to move, and my smart home is getting in the way

A close-up of the blink video doorbell

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

Getting around has always been one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done, and the steps my wife, son and I are embarking on this year will probably be the biggest in our lives. We’re relocating from the United States to my native Canada – and as if immigration, home sales, and regular packaging weren’t enough, we’re dealing with the perfect number of smart home accessories that have accumulated over the years in technology journalism.

This brings up a recurring problem at the forefront. Looks like accessory makers are working on the idea that you’ll be in the same place forever: there’s very little mention of moving in their marketing and very little thought about it in their design. Let me explain some of the problems you may face, as well as some ways to reduce the pain.

See also: The best smart home device you can buy

Removal of many accessories is time consuming

UFI video doorbell base and bell rear

While things like bulbs, plugs, smart speakers and displays are relatively easy to pack, other accessories may be in demand. Consider a smart doorbell – even after you reset a software, it still needs to be physically removed from your front door, disconnected from the cable if it’s not a battery-powered model, and with a “dumb” doorbell if you take it One step down to replace. Products like locks, thermostats and outdoor security cameras have similar barriers.

If you are selling a home, it may make more sense to leave some things behind as a value-addition without wasting time taking them with you.

The more hard-mounted products you have, the greater your burden. If you are selling a home, it may make more sense to leave some things behind as a value-addition without wasting time taking them with you. This is especially true with large and / or custom-fitting accessories, such as smart blinds.

There is no easy way to transfer ownership

EcoBy Smart Thermostat and Sensor

Technically, there’s no reason why vendors like Amazon, Google, Ecobee, Philips and others can’t offer easy proprietary transfer options in their software while maintaining confidentiality. But they don’t, so people are usually forced to do a factory reset on something they don’t take with them. I suspect that many people happily bought an EcoBy thermostat for the first time and will have to figure out their reset methods a few years later.

A particularly difficult platform in this regard is Apple HomeKit. Most homekit accessories rely on pairing codes and while manufacturers are better off printing those codes directly on their products, it is out of your luck to print a code separately and you lose it. I have had this exact problem with my old Lifx bulb.

Trouble will not stop when you arrive

An interior view of an August Wi-Fi smart lock 7

When you finally move into your new home, the next step is to spend extra time on everything you need to reinstall, mount or wiring all the smart home accessories you bring. After bringing the box, luggage and furniture it is a bit more.

Then, of course, you need to configure the accessories according to your new location. This means reconnecting them to Wi-Fi, giving them the right room assignment, and tweaking the settings to reflect your new environment. Grouping and automation may also need to change – it is not necessary to turn on the smart bulb at 7 a.m. in a room with adequate natural light, for example.

If you leave behind an accessory, it can create significant gaps in your ecosystem. The choice then is to survive with those gaps or to spend on new hardware, which may be prohibited due to other ongoing expenses such as shipping, travel and new furniture. I will probably debate my new direction.

Ways to reduce pain

Nanolive shaped panels in a bedroom

One of the things you can do to keep up the good content is to bring your existing Wi-Fi router with you. Connect it to your new modem and all your accessories will be back online as soon as you reinstall them. Make sure you keep the same SSID (network name) and do not reset any accessories unless absolutely necessary. If you can’t bring your existing router with you, you can set up a new one with the same SSID and password and technically, the strategy should do the same.

Whenever you buy a smart lock, doorbell or thermostat, it’s a good idea to save the ‘dumb’ accessory you’re replacing in a dedicated box.

Whenever you buy a smart lock, doorbell, or thermostat, it’s a good idea to save the “dumb” accessory you’re replacing in a dedicated box, complete with any special tools, parts or instructions needed to get it back on. I use a smart accessory box to make the process easier – my old deadbolt knob, for example, is stored in my August Smart Lock retail box.

Be sure to label everything old and new with where it goes, at least if there is the slightest chance of confusion. If you get a dozen Philips Hugh bulbs, for example, it’s hard or impossible to remember which one goes into which house. Take a sharpie, some masking tape and go to town. That way, you don’t have to change the bulbs and house names in your new place.

Related: A guide to get started with Phillips Hugh

On the same line, when you first install a smart home product, take a photo of any pairing code or get complex installation details like thermostat wiring. Save these images to well-organized cloud notes that you can share with others if necessary.

Have you ever had to make a move with smart home gear in Tote? How hard was it?

5 votes

The latest thought

Google Nest Cam with Floodlight is installed

C. Scott Brown / Android Authority

I understand, naturally, that only a lot of accessory manufacturers can improve mounting and wiring. They have no control over how apartments and houses are made and when it comes to outdoor accessories, you don’t want things to be too simple. Thieves sometimes target doorbells and security cameras, even tearing them apart within seconds when they are lazily mounted.

Regardless, the smart home company should have some factor in the design process, especially when it comes to software. It seems crazy that I can’t go to an app and quickly transfer one or more accessories to someone with an account on the same platform. A new owner sometimes needs to download an app and create that account, but they have to do it anyway and this will make the transfer process faster and easier.

If nothing else, it should be common for sellers to be advised to move out of the factory reset. Here in the real world, people often have to move every few years, and when they jump in, they are not always willing or able to buy new smart home accessories.

Continue reading: These five advances promise to “fix” the smart home

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