Welcome to part one of a seven-part series that looks at common smart products that can take an ordinary home into an extraordinary, smarter home. Today, we take a dive into defining the smart home and the wonders of a free Geek Squad consultation and on-site service.
My wife and I recently purchased a house in Toronto and I am enjoying looking at ways to create a safe, fun and inviting home with gadgets and the phenomenon called the “smart home.” Being a guy who loves tech and is eager to “smarten” our house, I am keen to reap the rewards of creating a connected home.
Connected home, smart home or the Internet of Things (IOT) home: no matter what you call it, the premise is the same. You are using the home’s Internet to connect home-enhancement products and control them from the palms of your hands via mobile device. While I already have a sweet-sounding Sonos system that I proudly set-up on my own, it is time to outfit more smart home solutions to make life easier on-the-go, provide peace of mind, and create a more comfortable living environment.
A smart home can be D-I-Y
Whether you are keen to control the thermostat, door locks, lighting, indoor/ outdoor cameras or security system, many of these devices are labelled as a do-it-yourself (DIY) solution. I am in the process of acquiring these items personally and will share my experiences installing these, right here on Plug In in this blog series.
While I consider myself an average handyman, you know, someone who can change a light fixture (in addition to changing a bulb), patch drywall and paint straight lines in a room, sometimes the label of a DIY smart product that controls important functions inside the home, like a gas furnace, may not feel like it is something you can do on your own. So, I turn to the pros: Geek Squad.
When smart home products are not “DIY,” call Geek Squad
Geek Squad have women and men on a mission to “set up, protect, support and repair your computers, home theatre, cell phones and more.” They came to my rescue in the comfort of my home after a failed attempt to setup my Nest Thermostat.
After ripping open the Nest packaging, I had that euphoric feeling like a kid receiving a new toy to play with on Christmas Day. It was reinforcing knowing this item is a practical “toy.” With a smart thermostat, it will improve our home control of the furnace and air conditioning, plus help manage—hopefully even lower—hydro bills.
I turned off the power and the furnace then removed the original, ordinary thermostat from the wall using a screwdriver. I saw the wiring, thought about what I was about to do, and came to the realization that if I do not properly install this device, I could have some big trouble on my hands. More importantly, with the spring weather still relatively cool in Toronto, incorrectly wiring may lead to major temperature fluctuations: for example, the air conditioning could freeze us out of our home, and could be an expensive proposition to fix.
After putting my original thermostat back in place, and tucking Nest back into the box, I made a call for help.
When in doubt, call Geek Squad for a free in-home consultation
Having interacted with Geek Squad many times before, I knew they were an easy call away. Heck, the phone number is so easy to remember (1-800-GEEK-SQUAD), it is cemented in my brain, right there with important life numbers, such as parent’s home phone, my local pizza parlour and the numeric date of my wedding anniversary.
Within minutes, I arranged for a free in-home consultation to receive quotes on pricing and installing smart home products, especially for installing that Nest, and some outdoor cameras with wire concealment (so out of my comfort zone).
Geek Squad to the rescue
The week after second guessing my ability to install the smart thermostat, Agents Nick and Josh from Geek Squad pulled up to our house in a branded van, dressed to the nines in matching attire. As expected, they were courteous and respectful, taking off their shoes upon arrival, as good Canadians do, and confirmed the work order I had requested.
We first went through the list of products my wife and I had identified as smart home devices we may need help installing: outdoor and indoor security cameras, and a Nest thermostat. Within 15 minutes a hand-written quote was provided and we could weigh the options and details that were provided about how items would be installed and the pricing. We will give it a few days to consider how we would like to tackle the security cameras.
Immediately after the quote was drafted, I asked Agents Nick and Josh to tackle the Nest installation which I had chosen to leave for the experts. To my satisfaction, like clockwork, they shut off the furnace and power, removed the original thermostat, then screwed and wired-in the new Nest thermostat. In less than 15 minutes they had the Nest charged and running.
After the installation, Nick showed me how to update the app software and use the new hardware.
One of the most convenient aspects of having Geek Squad on-site to provide a quote and install Nest was the flexibility to pay for the install on the spot. Originally, I was prepared to buy the service through GeekSquad.ca or visit a Best Buy store to first pay for the service, then schedule another service. But Nick was able to call and enter my credit card info right there and provide me with a written receipt.
Looking back, the hour spent with Geek Squad was well worth it. I received peace of mind that the smart thermostat was installed properly.
What’s Nest? Find out next week
The beauty of Nest, which you will read more about in my post next week in this smart home series, is it allows users to not only control temperatures inside the home, but it also learns habits and over time can adjust settings based on how you use it.
I look forward to sharing more smart home installation adventures over the next few weeks as I make my home smarter and smarter.