Picking a Home Automation System for a Stress-Free Vacation


By Evan Wade

Taking an early spring break to beat the student rush? Travel is a great way to unwind, but all it takes is one logistical issue back home to turn a stress-free vacation into a nightmare all its own.

Whether you feel a long-distance need to protect your home, spy on your house sitter, or shine lasers at your pets (yes, seriously), these three tech innovations make perfect additions to any home automation system, especially when travel’s a frequent part of your plans.

Digital Keys for Remote Accessibility

Your home doesn’t sit in stasis while you’re gone. Pets need to get fed, mail needs to be picked up, maintenance needs to be done . . . the list goes on. Making a key for every single person who needs access isn’t always a practical solution—or, for that matter, a secure one.

Enter the August Smart Lock. This high-tech home automation system doesn’t just allow you to lock and unlock your door over Wi-Fi—it lets you assign “virtual keys” to smartphones and tablets, and even keeps a log of who enters and exits. Need to let Nana in at exactly 2:35 pm on Tuesday to water the plants? No problem. Want to make sure the friend dropping mail on your kitchen table wasn’t hanging around long enough to snoop? Check the log.

As a smarter, safer take on traditional keyed entry, the August Smart Lock grants the most important thing you can have on any vacation: peace of mind.

Virtual Petcare: Attention, Love, and . . . Lasers

Some home automation systems allow you to remotely protect your home. Others help you spread (and receive) a little love. The Petcube Interactive Wi-Fi Pet Camera’s 720p video feed enables you to keep an eye on your furry friend, while its two-way microphone means you can hear and talk to them any time you please.

That’s not all, though. Petcube also comes with a built-in controllable laser pointer, meaning you can drive your best animal buddy nuts no matter how far apart you may be. Professional dog-walkers are nice and all, but you know your pets enjoy the comfort of their human as much as possible.

Total Control of Everything—From Anywhere

Even if you don’t need to grant visitors remote access or play catch-the-laser with Fluffy, you may still have an uncontrollable itch to oversee what’s happening in your house while you’re away. With its comprehensive suite of sensors and controls, Insteon’s 2582-242 model makes that concern a thing of the past—with an emphasis on control.

The system’s light dimmers work on a preset schedule or manual control via Wi-Fi, while the wireless thermostat lets you remotely tinker with your home’s temperature. Then there are the sensors, which work brilliantly in tandem with the included tilt-pan IP cam: the home automation system can, for instance, ping you if it detects motion in your bedroom, tell you if your bathroom sink is leaking again, or even alert you if someone’s opened the liquor cabinet (perfect for those vacations where the teens stay at home).

Keep your pets engaged and entertained with the futuruistic Petcube, available through Newegg.


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