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It seems that remote work is here to stay so we are increasingly customizing and improving our home workspaces. An important part of that improvement can be achieved with smart devices or Smart Home solutions. Many of these devices may already be at home or can be reused. Let’s take a look at my case.
The problem (in terms of remote work)
In my case, I use a small desk in a living room where I can also watch TV. How can a Smart Home solution help me with remote work? The network in that room includes the following devices:
- An unmanaged 5-port Gigabit mini-switch from NetGear. It is the central point where a Cat6 ethernet cable runs from the fiber router in the living room. I leave you a link to the updated version (Netgear GS305) because mine is from 2012 (GS105) although it still works as the first day.
- A TP-Link wireless access point, model XXX that I used when I went on a trip in case there was no stable WiFi network in the hotel. In my case, this network allows me to isolate my living room and work computers from the Movistar network that is used for the rest of the devices. It is also quite old so I leave you the version I would buy right now (TP Link TL-MR3020) and much cheaper. It also includes the option to connect a 3G/4G modem and power it with an external battery.
- A Samsung Smart TV that I use as an external display when I need a larger screen. It is connected via Ethernet cable to the mini-switch so as not to consume wireless bandwidth in case it is used for streaming.
- Google Mini como altavoz inteligente y acceso a Google Assistant. I got it with a purchase and have always wanted to use it to automate and voice control a zone.
- MacBook Pro 2020 work laptop with a smart hub to connect to an external display.
- Various chargers for cell phone (iPhone – iOS) and tablet (iPad – iOS) that I use almost for everything: work, leisure, study, … and now also as an access point to smart devices.
Well, all this has to be connected to the power grid and managed. And the longer we are at home working, the more.
As can be seen in the photo of the living room, there are two distinct areas: the TV and the computer. Until now, the way I managed it was with a standard power strip that I turned off mechanically. To be honest, I have always been reluctant to include a remotely controlled smart device and I have always been close to the Internet of Things (IoT) world, but when I saw the features of the Gosund Smart equipment, I decided to give it a try.
These are the main characteristics that made me decide:
- Integration with Alexa and Google Assistant. Mandatory holding a Google Mini Home. The native application allows third-party applications to be authorized to remotely control the equipment.
- Individual control of each of the plugs (3) and USB chargers (3). That is, you can activate/deactivate the entire power strip, each of the sockets and the three USB chargers.
- Mechanical activation/deactivation of each of the plugs. A plus to eliminate the risk of any problem with the WiFi network connection.
- It has a system for measuring the total power consumption of the connected equipment. This is a real plus and equivalent equipment does not always include it.
Installation of Smart Home equipment
Compatibilizing Smart Home solutions and remote work, or your infrastructure, has its tricks. The first thing to remember is that you need a WiFi network in the 2.4GHz band… and not too far away from where you plan to install the equipment. In my case, I connect it to the living room network to ensure that it can always be controlled.
The box and instructions include a QR code to download the application for your operating system. No problem at this point.
The pairing process is very simple: just follow a 3-step wizard to set it up. In my case I had to use an alternative process by connecting to the WiFi network generated by the device. In any case, as is always the case with this type of device, you will have to provide the data of the network to which you want it to connect in order to be able to control it.
The manufacturer’s application allows all kinds of automation and programming of the equipment, even depending on the change of the weather if you give it the GPS coordinates of the place where you have installed it. This part I have yet to explore as the initial goal was to integrate it with the Google Mini Home and be able to control it with voice: “OK Google. Activate the office monitor.”
Finally, a small analysis of energy measurement:
- The equipment does not show self-consumption or stand-by. Remember that it will be permanently activated in order to be controlled. This consumption is around 1.5W (see photo). As with all electronic power control, for low power consumption, the power factor, a measure of equipment efficiency, is very low (less than 15%).
- Low consumptions (stand-by of the equipment you want to control) up to about 5W (approx. 20-30mA) will not be detected. Here is also a comparison using an Oregon Scientific power consumption meter.
For now, the sensations could not be better. Using Smart Home solutions to improve remote working works. It is true that there is some difference between the total consumption and that measured by the application, but it is within the normal range for a device of this price.
The rest of the features work perfectly and the level of integration with Google Assistant is total: visibility, voice control, automation, … and that it has a mechanical control in case the wireless network does not work is fundamental.
Problem: it won’t be the last piece of equipment I buy for home 😀.
Here is a list of the equipment I used for this mini-setup. If you have any doubts or questions, leave a comment and I will try to solve them as soon as possible.