SmartHome gadgets are handy, but what happens when the power goes out? Can you unlock the electric smart lock? Will all your smart lights turn on at 3am when the power comes back on? What about your garage doors?
Power outages aren’t much worse for smart homes
Power outages happen and they annoy everyone. Every home depends on electricity to power climate control, lighting, internet, appliances and many other modern conveniences. Power outage is a problem in the smart home, sure, but it’s a problem in every home.
Let’s be honest: losing power in a smart home is no different than losing power in any other home these days. Most smart devices stop functioning like most «dumb» devices, but there are some things to keep in mind, especially for smart locks and some smart lights.
Smart locks are battery powered and can be backed up
Just because you’ve lost power doesn’t mean the smart lock has completely stopped working. Smart locks are battery powered, so the locking mechanism can keep working even when the rest of your home loses power. However, any remote capabilities that depend on the Internet or a connected hub will not work. And that includes battery notifications, so if power outages are expected to continue, you can replace the batteries as a precaution.
Batteries dying won’t be a problem if your smart lock has a keyhole. In this case, make sure you have the key, but if your smart lock only has a keyboard or Bluetooth connection, then change the batteries, or at least check their charge. Some smart locks have 9V battery terminals; if this applies to you, then it may be wise to keep one in your car in the glove box. For example, both Schlage Z-Wave connect and Kwikset Kevo have keyholes, while Yale Assure Lock has a 9 volt battery backup option.
Smart lights can wake you up
While your energy is off, your smart lights are just like any other light source — off. They won’t do anything until you take back power, which is no surprise. The big question is what happens when the power is turned on again? Many smart lights will remain off until you explicitly turn them on. But some lamps, such as Philips Hue lamps, may work differently. Depending on the current setting, these lights may turn on as soon as your power returns.
If your rooms, especially bedrooms, have Philips Hue bulbs installed, you can check the current setting and change it to Power Loss Recovery, which puts the bulb in the last used mode it was in before the power went out. , This will prevent the light bulbs from dazzling at 3am when your power company fixes the power issue.
This is the setting you want to think through; the default «on behavior» option is useful for quickly turning on Philips Hue bulbs. If you have multiple lights controlled by a single switch, the default behavior allows you to turn the light switch off and on again to quickly turn on all connected smart bulbs.
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Without power, many things act the same
Many of your other devices are no worse than their dumb equivalent. Your smart thermostat has a backup battery, but that’s mainly to keep your schedules working memory. It can’t do without your HVAC system anyway, so if you don’t have a backup for that, what the thermostat will do is debatable.
The same goes for smart garage door openers — most of them have a battery backup to raise and lower the door multiple times. But if the battery dies while you still have no electricity, the garage door opener will stop working (just like any other opener). You should be able to open it manually though — hopefully your torsion springs are in good shape.
If you’re not sure about the spring, take a look at the metal shaft that runs over the closed garage door. You should see one or two tightly wound springs with a metal circle on the end. If the spring is split into several pieces, it is broken and you must replace it. Another quick test is to unplug the garage door opening (usually a trailing rope) and try to lift the door yourself. If he is very heavy and does not go to bed. You should call a repairman to look at the torsion springs.
Any smart cameras are unlikely to work correctly. If they have a backup battery that can allow local recording but no internet, you will lose all remote control or viewing options. For example, the Nest Cams require constant power and Internet access, while the Sense8 camera has both local recording and a 2-hour battery backup. It won’t help you with daytime power outages, but if it goes out for a short time it will help.
And without power, there will be no voice assistants for you. You will have to agree to talk with real people, turn off flashlights and tell stories about ghosts.
Most of these devices will start up shortly after you restore power, but some may need to be rebooted for good measure. Simply test each smart device for functionality, especially if there are concerns that power surges could damage your electronics. For the most part, smart homes are no worse than any other home that loses power. Just be aware of the few differences and prepare for them and you’ll be fine.