The Lowe’s Iris home automation kit has hit the market. Of course, it’s only available from Lowe’s Home Improvement stores. You’ll get all the home automation features that the other systems offer, with the added benefit of being able to purchase everything from a single source. I’m going to dig deep and talk about some of the features the system offers, and then offer up a comparison against some of the other home automation systems on the market today.
What is Lowe’s Iris?
Iris from Lowe’s is a wireless home automation system that gives you remote control of connected devices and systems in your house using either your computer, iOS device, or your Android mobile device. Unlike many other subscription-based home automation products, Iris gives you advanced control over your devices with their free subscription service.
With the free service you can have alerts sent to a number of people and have access to the Iris Magic rules system to gain a higher level of control over devices, such as turning your alarm on and off and programming your home thermostat. The Premium service gives you access to four preset system modes: home, away, night and vacation. These modes automatically set your lighting, thermostat, and alarm for their respective modes.
How the Iris System Works
All communication between devices and control utilities in the Iris system happens through the supplied Iris Hubs wirelessly. The Hub connects to an open port on your home Internet network’s router to communicate with the Iris system servers, making the system a “cloud-based” home automation system. This allows you to control your Iris system using a smartphone or computer over the Internet.
Your smartphone or mobile device will “talk” directly with the Iris Hub. On the other hand, in order to access the Iris Hub from a computer, the system must use the Internet. This is why the system requires an open port on your router. If your router is Wi-Fi-enabled, some of the Iris devices can communicate via the wireless signals. The Iris system brings together a variety of communication methods into a single system, including ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Wi-Fi.
Lowe’s Iris Offers Starter Kits to Make It Easier
There are three “kits” that you can start the Lowe’s Iris home automation system with, The Safe and Secure ($179), the Comfort & Control(($179) and the Smart Kit ($299). They all come with the Iris hub, which is the main control and connection point for everything else. From there, the components and features of the kits diverge significantly.
The Safe and Secure kit allows you to automate the security of your home and comes with a motion sensor, keypad, two sensors for doors, windows, or cabinets (think poisonous chemicals under the sink), and a window decal, plus the requisite cabling, batteries, and power adapters you’ll need to install it. According to website documentation, this kit takes about an hour to install. This is basically an amped up security system for your house.The Comfort & Control Kit comes with a Smart Plug and a Smart Thermostat, plus everything you’ll need to properly install the kit’s components. This kit gives you control over your homes heating and cooling system and one device plugged into the supplied Smart Plug, such as a lamp.
The Smart Kit is the large kit that gives you control over more devices. It comes with the Iris Hun, a motion sensor, two sensors for doors, cabinets, and the following:
- One Smart Plug
- A range extender
- A smart thermostat
- An Iris window decal
- Batteries, Ethernet cable, power cord, and mounting tape for installation
All three of the kits require a home broadband Internet connection, an open port on your router, an open electrical outlet close to your network router, and a normal Phillips #2 screwdriver.
There are a number of optional accessories for the Iris kits that you can buy to extend their reach and functionality. These include the following:
- Smart Plugs
- Iris Help/Panic button
- Iris Smart Key keyfob
- Wireless video cameras
- Smart keypads
- Smart thermostats
- Blue Line optical Electricity Meter Reader
- On/off light switches
- Motion sensors
- Door/cabinet/window switches/contacts
- Range extenders
- GE Smart modules
- Schlage keypad deadbolts and door locks
- Much more
This home automation product is backed by the Lowe’s name, so you know the service and support will be there for a long time to come. It uses several accepted and mature wireless technologies that are standardized, so you know the communication between devices and control units is reliable. Even better, Lowe’s offers a free subscription service that offers you much more than any of the others I’ve looked at so far. You even get two months of Premium service for free when you first hook up your Iris Hub so you can experience what the extra fee provides you with.