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Smart home technology continues to make significant leaps into the mainstream consciousness as devices become less expensive and pack more usefulness into smaller packages. A key example of this phenomenon is the iHome iSS50 SmartMonitor.
Anyone who wants to create a smart home needs to rely on different sensors that can monitor a wide variety of data points including temperature, humidity, motion, light, and sound.
Just a few years ago, if you wanted to monitor all of those different aspects of your home environment, you would have had to pay a pretty penny to install sensors that couldn’t talk with other smart home devices. But, thanks to new innovations, this is no longer the case.
With the iHome SmartMonitor, you can keep track of all five of those data points in a small and easy-to-use package that can interact with other devices to truly create a cohesive modern smart home.
If you’ve purchased the iHome SmartMonitor, this guide is for you. We’ll be taking a comprehensive look at the monitor and its uses:
1. Unboxing and Setting Up the iHome SmartMonitor
After opening up the iHome SmartMonitor box, you’ll find the device itself, a power cable, power adapter, and a Quick Start Guide. The device needs to have power at all times to function. So find a nearby power plug to get started and wait until you see the Wi-Fi icon on the top left of the screen begin to flash.
On the front of the device is an LCD screen that displays important information including Wi-Fi status, temperature, humidity level, a motion indicator, and sound indicator. Below the screen is one of the sensors.
The back of the SmartMonitor, along with the power port, features a dimmer button for the LCD screen and a hard reset button. Press the dimmer button to toggle through five different levels: auto, high, medium, low, or off.
Connecting to the iHome SmartMonitor
After starting the app, you’ll need to select the Devices tab on the Android version or the HomeKit tab on an iPhone or iPad. Select Add Device and follow the on-screen prompts to connect and set up the SmartMonitor and connect it to the local Wi-Fi network.
Apple users can also add the device to their existing HomeKit setup. During setup, scan the accessory code located in the Quick Setup guide or on the monitor itself.
If you’re new to HomeKit, the smart home hierarchy is only available on iOS devices and the Apple Watch. Available through the built-in Home app and iHome Control app, you can integrate compatible devices into a number of different scenes and automations.
There are three basic parts of HomeKit and the Home app you should get to know: Rooms, Zones, and Scenes.
All three can be completely customized in the iOS Home app and help make it easier to leverage all of the compatible smart home devices.
As you could probably guess, Rooms are where different devices are located in a home. Zones are a number of adjoining rooms.
If you have a number of different HomeKit devices, Rooms and Zones makes it easier to interact with the technology. For example, instead of asking Siri to turn off lights one by one, you can simply ask to turn everything off in a certain room or specific zone.
Setting up that information does take a bit of time. But it definitely pays off if you’re interested in building an Apple-compatible smart home over time.
Different HomeKit devices can also tie together with Scenes. You’ll create a name for a specific Scene and then select how different devices work. You can choose, for example, to create a Good Morning scene that will turn on all of your lights and unlock a door. You can activate a scene with the Home app or just a Siri command.
We’ll talk more about other HomeKit features a bit later.
Using an iHome Account
An optional step is to sign up for an iHome Account in the Settings menu. This allows iOS users to remotely control iHome devices without the need of an Apple Home Hub. You can also create rules that run on an iHome SmartPlug without an iPhone. Finally, it’s also a necessary step to share access with Android users.
Share Access With Different Devices
Now that setup is complete, you can share access to the monitor and its data with other iOS or Android device users.
On the iOS side, there are two different options. If you want to share access to another device using the same iCloud account, download the iHome Control app to the new device and wait for the SmartMonitor to appear, then select it.
If the other iOS device doesn’t use the same iCloud account, sharing is a bit different. On the first iOS device with the app, head to Settings > Sharing and then follow the instructions. You can then download the iHome Control app on the other device and open it. Then accept the invitation.
Using an Android device, download the app on the second device and then sign in with the same iHome account credentials. You can also grant access from the Settings > Sharing menu.
Just to note, you can only share between iOS devices, from iOS to Android, and between Android devices. Unfortunately, you can’t share from an Android device to iPhones or iPads.
2. Using the iHome SmartMonitor
The main iHome Control app is basically the same on both iOS and Android with a few exceptions. Anyone with an iPhone or iPad will see four major sections: HomeKit, Sensors, Rules, and Settings.
On Android devices, there is no tab for Sensors. The HomeKit section on iOS devices is called Devices.
Harnessing the iHome Control App
The easiest way to interact and harness the power of the iHome SmartMonitor is using the iHome Control app.
On an iPhone or iPad, the first and most important section is HomeKit. In that first section, you’ll see the entire HomeKit setup with each specific room and all of the different devices, including the SmartMonitor. You can also add or edit different rooms if necessary.
When selecting each device, you’ll see more information including the name and other important data. You can also check for a firmware update, identify the device, or remove it completely from a HomeKit setup.
In the next tab, Zones, you can see the different zones in the HomeKit home and add or edit. Finally, in Scenes, you can view and edit those as well.
With Android devices, the Devices tab will show you the current data from the SmartMonitor and other iHome devices.
The Sensor tab on the iOS version of the app is for iHome’s line of wireless sensors that aren’t compatible with the SmartMonitor.
You’ll probably be spending the most time in the Rules tab. This allows users to create different automations with the monitor’s data. You’ll learn more about these in the next section.
Finally, in Settings, you can view iHome account information, view information about other iHome products, and contact iHome Support if you are having issues.
Just to note, while the iHome SmartMonitor features a nice variety of different sensors, none of the data is recorded for access later. That means you won’t be able to see different trends over time or exact information for a specfic time or day.
Creating Rules With the iHome SmartMonitor
To create your first rule, select the Add a Rule button on the bottom of the page.
A new box will then appear. First, make sure to give the rule a name to tell them apart. There are then two options to select from: Control a Plug or Receive Sensor Notifications.
Plug control only works with the line of smart plugs from iHome, including the latest model, iSP8. While those plugs can be set to a specific schedule or to work in tandem with the Nest Thermostat home/away functionality, the Sensor option is specifically for the SmartMonitor.
Once that is chosen, you’ll pick an iHome plug to control. You’ll then select the specific SmartMonitor. All five of the different sensors are available to select from next.
Separate temperature and humidity triggers are available when those levels exceed or drop below a specific threshold.
Sound, motion, and occupancy triggers are available to select from when those different sensors either detect or don’t detect specific data.
As a nice touch, multiple sensors are available to add together for a single rule. For example, you can select a temperature and light trigger before a rule is run.
Next, you’ll choose if you want to limit the rule to a specific time of day. You can pick a start and end time along with days of the week for it to repeat. Optionally, the app will provide a notification whenever the rule runs. Below that is a complete summary to help you determine if everything is correct.
Hit Create Rule on the bottom of the page when you’re done.
The second option in the Add Rule menu is to receive specific sensor notifications. After adding a name, you’ll once again select the iHome SmartMonitor and select from one or multiple trigger sensor using the different options. Those can also be active only during a specific timeframe as well.
All of the different rules can be seen on the tab when complete. Hit the “i” icon to take a closer look at each one. You can also swipe left to quickly and easily delete one.
Working With Apple’s Home App and Siri
While Apple’s built-in Home app is a great way to interact with all of your HomeKit devices, there is a notable issue when interacting with the iHome SmartMonitor. You can only create an automation using the device’s motion sensor. So you can’t use any of the other sensors.
But if you want to create an automation with the motion sensor, just select the Automation tab in the Home app. Select Create a New Automation and then A Sensor Detects Something. On the next page, select whether the automation runs when the sensor detects motion or stops detecting motion.
You can also optionally specify a time and or whether the automation runs when you’re home or not home.
Next, choose if a specific scene will run or to operate another applicable HomeKit device. For example, the automation can turn lights on or off and even lock and unlock a door.
HomeKit compatibility does open up a great way to check the status of all the sensors, as you can simply ask Siri. With just a simple voice command, you can check the exact and temperature or humidity, check the current light level, and see if motion is being sensed.
Just ask “Hey Siri…”
“What’s the temperature of [iHome SmartMonitor name]?”
“What is the humidity of [iHome SmartMonitor name]?”
“Has motion been sensed at the [iHome SmartMonitor name]?”
“What’s the light level of [iHome SmartMonitor name]?”
All of those Siri commands are available on your iPhone, iPad, and even Apple Watch.
An Additional Option: Wink
Along with Apple HomeKit and the iHome Control app, there is one additional option to take advantage of the SmartMonitor environmental data: the Wink Smart Home hub.
While it’s not as well-known as other options on the market, there are a number of products compatible with the system including Philips Hue lighting, a number of different smart locks, and smart thermostats like Nest.
You’ll need to use the Wink app, but you can add a number of different automations using the SmartMonitor. For example, if coming and tripping the motion sensor, specific lights could automatically turn on.
Practical Automation Using the iHome SmartMonitor
Even though the SmartMonitor doesn’t work with other third-party smart home services like IFTTT, there are a number of practical uses for the device, especially if you’re willing to also purchase a compatible iHome Smart Plug.
Using an iSP5, iSP6, iSP6X, or iSP8 smart plug, you can control pretty much any electrical appliance you can imagine with the sensor data.
Here are some examples of practical uses for the monitor and plug combination:
- Turn on lights when motion is detected in a room.
- Switch on a fan when a the temperature rises past a certain set point in a room.
- Turn lights on at sunset and turn them off at sunrise.
- Power up your humidifier if a room gets too dry.
- Turn off lights when the sound level drops below a certain point.
The different data points from the sensors can also be combined when creating an automation. For example, a humidifier would only come on after a room gets too dry above or below a certain temperature.
As a nice touch, the iHome Smart Plugs by themselves are also compatible with Amazon’s Alexa voice service. With just a quick command to any Echo device or other compatible product, the plugs can be turned on and off.
And past those automations, there are a great number of different creative uses for a smart plug that can help from out around the house from early morning to bedtime.
3. Troubleshooting iHome SmartMonitor Issues
Just like with any other modern piece of technology, there may be a number of situations where the iHome SmartMonitor isn’t working correctly. Here are three of the most common issues and what you can do about each.
iHome SmartMonitor Can’t Connect to the Internet
The SmartMonitor will continue to collect data and operate normally even without an internet connection. But the Wi-Fi connection is what allows users to view data on the companion app and allows the device to work with HomeKit and other automations.
You can easily see if the device is connected to the internet by taking a look at the Wi-Fi status indicator located on the top left-hand section of the screen near the temperature. If the wireless signal icon is flashing, that indicates that the monitor doesn’t have an internet connection. When that icon is solid with a border, the device does have a connection to your Wi-Fi network.
The first thing to check is to make sure that your router is currently transmitting at 2.4GHz. A number of dual-band routers allow users to only transmit on the 5GHz spectrum. But the SmartMonitor requires a 2.4GHz signal.
If you’re still having issues after confirming that your router is transmitting on that band, the next area of concern is the location of the SmartMonitor and router. If possible, move the monitor closer to the router or vice versa.
Finally, if issues continue, consider purchasing a wireless mesh system — like Eero or Orbi — for your home. A new type of technology, these systems can help provide a fast and strong Wi-Fi signal anywhere in your home, no matter its size.
iHome SmartMonitor Isn’t Accurately Sensing Temperature or Motion
There may be some situations where the SmartMonitor isn’t properly sensing the temperature of a room or any motion. That can cause issues in a number of different areas like specific automations and HomeKit use.
When first installing the device, make sure to wait more than two hours before use. According to iHome, it will take that time to auto-calibrate the home environment.
Also, make sure that the monitor’s location isn’t in direct sunlight or a heating/air conditioning vent. That can cause an incorrect reading.
To properly act as a motion detector, the SmartMonitor should be sitting in the direction you want to cover. Detection is accurate to around 20 feet.
You can adjust thresholds for the sound, light, and motion detection in the iHome Control app. Select the monitor in the HomeKit or Devices tab. Scroll to the bottom and select either the Light Threshold, Sound Threshold, or Motion Threshold tab in Preferences.
Problems Using Siri to Access Data and Other HomeKit Issues
Another problem area sometimes occurs surrounding HomeKit compatibility with iOS devices and the Apple Watch. Lets walk through a few troubleshooting steps.
The first and simplest option is to make sure that you’re currently using the correct iCloud account with the HomeKit information.
All of the HomeKit data is tied to a specific iCloud account. On an iPhone or iPad, head to Settings and then select the portion at the very top of the page with your name. Make sure everything is correct and that the Home and Keychain options are on. Both of those are necessary for HomeKit to work correctly.
Next, go to Settings > Privacy > HomeKit. Make sure that iHome Control toggle is on. That allows the app to view HomeKit data.
If that doesn’t help, you can next attempt to manually reset the iHome SmartMonitor itself. On the rear of the monitor, press the Reset button for at least 15 seconds. All settings will have to be reconfigured in the iHome Control app.
Also, be aware that while you can fully access any HomeKit information and Siri control when using your home network, the situation is different when you’re out of the house. You’ll need a Home Hub — either a modern Apple TV or a configured iPad at home — to use the Siri control and other features on the road.
Multi-Purpose Monitoring With iHome SmartMonitor
While there are some limitations to be aware of, the iHome SmartMonitor is a great way to harness sensor technology to build a more effective and powerful smart home set up.
Especially if you’re an iOS user, that data can is accessible almost anywhere and can also be part of different automations to help make your daily life just a bit easier. That’s definitely a winning combination for such an inexpensive device.
Do you have any questions about iHome SmartMonitor including how to set it up and use the multi-purpose sensor?