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Peq review: A robust, DIY connected-home system

Jake Widman | Jan. 27, 2015
The Peq system provides a painless way to monitor conditions in your home, from leaking water to open doors, and to control lights, locks, and other features.

The Peq pedigree
The Peq system is largely powered by Icontrol Networks, an old hand in the connected-home market that a number of other service providers have selected: ADT (Pulse), Comcast (Xfinity Home), and Cox (Cox Home Security), to name a few. To set it up, you connect a Netgear ASG1100 hub to your router. You then you log onto the Peq website and wait for the hub to be recognized. The instructions warn that this can take up to 15 minutes, but it took about half that long in my case. As with every step in configuring the system, you can view a short video of the process before you start.

Once the hub is "discovered" by your network, it downloads any pending firmware updates. Then you're ready to start pairing devices via the browser interface. The general procedure is to power-on the new device, either by plugging it in (as with the lamp module), or pulling out a plastic strip that blocks the battery (as with the door/window sensor). Now place the device near the hub until it's discovered and paired, at which point you give it a name and place it where you want. Each device comes with step-by-step onscreen instructions that are very easy to follow. Really, there's nothing to it.

I started with the door/window sensor. It has two components, the sensor and a magnet. Once the sensor is paired, you put one component on your door or window (using either a mounting bracket or double-sided sticky tape, both of which are included) and the other part on the jamb or frame. You must line up the two parts and make sure they're within a half-inch of each other. Once that's done, your onscreen or in-app Dashboard displays the status of the door (open or closed) as well as a notification if it changes.

Next, I set up the water sensor. After it's paired, the instructions say to test it by holding it to a damp paper towel. This is where I ran into one of the few minor glitches I found with the system: the damp paper towel did register as "water detected," but the message remained even after I removed the towel and dried the sensor. Removing and replacing the battery worked to reset the device.

Once the sensor was ready, I placed it on the floor of my basement, next to the drain where there's always water when the washing machine is going. I started a load of laundry and went back upstairs. Sure enough, in about 10 minutes my Dashboard showed a "water detected" message.

I tested three other devices in my assortment: the lamp module, essentially a smart plug; the motion sensor, and the camera. As with the door and water sensors, the instructions and videos were clear and setup was painless. I did not test the thermostat, because I didn't think my landlord would appreciate my taking his existing one out.

 

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