Become an Approved Installer

Join Us

Smart Home Blog

Smart Home Blog

WiFI Speed

WiFi is so important for your smart home devices

We have typically thought of gas, electric and water as our main utilities, but with the development of the smart home, WiFi is the now regarded as the fourth utility and is vital for everything to work effectively.  Even the basics of streaming what we want to watch, puts the demand on our WiFi and you certainly know by your viewing experience if your WiFi is any good.

Speed available – it isn’t always down to getting the fastest service and more about what is available in your area.  Not all areas have the fastest speeds or fibre available, so it is about looking for the best and fastest service available for your area.  There will be websites in your area where you will be able to check the providers available and the speeds that they can offer.  Another example for those BT customers waiting for higher speed WiFi is their postcode checker to see when full fibre will be available for your home.

Price – a faster service can quite often come with a higher premium, so you do need to decide what you need versus what you want to pay, plus the length of the contract.

Service – There are more and more companies providing WiFi services so read up on them and their service.  How does it compare to others, is it reliable, what is their customer service like?  All important factors when choosing the best option.  Sometimes you only find out how good a company is when something goes wrong, so make sure you read reviews so you know if this happens, that they will sort it out for you.

Our last suggestion is that while connecting to WiFi within your home for any device could be your only option, where you do have the option to run an ethernet cable from your router to your device, do so – you will get a better and more stable connection. Also, to keep the bandwidth usage to a minimum in your house (and to assist you in achieving better speeds in the rooms you are using) turn off (or put to sleep) any WiFi reliant devices when not using them, such as Amazon Firesticks, Smart TV’s etc…

How your smart home could be at risk from hackers


Our homes are becoming full of smart home devices as we strive for a more efficient and automated life and experience, but are you at risk of being hacked?

The simple answer is ‘yes’.  A typical selection of smart home devices ranges from televisions to security networks through to thermostats and more and more smart appliances around the home – all connected to your internet.

Some devices are more robust than others against hackers, but it only takes one vulnerability to allow you to be hacked and at risk.  A recent experiment by a well-known consumer group, found that a camera purchased from Amazon was easily hacked with the culprit using the camera to spy into the home – scary!  Even we were surprised to learn that in the week of the experiment, 1107 hacks occurred which came from all over the world, 66 of which were malicious and targeted.

A key target was a printer – however the hackers weren’t successful due to the strong default passwords being in place, compared to a wireless camera which didn’t and was therefore easily hacked.  Sophisticated software is used by hackers worldwide to seek out vulnerabilities and weak passwords in our smart home devices, with focus on routers, wireless cameras and connected printers when they come online.

The Government is looking to launch a new standard which will regulate connected products to provide a minimum level of security.  One of the focus areas will be on default passwords, you will often see them as ‘admin’ or ‘12345’ – this new move by Government will in effect make them illegal.  In the experiment done, those devices with the unique default passwords faired better than those who had the standard default passwords in place.

In the meantime you can help to make your smart home more secure:-

Security features – check what is available with each of your smart devices – check the manuals or app and use two-factor authentication if it is available.

Updates – make sure you always run the updates when available so you have the most up to date protection available for the device.

Default passwords – change them, as soon as you set up the device, don’t leave the default password, change it to yours, or a strong password.

Phishing emails – when you first set up your device, be aware and check that any validation emails you receive are valid and not a phishing email.

Return your device – if you don’t feel that is safe and could be easily hacked or the security feature aren’t sufficient, return it.

Smart Home

Automating your Smart Home

Simply put, having an automated home means that you have a central unit that gives you control over any compatible devices that is connected to it. This gives you the benefit of being able to program different devices to work together automatically, from one central control unit.  You can control your heating, smart lighting, entertainment devices, security and much more for example.

The aim of creating a more automated smart home is to save you time, effort and to generally enhance your lifestyle.

Some of the great features of home automation, is being able to do things like programme your heating to come on when the temperature reaches a certain level or even control your thermostat from the comfort of your sofa.  To provide more security you could programme your security or camera system to recognise your family but alert you to any strangers, or use them to communicate with delivery drivers or visitors.

Love your entertainment – take the opportunity to conceal your high-tech kit to create a cleaner interior design or use your home automation system to play your favourite songs throughout the house.  The whole idea is to make your life simpler.

Some key reasons to move towards home automation: –

Simplicity – getting up each time you want to change your heating setting or getting ready upstairs and want to play some music – these are all mundane tasks – home automation makes this easier, no more walking round the house!

Management – being able to control all your smart devices in your home from one place (unit or app) makes it easier to manage rather than having to operate each device separately and from different apps.

Energy – by having the control of your devices at your fingertips, you home will naturally become more efficient.  By using home automation, you will know exactly what is on and what is off and how much energy is being used.  It is great way to control your heating in each room, setting the temperatures and save energy by linking your lighting to sensors so they area only on when they need to be.

Security – as we have all become more security conscious, a smart home system and automation will give you better peace of mind as you can control and set up your devices to protect your home and to know who is visiting etc.  All this when you are at home and not there.

Fun and interactive – technology isn’t just about making life easier but also more fun.  With home automation you can simply change the mood lighting in your room from your app, crank up the music in all rooms in your home and press a button to reveal a hidden TV – all fun.

House value – as we all demand simpler lives and solutions that not only save us time and money, selling on your house complete with a smart home system can be it more attractive to buyers and increase the value.

Some great benefits but do remember building your smart home can take time.  There are some quick fixes, smart bulbs, a doorbell, but building your home to be fully automated takes time and planning as well as looking at the budget you have available to reach your desired goal. Bear in mind that a typical cost for a smart home automation project can set you back circa £10k but can be a lot higher depending on what you want to achieve.  Obviously the more you spend the more that can achieve.  One great bit of advice before you even start any project is to make sure you have a good internet service as this is the base operation of any system.  Get in touch with your provider to ensure that you are getting the best service possible.

With any system of this scale, don’t try doing it yourself.  No harm in doing the research, checking what products and systems are out there, but to achieve the best results use an Approved Installer who will not only be able ensure that everything is installed and working correctly but will also be able to advise you to get the results you want.


Save your energy

With the rise in cost in gas and electric, there is no better time to look at how you can use less energy and become more efficient in the home.  Surprisingly the average household (containing 4 occupants) uses 13 electronic devices – all using energy.  Naturally over the past 10 years we have been increasing our energy usage with new devices that we use in the home such as TV’s and laptops.  Although energy usage has increased directly linked to the number of devices they are now produced being energy efficient, this doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to reduce your energy usage.

Let start with your Gas usage – look at your appliances, how old are they?  Older models will use more energy and it may be worth upgrading where you can to a more energy efficient model.  Installing a smart thermostat is also a great way to control your heating more easily and track your usage.

And your Electricity usage – again look at your devices and gadgets, are they old, are there more energy efficient options available to you – always make sure you look at this when buying new ones.  Look out for energy saving lightbulbs, the rating on items such as dishwashers.  One key thing is to switch off your appliances at the plug when not being used – if they don’t need to be on, switch them off.

Some quick tips to save energy: –

Buy and install a smart thermostat– they will make your heating more efficient but only heating the rooms that are being used, at the right temperature, at the right time.  You can control them by your phone which means you can easily change what is needed.  Just by installing room thermostats, programmers, and thermostatic radiators, you could save upto £75 per year.  You may be surprised to know by just turning your heating down by 1 degree could save you upto £80 per year!

Appliances – make sure any appliance which just sits in standby is turned off at the plug – this could save you upto £30 per year alone.  Make it easy for yourself by using smart plugs/sockets that you can control easily from your phone – there is no excuse then.  When buying new appliances, check out the energy-efficiency rating. For example a washing machine with a rating of A+++ is expected to use £65 less energy than one which is rated A+.   Even better savings are with a fridge freezer, an A+++ rated appliance could save you £320 in energy bills over its lifetime.

Washing – change your habits and wash at a lower temperature, going from 40 degrees to 30 degrees will reduce your energy usage and cutting out one cycle per week will add an additional £5 saving per year.

Check how much energy you are using – this is one of the best ways to change your habits.  Knowing what you are using and when will help you identify what you need to do.  When you start doing some of the things mentioned in this blog and then see in front of your eyes the impact it has on your energy usage – you will form new habits and become far more aware of how you can save money.  Don’t just look at your appliances, check out your boiler, insulate your roof, check if you have draughts and consider investing in double glazing.

Making your home smarter overall will in the long-term help you become energy efficient.

ID Template EDITABLE 1

Why should you use an Approved Installer?

We provide consumers with an easy-to-use free directory of businesses for installation services for anything technology based in the home.  Whether it is a simple aerial fix or installation, automating your home to make it smarter or getting the best network in place for watching your favourite films or working from home – you can find what you need via our directory.

But why use us?  Well, we have been around longer than you think.  Right from the days when TV was analogue, and everything was changing to digital.  You may remember the little TV robot man and the pink digital tick that was carried by installers and on their vehicles – well that was us! At that time, we were making sure that you had access to Approved Installers to ensure you could continue getting TV when it was switched to digital.

Our professional standards and approval process remains in place today.  We do this so you don’t need to worry.  You can check out the process that we go through by visiting the details here, but in summary we make sure the installers you find in our directory are credible businesses and have the knowledge and skills required to complete the work advertised.  Most importantly we make sure that they are fully insured and have the correct levels and type of insurances in place to do the work.  We don’t just do this once we do this every year and if our installers want to advertise new areas of services, we check this out too.

What makes us different to the other tradesman type directories?  Well, we all will carry out some form of approval checks, we’ve been doing ours for nearly 15 years, so you could say we know what we are doing.  Our directory is different as it is there only to help and support with anything technology based in the home.  This means you will find exactly what you need, we understand the sector and the skills required, we get close to our members as a smaller community, and we also work with manufacturers so understand the products.  We pride ourselves on being a community and providing a niche set of Approved Installers to help you with technology in the home.

Don’t forget, you can get in touch with us directly, sometimes a quick call can help and then we can point you to the right Approved Installer or we can get them in touch with you.  We listen and help consumers every day with queries or even in the very rare circumstance when they are not happy with one of our Approved Installers – we will listen and help.

So, although it may be tempting to network your own home or install that new home security system, there is nothing better than getting professional help to ensure it is done properly and provide you with peace of mind – use one of our Approved Installers and you won’t be disappointed.

Fitness Tracker

Does a fitness tracker really help your fitness?

You see these more and more on people’s wrists and the buzz is about how many calories have you burned, how many steps you have taken, but do fitness trackers really help with your fitness.

We do all know that moving more and exercising more is good for our heart, but do we know if we are doing this enough or as much as we think?  This is where a fitness tracker really helps. We may think we have walked a lot or been active, but unless you see the results what you think and what you have achieved could be entirely different.

A fitness tracker will enable you to monitor how much you have moved, how many steps you have taken and help you with goals.  You can set goals to increase your steps or the distance you walk/run each day.  This can create good habits and increase your knowledge on what you are achieving.

The positive outcome of a fitness tracker is that it can change your mindset.  Seeing your steps and activity each day will remind you that you need to move and create positivity and targets.  It empowers you to achieve a fitness level each day.  Before fitness trackers, you wouldn’t really have known this information and would make presumptions.

There are many to choose from, which include smartphone tracking apps, simple pedometers, and more complex wearable devices such as the Apple Watch.  When you decide what you want, what suits you and your budget, away you go.

Some top tips:-

Set a goal – 10,000 steps as a daily goal are talked about a lot.  Check with your doctor and set your own and have goals to increase it.

Use daily – consistency is key to get the most out of your activity and to build habits.

Enjoyment – find walking routes you enjoy or go at a time of day that suits you best.  Find an activity that you want to do and will do regularly.

Work as a group – many trackers enable you to link with friends and family – this can create a great support network to keep you on track and committed.

Accountability – check your numbers each day and if you see your doctor regularly keep them updated – answering to yourself can be very powerful.

Fitness trackers are here to stay, and they will get more complex and collect more data, but most importantly they get people moving more.

e bike

Should you buy an Electric Bike (E-Bike)

We are all seeing more electric bikes on the road, and over the pandemic with the increased creation of dedicated cycle lanes – is the trend likely to continue and should you buy one?

As with having a traditional bike, an electric bike comes with all the same benefits, but it comes with additional features that could make is more attractive and change your mind on owning an e-bike.  Here are some points to think about to decide if you need or want one:-

  • It will enable you to get up hills easier if this has been a stumbling block on getting out on your normal bike
  • Do you love cycling down by the local river or do you live in windy environment, an electric bike will help you ride against the wind with ease
  • If you have some health challenges that have stopped you riding an traditional bike, an electric option may help you with your bad knee or hip joint for example – you don’t have to work as hard
  • Want to go out on long rides but don’t have the stamina – an electric bike will enable you to go further with less effort
  • Stops you being a sweaty mess if you ride to work – electric bikes mean you don’t have to over exert yourself and get hot and you arrive for work ready to go
  • Wil help to cut down on commute time compared to a traditional bike if using it for work
  • Due to making your journey shorter they are more attractive to use in the winter for commuting than traditional bikes

Although the prices of e-bikes have traditionally been high, they have come down considerably making them more affordable.  The batteries are also more sophisticated and cheaper to replace, so e-bikes are more attractive than ever with prices starting as low as £500 up to £5000.

Don’t forget, getting out and doing any form of exercise brings some great health benefits!

Enabling parental controls on gaming consoles

gaming devices

As parents you might hate them and the time your kids spend gaming – unfortunately they are part of our kids lives and all that we can do is try to educate, protect and limit time spent stuck to a gaming headset.

An important part of protecting kids whilst gaming is using the parental controls.  Most modern gaming devices come with some parental control features.  There are a few key reasons they are present: –

  • Gaming laws wherever you may live
  • Screen limitation to help control how much time your kids spend gaming
  • Protect online wallets from exploiting kids with free-to-play tactics

Many new generation consoles come with the ability to activate the virtual babysitter inside your phone, PC or your game console.  Here are some key tips for the most popular: –

PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5

The PlayStation 4 although the older model is still very much out there with the PlayStation 5 gathering more popularity as the newest offering.

The parental controls allow you as a parent to create restrictions according to the age of your child and what you want to limit.  You can set limits on usage and create screen curfews easily which is a popular control with most parents.  Within the dashboard you can set it up to block mature rated games and Blu-ray movies so you can leave your kids being rest assured they aren’t seeing anything that isn’t appropriate for their age or what you don’t want them to see.  As they come with a web browser, you can also setup appropriate filters via the in-built service from Trend Micro.  A great feature considering the reports about grooming and bullying, is that you can monitor communication from friend requests, to blocking messages and the ability to download user-created content.

3 easy steps are: –

Allocate permissions to yourself or any other adult you wish to help monitor your kid’s activity

In your Account Management section, set up a Family, adding your kids as users

On the console go to Settings – Parental controls – Family Management which will enable all your security features and let you set up all the above areas discussed

Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X

Easy to use, online or on the console, you can set your limits for different users – great if you have different ages of kids.  You can monitor all the data captured and so you know what has been going on in the Xbox Family Settings App (available for iOS and Android).  The limit controls allow you to set these for time, rating and spending.  Within the app it provides the functionality to set up screen notifications for both games and apps and set an approval limit for microtransaction spending – a really useful tool.  One bonus addition is that it allows you to block exploitative loot boxes which are on the increase.  The features available in the app will apply to Xbox consoles, including Xbox One and next-gen Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PC’s too – cover all of your bases to protect your kids.

3 easy steps are: –

However you choose to access the family settings, you can set up the parameters to restrict communication, set time limits, filter web browsing and create your list to block mature content

Go to System – Settings – Account – Family, here you will be able to manage all the permissions for each user for each of your kids.  On your PC for Windows 10, you can manage family members under your Microsoft account

Purchase made on the Xbox, you select your kid’s account the Family setting, go to Privacy & Online Safety – Xbox Live privacy – View details & customize – Buy & Download. Again on your PC you do this through your Microsoft account.

PC and Mobile

While it may be easy to ban your kids from using games consoles, it is not as easy with phones as they can be pretty vital when they are out and about – also PC’s are now an essential part of school life.  They are both more complex than games consoles and require a different kind of parental control software.

This means that there is no single steps to follow but a whole host of apps to choose from. Most of the apps available will make it easy for you for you limit games use, check communications, control the games your kids can play and how long they can play for.  On some operating systems such as iOS, you can use the Screen Time settings to enter restrictions, set scheduling for play times and control multi-player access.  On the Android equivalent, unfortunately the settings are quite as powerful but with the operating system not being as locked down as iOS, this means that you can add in third party parental controls app – some popular ones are Qustodio and Kaspersky Safe Kids – when installed they are both more powerful than iOS.

On PC’s you can install a parental control app, and also use the built-in features which come with the most popular gaming-related programs.  By using the Family View, you can at least limit which games your kids have access to and apply time limits.

There has been a lot of press about Twitch which allows the viewing of others playing games through online streaming where you can watch live.  Within Twitch parents aren’t able to adjust privacy or messaging options at all.  Whilst Twitch promote a positive community the only solution if you don’t feel comfortable is to block the website altogether.

Nintendo Switch

At the forefront of online safety for kids is Nintendo, they want to ensure players are all ages are kept safe.  They do quite often get criticised for going too far as friends have to share lengthy codes to be able to play together online. They also drive you to use a cumbersome mobile app to enable voice chat between players – thoughts are that this doesn’t really offer much protection but just add a layer of inconvenience.

However, the Nintendo parental control app does offer genuine protection which comes with a number of features – available on both iOS and Android.  Within the app you can set up your time limits and restrict the content that your kids can access and in addition you can set up detailed schedules for gaming by allocating chunks of time to each profile you set up.  If there are specific sites you want to block you can set up your own blacklist and also create whitelists whilst setting controls age-appropriate gaming.

3 easy steps are: –

  • On the games console go to System Settings – Parental Controls. You will still be able to without the app, block games by age, limit communication and stop VR.
  • Download the app and follow the on-screen instructions under Parental Controls to synch the app and the Switch console – set to the same Nintendo account.
  • Once the mobile app is up and running, you will then be able to set time limits for your different profiles and block inappropriate content.

Phone contract ended, what should you do next?

mobile phone

Phone contract ended, what should you do next?

Phone contracts can last 12 months, 24 in a lot of cases, but what options do you have when your phone contract ends?

It is important to ensure you know when your contract is due to end.  Some providers don’t tell you and you could end up paying more than you need to.  You also need to decide if you want to enter another contract when your contract ends.

If you are happy with your phone, then do you really need to get another contract with a new phone.  If you are, then make sure you tell your provider and don’t continue paying the same monthly cost as you could be paying twice for the phone that you have had on contract.  Also, mobile phone tariffs are coming down so you may be paying a higher tariff than you need to.  Think about some of the options below: –

Pay as you Go

This is the option you need if you don’t want to be tied into any contract at all.  You basically pay for what you need upfront using top-ups which can be done online or via your phone on an app.  You don’t have to go through a credit check but be aware that the tariffs can sometimes be a little bit more expensive than some other options.  Shop around to get the best tariff.

Sim Only

When looking for this option you will see that there are two choices; fixed term contracts which will typically lock you into a contract for 12 months or a 30-day rolling contract which you can leave with a month’s notice.  It is thought that you usually get a better deal with the 12-month contract but that isn’t always the case so check before you commit.  If you are happy with your current phone, this is a great option to save some money and you can get some great packages if you are data hungry.  You will still have to go through a credit check for this option.

Buying a new phone

You may be at the end of your contract but still want a new phone.  You do have the option of buying the phone outright which could be a good option.  If you are looking to buy a cheaper phone, consider…

Buying a phone and getting a Sim only contract

Easy to do, you buy the phone and find the Sim option that suits you.  Compared to a two-year contract, this can work out cheaper if you get the right Sim only deal.  If you looking to avoid a credit check then bolt on a Pay as you Go deal. To keep the cost of the phone down, consider looking at refurbished phones as they are usually a lot cheaper.  Most places will offer a warranty and they will have been tested.  Some may not have packaging or accessories, but these are easy to pick up.

Don’t want to lay out up-front cost

This could be an option if you want the latest phone, but it is too pricey to pay for upfront and you still don’t want to be committed to a mobile phone operator via a contract.  Apple for example offer a purchase option where you don’t pay any interest.  Apple Monthly Payments is their offering for interest-free financing of a phone.  Now it is available for the iPhone 12, 12 mini and also the 12 Pro Max – go on to where you will find out all the details.

Compare Network deals

It could be the only option you have if you want a new phone.  It is recommended to look at reseller companies rather than go direct to the network operators – typically you will get a better deal – sites such as and Carphone Warehouse. They can quite often come up with deals to cut down on the phone cost and give you access to some great Sim deals. Ultimately the contract is with the network provider, so you get the same service but at a cheaper price.

So, when your contract is up, stop and think and review all your options before making a commitment to a new contract.

What do I need in a laptop?


What do I need in a Laptop?

Buying a new laptop can be confusing, with the number of laptops available, the difference in costs and understanding what you need.  It is worth having a think about what you want to use your laptop for, day to day tasks, work, etc.  Also think about your budget and look for the best you can get for your money.

Here are some tips to help make your decision: –

How powerful do you need it to be?

This is important depending on what you want to use your laptop for.  If you are planning to be a heavy user, maybe using your laptop for photo or video editing then this is vital to get right.  When looking at different laptops, you will see they all tell you what processors they have, and they will also show something called ‘clock speed’ measured in GHz and number of cores.  Simply put, if a laptop comes with a higher number of cores this will open the user ability for speed, it’s like driving down a motorway rather than a country lane – you can go faster.

The other area to consider with power is the RAM (Random Access Memory).  A high level of RAM gives you ability to instantly access files or content on your laptop.  It’s like getting something out of your drawer and having it on your desk – your desk is RAM – it is easier and quicker for you to get your hands on it.  Also, the bigger your desk (RAM) the more you can have on it!  4GB of RAM is standard now on most laptops, but if you are a heavy user, it is recommended to go for *GB.  Cheaper laptops or Chromebooks come with 2GB, so even a normal user may find this a little slow.

Operating System

Like the scenario with phones with them being in iOS or Android, laptops are now different.  There are three operating systems: MacOS, Windows and ChromeOS.  There are reasons to choose each of them: –


Opt for a MacBook – You will need a budget of at least £999 and if you want something to last you for years as they come with high build quality.  If you are an avid Apple user, then this is also a must.

Win Laptop1

Opt for a Windows 10 Laptop – If you know Windows well and used it for most of your life – this is the option for you.  If you already use specialist software that you need to keep using, then again opting for a Windows 10 laptop is essential – you will also get a big choice of laptops to choose from.


Opt for a Chromebook – This is a great option if you don’t have a lot of budget and want something simple to use.  You will also need to be willing to work on web-based applications.

Screen Size

It is best unless you have a really low budget to go opt for Full HD for any size laptop.  Bigger doesn’t always mean better either.  The larger the screen the heavier the laptop so bear this in mind.  An 11, 12 or 13 inch display will help preserve the battery life and give you a more portable laptop. The majority of laptops you will see will come with a Full-HD 1920×1080 pixel resolution screen which is ideal for most uses – the more you pay and the more expensive models some with a higher resolution and some come with 4K Ultra HD.

Battery Life

All laptops will come with an indication of the battery life but this is dependent on what you are using the laptop for.  Just use the guidance as an indication and don’t rely on it.  If you are out for several hours, it is always recommended to carry your charger.  Once you get used to your laptop, you will get a feel for exactly how long the battery lasts for.


Some guides to what you will expect to get for your money: –

Over £800 – This budget is recommended for technical tasks such as photo or video editing and gaming.  Great speakers and screen definition.

Under £800 – Good all-round spec, rounding up everything you get in a cheaper laptop as per below and a good battery life.

Under £600 – Expect 8GB of RAM, Intel Core i5, i7 or equivalent.  Good for general photo editing – you should be able to get a thin and light design that comes with a full HD screen.

Under £450 – Check it is a Intel Premium processor or equivalent and 4GB of RAM. You will get a good allrounder for general use with browsing and work tasks.  You should be able to get one with a full HD screen.

Under £300 – You should see the newer Intel Celeron processors with a max of 4GB of RAM.  Won’t provide you a fast user experience but for a light use you won’t be let down.

Under £200 – Expect to see an Intel Celeron or Atom processor and the maximum you are likely to get is 2GB of RAM.  Won’t be fast but for browsing and note taking, should serve you well.

The key to buying any laptop is to shop around, lots of options in store and online, read reviews and ask questions.  Following this, you should find the laptop for you.