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Iris by Lowe’s – Tips and Tricks

I have been a long time user of the Iris by Lowe’s home automation system

I began using the Iris by Lowe’s home automation system years ago when it was first released. Earlier this year when Lowe’s announced the addition of optional professional monitoring security services, I quickly jumped on board. This blog post is dedicated to what I have learned over the years as I built out my Iris by Lowe’s system. I will offer more tips and trips as I run across them.

I use a combination of Iris motion sensors, contact sensors, smart AC plugs, surveillance cameras, and sirens to secure and automate my home and three outbuildings. While I know of other Iris users who have hundreds of devices, I have kept my investment reasonable. My wife and I enjoy tailored automation these days whether we are home or away. My insurance company likes my system too — reduced premiums.

I have learned a few tricks to save money over the years. After all Iris devices aren’t bargain-basement cheap. For example, I use third-party D-Link security cameras — at one third the cost of Iris cameras. I also use KMC smart plugs in lieu of Lowe’s Iris smart plugs when my AC switching requirements are basic. A KMC costs $10. An Iris smart plug costs $40. I will address these specifics later in this post.

The Iris system is hub based. Think of the hub as the central nerve system of your home automation and security system. All devices communicate with the hub wirelessly and the hub is connected to the Internet.

Hub placement

It is critical to centrally locate the hub in your home. And the hub must be connected via an Ethernet cable to your home network which is connected to the Internet. Failure the locate the hub centrally will give you nothing but headaches in the future when some far-away devices can’t connect wirelessly to the hub. Or devices drop their connections intermittently. These are RANGE issues. Devices can only be ‘x’ feet away from the hub. How many feet, you ask? It depends on your particular home, but I have devices in outbuildings that are over 250 feet away from my hub and they solidly communicate with the hub. The hub must be connected to your network via an Ethernet cable. Run a cable to a central location — if you can’t do it yourself, an electrician should be able to do it for you easily at little cost.

Iris Contact Sensors

From Lowe’s, Amazon or Ebay you may find two different types, first and second generation contact sensors. Functionally they are the same. Though 1st gen costs less, a 2nd gen sensor can be mounted with a slightly wider gap between, for example, a door frame and the door itself. If that isn’t important to you, buy the 1st gen instead.

Iris Motion Sensors

The only false alarms I’ve ever had with Iris have come from motion sensors. Consequently I use motion sensors sparingly and keep them as close to the hub as possible. Iris tech support has told me quick temperature changes or other local environmental issues may be the cause (yes, quite vague)  I use contact sensors in lieu of motion sensors whenever possible.

Iris Smart Plugs

I have two AC switching applications for smart plugs throughout my home, advanced and basic

  • An example of an advanced application would be to use a contact or motion sensor to turn a smart plug off or on which controls a lamp or other  household device. Or schedule a lamp to go off and on throughout the night for security purposes. Or control other devices when I am away from home, e.g. turn on a space heater one hour before I get home.
  • An example of a basic application is to turn off or on a grow light lamp at scheduled times. The grow light is simply on for ‘x’ hours per day. It does not need to work in conjunction with any Iris system home automation or security parameters. Why spend $40 for an Iris smart plug, when a $10 KMC smart plug which connects wirelessly to my router (not through the Iris hub) works just as well?

Iris Security Cameras

Lowe’s sells indoor and outdoor security cameras for its Iris system. But my camera requirements are steep. I have (need) six outdoor cameras and four indoor cameras. At Iris camera pricing that would cost well over $1,000.

Instead I use inexpensive D-Link webcams (930L/932L models). These D-Links work perfectly and are reliable. I access the cameras with my desktop computer when I am home or by using free D-Link app on my iPhone when I am away. If you happen to be in Mac household, there is terrific a D-Link ++ Viewer program available for your iMac — watch multiple camera feeds on the same screen.


…to be continued…