No internet, no problem

Why we built Staples Connect to run when the internet is down


If you’re communicating important information, don’t rely on a single communication channel.

This should be obvious. It’s not a difficult concept to understand. But this hasn’t been the case throughout history and still isn’t standard practice for home automation. People trust their data to one channel—a secure channel, sure, but still one channel.

Does this strike you as strange? Does this seem reckless and completely irrational? We protect and take care of our homes; why don’t we pay the same consideration to our connected home data?

We have a better way, and we want to share it with you.

All major home automation systems store their data in the cloud and retrieve it from there. This makes it easy for you to access your data from anywhere. It’s a good thing.

But it shouldn’t be the only way you communicate with your home automation hub. A system is as strong as its weakest link, and in home automation, that link is the internet connection—which is surprisingly flaky.

We went through the logs of the top 25 internet service providers at and found 1,963 reported problems dating back to July of last year. Over forty percent of all broadband users have an outage at least once a month; seventeen percent experience one once a week. Major providers CenturyLink and AT&T both had huge, multi-day outages a year ago. The goal of “Five Nines” reliability (99.999% uptime) is still more of a goal than a reality. Our internet is much less reliable than we’d like.

And “Five Nines” is still not 100%. If your data is only stored on a remote server, the small downtime will break your connection to your devices at home, which means that you won’t be able to control the devices in your house at that point.

Which is why it makes no sense to build a home automation system that only connects through the internet.

This is why we’ve built Staples Connect with two connections: remote and local. The remote connection works just like the connections we’ve described earlier. Your data is stored in the cloud and your hub communicates with it.

The local connection is a little different. Remember how you connected your hub to your home network? It’s still connected to that local network even if the internet connection drops out. Any device that’s connected to that network can communicate with your hub and the other devices on it. It doesn’t matter if those devices use Z-Wave, Lutron ClearConnect, Philips Hue, or D-Link’s cloud services to communicate. If you’re at home and your internet goes out, you can still control all of them with your phone or tablet as long as those devices are connected to that network.

And it doesn’t just extend to phones and tablets; devices can still trigger Activities that access other devices. Your living room Z-Wave motion sensor will still turn your Hue lights on when you enter and off when you leave. The Pico remote you use to run a “Good Night” Activity will still do just that.

If you lose internet after a big storm, hurricane, general wonkiness, or any other issues, remember that everything will still run. You can still adjust your thermostat, lock your door, and control your lights and outlets. Your Activities will run on schedule. You won’t lose control of your home because the internet isn’t working.

With Staples Connect, you get the benefit of 21st-century home technology in a reliable, robust structure. This isn’t some still-working-out-the-kinks software that you can’t rely on. We built Staples Connect to give you peace of mind. That starts with making sure you’re always in control of your home.

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