If geeks love it, we’re on it

Howdy, Stranger!

You found the friendliest gaming & tech geeks around. Say hello!

Home Automation

georgehgeorgeh Canton, MI Icrontian

Is anyone doing any home automation (or are we calling it Internet of Things now)? I'm getting the itch to do some stuff and have been reading up on the subject.

I'm interested in SmartThings but to start off I bought a few Z-Wave appliance units, a switch and a USB stick. My plan is to use my HTPC or a Raspberry Pi to try out OpenHAB and see how it goes. SmartThings announced a new hub that will be available in April, so if I like home automation but not OpenHAB I can move all my hardware to that. SmartThings looks easier to get going, but right now all their rules run on The Cloud and I think an open source platform will be more powerful, at the expense of usability.

My initial plan is for morning coffee & a smart switch for multiple lights in a room. Eventually I'd like to get to the point of presence-detection via mobile phones, integrated water & fire alarms, thermostat and more.

Comments

  • MissilemanMissileman Orlando, Florida Icrontian

    I have the IRIS system from Lowes. It is compatible in many cases with smartthings. It also runs in the cloud. What I like is that Lowes only charges $9.99 a month to get all the advanced features. I have a smart Plug which turns on and off lights or devices, monitors electrical usage, acts as a repeater, and monitors temperature. I have 10 door and window sensors and glass break sensors. Alarm system and touchpad lock. Also garage door control and watering system control.

    I chose IRIS because it is compatible with all the communication protocols. Z-wave, Ziggby, Wi-Fi, etc... I have it setup so that it senses when anyone leaves or returns (key tags). If you are last out of the house it will check locks and if unlocked will lock all doors and if it works it will arm alarm system 10 minutes after you leave. If a problem it will message/email you. When I return it senses it and unlocks the door and turns off alarm. If somebody tries too many codes in the lock or tries to force the lock it calls the house with a warning message, calls/texts both of us and calls the neighbors.

    I also have the fire/CO detector which if it senses a fire it unlocks the doors and notifies all the people on your list. A lot of good automation, has great range. Easy to use and setup. Has a good assortment of decision rules and getting better.

    I really like it.

    georgehTushon
  • ardichokeardichoke Buttes Master B Lansing, MI Icrontian

    I think you might have just sold me on Iris... I just wish they had support in ifttt.com.

  • georgehgeorgeh Canton, MI Icrontian

    @ardichoke said:
    I think you might have just sold me on Iris... I just wish they had support in ifttt.com.

    Check out SmartThings too - here's their IFTTT channel. It's Zigbee, Z-wave and Wifi compatible and has a pretty active community, and no monthly fee. The monthly fee is what turned me off of IRIS (a false economy, when considering how much time I'll have to invest into OpenHAB).

    ardichoke
  • ardichokeardichoke Buttes Master B Lansing, MI Icrontian

    @georgeh said:
    Check out SmartThings too - here's their IFTTT channel. It's Zigbee, Z-wave and Wifi compatible and has a pretty active community, and no monthly fee. The monthly fee is what turned me off of IRIS (a false economy, when considering how much time I'll have to invest into OpenHAB).

    That's awesome, thanks! I've been looking for something that did IFTTT AND supported various standards compliant devices (as opposed to just their own proprietary protocol).

  • georgehgeorgeh Canton, MI Icrontian

    After doing some more research on OpenHAB I just ordered a SmartThings hub and a handful of sensors, switches and appliance modules. Now to find out how patient my wife is...

  • shwaipshwaip bluffin' with my muffin Icrontian

    We've got a couple wemo switches here because we don't have many ceiling lights or switched outlets. I haven't done any of the automation stuff that is enabled by having WiFi switches, but it is nice to have the ability to control lights from my phone.

  • RyanFodderRyanFodder Detroit, MI Icrontian
    edited Jan 2015

    I just did a project involving an Arduino Uno controlling a relay. If anyone wants to power something big with automation I have an easy way for you to set up your own logic controller to do so. (You can use timers, or WiFi inputs, or a laptop as well - need to figure out how to provide inputs with a phone yet.)

    Edit: main point: hardware for that part of the project was about $25.

  • georgehgeorgeh Canton, MI Icrontian

    Update: I've had SmartThings going for about a week and it's been OK. The last time I dipped my toes into home automation it was the era of X-10 popup ads and you would plug something into an X-10 outlet adapter. Anticipating this I bought 3 appliance modules. It turns out that it's now more cost-effective to get smart light bulbs. Seriously. $30 for an outlet adapter vs $15 for a bulb.

    So now I have 5 of the bulbs and they're pretty nice. I had planned to control them with a smart wall switch, but it turns out the switch in the room doesn't have a neutral wire. So now I need to come up with a way to control the lights in that room with a high spouse-approval-factor.

    I also have a water sensor for my basement, a CO/smoke detector and a garage door tilt-sensor installed (lets me know if the garage door is open or not). I really like the idea of knowing if there's a fire at my house if we are away, although my neighbors would probably call as well.

    Generally adding things has been painless - it comes close to "it just works." The biggest issue has been the GE Link bulbs. They require a firmware update on SmartThings that you need to email to get, but they had it pushed to my box in 5 minutes after emailing on a Sunday afternoon. I also had a problem with one of my Link bulbs getting disconnected from the network, so I needed to go through re-adding it. Support gave me the instructions, but there was a 24 hour turnaround time on that response (Saturday->Sunday).

    My next steps are to wire up the garage door controller my wife got me for my birthday, add a couple switches to control some lights (that I got before I realized how cheap smart bulbs are) and find a thermostat.

    My old thermostat died this week and I didn't have the time to get one from Amazon, so I got a cheap one for the time being and will replace it soon. I am hindered by the lack of a "C" wire on my thermostat, but I think I can find a battery-powered Z-wave thermostat. I could have gotten an un-officially supported thermostat, but I'd be worried that Honeywell's servers would block access to scripts running on SmartThings servers and I'd lose programability. I'd prefer to get something with an officially supported API.

    I really like the idea of having all the rules for my house in one place: if we're away then make sure the lights come on at sunset, lower the temperature, alert me if someone drinks from my kegerator, etc. I like that SmartThings has modes like "Goodbye", "Good night" and "I'm back". It can also set them automatically based on small trackers or smartphone geofencing (e.g. if my wife and my phones are out of the house, automatically set the house to "Goodbye" mode)

    Downsides so far are cost (as expected), limited number of officially supported products and having to pull out my smartphone to turn on lights (until I get physical switches installed). Upsides so far are it's cool and I don't have to scramble to make coffee in the morning while getting my daughter ready. I'll keep updating this thread as I make progress.

    Ryder
  • ardichokeardichoke Buttes Master B Lansing, MI Icrontian

    I'm now planning to pick up a SmartThings hub and some GE switches, at the very least. Probably some in-wall outlet replacements as well. I like the idea of home automation but I really don't want every lightbulb in my house on my wifi network. Aside from the security implications (devices like that rarely get patches, a flaw in their firmware could become the entry point for a malactor in my home network), I also just don't like having a ton of devices cluttering up the already crowded shared medium. Definitely more into using Z-Wave (or one of the other protocols) and a single device to manage it all.

    I'm quite excited about doing simple things, like having my light switches automatically turn off a set time after sunrise each day (via IFTTT). It's actually pretty absurd how excited that makes me.

  • georgehgeorgeh Canton, MI Icrontian

    Yeah, I'm avoiding Wifi stuff too for now because of the power requirements and competing with my computer resources. That's what I like about the GE Link bulbs - they are Zigbee so they automatically build a mesh network (like Z-Wave). I prefer Z-Wave because it doesn't use the 2.4 GHz spectrum, which can get pretty crowded, but I haven't found any Z-Wave bulbs that can compete with the GE Link bulbs for $15.

  • _k_k P-Town, Texas Icrontian

    @ardichoke‌ Get a multi-sensor and set it so when the lux value drops to a certain point it kicks on all your lights. Couple that with a timer function to force on/off all lights at specific times.

    ardichoke
  • georgehgeorgeh Canton, MI Icrontian
    edited Mar 2015

    I got 2 IP cameras from meh.com and the ActiON4 dashboard for SmartThings and now I have a cool web UI for my house:

    _k
  • RyderRyder Kalamazoo, Mi Icrontian

    Anyone interested in further home automation may like this matrix of compatible items.

    https://www.cnet.com/smart-home/compatibility/

    Sonorous
  • SonorousSonorous Shredmaster, F@H Fanatic Virginia Icrontian
    edited 3 Jan

    @Ryder said:
    Anyone interested in further home automation may like this matrix of compatible items.

    https://www.cnet.com/smart-home/compatibility/

    While that is an awesome list, it's also misleading. For example, my WeMo insight switchs work with my Google Home through IFTTT, but that isn't listed as a work around.

  • _k_k P-Town, Texas Icrontian

    My fancy web UI.

  • KwitkoKwitko Sheriff of Banning (Retired) By the thing near the stuff Icrontian

    @georgeh said:
    they are Zigbee so they automatically build a mesh network (like Z-Wave).

    On a side note, watching a 450 light Zigbee network turn on and off is pretty cool. You can actually see how the message goes from light to light like falling dominoes.

    _k
  • ardichokeardichoke Buttes Master B Lansing, MI Icrontian

    Wow.... seeing this again makes me glad I didn't buy a SmartThings hub, what with Samsung buying it and their propensity to ruin things.

    I think my plan now is Raspberry Pi + Razberry Z-wave HAT + OpenHAB = Home Automation Boner. Because I <3 Raspberry Pis now. They're pretty much the best thing in recent history if you ask me. Horray for cheap, low powered computers to tinker with.

    _k
  • georgehgeorgeh Canton, MI Icrontian

    @ardichoke you may want to look at Home Assistant - very Pi friendly.

  • ardichokeardichoke Buttes Master B Lansing, MI Icrontian

    I'll take a gander, OpenHAB has a straight up prebuilt Pi image I believe... but I'm never thrilled about using Java for anything.

Sign In or Register to comment.