Getting Started With Home Automation

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Over the coming weeks I'm going to be looking at a bunch of different home automation gear. I have several goals in this journey covering making things easier to use, energy saving and home security. But I can already see some challenges along with all those opportunities.

I have several parts of my home automation system already with a few more yet to come. I've set up a few Elgato Eve devices, some Belkin WeMo kit and a Reolink Argus Security Camera. I also have Schlage Smart deadbolt, some Nanoleaf lighting gear, a Ring doorbell and a weather station and security camera from Neatamo. Throw in some Sonos speakers and some other bits and pieces like gaming consoles and media streamers and it starts to get complex.

I'll also look into a more sophisticated system for managing my air-conditioning system as the control system that came with the house looks like it was made in the early days of sci-fi.

My ancient air-conditioning control. In dire need of a high-tech makeover.

As you can tell, this is something of a home automation nightmare. I have multiple brands, several standards and no single uniting interface. On the upside, I don't really have any legacy automation in the house so I'm not trying to hook into something that is pre-existing.

Some of the gear I'll try out uses Apple's HomeKit set of standards, like the Elgato Eve gear I've started playing with. My wife enjoys tormenting me by turning the TV off when I'm home and she's out. And we've found the Reolink camera is handy as a quick-and-dirty messaging tool as you can broadcast audio through it when away from the house.

I currently have a WeMo switch set up to control the lights on our fish tank but that requires a different app. Ideally, I'd like those lights to work in concert with the ambient light so the tank receives appropriate lighting from a powered source only when there's insufficient natural light.

So, as you can see, I've got the sort of piecemeal solution running at the moment that comes from dabbling.

Given I'm looking at hooking up a bunch of different gear, I'll be looking at tools like IFTTT, openHAB and others to pull together the disparate hardware if possible.

But the goal is that everyone in the household, from kids to adults, has to be able to use the system easily. If possible, I want a single interface that lets me control everything and automate certain operations.

Along the journey, I'll be looking at each of the separate products I'll be trying to integrate as well as how they fit with the other components in my home. This won't be a typivcal review, where the product is looked at for a few days or weeks before being packed away. Each item I test will become part of my home unless it just doesn't work or can't be integrated.

There will be moments where I get stuck. For those I'll be enlisting the help of experts and sharing what I learn.

So Lifehackers, what aspects of home automation are you interested in? Are there any tips you want to share as I embark on this journey? If you've tried this already, what gotchas did you hit? Is there any kit you're particularly interested in that you want me to try?


Comments

    Have a look at home-assistant.io as well. I've found it incredibly useful to link systems together and create actions that make life a bit easier.

      +1 for home assistant. Specifically Hass.io. It's such a powerful tool, but I've struggled to successfully integrate some devices such as the broadlink RM Pro. I'm no beginner to coding or markup language, but I've found successfully using YAML in Hass.io difficult.

    I use ifttt with Google home and gogogate2 for 2 x garage doors and 3 x sensibo units for aircon control. Both very good. Google Home intergrates all actions whether they're ifttt or Google home commands.

    Last edited 16/01/18 3:19 pm

    I am looking into setting up a smart home system based around Google home. I am leaning towards using WeMo light switches (most smart bulbs work independent to switches), nest smoke alarms, nest door bell (when it's released), and Kwik smart lock.
    Although all will integrate via voice to google home, it would be great to be able to control them all from a single app. I am curious if this is even possible!

    Hi Anthony,

    I'm very interested in ducted air conditioning solutions. My understanding is that split systems are a lot easier as most modern units come bundled with infra-red sensors. However ducted systems do not and thereby either require a proprietary app system.

      Same here. I had an old split system in my old house that I managed to integrate into my automation using a Logitech hub and teaching it all the commands from the remote (ir) but now I find there is no way of making my ducted a/c here in Australia 'smart'.

    I'll be following with a lot of interest. I've been trying to get my Wemo bulbs, Wemo switches and Osram bulbs (now we can't buy Wemo anymore) to play nicely together. I've given up on the Wemo app and am having some success with the WeMoHome and associated apps.

    I've had success with IFTTT, getting Google Assistant to action Wemo and in creating geofences so my outside lights come on when I arrive home and it's nighttime.

    My immediate goal is to have my bulbs/switches, Sonos and some security camera all controlled on my phones and fixed tablets or control panels around the house.

    I'm interested in keeping my internet of things secure as much as I can. Perhaps I can 'isolate' things to my Synology NAS?

    I too would like to be able to control my ducted air conditioning.

    I just installed Sensibo Smart devices for my split system air conditioners. Fantastic devices.

    You could try HASS.IO along with Google home or Alexa

    Ecobee, Nest and the like - which aren’t available in Australia it seems. Or Honeywell Lyric - same. I have evaporative cooling and a separate gas ducted heating controller and would love to control them.

    I have Philips Hue light globes with HomeKit but not sure what to do about the LEDs in the ceiling. Would need a sparky to replace the switch with something?

    What about home security?

    Hi Anthony, I've been doing a lot of reading myself lately on home automation. I recently got the new google pixel 2 and Google home mini. My son is a sleep walker and almost walked out the garage door at midnight the other night! Scary moment. So I'm looking at putting in some door switches and cameras. Also some lights and GPOs. Very interested to hear what you discover. Sounds like you may be more apple based though? I'm a bit unsure what to try as it can add up quick $$ and as you said I don't want 10 different apps on my phone if I can avoid it. Looking forward to what you find. Cheers ????????

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