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Big Tree

Putting together my own system.

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Big Tree

Hey all,

 

I'm putting together a plan to outfit my home as a smart home.  I want to do this for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I am an electrician and I'd like to make smart technology more a part of my business, as no one in my community does it.  Second, I love smart technology and I want it!  I'm looking for suggestions and tips as to what is going to be the best to not only outfit my home with, but is good to sell in a lower income market (nothing like crestron or control 4). 

 

I think the essential things to put in to make a home smart would be heating control, lighting control, door control, as well as some control to bring them all together.  Here are my current thoughts, and I'd love to hear what any of you think about these things.

 

Lighting - Lutron Caseta - I'm a RadioRa2 installer, but I don't have the money to put that into my house, so the next best thing for me is Caseta.  I already have Caseta switches in my home and I love them.  I sell them quite often already and I think Lutron is fantastic.

 

Heating - Ecobee - I like ecobee in theory because they aren't nest.  Even though I'm a Nest Pro, I just have always liked the look and sound of Ecobee.  Am I completely off my rocker for thinking that?

 

Door Control - August Lock with Ring Doorbell - Seems like these are the best things out there right now, but this is a category that I know very little about.

 

Central Control - I use Apple right now, so HomeKit seems to make sense, but I think I'd like to use voice control and so the Echo seems like a good product for that.  Would a Google Home be better?  Again, don't have much knowledge of this section yet.

 

Finally, I currently have an old Apple router, one of the old airport extremes, and I don't know if I should be thinking of upgrading my router in this process.

 

 

Thanks for reading my post, thanks for any input you give.

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JackoUK

An interesting project ...

... but I am too old-fashioned to be bothered.

 

Nonetheless two ideas:

- do the major players in the arena have some complete system configurations? (Useful as templates - even if you swap out individual components)

- NASDAQ:AAPL? How about LINUX and NASDAQ:MSFT control centres?

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schoondoggy

I think it is great that you’re looking at expanding your role as electrician by entering the home automation field. Over the last few years, I have given lots of advice automation products. I always get a little concerned that folks get in over their heads.

You have listed a lot of great product and technology, but I tend to start with looking at the areas that you’re trying to focus on and issues you want to resolve:

Control- lighting, light switches, outlets, voice,

Safety- locks, motion sensors, contact sensors, arrival sensors, cameras,

Disaster- fire, smoke, CO, water leak, temperature,

Comfort- temperature, humidity,

Once you determine needs/wants in each of these areas you can build a plan. Then you can start to fill in the technologies that makes sense. You may want select technologies that work together to standardize on a single control system or hub. For the entry level marketplace, I still find Smartthings and Insteon to be very good hubs to build a system around.

I use a SmartThings hub, Schlage locks, GE Jasco switches, Cooper outlets, SmartThings arrival sensors, SmartThings water leak sensors, Aeotec water sensor, Nest thermostat, Nest protect smoke/CO sensor, First Alert smoke/CO sensor, Sensative door sensors, HomeBoy cameras,



http://www.sensative.com/strips.html

http://aeotec.com/homeautomation

https://shop.smartthings.com/

https://nest.com/

https://www.homeboy.com/

http://www.schlage.com

https://byjasco.com/products/category/smart-home-automation

http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/public/en/wiring_devices/solutions/whole_home_solutions/aspire_rf_wireless.html

Good WiFi is important, but with HA much of the tech is not WiFi driven.
 

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Big Tree

 

13 hours ago, schoondoggy said:

I think it is great that you’re looking at expanding your role as electrician by entering the home automation field. Over the last few years, I have given lots of advice automation products. I always get a little concerned that folks get in over their heads.

You have listed a lot of great product and technology, but I tend to start with looking at the areas that you’re trying to focus on and issues you want to resolve:

Control- lighting, light switches, outlets, voice,

Safety- locks, motion sensors, contact sensors, arrival sensors, cameras,

Disaster- fire, smoke, CO, water leak, temperature,

Comfort- temperature, humidity,

Once you determine needs/wants in each of these areas you can build a plan. Then you can start to fill in the technologies that makes sense. You may want select technologies that work together to standardize on a single control system or hub. For the entry level marketplace, I still find Smartthings and Insteon to be very good hubs to build a system around.

I use a SmartThings hub, Schlage locks, GE Jasco switches, Cooper outlets, SmartThings arrival sensors, SmartThings water leak sensors, Aeotec water sensor, Nest thermostat, Nest protect smoke/CO sensor, First Alert smoke/CO sensor, Sensative door sensors, HomeBoy cameras,



http://www.sensative.com/strips.html

http://aeotec.com/homeautomation

https://shop.smartthings.com/

https://nest.com/

https://www.homeboy.com/

http://www.schlage.com

https://byjasco.com/products/category/smart-home-automation

http://www.cooperindustries.com/content/public/en/wiring_devices/solutions/whole_home_solutions/aspire_rf_wireless.html

Good WiFi is important, but with HA much of the tech is not WiFi driven.
 

Thanks Schoondoggy, I appreciate the advice.  I'll have to spend some more time looking into these different products you've mentioned as I'm not familiar with all of them.  When you put leak sensors in, do you put them at every single point of potential failure in the home or just some?  Also, what's the purpose of an arrival sensor?

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schoondoggy

You could put them at every possible leak point, but I put leak sensors where I have had issues in the past. Our basement floor drain backs up on occasion. I use one of these for that:

http://aeotec.com/z-wave-water-sensor

Under the back of the refrigerator, under the water heater and under the dish washer, I use one of these:

https://shop.smartthings.com/products/samsung-smartthings-water-leak-sensor

The arrival sensors can tell you when someone has left the house or returned. They can also be used to trigger actions. When a sensor returns, turn on the lights, unlock the door, turn on music.  

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SpivR

I would suggest you step back and create an overall system approach.  Focus on how the system is going to be used, who is going to use it, and how to control it.

 

Questions to consider:

 

How will the users interact with the system?  What type of human interfaces are needed?  Do you want or need smartphone, tablet, and/or voice controls?  More importantly, how much traditional control (buttons, switches) are needed?  Can you still turn on a light with a switch or will you need to dig a phone out of your pocket just to do that?  Will you need to carry your phone with you everywhere in the house?  (Some people never use their phone once they enter the house).  Will everyone be monoculture (Apple or Android) or do you need to have capability from both?  What about visitors that don't choose the same tech as you do?  What about young children or parents/grandparents that don't use any tech?

How much interactive control versus true automation?  Do you need sophisticated automation routines, simple rules, or just interactive control?

 

Do you need a system that works entirely without Internet/cloud? (I.e. can you turn the lights on or off if your Internet is down?) There are systems that are 100% local, 100% cloud, and mixed (some features require  Internet/cloud, but some features work entirely local).

 

Example:  Alexa is entirely cloud based.  You better have alternate ways to do everything for the time when Internet/Alexa is down.  OTOH, Apple HomeKit has cloud capabilities, but runs entirely locally too and some cloud functions work through cellular, so "internet down" gets fuzzy when your router connection is not working but your cell link still does.

 

Once you make decisions about these system-wide issues you can begin to choose specific products.

 

My advice is not to choose "hero" products first because a particular product looks great or has interesting functionality.  e.g. you don't like Nest, but although it is proprietary it has extensive integration with just about anything.  It works with both iOS and Android, web interfaces, and many other control systems both DIY and professional.

 

In general, remember that "Hero" products can quickly become "Zero" products if they don't work and play nice with the rest of your system.  

 

I assume you are talking about a system that will grow to be multi-room, whole-home, or even multi-home.

 

All the interesting gadgets out there are fine as toys when you only has two or three devices in 1 or 2 rooms, but once you start looking at a larger, whole house system, the overall system design is much more important.

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Big Tree

Thank you SpivR, that is so much to think about.  I think I'm really going to have to make a better plan as to what I want.  I don't think I've thought it through completely.  I definitely want it to be a whole home solution, and it is very important that things will continue to work without wifi.  What do you mean specifically by hero products?  I'm not sure I understand that.

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SpivR

Sorry, “Hero Product” might be an American expression.

 

It is a slang/derogatory way to refer to a product or service that is popularly considered to be the best, not because it really is the best product, but because of strong marketing and public relations efforts to sway the public.  (Often large companies or big brands can almost “force” their products to always be considered the best by spending huge money on advertising, splashy events for the press and bloggers, etc.)

 

The original expression comes from the idea that a “hero” product “saves the day” by providing a valuable capability or feature that no other product provides.  Often, it is the first popular product in a new category.  For example, Nest thermostats were the first well-designed (visually) and elegant to use (functionally) Internet connected thermostats.  They became so popular that consumers know the brand about as much as they know “Coca Cola” or “Levis jeans” and ask for it by name.

 

(They know nothing about how it actually works, whether the AI is useful or useless, and whether it is easy or hard to integrate with any other Smart Home devices, but consumers “know” that if you want to automation your home, the first thing you should do is buy a Nest thermostat.)

 

The best example from the computer industry is the ‘70s and ‘80s (when I entered college), IBM was the undisputed leader in all computer technology.  The mainstream competitors to IBM were known by the acronym “B.U.N.C.H” (Burroughs, Univac, Control Data, and Honeywell), and the press of the day always talked about what IBM was doing and how every new product was going to wipe the floor and the “eat the lunch” of “the rest of the BUNCH”.

 

I used to hear, in all seriousness, from salespeople that worked for the BUNCH, the standard complaint was “Our job is a lot harder because ‘nobody ever gets fired for buying IBM’ and they had to sell upstream and convince customers that the IBM computer as not always the “Hero”, and might be the “Zero” for their particular application”.

 

(Fun anecdote:  near where I live in South San Jose, they just finished demolishing the last remaining vestige of the huge IBM corporate complex where the first Winchester hard disk drives were invented and manufactured.  This historic land is now being used for a Home Depot and other big box stores.)

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Big Tree

That makes a lot of sense. That's the reason I don't like Nest, I just don't buy all the hype.  My problem is, I'm just not knowledgable enough to know what I actually do need and should buy. That's part of my reason for posting here, because as much as I listen to and read, I just can't figure out what's best.

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schoondoggy

I agree with SpivR's comments around planning, but I learned almost everything I know about home automation by trial and error. You need to get hands on with this stuff to figure it out. Post any questions you have, there is a lot of knowledge in this forum.

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