Home Automation Today

After my summary post on the various systems I have in the house – and their varying levels of complexiy – Alex posted this response:

Alex Shearer on Facebook

Alex raises a good point. Not that he’s a simpleton, that seems a little unfair, but that it would be useful to understand where to start today. Would I make the same technology choices based on the kit that is available to buy right now – three years after I started? Continue reading

So, tell me about this home automation thing.

I was asked two related questions yesterday:

How much do I need to spend on home automation?

and

What can your house actually do, anyway?

The answer to the first question is nothing. Nobody needs home automation. How much you want to spend, however, is related to the second question. What can my house do, and how badly do you want any of the same capabilities? I promised to detail what we have running to inform their decisions about how far they want to take things.

A word of warning though: home automation is one of those technologies that once you start using it, you quickly wonder how you lived without it. Continue reading

Better Laziness Through Motion Sensors

Back in 2013 when we started our home automation journey, the house was entirely LightwaveRF devices. I’d replaced every light switch and put on/off or dimmer sockets on every lamp. The addition of a LightwaveRF motion sensor provided our first bit of “lazy” automation. Sensors like this one mounted in the kitchen and breakfast room would turn on the lights in those areas as we walked in.

This turned out to be really useful – on walking into the potentially dark kitchen area while holding a pile of plates and dishes the room would magically light up for us. No need to fumble for the light switch. Also, because the sensors have a timer function, the lights would turn off again a configurable period later saving energy. Win! Continue reading

Z-Wave Greenwave PowerNodes with SmartThings

Back to home automation. As I mentioned in my last post on this subject the LightwaveRF devices are cheap and mostly pretty good. Their downside is that any controller sending an “on” command gets no status back from the device. This means if the command fails to send due to local interference the device will stay off even though the controller will think the device is on. Continue reading