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Ron Weasley 03-19-2015 11:38 AM

Home Automation
 
Has anyone played around, or seriously installed, any home automation stuff yet?

We recently decided to get some motion detectors and window open/close sensors. So, planning to hook them all together to work with each other seems like a good idea.

After CES, it appears that there are three major players emerging, Apple (HomeKit), Google (Nest) and Samsung (SmartThings). There are various competing communications protocols (Zigbee, Z-Wave, WiFi, Bluetooth, and an aging X10) with various use/non-use by the different players.

Right now, I'm leaning strongly toward the Samsung solution because they currently support Zigbee, Z-Wave and WiFi, and their updated hub, to be released next month, will also include Bluetooth. Everything company Google buys gets their current or planned product offerings trimmed down instead of expanded. Apple's offerings are currently mostly vaporware.

Has anyone played around with, or seriously implemented, any home automation? If so, do you have any insight, experiences, comments or bragging you wish to offer?

Turd Ferguson 03-19-2015 11:56 AM

I have a centralized Control4 system running all my home entertainment. All of the equipment other than TVs are in a stack in the basement. I can expand it to also control lighting, home security, thermostat (it's compatible with Nest), etc. I just haven't gotten around to doing that stuff yet. I'm pretty sure anything on Zigbee is compatible. Not sure about the other protocols. There are also Apple and Android apps, so your phone/tablet can be your remote control.

We were building a new house, so we had them come in and fully wire up our house. 2 cat5e + 2 coax feeds ran to each bedroom, and each common living space. Also put in a small conduit, in case we need to run different cables at some point in the future. Equipped the upstairs living room with a 5.1 audio system as well, putting all 5 speakers in the ceiling. I don't know if it's the best solution if you don't have access to run all kinds of wires, but I like it. It's very modular and expandable, so you don't have to drop an insane amount of money all at once.

I'm definitely not taking full advantage of its capabilities yet, but I hope to get there sooner than later. Some of the cool things I've heard it can do:
- the rep I was talking to had his system set so that his exterior lights turned on at sunset and turned off at 11pm. The system checked the internet every day to see what time sunset was, and adjusted accordingly.
- he also claimed that he set up a system for somebody else, so when he got home and the garage door started to open, it would change the thermostat, turn on various lights in his house, turn on the living room TV and change to a particular channel.

Good luck with your automation, it's pretty wicked. I'm happy to answer any specific questions about Control4. But you probably know more about the other stuff than I do.

ahow 03-19-2015 02:04 PM

I'm also interested in this type of stuff.

We don't have a security system currently but did at our old place. The old security system was awful. We would get bills from the city about once every quarter for false alarms, it was unable to do remote notification to me, and most of the sensors fell off.

In any case, I want to get something so when my worry wart wife says, "Did you lock the door?!?" I can show her my phone and say, "Yes. See."

Seems like Z-wave stuff is most plentiful when I'm looking around Amazon.

Aside from security, I would like to be able to set our lights to randomly go on/off in the evenings if we go out of town.

Tommy Vercetti 03-19-2015 03:49 PM

I tried a couple of the wifi thermostat and hated it. I returned them all.

George Frankly 03-19-2015 03:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tommy Vercetti (Post 7977024)
I tried a couple of the wifi thermostat and hated it. I returned them all.

That's as far as I've come with the fancy stuff. Got the Emerson Sensi, and it works well. Easy to install, easy to use.

Tommy Vercetti 03-19-2015 03:57 PM

Does the Sensi uses battery to power things?
My furnace is 20 years old, and does not have the "c" wired. Nest does not work well without c wire. I also tried the Honeywell Lyric. It has issues to connect to my wifi network.

Turd Ferguson 03-19-2015 03:59 PM

One of my favorite fancy items I have so far... outdoor speakers hardwired into the system. my entire iTunes library is available, as is TuneIn internet radio, or even just listening to the football game that's playing on the TV inside. All controllable from my iPhone. It makes working the grill or drinking an outside beer infinitely more enjoyable.

Dr T Non-Fan 03-19-2015 04:12 PM

I think a man workin' outdoors feels more like a man if he can have a bottle of suds.

Dr T Non-Fan 03-19-2015 04:15 PM

Oh, not doing any automation. My legs and arms still work, tyvm.

George Frankly 03-19-2015 04:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tommy Vercetti (Post 7977048)
Does the Sensi uses battery to power things?
My furnace is 20 years old, and does not have the "c" wired. Nest does not work well without c wire. I also tried the Honeywell Lyric. It has issues to connect to my wifi network.

Yes, it has batteries. One of the things I read about the Sensi is that it works with more HVAC systems than anything else on the market.

I'm not an expert. But I know a Sensi expert, I'll PM you.


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