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Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Old 10-29-17, 01:35 PM
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Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

I'm in the process of buying a new house and as the techie that I am, i'm looking at all sorts of home automation options and ideas. Anyone do anything particularly cool or have experiences on products that worked really well or ended up being useless?

Some random thoughts -

-I'll definitely end up with a smart thermostat of some sort, the builder has a Honeywell option that has great reviews on Amazon, so I might go that route versus a Nest.

-I've enjoyed messing around with Philips Hue lighting in my apartment. Thinking about expanding that, although not sure how much is worth it.

-I've posted in the Amazon Echo thread when I got an Echo Dot, anyone using voice assistants across an entire house? Where have people found that it makes the most sense?

-Any one do anything else crazy with lighting, automated blinds, or things like that?

-How about home security stuff? I kind of want a couple security cameras, just wasn't quite sure the best way to implement them.
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Old 10-29-17, 02:05 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

I have the Honeywell smart thermostat in my current home and I love it. I’d say stick with that.

I’m in the same place as well, about to start building a house. Some things I learned from last time is that this time, I’m going to install Cat 5 jacks in the places I’ll be hooking up cameras or speakers. I’m also wiring for Atmos speakers as well as surrounds and subs. I’ll also be installing plugs underneath parts of the roof where I may install security cameras. I’d be interested in hearing what others may do.
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Old 10-29-17, 03:25 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

A couple of home security options; Honeywell is about to release theirs on November 1st.

https://yourhome.honeywell.com/honey...-home-security

And Apple has a line of automated home products as well. However I don’t know anything about these.

https://www.apple.com/ios/home/accessories/
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Old 10-29-17, 03:32 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Originally Posted by E Unit View Post
I have the Honeywell smart thermostat in my current home and I love it. I’d say stick with that.
Thanks! Good to know!

I think I want to do some sort of video camera/doorbell system. Maybe Ring?

https://ring.com/videodoorbells
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Old 10-29-17, 11:24 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

First, how much do you care about Google, or any other company, knowing all about you?
I don't care too much, although I try to avoid Google if possible, but use it every day for search for example.
Same with Amazon and the Echo.
Again, for some people it's important, not so much for others. If privacy is important to you try to go with Apple.
Saying all of that, smart automation is still in its infancy, so be prepared to be a beta tester.

Thing that I like/use:
- Alexa, Siri. You can use both to control everything.
- Last year I use an smart outlet to control my Christmas lights. Basically turning them on and off by itself. I would turn them on 1 hour after sunset automatically.

I've been looking at home security for a long time. Haven't make up my mind yet. I want something that can record locally and the cloud at the same time. Wyzecam looks perfect right now.

Also, try to put everything (IoT devices) in a DMZ.
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Old 10-30-17, 12:13 AM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Please don't do it unless you want hackers to break in and burn your house to the ground for the sheer malevolent spectacle of it.

Just eschew home automation... repeat.

Especially if you're in tech, you should be aware of the trade-offs in home security and safety vs convenience.
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Old 10-30-17, 02:59 AM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Before you buy or move in, ask if the house is pre-wired for the following:
- In every room: CAT cable

- Thermostat: C (common) wire. Even if the Honeywell doesn't need it, it would be nice to have it for future flexibility in case you switch to another thermostat that does.

- Front and back (porch) light switches: Neutral wire (not only ground) so you can install a better, timed light switch.

In the house, a lot of things are now compatible with Alexa or Google Home (and Apple Home Kit, but I'm not familiar with it), or have their own app that you can use for control.

Some of the possibilities are: outlet plugs, wall switches, light bulbs (Hue or LIFX. LIFX doesn't require a stand-alone hub), smart lawn sprinkler, garage door controller, security cameras, door locks. I have all of those except for the garage controller and door locks, and they work well and are very convenient. Jeff Bezos hasn't visited yet, but maybe he doesn't need to.
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Old 10-30-17, 08:52 AM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Originally Posted by zyzzle View Post
Please don't do it unless you want hackers to break in and burn your house to the ground for the sheer malevolent spectacle of it.

Just eschew home automation... repeat.

Especially if you're in tech, you should be aware of the trade-offs in home security and safety vs convenience.
OP didn't mention anything about smart locks or fireplaces. I think he's fine.

Smart thermostats are money savers, hue is trivial (but pretty awesome), Echo is Echo.

Cameras can and have definitely been hacked, but I see no harm in a hacked doorbell or perimeter cam. Living room? It's a trade off. I also wouldn't necessarily recommend a smart garage door, but even dumb ones are easy to hack.

Most modern homes have their phones wired with Cat 5 in every room, but most of the times they terminate in a box on the exterior of the house. You can run phone + Ethernet on a single Cat 5 cable, but the end points can be a little tricky. If you can get them to put the phone box inside, get a weather proof switch, rewire it a little, or otherwise wire them into the house you could have full home networking pretty easily.

Last edited by RichC2; 10-30-17 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 11-01-17, 04:42 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

I have the Ecobee 2 thermostat and I really enjoy it. I'm in the process of changing out my light switches to some apple homekit compatible ones as well as getting motorized blinds.

There are a lot of resources out there for home automation. Most of the stuff runs on wifi these days so you don't need cat 5, but you will sill need a power source for some devices, (some blinds, cameras etc).

Only problem right now is because this stuff is still in its infancy stage, everything is pretty expensive.
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Old 11-05-17, 06:14 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Originally Posted by Raul3 View Post
First, how much do you care about Google, or any other company, knowing all about you?
I don't care too much, although I try to avoid Google if possible, but use it every day for search for example.
Same with Amazon and the Echo.
Again, for some people it's important, not so much for others. If privacy is important to you try to go with Apple.
I don't care and not overly paranoid about that stuff. I don't care for Apple products, and I'm mostly Google and Amazon already in various technologies.

Originally Posted by zyzzle View Post
Please don't do it unless you want hackers to break in and burn your house to the ground for the sheer malevolent spectacle of it.

Just eschew home automation... repeat.

Especially if you're in tech, you should be aware of the trade-offs in home security and safety vs convenience.
You're ridiculous

Originally Posted by Psi View Post
Before you buy or move in, ask if the house is pre-wired for the following:
- In every room: CAT cable

- Thermostat: C (common) wire. Even if the Honeywell doesn't need it, it would be nice to have it for future flexibility in case you switch to another thermostat that does.

- Front and back (porch) light switches: Neutral wire (not only ground) so you can install a better, timed light switch.

In the house, a lot of things are now compatible with Alexa or Google Home (and Apple Home Kit, but I'm not familiar with it), or have their own app that you can use for control.

Some of the possibilities are: outlet plugs, wall switches, light bulbs (Hue or LIFX. LIFX doesn't require a stand-alone hub), smart lawn sprinkler, garage door controller, security cameras, door locks. I have all of those except for the garage controller and door locks, and they work well and are very convenient. Jeff Bezos hasn't visited yet, but maybe he doesn't need to.
Cat5e is prewired for all major living spaces, so bedrooms, loft, living room. That probably hits any of the major areas that I would want to do things, but good idea on the additional wiring. I'll look in to that!

Originally Posted by RichC2 View Post
OP didn't mention anything about smart locks or fireplaces. I think he's fine.

Smart thermostats are money savers, hue is trivial (but pretty awesome), Echo is Echo.

Cameras can and have definitely been hacked, but I see no harm in a hacked doorbell or perimeter cam. Living room? It's a trade off. I also wouldn't necessarily recommend a smart garage door, but even dumb ones are easy to hack.

Most modern homes have their phones wired with Cat 5 in every room, but most of the times they terminate in a box on the exterior of the house. You can run phone + Ethernet on a single Cat 5 cable, but the end points can be a little tricky. If you can get them to put the phone box inside, get a weather proof switch, rewire it a little, or otherwise wire them into the house you could have full home networking pretty easily.
No fireplace here, and of all things i'm definitely wary about smart locks. I don't trust that quite yet, so yeah a camera for the front porch is probably the extend that i'm looking at. All the Cat5 (and Coax) I think terminates to a storage closet near my living room.
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Old 11-05-17, 07:02 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Originally Posted by fumanstan View Post
All the Cat5 (and Coax) I think terminates to a storage closet near my living room.
Awesome
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Old 11-05-17, 07:23 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Wouldn't you want Cat6 for video transport to HDMI.
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Old 11-05-17, 09:02 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Originally Posted by WCChiCubsFan View Post
Wouldn't you want Cat6 for video transport to HDMI.
Not that I plan on doing any ethernet to HDMI conversion myself, but Cat5e should be plenty of bandwidth for HDMI, no? I know i've used those converters in the past at work without any issue, although I haven't paid attention to whether it has enough for 4K.

Although really, I expect most of my stuff to be wireless. Time to research the best mesh wireless networks...
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Old 11-06-17, 07:14 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Originally Posted by zyzzle View Post
Please don't do it unless you want hackers to break in and burn your house to the ground for the sheer malevolent spectacle of it.

Just eschew home automation... repeat.

Especially if you're in tech, you should be aware of the trade-offs in home security and safety vs convenience.
IOT security is a dumpster fire, but better known companies are a lot better.

That said, most of the IOT security issues are devices being comped and used for botnets and such. Not burning stuff down.
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Old 11-07-17, 05:20 AM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Originally Posted by GreenMonkey View Post
IOT security is a dumpster fire, but better known companies are a lot better.

That said, most of the IOT security issues are devices being comped and used for botnets and such. Not burning stuff down.
Of course, I was being tongue-in-check about burning the house down.

But, IOT is a currently a sad joke at present. It may, one hopes, improve in time. Just like routers no longer, by default, use open SSIDs or WEP encryption. At least the OP is wary about 'smart' locks (the biggest misnomer ever), so he is sane in the insane world of "smart" homes.
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Old 11-07-17, 04:25 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Just picked up a pair of lutron wifi dimmer switches today on amazon. Ive been waiting for them to go on sale and today they were 25% off.

The two switches come with the bridge as well which will be nice since the bridge will be required for the motorized drapes im pricing out.
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Old 11-07-17, 05:03 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

I have:
Ring Doorbell
External Security Cameras (Q-See)
Placeable Internal Cameras
Rainmachine (Smart Sprinklers)
Honeywell Thermostat
5 Nest Smoke Detectors
Harmony Connected Remote (Alexa ready)
Smart Garage Door
About 15 Smart Light Switches
Wink
Echo
Dot
AND A SMART DOORLOCK (and I love them, no keys!)
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Old 11-07-17, 07:04 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Ecobee thermostats are the way to go if your house has multizone heating and cooling. You can add inexpensive temperature/motion sensors to as many rooms as you want and it'll learn your patterns and adjust accordingly. It's like a Nest except better.

If you don't have multizone heating and cooling, Honeywell and Sensi are excellent alternatives. The cheaper Sensi, which I have, does not require a common wire, which my house doesn't have. The newer touchscreen one does.

Check with your local utility company. They probably have a rebate if you install a smart thermostat.

Cree has some good LED lightbulbs that have Wi-Fi and dimmers built in so you can turn lights on and off and dim them without having to plug them in to a smart-home module. I use these for outside lights that are all on one circuit with an inconveniently located switch. All my outside lights turn on and off with sunset and sunrise through my Wink hub. Same with a couple of inside lights.
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Old 11-07-17, 08:23 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

I don't know which exact model Honeywell thermostat it is, but we elected to go ahead and get that option from the builder. It's something in the 9000 series, and reviews seem good for the various models in that line.

Good info about the utility company, i'll be sure to check! We don't move in until April-ish, so lots of time still.
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Old 11-07-17, 08:56 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Mine’s the 9580 model. It does a great job.
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Old 11-08-17, 01:11 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Originally Posted by Chrisedge View Post
I have:
Rainmachine (Smart Sprinklers)
Of all the smart things I got, that sprinkler controller and the Wemo light switches are my favorite.
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Old 11-08-17, 01:47 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

I hadn't even thought of sprinklers (or much of landscaping in general), i'll have to look in to those!

Last edited by fumanstan; 11-08-17 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 11-08-17, 02:11 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

Originally Posted by fumanstan View Post
I hadn't even thought of sprinkles (or much of landscaping in general), i'll have to look in to those!
Basically what they do is look at recent weather history and forecast to adjust the amount of watering, instead of watering a fixed amount no matter what the weather is. This summer we've had a fair amount of rain here and my controller cut water usage by about 70% while keeping the yard green just like before.

Two of the big brands are Rachio and RainMachine. I prefer RM because you can control it locally by screen panel as well as by phone app, while the Rachio is by app only.
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Old 11-08-17, 05:46 PM
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Re: Home Automation Thoughts/Ideas

I got my Rainmachine (I think PSI recommended) because of DVDT. It was $239, but I got a $230 rebate for installing! (I didn't know that at the time)...I could have bought a much cheaper one, and made money (something my brother-in-law did)...

One big benefit is since a lot of my sprinkler heads are/were having issues, I can power up the sprinklers from my phone, for as little as 1 second. (You need more time than that to get the water through the lines) But it's easy to check flow, etc...since I don't have to run back and forth from garage to backyard, etc...

Check you local water districts.
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